NASHUA – The Saint Philip Greek Orthodox congregation of Nashua, New Hampshire, celebrated the feast day of its patron Saint Philip with an “Artoklasia” service, luncheon and the start of celebrations for its fiftieth anniversary on Sunday, November 13 Exist as a united church.
In the city of Nashua, early 20th-century Greek immigrant pioneers had established two congregations of St. Nicholas and Annunciation in the same neighborhood, which had been politically shared with the Venizelos and King parties in Greece.
In 1972 a miracle happened and the two parishes became a unified parish under the name of St. Philip with their first priest Fr. Soterios Alexopoulos who diligently served the community for 25 years. Ms. Soterios is now retired. Under his pastorship, the parish of St. Philip prospered, with a large congregation in the liturgy and also very strong Greek and catechetical schools, led by the late presbyter Eleni Alexopoulos, a graduate of St. Basil’s Academy in Garrison New York, as St. Basil was also a faculty.
The city of Nashua is located about 45 miles from Boston directly on the border of the two states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire with a progressive economy through high-tech industries and no sales tax. It has one of New England’s largest shopping malls, Pheasant Lane Mall.
On Sunday, November 13, the congregation honored Daniel and Bette Gioffre with the 2022 St. Philip Appreciation Award. Fr. Nicholas Levingston presented them with an icon of St. Philip. Mr. Gioffre assists the priest in his liturgical duties at the Shrine every Sunday. Bette served as the Sunday School principal for several years. Fr. Livingston thanks this author for volunteering his singing services to the church on Sundays and major feast days.
Fr. Livingston announced to the congregation that after two years as minister at St. Philip’s, he had been transferred to Annunciation Ward in Woburn, Massachusetts. According to a letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston dated November 9, 2022 to the Parish Council, he wrote that “Your beloved priest, Fr. Nicholas Livingston, recently applied for reassignment. I’m sure you’re saddened by his decision, but I’m sure your best wishes will accompany him as he takes on new responsibilities.”
Fr Livingston’s final liturgy at St Philip’s will be on Sunday 27th November.
A community center luncheon for the whole community followed, at which Dr. Samuel Koutsoulakos, one of the pillars of the church with many years of service and contribution to the church, gave a profound and detailed review of the church. George Efthimiou, a member of the Efthimiou Parish Council, also spoke of the younger generation.
Theodora Malliaroudakis and Tina Miris, Chairs of the 50th Anniversary Committee, updated the community on the events that are currently being planned. The fiftieth celebration began with the cutting of a cake.
Speaking to TNH, Mr. Daniel Gioffre, a professor at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, said of the St. Philip Appreciation Award, “It’s very surprising, but a good recognition. We take great pride in serving the community in any way we can.
He said: “We have been members of the congregation since 2008. Our younger daughter Penelope was baptized here. The eldest daughter was baptized in Cambridge at St. Mary’s Antiochian Church.”
Mr. Gioffre was converted to Orthodoxy in 2000. He said: “I was converted in 2000, my wife four years later in 2004, our whole family is Orthodox.”
When asked what draws you to Orthodoxy, he said: “That’s a good question. I didn’t know anyone in the Orthodox Church. I have studied history and read the Scriptures, it was historical inquiry more than anything.”
His previous affiliation was Roman Catholic. He said: “I was born into a Roman Catholic family, but we didn’t go to church very often, it wasn’t a very serious part of our family life. I became evangelical when I was a little older, but I was dissatisfied with that for several reasons. We find our home in the Greek Orthodox Church and have been ever since. Actually, my grandmother, my mother’s mother from Belarus, was raised orthodox.”
When asked what you value most, he said, “It’s the way of life, the spirituality of the church, the liturgical life of the church.”