Long Island Waters Blessed at Maritime Festival

By Catherine Tsounis

Greenport was a village in a difficult economic position in the 1970's. In 1981, Vikentios, Bishop of Apameia, of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria, was instrumental in the purchasing of a Protestant church. "The town was planning to demolish the church and build apartments," said Bishop Vikentios. "We came at night to see the church with a flashlight. No lights! We made a decision. We bought the church. Our decision helped in the rebirth of Greenport. We created the Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church." A parade was created that led to the harbor, where the religious ritual of the blessing of the waters was performed. This unique custom gave birth to the Greenport Maritime Festival.

The 2006 Greenport, Long Island Maritime Festival was celebrated from September 23rd through 24th in the commercial area. Spectators were from the local area, Astoria, Brooklyn, Flushing and Whitestone. The Parade participants included: leading Suffolk County political figures; the ROTC, churches, civic organizations, an antique car contingent and others. The ROTC was the largest contingent of marchers. Patriotism for one's country is strong in the villages of America. Seeing our young men and women march with self confidence emotionally touched the spectator. Our security in this time of war is in the hands of our young in the armed forces. "The rainy weather did not deter the public's attendance of the Festival's highlight: the Blessing of the Waters by Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church," said Rev. Gerasimos Ballas, pastor of the parish.

The Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox
Church procession led by BishopVikentios of Apameia

On Saturday morning, September 23rd, a religious service was performed in the Greek Orthodox Church by His Grace, Bishop Vikentios and Bishop Damaskinos of Daflias from Greece with local Greek Orthodox clergy. A 9/11 Service was performed to remember those who perished at the World Trade Center. The religious procession commenced from the church to the docks in front of Claudio's Restaurant. Seeing the American and Greek flags waving in the drizzling rain made one proud. At the harbor pier, the Christian clergy with politicians memorialized and prayed for our fallen American heroes.
At the conclusion, Bishop Vikentios tossed a Holy Cross into the waters. Young men dived from the docks in their attempt to retrieve the Cross. Gerasimos Gerasimou, whose family is from Cephalonia, recovered the Cross. He received the blessings of Bishop Vikentios, a gold Cross from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople. All continued the parade back to the Church at 762 Main Street for a delicious Greek cuisine lunch. A Flea Market, Bake Sale and Greek cuisine were offered to the public. "All proceeds will aid disadvantaged families in our community and the greater New York area," said Rev. Gerasimos Ballas. For further details, call 631 477-1801.

Gerasimos Gerasimou retrieving the cross

"The rainy weather did not deter the public's attendance of the Festival's highlight: the Blessing of the Waters . . ."--Rev.Gerasimos Ballas

Greek Orthodox Clergy performing a 9/11 Memorial
Service to remember those who perished at the
World Trade Center.

"Our church is under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople," said Bishop Vikentios. "Monks and nuns are giving up their lives for their beliefs in this turbulent time. I am a good soldier, proud to be part of the Patriarchate." Bishop Vikentios' main church is St. Irene Chrysovalantou at 36-07 23 Ave., Astoria, N.Y. 11105. St. Nektarios and St. Nicholas in Brooklyn, New York are under his jurisdiction. St. Irene is located in the heart of the Greek-American community of Astoria. St. Irene is legendary for helping the poor, helpless, orphans and persons forgotten in the beaurecracy of government. Visit the website http://www.stirene.org.

(Posting date 30October 2006

HCSencourages readers to view other articles and releases in our permanent, extensive archives at the URL http://www.helleniccomserve.com/contents.html, especially other fine articles penned by Dr. Tsounis in the eponymously titled section of our archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archivetsounis.html.

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