On October 24-25, St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota celebrated their 75th anniversary.
A jubilee banquet was held on Saturday evening October 24th with 280 people in attendance. Honored guests and speakers included Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago (Hierarch of the Metropolis), United States Senator Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul, Deacon Chris Avramopoulos (Metropolis Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries), Fr. John Angelis (who served the parish 1966-1974), priests and presvyteras who grew up at St. George including Fr. George Dokos (St. Mary GOC, Minneapolis, MN), Fr. Micah Hirschy (Holy Trinity GOC, Birmingham, AL), Presvytera Diana Lamberis (Niles, IL), and Presvytera Kathy Pappas (Merrilville, IN). The program was emceed by Mrs. Rena Sarigianopoulos, reporter and anchor for local NBC affiliate KARE11.
The evening included a continuous slideshow of hundreds of photos from the parish’s rich history. The 75th Anniversary video premiered, and it included several key photos of important events and persons from each of the seven and a half decades of the parish’s existence. The video was tracked with Byzantine hymns and period popular music, along with a voice-over script. The video was produced and narrated by Mr. Soule Paraschou, eldest son of former parish priest, +Fr. Paraskevas Parry Paraschou.
After several moving speeches, Metropolitan Iakovos offered his pastoral words to those in attendance and offered a closing benediction. Photos with several groups were followed by Greek dancing to the music of local band, The Levendes.
On Sunday October 25th, Metropolitan Iakovos celebrated hierarchical Orthros and Liturgy with proistamenos Fr. Richard Demetrius Andrews, Fr. John Angelis, Fr. George Dokos, Fr. Micah Hirschy, Fr. George Pappas, Fr. George Lamberis and Deacon Chris Avramopoulos. A memorial and artoklasia service followed before parishioners and guests made their way into the social hall for a delicious luncheon and fellowship.
St. George Greek Orthodox Church began in Saint Paul with its first liturgy on Palm Sunday 1940. The immigrant community purchased a mansion on historic Summit Avenue and converted it into a house of worship. Four priests served the parish until 1966: Fr. Constantine Capoyianis, Fr. Constantine Souliopoulos, Fr. Joseph Vasiliou and Fr. Gerasimos Rassias. Archbishop Athenagoras (who later became Ecumenical Patriarch) visited the community in 1936 and 1940. Archbishop Michael consecrated the church in 1954.
In 1967, soon after Fr. John Angelis arrived, the church was damaged by fire beyond repair. A neo-Byzantine style church was built and opened in 1968. Right after Fr. Parry Paraschou was assigned, Archbishop Iakovos consecrated the church in 1975. Fr. Parry retired in 1999 and Fr. Richard Andrews was assigned. Since then the whole facility has been renovated including the sanctuary. The land next door to the church was also acquired and developed. Metropolitan Iakovos has served the Metropolis of Chicago since 1979 and has visited the St. George parish numerous times, including its 50th Anniversary celebration in 1990.