Tarpon Springs, Fla. – His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America headed the festivities surrounding the Feast of Theophany, the Feast of Lights, which is traditionally celebrated by the large Greek Orthodox Community of St. Nicholas Cathedral in the Epiphany City with thousands of faithful in attendance.
Archbishop Demetrios presided at the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy with the host Hierarch, Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, Bishop Sevastianos of Zela and Bishop Cyril of Abydos concelebrating, while assisted by more than a dozen clergy.
The guest of honor at the festivities was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece Terence Quick, who is visiting the U.S. and is in charge of affairs concerning Greeks abroad.
Following the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the Archbishop led the service of the Great Agiasmos, the sanctification of the waters and the blessing of the faithful with holy water. The service is truly a holy event during which the Holy Spirit sanctifies the water and those faithful who partake of it.
The traditional procession to Spring Bayou formed outside the Cathedral. School children in traditional costumes, choir members, Greek Folk dance groups from throughout the Tampa Bay Area, the hierarchs, clergy, altar boys, dignitaries and thousands of people comprised an impressive mosaic. Several thousand people had already gathered around the scenic cove of Spring Bayou. More than forty young men, ages 16-18 years-old knelt and received the blessing of Archbishop Demetrios just before they they ran and jumped in the water, struggling to get their place in one of the dinghies forming a semi-circle in the bayou. Following the reading of the Gospel the Archbishop threw the white wooden cross into the water. The boys dove and shortly after 18-year-old Joseph Cooley emerged holding the white cross in his hand raised it above the water.
Among the many dignitaries present were: Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S. Leonidas Pantelidis, Consul General of Greece in Tampa, Fla. Admantia Klotsa, the Mayor of Tarpon Springs Chris Alahouzos, the Mayor of Clearwater Fla. George Cretekos, the Mayors of Kalymnos Ioannis Galouzis and of Halki Mihalis Patros, AHEPA Supreme President Andrew Zachariades, former Congressman Michael Bilirakis, Commander in the Hellenic Navy Ioannis Tzifas, and many others.
The day before, Jan. 5, 2017, His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, the Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod, officiated at the Blessing of the waters, and the fleet at the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs. His Grace also blessed the stores, the owners and the visitors on the picturesque Dodecanese Blvd.
In the evening, Archbishop Demetrios, following his arrival, attended the Annual AHEPA Epiphany Banquet in Tarpon Springs along with all the aforementioned hierarchs and dignitaries. The Local AHEPA chapter presented to Archbishop Demetrios a contribution for the rebuilding of St. Nicholas at Ground Zero.