The St. Photios National Shrine— a historic building that once served as refuge to the first Greeks that arrived in America in the 1700s— paid tribute to its Greek roots during a Holiday Open House on December 8th.
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, the Hierarchal Pastor of the Shrine which is located in St. Augustine, Florida, was on hand to greet hundreds of guests from throughout the nation in the courtyard of the shrine.
The inaugural event was organized by Bishop Demetrios to introduce his new ministry to the broader community while simultaneously sharing Greek traditions of the holiday season.
“This new ministry entrusted to me by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is indeed an opportunity to witness Orthodoxy on a more national and broader level, highlighting and remembering our immigrant and refugee past as well as accentuating what we’ve accomplished since arriving on these blessed shores,” said Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos.
He added, “Our philoxenia included the sharing of food and beverages and for the first time, we decorated our own ‘St Photios’ karavaki and shared the Greek holiday tradition with our guests.”
In addition to hundreds of guests from throughout the region, Tracy Upchurch, the Mayor of Saint Augustine attended, as well as numerous religious leaders from the area.
An Orthodox family, recent immigrants from war-torn Syria, were special guests, highlighting the continuity of the movement of people over the centuries, like the first Greeks who arrived on the eastern coast of Florida in whose memory the Shrine has been created.
Prior to the Open House, a hierarchal Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the chapel of the Shrine officiated by Bishop Demetrios and area clergy and with the participation of renown chanter Nicholas Harasiadis from Chicago, born and musically trained in Constantinople.
The St. Photios Shrine is an institution of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that celebrates immigration history while honoring the memory of the 500 Greek colonists who came to America in 1768 as indentured servants, settling the New Smyrna Colony in Florida.
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