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Dedication ceremony for The Koimisis Tis Theotokou church in Park Extension

Create: 08/22/2016 - 22:47

A melancholy chapter in the Montreal Greek community’s history, which began more than a year ago when the beloved Koimisis Tis Theotokou was destroyed by fire, was headed to a happier ending on Sunday last week when a dedication stone was set into the foundation where The Koimisis Tis Theotokou will be rebuild, at the same corner of Saint-Roch St. and de l’Épée Ave. in Park Extension.
A momentous event
Many prominent members of the Greek community, including religious, government and consular officials, were joined by more than 10,000 people who came for the lengthy and tradition-laden ceremony which took place at the intersection where the church stood until April 2015.
“Today we are symbolically placing a stone in the foundation, signifying the beginning of construction,” said Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal president Nicholas T. Pagonis. He pointed out that once the church is completed, an even more elaborate religious ceremony will take place to consecrate the new building.
While some in the community had hoped construction would be completed in time for this year’s Dormition, Pagonis said this had perhaps been overly optimistic, but that he was “okay” with the way things turned out.
A ‘rebirth,’ said Greek Consul
“This is a very important moment for the Greek community,” said Consul General in Montreal for the Republic of Greece Nicolas Sigalas. “So many people are here because it symbolizes not only the oldest, but also what has long been the most symbolically meaningful church of the Montreal Greek community.” It was day of rebirth for Koimisis tis Theotokou, Sigalas added.
“Today the population of the parish is showing their love with their presence,” said Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros. “I am truly moved emotionally by seeing all these people who have gathered to pay their respects and to pray. I am confident that next year on Aug. 15 we will be in the church celebrating.”
According to Deros, the superstructure of the new church should be completed before the end of this year, following which work will continue on the interior. “We’re hoping that everything will go well – God willing,” she added.
Caution from Metropolitan
His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios Athanassoulas, the Toronto-based spiritual leader of the Canadian Greek Orthodox Church, presided the dedication ritual with the assistance of more than a dozen Greek Orthodox clergy.
Before leading a procession of the faithful through the streets bearing items of faith for the new church, Archbishop Sotirios delivered an address, in Greek and in English, in which he cautioned the parishioners to be careful that a disaster like the one which destroyed their church building does not happen again.
“This church is the shrine for all of us here,” he said, highlighting the fact that Koimisis Tis Theotokou has long been regarded as the Greek Orthodox community’s spiritual centre in the Montreal region. “It took only a few minutes or maybe an hour or two for this church to be destroyed. But see how long it has taken for us to be prepared to start building the church.
Rebuilding takes time
“Therefore I would like to point out,” he added, “that when somebody, because he or she is not careful, and he destroys or she destroys something, or even worse it is done purposely, he or she must know that this is a great sin and it goes against God himself. It has taken so long for us to start building the church, and as I said it will take more time. But on top of this it is costing us an awful lot of money and this money could have been used for other charitable, useful things.”

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Martin C. Barry