The Holy Institution of Panagia Soumela, in West Milford, NJ celebrated its 6th annual pilgrimage this past weekend with a Greek Festival and religious services. Church services recognizing the Feast of the Dormition or Falling asleep of the Theotokos commemorating the death, resurrection, and glorification of Christ’s mother took place as part of the three-day event. Traditional Greek music and dancing from the Black Sea were highlighted at this Greek festival that took place on the grounds, each day. West Milford New Jersey was treated again to a wonderful weekend of ethnic flavored food from the Greek community while above the grounds in the sky, an air show took place as well.

The Holy Institution of Panagia Soumela is the home of the Black Sea community of North America. The facility/complex was established to commemorate and reflect on its original homeland monastery of Panagia Soumela in Trabzon, Turkey and provide a location for Pontian culture and Greek Orthodox faith to continue for its people.

Many of those that attended came from Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Connecticut. But they also came from as far away as Toronto Canada. Dedicated volunteers from the Pontian community work together every year to maintain this facility.

This year, a promissory note program was introduced to help sustain and pay off the mortgage for the Institution, which apparently was welcomed with open arms. During the afternoon luncheon on Sunday, Dr. Haralambos V. Vasiliadis, President of the Holy Institution, announced that 70,000 dollars in pledges towards a half million dollar mortgage have already been made, securing the facilities mortgage for the upcoming year.

For more information about how to help sponsor the Holy Institution of Panagia Soumela Church, please visit: