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Greek church closer to move

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  • Rev. Fr. John-Brian Paprock
    Greek church closer to move Finalizes purchase of Dartmouth land By CURT BROWN, Standard-Times staff writer JACK IDDON/The Standard-Times The Rev. Constantine
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 27, 2004
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      Greek church closer to move
      Finalizes purchase of Dartmouth land
      By CURT BROWN, Standard-Times staff writer


      JACK IDDON/The Standard-Times
      The Rev. Constantine Bebis sits in a pew at St. George Greek Orthodox
      Church on Ashley Boulevard in New Bedford's North End. The church
      will close when a new site opens on Cross Road in Dartmouth.
      NEW BEDFORD -- Seeking to establish a new church more centrally
      located to its growing congregation and with better parking and
      handicapped access, St. George Greek Orthodox Church is planning to
      move to Dartmouth.
      The Very Rev. Constantine S. Bebis, the church's 77-year-old pastor,
      announced the purchase of the land for the new church during Mass
      yesterday.
      The new church will replace the current one on Ashley Boulevard,
      which was built by Greek immigrants in 1935 and sits in what was once
      the center of the Greek enclave in the city.
      There is a sense of excitement and enthusiasm about the move, which
      was overwhelmingly supported by the congregation.
      "We like to serve the spiritual needs and growth of our children and
      especially our grandchildren," the Rev. Bebis said. "The present
      church has served us well. Now it's time for us to look forward and
      to expand the church to the suburbs because people have moved."
      He added plans for the new church -- which will be built on a six-
      acre parcel on Cross Road across from the Potter School -- are in
      keeping with the Greek saying of "Ta Panta Re," or "everything
      moves."
      The new site will include two separate buildings -- a church and a
      two-story cultural center and church hall with space for
      administrative offices, a Sunday school, a gymnasium and plenty of
      land to hold Greek festivals, feasts and weddings.
      The congregation, which includes about 300 families, stretches from
      Wareham and Onset to Dartmouth and Westport.
      The Rev. Bebis said the church started in a small wooden building on
      River Avenue in Fairhaven in 1910 and moved to its present location
      at Ashley Boulevard and Coggeshall Street in 1917.
      Masses were said in a house at the New Bedford site from 1917 to
      1935; the house was then demolished to clear the way for the present
      church, according to the Rev. Bebis.
      There is a strong emotional attachment to the present church, and
      church leaders are planning to move the altar, the holy relics, icons
      and artwork to the new church.
      "It will be sad for us to leave the area, but again we have to look
      to the future," the Rev. Bebis said.
      The purchase of the land, which was completed last week, ends a 3½-
      year search of suitable sites for a new church in Greater New
      Bedford, according to George Bebis, the son of the Rev. Bebis and the
      chairman of the church's Land Acquisition Committee.
      "I'm very excited about the future of our church," Mr. Bebis said
      last week.
      He said the site is the best location they viewed and it provides
      easy access off Interstate 195, is an equal distance for all members
      of the congregation and offers expansion possibilities.
      Although the site totals six acres, church officials said only four
      are buildable because of wetlands.
      Mr. Bebis said the church and orthodox religion is growing and this
      site addresses concerns about parking, handicapped access and
      expansion.
      "The current situation was too small for our needs," he said.
      The timetable for construction is undetermined at this time,
      according to Dennis Maniatis, president of the parish council.
      He added they need to start construction within three years or else
      the church will have to return to the Dartmouth Conservation
      Commission for renewal of its wetlands permit, granted earlier this
      year.
      "Before I retire I would like to break ground," the Rev. Bebis
      said. "The priest who follows me will have his future (parish) ready
      for him."
      The Rev. Bebis said he hasn't decided on a retirement date.
      Mr. Maniatis said they hope to consecrate the land in the near
      future, possibly in the fall, with construction starting sometime
      next year.
      "Fund raising is the key to everything, and our work is just
      beginning," he said.
      He said they hope to construct the church mostly with money raised
      by fund raising and donations, and a loan, if necessary.
      "Hopefully, it won't be much of a loan," he said.
      There are no immediate plans for the present church, although church
      officials said eventually it will be sold.
      Dartmouth officials are pleased the land situated between commercial
      properties and residential developments will be used for a church.
      Donald A. Perry, the town's planning director, said the church is a
      nice transitional use between the business development at State and
      Cross roads and the homes on Cross Road.
      He said a church property is used only on Sundays and sometimes
      during weekends for festivals, feasts and weddings.
      Mr. Perry said the church needs approval of its parking plan by the
      Planning Board. He added the church hasn't filed its parking plan as
      yet.
      http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/07-04/07-26-04/a01lo982.htm
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