Unity, reaffirming the bonds of culture, language and religion were experienced in Ancient Greece during the Olympics. These same bonds of allegiance were reasserted at the Vespers and Feast Day of the Transfiguration of Christ Church on Breakwater Road, Mattituck where more than 300 persons attended. On the August 5 evening Vespers, priests of neighboring Long Island and New York City churches celebrated a memorable liturgy with Parish Priest Rev. Constantine Makrinos. Mattituck-Laurel Library Director Jeff Walden attended.
A unique visit by His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, assisted by Rev. Deacon Eleftherios Constantine, created an atmosphere of optimism on August 9. Archon Dikaiophylax Mr. Stephen Cherpelis and Archon Mr. Renos Georgiou and Mrs. Maryann Georgiou attended. Mr. Peter Pappas continued his volunteer services as a cantor for almost thirty years. A memorial service and luncheon for Panteleimon Papamichael followed in the church hall.
The luncheon was free to all present in the church. Mr. Papamichael was an immigrant from Nisiros. His family and islanders filled the church, with standing room only. Poems and memorial speeches in honor of the late Mr. Papamichael followed during the luncheon. “This one-year memorial for a person, with poetry, speeches and a lavish luncheon is unique,” said His Eminence. The islanders of Nisiros are loyal and builders of Greek Orthodox churches, recreating society in their Aegean island. I attended similar one-year memorials for Rev. Anastasios Diakovasilis at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing, and a member of the Costidis family at the Transfiguration Church, Mattituck.
Archon Dikaiophylax Mr. Stephen Cherpelis and his wife, Arête, are one of the primary reasons I have given community service to the Greek Orthodox Church communities of St. Nicholas and Transfiguration churches. They have encouraged my journalism since the late 1970’s. Archon Cherpelis understands the concept of loyalty. “You must continue,” he said. “I will be next to you today, supporting your efforts to give a positive image.” Mr. Dimitri Panagos, Publisher of the Greek News, was present, saying “you have our NYPD Press Card representing our newspaper.” His “buddy” Kosta Beis of the “Ethniko Kyrika” was present taking photos of parishioners picking tomatoes at Cooper’s farm next to the church.
The late Peter Philips passed away recently. Mrs. Helen Philips, his wife and inspiration, said “we donated the Platytera (icon wall drawings in altar), iconostasio (altar screen), three icons in the iconostasio and the psalterio (Chanter’s stand).” Mr. Phillips loved to work in his garden. He created a unique floral display with lights on his property that reminded many of us of “Dallas.” Anonymous, low key, he is the primary reason the church is what it is today after the disastrous burning in November 1984. Mr. Pete Demetriou, an original founder, was present with his wife, Mrs. Demetriou. He donated the first iconostasio of the original church that had its first liturgy on August 6, 1970.
August 15, 2015, will be a “KAFENIO NIGHT,” an evening of Elleniki Philoxenia (Greek Hospitality), 6 to 11 p.m. at the Transfiguration Church in Mattituck. Music under the stars. Sunday, September 6, 2015, at 6 p.m., will be the “end of Summer Greek glendi.” The Church stated in their flier to “Join us for Food, Music & Dancing, featuring the Power Station Orchestra.” The third and fourth generation of the church have fliers in places all over New York City. One person saw fliers in ARTOPOLIS in Astoria. They are working with intense dedication to keep the church open all year round.
There is a general consensus that there are challenges to meet, but none insurmountable. The concepts of collaboration and shared services seemed more welcome than ever before. The Transfiguration Church, Mattituck, needs to create strategic plans to ensure the needs of an all-year-round community. The Church built the neighborhood. With the demise of an all-year-round church, real estate values will plumet, destroying the area as we now know it. Local government and the business community helped to create the church in the 1960’s to the present time, unselfishly, giving and not being paid for every service.
The Transfiguration Church has a local identity after a fifty-year history of service, creating a stronger global image today and into the future. The “Miracle in the Potato Fields” will continue to serve the Greek Orthodox members, immigrants from Russia, Albania, Croatia and Serbia at the highest level. The voice of the silent majority who does attend parish council meetings, vote or attend socials was seen and heard through their overwhelming church attendance with standing room only from August 5 to 8.