Home Church & Religion Greek Orthodox Church Primate Attends St. Nicholas Church Flushing Vespers

Greek Orthodox Church Primate Attends St. Nicholas Church Flushing Vespers

NEW YORK – By Catherine Tsounis

December 5th, 2021, Feast Day Vespers of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Flushing, New York had strong attendance in the face of the Omicron Virus frightening the American public.

His Eminence,  Archbishop Elpidophoros  performed the service assisted by Rev. Protopresbyter Paul C. Palesty and Rev. Presbyter Aristidis Garinis of St. Nicholas Church,  priests of local parishes and Byzantine cantors. Prominent persons attended from the Greek Orthodox church, diplomatic, business and education community of New York City. A reception followed in Sarantakos Hall hosted by the PTAs of the schools.

Archbishop Elpidophoros gave an inspiring speech in Greek/English, emphasizing our Byzantine roots in the East. “St. Nicholas, the Archbishop of Myra is revered by the Orthodox Church as an organizer of the First Ecumenical Council which united the Christian church in 325,” His Eminence explained. “The saint is a patron of sailors. He is a lighthouse on the cliffs guiding sailors trying to make their livelihood from the sea. We enjoy His relics at St. Nicholas Church of Flushing. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Flushing is the largest parish in the Greek Archdiocese with its outstanding school.”

His Eminence continued saying “We find the ‘Anatoli’ the East in our lives. Our churches are built to the East. Our saints are from the East. Byzantine music was a global music. We gave the world civilization and culture, even to those who battle. Our Byzantine music was adopted into the popular music of Turkey.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is pleased to announce the official reopening of the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music (ASBM) and the beginning of online registration for the 2022 new year classes in a virtual setting, which will greatly improve access to students from all over the Archdiocese. Through a refreshed curriculum and an innovative virtual learning program, Classes are scheduled to commence on January 3, 2022, and all are welcome to join!” For more information, contact the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music website at: https://asbm.goarch.org/  

There is not a political successor to the Byzantine Empire, The lands it controlled, the heartland, Middle East, Turkey is Muslim. They do not look back to the Byzantine Empire for culture or religion. The current inhabitants of Byzantine lands do not look to the Byzantine Empire for culture and religious heritage, except for Greece. The West ignores it too.1

The Very Rev. Paul Palesty combines old world values of his family and religious tradition with the realities of American life. “Our family name is Palestidis that means prize wrestler,” he said to this writer in a previous interview. “We had a great uncle who was famous in the sultan’s court for his wrestling feats. Palestidis replaced our family name, Xanthopoulos. I was named Parashos after the wrestler. The name Paul was assumed upon my ordination as a priest. His philosophy centers on the role of the persons of his community. The faith and commitment of the community have inspired me. Persons make a parish. I listen to their needs and attempt to expand the community. My ministry has survived, because I do not seek to please people, but the Lord. I seek the approval of God and in this way, people approve of my work. I am constantly learning from the Holy Scriptures.” 

Father Paul’s father is from the Pontus, on the Black Sea in Turkey. Historical research in 1995 shows that the Pontic Greeks are of Arcadian descent. His Mother was an orphan born on the island of Chios. His mother’s family came from Tseme and Katopanayia in Asia Minor.2

The detailed investigation of the existence of St. Nicholas of Myra by international scientist Andreas George is the final word on the subject. His scientific examination of sources and historical sites disproves the 1970’s action of the Vatican, demoting St. Nicholas as a major saint or characterization as a mythological figure. St. Nicholas’ ancestors were Greeks, descendants of Alexander the Great’s colonists or of Cretans. The author believes St. Nicholas’ ancestors were most likely from Crete, because of similar customs and traditions with the Greek island. Modern Greek sources on the Greek Cities of Asia Minor show that the Greek communities along the Asia Minor coast had up to 50 percent Cretans until the 1922 Catastrophe. Their dialect and customs were also like the Cretan culture. Mr. George’s research added information that St. Nicholas spent time in Cyprus through his visits to monasteries and study of Greek sources. His translations into English of these facts are invaluable to a serious reader.3

Unsung heroes are the builders of societies. The average person, unknown to many of us, creates centers of civilization and religion. Their story is greater than the leaders. They were and are part of something bigger: doing something for their children so they can hold onto their religion and culture. Sacrifices of many built and are still building St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Flushing, New York.


1.               https://www.qgazette.com/articles/remembering-the-200th-anniversary-of-greece-independence-the-origins-of-the-greek-nation/

2.               Rev. Paul Palesty’s Ministry Rooted in Orthodoxy of His Ancestry | (greeknewsonline.com)

3.               http://www.seaburnbooks.com/in_the_footsteps_of_saint_nicholas.htm