Cherry Hill, NJ – A ground breaking ceremony took place this past Sunday morning following church at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox church. Some 500 members of the community filled the church parking lot on Mercer St. for the milestone event.
There, Father Emmanuel Pratsinakis led his parishioners in a ceremony, blessing of the grounds, which was followed by several speeches by members of the Cherry Hill church. Master of ceremonies, Dimitri Rozanitis (Federation of Hellenic American Societies of Philadelphia) introduced the crowed to a brief history/timeline of St. Thomas, before handing off the microphone to church President Kostas Horiatis.
Horiatis spoke about his youth and running through the woods as a child, of the soon to be senior housing facility and then asked Ana Maroulakos(retired/former Greek school teacher) to come forward and be recognized for her effort in the project. One by one, members of the parish and public officials spoke and then scooped up some dirt in the field next to the parking lot, with a shovel during the historic event.
Cherry Hill mayor Chuck Kanh and Congressman Rob Andrews were on hand and spoke as well about there admiration of this community. Former mayor Bernie Platt also spoke and commented, that he await’s the day that Mercer street become’s renamed to Athens Ave.
The new Senior Housing project will be completed in 18-24 months (estimated by church parish) and will have 37 apartments/living quarters. They will be, 1 and 2 bedroom. The project cost is estimated to be in the range of 5 million dollars, said church member and builder, John Soubasis.
Over and over again, parishioners and those that spoke on behalf of this new project said that none of this would have been possible without the Chigounis family, which bequeathed the initial funds to start this project some 12 years ago.
St. THOMAS MILESTONES TIMELINE
April 17th 1966: Founders attend first Divine Liturgy, St. Paul’s Episcopal church
April 17th 1977: Groundbreaking of Cultural Center building
April 14th 1991: Consecration of St. Thomas church
April 18th, 2004: Groundbreaking of Educational Center
April 30, 2006: Grand opening of Educational Center
November 4, 2012: Groundbreaking of Senior Housing