Asbury Park, NJ – The Greek Orthodox community of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania celebrated the annual Blessing of the Waters and Divine Liturgy yesterday at the Paramount Theater and Convention center.

In keeping with a tradition that began more 65 years ago, Metropolitan Evangelos, following the Liturgy and short Memorial Service for the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, led a procession including all of the Greek Orthodox Clergy in New Jersey, altar boys and young people from throughout the state, to the shore just south of Convention Hall. He then Blessed the Waters and threw four wooden crosses into the water. Young boys and girls, representing their parish, raced into the water hoping to retrieve the cross which would bring them blessings throughout the year. The winners were Eleni Idiadis (junior girls) of St. Thomas in Cherry Hill, NJ, Nicholas Koutsoumbi (junior boys) of St. George in Piscataway, NJ, Calliope Yiannos (senior girls) of Holy Trinity in Egg Harbor, NJ, and Michael Simon (senior boys), of Kimisis of Theotokos in Homedale, NY.

The spectacular event was attended by thousands of Greek Orthodox faithful. The annual celebration and blessing offered a prayer that the world’s oceans, which connect all people of the Earth, could also become vessels that transmit hope and peace.