Home Church & Religion Holy Resurrection Expansion Project Forges Ahead

Holy Resurrection Expansion Project Forges Ahead

By Sophia A. Niarchos

Photos: Parish of the Holy Resurrection

OYSTER BAY, N.Y. – Bulldozers raze a children’s playground, an entrance to the property is modified to accommodate trucks and heavy equipment. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Resurrection in Brookville, N.Y., has entered the construction phase of a project that had been conceived more than a decade ago. 

According to Fr. Panteleimon Papadopoulos, the parish’s proistamenos, “An athletic center, a fellowship hall, and the hope of additional classrooms were part of the plan envisioned by Fr. Emmanuel Gratsias and the lay leadership of the church at that time.” The current expansion project was recently blessed by Archbishop Elpidophoros when Fr. Panteleimon, Parish Council President Stephanie Litsakis Clark, and other Parish Council members presented a guaranteed commitment of at least 50% of the cost of the $10,500,000 project as required by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

“The community has grown over recent years; so, as one of our parishioners put it, ‘when your shoes don’t fit any longer, you have to buy new shoes,’ explained Fr. Panteleimon. “The expansion is not a luxury; it’s a need because we don’t have the physical space to accommodate our growth. 

“We have 250 students in our Greek school and have had to turn kids away. Our athletic program has grown tremendously in the last three years from 70-80 kids to 120 only in basketball; and there’s a desire to develop a volleyball program, to reinstate our soccer team. We had a fantastic camp here in August with 100 kids. After the camp, we had a one-day retreat attended by 180 kids. 

“We have seen an increase, too, in church attendance here. We can easily think about the day when the church building will be expanded. The gym will afford us that possibility,” he added.

“With our athletics, we have an “optiki ghonia,” a way of looking at things, that everything connects back to Christ. We don’t see basketball just as throwing a ball into a rim. If you visit any one of the games, you will see the camaraderie built among the players, the sportsmanship, the ethos that our coaches try to instill in them as well as, frankly, the way the parents interact in the bleachers with the parents of the opposing team. All of that under the umbrella of the Church, under the umbrella of Christ, is really what we are trying to cultivate with all our ministries.

“From our Spirited Seniors to our new moms, whether it is religious education, Greek education, or youth ministries, it’s formation, transformation, and bonding, making the church actually respond to all their needs like Christ, who loved His people and did things to draw them to Himself. There was no one He didn’t love. So, is your hand withered and you need it fixed? ‘Ela ‘dho,’ Christ would say. ‘Do you need your eyesight restored’? ‘to feel loved’? ‘to be forgiven’? ‘Ela ‘dho…come here’.” 

“I think the ministry teams we have here radiate that kind of ethos, and that is really what Fr. Manny was all about. He had a big heart that made people feel good when they came to church. 

“Combining education,athletics, and fellowship goes to our mantra, our motto, “Faith, Family, Fellowship.” These are our three focal points. Our faith strengthens our families and not only our personal families but also, through fellowship, our church family, as families of God”.  

“After going through a number of steps including getting the permit from the Village of Brookville, and receiving a $4 million line of credit from the bank, as well as completing the architectural drawings and other ‘soft costs,’ we are now looking at an 18-24 month period of construction after a long time with the previous priests who worked very hard to get to this day.

“We’ve rejected the normative approach to fundraising for an unorthodox one. We have not associated any number in terms of money with certain so-called individuals who are of a certain financial level although many pushed us to do that. Our approach has used two guiding principles: (1) whatever you give will be from your heart and (2) whatever you give will be with joy. Those are the two principles that God will bless. 

“At the present time we have just about $6 million in pledges without any big donor, which is really incredible. It’s also been very touching to see the elderly come forward, those who have no real vested interest here as opposed to parents who have children in the athletic program.”

The new construction consists of a new high school regulation gymnasium with all the bells and whistles: locker rooms, bleachers, a concession stand, scoreboards up above, bathrooms, its own entrance, and an athletic director’s office; four additional classrooms over the current four classrooms; and the nearly doubling in size of the current fellowship hall with its own separate entrance.

“The building committee consists of teams led by Constandinos Zachariades and Sam Panageas, co-chairs of the construction committee, and Jimmy Xanthos and Peter Pappas, Jr., who co-chair the fundraising committee – with very good communication and constantly sharing ideas. Fundraising projects currently being discussed include festivals, dances, and concert performances”.

Donations for the project can be made through the expansion project web site (https://www.resurrectionexpansion.org), by mail to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Resurrection, 1400 Cedar Swamp Road, Brookville, NY, 11545, or in person.