Annual Saint George Greek Orthodox Church Festival A Resounding Success
With a sun-drenched crystal clear azure sky overhead, under the shade of the large tent, the aroma of roasting lamb wafted through the air. Each breeze seemed to carry with it a message of joyful community, rebirth, and human unity from the hearts of the parishioners of Saint George Greek Orthodox Church outward into a pandemic- and conflict-weary world.
In synch with the punctuated licks of bouzouki, clarinet, and drums, the church youth, in hand-sewn folk costumes, regaled spectators with their acrobatic mastery of regional folk dances from all over Greece. Over a three-day period, a veritable army of volunteers transformed the church hall and parking lot into a pop-up Plaka in Athens, its blocks defined by food, drink, souvenir stands, and family-style seating arrangements.
For Anthoula Bozios, “It was the best festival in memory…the weather was perfect.” When asked how they were able to pull off three days and untold hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of lamb, chicken, pastitsio, moussaka, spanakopita, tyropita, salad, feta, olives, baklava, and loukoumades, Anthoula summed it up in a word: “Teamwork. The teamwork from all the parishioners was outstanding. We all worked hand in hand to make it a terrific weekend.”
Father Peter Souritzidis echoed those sentiments, adding that, “It was a true blessing from the Lord above to have beautiful weather for the whole weekend. Many of our wonderful volunteers worked together harmoniously and were part of this successful fundraiser.”
Lisa Marcopulos added that “It was wonderful to see the community come out after being in pandemic mode for almost three years. Our neighbors had the opportunity to enjoy the delicious Greek food and pastries and learn about our culture and Orthodox faith.”
The church is a true Byzantine-inspired architectural jewel, adorned with gorgeous icons written in a warm array of deep, vibrant colors, which glowed in the refracted, kaleidoscopic afternoon light pouring through the stained glass windows.
Tours and information about the history of the Orthodox Church were given throughout the day, every day, by parish members, including Professor Peter Salierno.
Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, which recently celebrated its first centennial, began its history in next door Passaic during the earliest days of migration from Greece and the collapsing Ottoman Empire. At the height of that city’s rise as a powerhouse of industry, a small group of Greek Orthodox immigrants scraped together whatever they had to consecrate a new church which would serve the spiritual needs of a growing flock. The church has the distinction of also containing the shrine of Saint Nectarios the Wonderworker, a preacher and writer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The shrine is revered and regularly visited by Orthodox Christian faithful from the northeastern United States and further afield.
George Orfanakos was heartened and inspired by the huge support coming from the local community in Clifton, as well as the surrounding municipalities of Little Falls, Passaic, Paterson, Woodland Park, Elmwood Park, Garfield, Lyndhurst, and Rutherford. “We had scores of volunteers and we couldn’t have done it without them, nor been more grateful.” George thanked the Clifton Police and the ROTC in particular for their support in maintaining smooth logistics, cleanliness, and organization for the duration of the event. The community eagerly anticipates and warmly welcomes all to the next festival and extends an invitation to enjoy the beauty and peace of the sanctuary or partake in Orthodox Christian worship throughout the year.