Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zito Hellas & Barba Dimitri on March 25th!

Came up NE 2nd Avenue last night, to the Greek Orthodox Church of Annunciation in North Miami‎, the one that reminds me so much of the Old Country. It's about a 30 to 40-minute bus ride, plus a 10-minute walk -- and it was a night-time foray, but on a very special night. Orthros was being celebrated on the eve of the church's feast day. And, of course, the night before Greek Independence day.
I was promised lots of priests and I got seven, including Father Spiro from Miami's St. Sophia mother church.  It was a beautiful service -- complete with chanting in several languages (including Romanian and Russian, Father Roman Galben was born in the Ukraine), a grand Panayia icon procession, the blessing of many loaves, a compelling sermon on the role of the Theotoko, and a nice group photo-op. (Should I mention the priest talking on his cellphone in the alter before the service started?)  
But here is the best part: an 80-year-old alter boy!was flabbergasted and amazed to see my usual table-mate at Sunday coffee hours -- a sweet, quiet elderly gentleman -- emerge from the alter in his street clothes to process with the candlestick. No robes, just a stoic look of duty served. Guess the usual kids -- except the ever-present and dutiful Kosta -- were doing their homework. So this loyal church member had jumped right in. 
Mr. Dimitri later told me that he is ‎from Kolinas near Trikala, coming to Chicago in 1952 at age 18 and to Miami in 1957 -- well before the first liturgy was celebrated at the North Miami spin-off church in 1965.  He said, furthermore (and without prompting), that he is 80 and 1/2 years-old. And clearly very proud of that and of his heritage.  

And that, my friends, is the meaning of Zito Hellas.

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