This is always an exciting time in the Cathedral, and also Orthodox, universe – the feasts of Sts. Nicholas and Spyridon, always falling within a week of each other, and then two weeks later Christmas. Last Sunday night I rolled to Clinton to celebrate the vespers service for the parish saint St. Nicholas. They had a long day there – liturgy in the morning with the Metropolitan followed by a dinner. That night seemingly half the people there were Spyridonistas, which was nice. The venerable Fr. Soterios Alexopoulos, who was Prez’s priest growing up, was the host, and archimandrite Fr. Gregory Houlakis was the main celebrant. Fr. Gregory gave the invocation and we paused, waiting for the chanter to read the psalm. Nothing happened, so Fr. Soteri looked up at me and I launched into it. As it turned out, there was no chanter at all so the three of us handled everything. It was a challenge and very fulfilling.
It was wonderful to serve with two long-suffering priests to whom I look up and cherish as mentors. When I was a seminarian I would occasionally see Fr. Soteri and he would always heartily exclaim “Come to Clinton!!!”, meaning come visit on a Sunday when he is there. He has been a tremendous example to me – if there are multiple priests he often likes to play the role of altar boy – he is a man without ego. Fr. Gregory and I are the only priests with this name in the Metropolis, and we kind of represent two ends of the spectrum. He was ordained in 1953 and I in 2005, and we are each among the oldest and youngest priests respectively in the Metropolis. It is an honor to serve with both of these men, and may God continue to bless them and their ministry. Here they are in the altar as we milled around before the service: