Saint George Greek Orthodox Church
St. Paul, Minnesota

Parish History

Pastors of St. George Greek Orthodox Church

Fr. Constantine Capoyianis
(1940-1949)
Fr. Joseph Vasiliou
(1950-1963)
Fr. Rassias
(1963-1966)
Fr. John Angelis
(1966-1975)
Fr. Parry Paraschou
(1975-1999)
Fr. Richard Demetrius Andrews
(1999-Present)


Parish Council Presidents

St. George's Past Parish Council Presidents
1940-44 John C. Lambros 1979 Harold Johnson
1945-46 George N. Miller 1980-82 Basil Loudas
1947 Nick Chiomes 1983 Chris Georgantones
1948 Ted Nikas 1984-85 Steve George
1949 Steve Dress 1986 John Antoniou
1950-53 Nick Arvanitis 1987 Steve George
1954-56 Harry Strenglis 1988 Dimitri Dokos
1957 Nick Arvanitis 1989-90 Pendy Eliou
1958 Frank Eliot 1992 Mike Manos
1959 Nick Strenglis 1993 Joe Weiser
1960 George Vavoulis 1994-95 Nick Constantine
1961 John W. Lambros 1996 Harold Johnson
1962 Chris Sater 1997 Spero Daltas
1963 Peter Paulos 1998 Warren Anderson Jr. & Vasiliki Constantine
1964 Chris Georgantones 1999-00 Dimitri Dokos
1965-68 H. S. Makredes 2001 Athanasios Contolatis
1969 John Boosalis 2002-03 George Kanavati
1970 John Ormas 2004 Ron Adkins
1971 Mathew Kritikos 2005 Paul Loudas
1972 Steve Zeece 2006-10 Eric Chadwick
1973-74 Chris Kontenakos 2011 Frank Mortari
1975 William T. Collins 2012 Tom Lampros
1976 James Theros    
1977-78 Peter Spell    


History of Our Community

The St. Paul Greek Community was officially recognized by the State of Minnesota on May 23, 1918. This event followed by many years the first Greek arrivals to our city. Their immigration to the State of Minnesota had begun several years earlier, following the end of the American Civil War, but the first arrivals of Greek immigrants to St. Paul were railroad laborers employed by the Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroad Companies to work as construction and maintenance workers. They worked hard long hours, they lived on the trains and went wherever the line took them. These men withstood many hardships and deprived themselves of the simple pleasures of life because their ultimate goal was to save their money and return to Greece for the life they had been accustomed. Some of them did just that; many of the others stayed. After the March to October working season was over, they would spend their winters in St. Paul where they could find jobs not far from the Railroad employment offices. This temporary but periodic stay gave them roots and a place they could call home away from home. Little by little, the winter jobs became permanent ones and the monies saved for Greece became the nucleus of privately owned businesses. Soon other Greeks living elsewhere in the Union relocated to St. Paul with their families or started their families here.

Thus, in 1900 there were about 25 Greeks in St Paul and 4 Greek-owned stores. Ten years later the Greek population was estimated at about 100 people, 30 permanent families, and 20 stores. By 1923 the number of Greek families had increased to 88 with 330 children and 78 stores. Businesses of various types were sprouting all over the city and especially in the downtown area.

1918 War Relief Fund Drive Parade
1918 Community Parade, Downtown St. Paul, For War Relief Fund Drive

In their efforts to become established and independent, the Greeks of St. Paul did not become selfish, did not forget where they came from. Their Orthodox traditions and their Greek heritage were ever present, and they demonstrated that quite frequently. Their feeling of belonging was satisfied when they established the Greek community of St. Paul on October 2, 1916. Finally, on May 23, 1918, the State recognized officially its existence. As a community, they held several social events during the year, the highlight of which was their annual picnic.

The need for a church in St. Paul had not been very urgent in those years for one simple reason. The sister city of Minneapolis with a much larger Greek population had grown much faster. They had completed St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church on East Lake Street, and that site was found very convenient for the Greek families of St. Paul to attend church services. As a matter of fact, practically all of the newborn children of St. Paul were baptized at St. Mary’s and most of the wedding ceremonies also took place there. And all this was made possible through a mutual agreement between the two communities to enjoy equal membership privileges; because of this understanding, the building of the St. Paul church was delayed until 1939, although many sporadic efforts had been made for it at various times before then.


The First St. George Church Building


Interior of the First St. George Chruch

The church now became the center of Orthodoxy and Greek heritage for many to the St. Paul families; it became the focal point of all the community activities. It served well the community which consisted of the permanent families, the newcomers, and the periodic visitors. Its first priest, Father Cappoyannis, remained with the St. George community until 1948. He was followed by Father Speliopoulos, who served the community until 1950. Father Vasiliou, the community’s third priest, served for the longest period (1951 to 1963) and still serves our community on a part-time basis whenever the need arises. Father Vasiliou was followed by Father Rassias (1963-1966) and then by Father Angelis.


1942 Memorial for Fallen Soldiers in World War II


1942 Greek Independence Day Program

As the years passed, the community grew and matured and the feeling that “today is the time to plan for the needs of tomorrow” grew stronger and stronger until the following letter, which started with the above phrase, was written by a group of three ladies of St. George community.

The letter, which was dated on August 8, 1960, continued on: “It has become apparent to many of us in the community that with the ever-increasing population, our present church facilities will become inadequate in the not- too-distant future.”

“With this in mind, we would like to lay the groundwork for ‘tomorrow’s church’ by bringing together a small group of progressive and interested persons to discuss and promote a ‘Building Fund’."

“Thank you for your faith in the future of our Church.”

Sincerely,
TEMPORARY BUILDING
FUND COMMITTEE
Mrs. Paul Datras
Mrs. George Dionisopoulos
Mrs. Peter Georgantones

The consequence of this initial effort was the establishment of the New Building Fund Committee, which, according to Their February 14, 1968 final report, was successful in building thru May 1, 1967 a savings account in the amount of $22,315.83, a sizable sum.

One may say that the timing was perfect, because on March 14, 1967 a fire of unknown origin destroyed the interior of the Church building, to the extent that it became necessary to build a new church as soon as possible.

_____
Old Mansion on Summit and Lexington Torn Down to Make Room for New Design

The altruism with which the St. Paul Greek families had been known to respond in moments of great need came forth again. Through private donations and community group contributions, through hard work and with help from the St. Paul community, not only temporary shelter was found for the church services of the St. George Parish but the new church was on its way up.

Within a few weeks following the fire, as the new Spring growth was filling out the trees at the corner of Lexington and Summit, the OLD Church building was being razed to give way for the NEW one. A few months later, as the first snow covered gently the earth where the fallen building once stood, the sound of bulldozers and the ground-breaking ceremony that followed gave notice that the NEW church was under construction.

__
Construction of New St. George Church on Lexington and Summit

On February 25, 1968, his Grace Bishop Timotheos officiated in the cornerstone ceremony, which was attended by man dignitaries and the entire community. Finally, on July 5, 1968, the first church service was celebrated in the new church. There were no pews yet, no stained window, no pulpit, no dome paintings. As a matter of fact, it took the better part of the next five years for the acquisition of the many necessary ornamental items which surround the faithful whenever he is seated inside the Nave. And it was the gracious generosity of our parishioners that made these additions possible.


New Church Consecrated May 11, 1975 by Archbishop Iakovos


Good Friday in The New Church Building


Copyright 2005. Saint George Greek Orthodox Church 1111 Summit Ave. St. Paul, MN 55105
Rev. Fr. Richard Demetrius Andrews- Presbyter, Phone: (651) 222-6220