Archbishop arrives for Epiphany
The Greek Orthodox spiritual leader will toss a cross into water today.
By ELENA LESLEY, Times Staff Writer
Published January 6, 2008
CLEARWATER - The spiritual leader who will throw a cross into
Spring Bayou today -and bless the boy who retrieves it - had warm
words Saturday for Tampa Bay's Greek Orthodox community.
"It was excellent by itself," His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios said
of an annual welcome reception thrown at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox
Church, "and by anticipation of a wonderful time here."
A native of Greece, the archbishop, 79, became spiritual head of the
U.S. Greek Orthodox Church in 1999 and has performed a pivotal role
in Tarpon Springs' Epiphany celebration several times before.
He flew in from New York on Saturday and was immediately escorted to
the Clearwater church, where an enthusiastic audience honored him and
visiting priests and dignitaries.
Members of the church began planning the reception, which included a
formal luncheon and performance by the Orthodox Youth Choir of Tampa
Bay, a few weeks in advance, said Mary Prinos, a member of the parish council.
The archbishop thanked event organizers for their "superb
hospitality," praising them for their attention to both aesthetic and
The group always manages to make "things not only tasty, but visually
attractive," he said.
After the archbishop arrived at the church, he was greeted by the
choir, which sang in Greek, Latin, English and Serbian Slavonic.
The ensemble was "not an easy, light children's choir," the
archbishop said, adding that he was very impressed by its performance.
He said he was pleased to see young people engaged in an activity
that would enhance their skills and their relationships with others.
"They're not just singing together, they're bonding together," he said.
Looking forward to the day ahead, the archbishop said Tarpon Springs'
Epiphany celebration has a special significance because it ties
religion to nature. Diving for the cross in Spring Bayou commemorates
Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River.
"We need to have the whole of nature - water, air, earth -
participate," he said of the religious rite, which "emphasizes the
sacredness of nature."
Elena Lesley can be reached at elesley@...
or 727 445-4167.
[Last modified January 5, 2008, 22:12:41]