Doctor’s Visit Nets New Parish Priest

(source and full story: It’s not every day that one goes to the doctor, and ends up finding a priest to serve at his or her local Orthodox parish, but that is exactly what happened when Donald and Susan Dimoff went to an appointment with physician Dr. Patitsas, also known as Fr. Christos Patitsas.

On the one hand, Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church was searching for a way forward after years of challenges and difficulties, being served during this time by visiting clergy, who, while dedicated, could not provide a permanent solution to the parish’s pastoral needs. The plans for this historic church were finalized in 1916, with members pledging two dollars a month for the treasury. Two lots were purchased at the corner of North Jefferson and Sherman Streets, and church furnishings and liturgical items were imported from Russia. Parish historian Georgianna Abrashoff remarks that the chandelier, banners, and Bible remain to this day. Some of the funds for the Church came directly from Tsar Nicholas II, who was later glorified as a saint in the Orthodox Church due in part to such philanthropic activities, and also for suffering exile and death at the hands of the Communists in 1917.

As with many parishes built by hard-working Eastern European immigrants in the early 20th century, the parish faced many challenges over the decades as demographic changes, Orthodox jurisdictional disputes, and natural disasters took their toll. After Hurricane Agnes in 1972, the Church, which was closed at the time, was almost given over by the Redevelopment Authority to a non-Orthodox group whose parish was slated for demolition. This led to parishioners rallying together, and the Church flourished for twenty years after.