When I became a priest, people sought my guidance and direction, now even sophomores think that they are smart. And talking about smart, when I became a priest, smart was a sign of intelligence, now, even the inanimate cell phone has become smart.

– Father Steven Vlahos

His sense of humor and down to earth candor, have made Father Steven Vlahos a much loved member of the Greek American community. On Sunday evening, friends, family, parishioners and fellow clergy honored Vlahos for his 50 years of service, by throwing him a party.

The event was hosted at Adelphia Restaurant, by the members of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church (Wildwood NJ),where he has been for the past 22 years. His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey welcomed the guests and then recognized Father Vlahos. Moments later, he awarded him a cross for his years of service, before departing to another event. One by one, from parishioners, priests and local leaders in the community, they spoke about Vlahos as he looked on.

With wife, Presvytera Chrysi at his side, tonight, and throughout his ecclesiastical career, they have warmed the hearts of communities with their love and dedication to the church.

Chicago born and raised. He came to the Metropolis of New Jersey with wife Chrysi Hondroulis via Baltimore in 1971. Assigned to St. Thomas Greek Orthodox church in Cherry Hill, NJ, he was instrumental in creating and establishing church libraries; the Delaware Valley Youth Commission, Lenten retreats and the first Greek Agora Festival in the Delaware Valley region in 1972.

After some 16 years, Vlahos took a temporary leave of absence from full time parish ministry and secured a government position in community outreach and public relations in the office of the Surrogate of Camden County. In late 1992 the late revered Metropolitan Silas assigned him to St. Demetrios in Wildwood New Jersey where he serves today.

Tonight, standing at the podium, with wife Presvytera Chrysi, he reflected on his journey and left us with laughter and gratitude.

My priestly life has been filled with numerous achievements and accomplishments, ups, downs and numerous sweet times for which I thank Chrysi who has stood at my side, inspiring me to serve the Lord with dignity, to love everyone and to forgive and overlook those few who thought that they should control the priest and treat him as an employee rather than spiritual leader responsible for the salvation of their souls.

Minutes later, Presvytera Chrysi joined him at the podium, where she blew kisses, and together waved, and wished everyone a good night.