New York.- By Catherine Tsounis
Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Festival of Flushing New York uplifted New Yorkers spirits from Thursday through Friday May 16th-19th on church grounds. The Festival was held Thursday through Sunday, October 4th to 7th. Live Greek music with singers, children’s games, Greek/Cypriot cuisine, Loucoumades (small fried donuts in honey), raffle, church tours, Greek folk dancing groups, vendors and a flea market. Were offered.. Political and Community leaders attended. Festival Chairperson was Kostas Sakarellos with Co-Chairpersons Larry Hotzoglou, Michael Giannakos, Nick Frazis and Michael Haralambous. The Clergy are Rev. Protopresbyter Paul Palesty, Rev. Presbyter Aristidis Garinis and Rev. Presbyter Andreas Houpos.
The 111th Police Precinct provided police barriers, patrolled areas and kept order among the thousands who attended. Captain Hall of the 111th Police Precinct said, “we have extra security.“ Officer Erdman of 111th NYPD explained “we are here to keep the peace, keeping everyone safe.” This is the first time I attended,” said Jack Fried, President of the 111th Precinct Community Council. “ I am enjoying the festival with fellow council member Irene Cheung. Director of Program Scheduling of Councilman Barry Grodenchick’s office.” Prominent members of New York City attended.
Over 400 students attend the William Spyropoulos School under the direction of Principal Mary Tzallas. Principal Panagiota Lilikakis and volunteers Chrissy Douroudakis- Dimiris and Margarita Pilitsidou described the new direction of The Stephen and Arete Cherpelis Hellenic School of St. Nicholas as encompassing Greek language and culture. Athanasios Goustas, who has been volunteering his services since the 1970’s. He is a member of the 111th Police Precinct community council, working to enhance the quality of community life. Andrew Tsiolas, former Parish Council President/parish council member, works cooking souvlaki with fellow members of the organization Evrytanon Amerikis “To Karpenisi”. Mr. Tsiolas’ dedication and focus symbolizes’ the average volunteer’s work. A huge success, offering a wonderful social event.
“The Hellenic Orthodox Life Academy of Stephen & Areti Cherpelis” became alive to this writer by the enthusiasm of Chrissy Douroudakis-Dimiris, who is proud of her heritage from Kos and Crete. Hippocrates is recognized as the founder of modern medicine, born in Kos in 460 B.C. In the Hellenistic period, Kos attained the zenith of its prosperity. Its alliance was valued by the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt, who used it as a naval outpost to oversee the Aegean. Ptolemy dynasty and Cleopatra had bases there. Crete is known for their ancient Minoan civilization and the valor and courage of its people. These are the persons promoting The Hellenic Orthodox Life Academy of Stephen & Areti Cherpelis”. For information, visit email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and www.stnicholasflushing.org.
St. Nichola stands apart from Christian saints. His fame spread across empires and generations to make him one of the most recognizable saints in history. But the popular perception of Saint Nicholas today diverges greatly from his original veneration as a compassionate almsgiver and defender of the poor. Saint Nicholas has been reduced to the pop culture figure of Santa Claus, a jolly old man who brings presents to good little boys and girls. Nicholas, a man who found greatness not simply in spreading “good cheer,” but in being a true icon of Jesus Christ in word and deed. He was born in Patara, Asia Minor, in 270 AD.. He died on December 6, 343 A.D. at Myra, the southern coast of present day Turkey. In Nicholas’ time, the region was part of the Greek- speaking world known as Lycia. He was an orphan raised by his uncle, Bishop Nicholas of Patara. As no biography of Nicholas was written until centuries after he died, much of Nicholas’ life is known more from legend than from contemporary sources. What is certain is that he became Bishop of Myra and that, after his death, he was recognized as a saint. Thousands of churches have been named in his memory. He is seen as a model of gift giving and pastoral care.
Because he was a bishop of a port city and a pastor to many sailors, Nicholas is regarded as the heavenly guardian of sailors. After his death, Nicholas’ tomb in Myra became a place of pilgrimage. In the spring of 1087, with wars threatening the safety of the region,, sailors from Bari, a port on the southeast coast of Italy, removed Nicholas’ bones and brought them home with them. A church was built over his crypt to honor a saint who had been a friend to the poor, rescued children and prisoners and saved sailors and famine victims. To this day many thousands of pilgrims come to St. Nicholas Church in Bari.1 New York City is lucky to have St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church with its Festival, commemorating a historical man who helped and continues to exert an influence in 2019.