The history of Saint Luke dates back to the late 1950s when the need for a suburban church, serving the Delaware and Montgomery Counties, grew as more and more Greek Orthodox families moved into the western suburbs of Philadelphia. This growing need led to the organizing of a series of meetings to discuss a new Greek Orthodox Church. The men involved in those early meetings included John Kusturiss, Sr.; Gregory Alexander; Dr. Louis Alikakos; Arthur Nannos; James Nannos; George Nichols; and Zenon N. Trivelis. These were energetic men who understood how to work together to organize this movement toward establishing a Church. By December, 1962, Groundbreaking Services were held and the 50 year journey of the St. Luke community began.
Reverend George D. Gregory became the first spiritual leader of the new parish. Dr. and Mrs. Louis Alikakos, named the church in honor of the Apostle Saint Luke who, like Dr. Alikakos, was a physician. In that same decade an Education Building and Parish house were built. In 1980, the community embarked on the project to build the new church. Arch Archbishop Iakovos conducted the ceremony of Thyranoixia of the new Church in March of 1985. The building of the original Church was then expanded and renovated and is used today as the gymnasium and Community Center.
The Consecration of the Church took place on April 24 and 25, 1999, transforming it into a true House of God. One of the proudest achievements this past decade has been the building of the Education and Cultural Center, a 3 floor state of the art building which includes 12 classrooms, 2 offices, a Social Hall, a kitchen and a beautiful Library. The Education and Cultural Center was built to support the ever growing activities of parish life at St. Luke.
Today St. Luke’s is a thriving community of over 700 families led by the Reverend Father Christ Kontos who came to St. Luke in 2000. Youth ministries and groups include Sunday School, Greek School, Hope, Joy, GOYA, Altar Boys, Girls and Boys Basketball teams, Playgroup, Greek Dance and Youth Choir. There are both a Senior Men’s and Women’s group, Bible Study, For Those in Need, Diakonia, Choir, onsite Bookstore and of course the backbone of St. Luke is the Ladies Philoptochos Society. The commitment and spirit of St. Luke community is on display every September when they come together to support their annual 5 day festival, the Greek Affair, which was in its 35th year last month.
The Golden 50th Jubilee celebration has been ongoing throughout 2012 with various celebrations and activities. A commemorative ornament was created to for the Jubilee. John Kusturiss, an original founder and the surving wives of other founders were honored. The godmother of the Church, Christina Aliakakos was honored. All 50 year members of the Philoptochos were honored with a luncheon. The late Georgette Salidis, a 50 year member of the choir was honored. The Greek School created a beautiful collage of their pictures represented in the Golden 50 Jubilee Logo and the Sunday School had a Birthday Celebration complete with cake and song. A “St. Luke Jubilee Team” was even organized to participate in the Philadelphia March of Dimes Walk and was recognized by that national organization as one of the top 10 fundraising teams in Southern Pennsylvania.
All these separate celebrations and activities culminated in the BALL held this past weekend. Close to 380 people attended including his Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos. Alexis Bove the General Chair reminded everyone that the theme for the year-long celebration has been Building a Lasting Legacy and announced that the goal set out by the committee had not only been met, but rather exceeded. The Golden Julbilee Sponsorship committee under the leadership of Angelique Demetris raised over $100K in Sponsorship for this year long event, which will significantly contribute to the mortgage reduction of the John & Tula Colyvas Education and Cultural Center. One of the highlights of the evening was the premiere presentation of the Building a Lasting Legacy video Directed and Edited by Mark Berryman that showcases St. Luke’s past and present. In this video Lisa Palmieri expertly interviewed member of the community to draw out the stories and event of the history of the Parish and Demi Peters narrated the history of the early years when her father Reverend George D. Gregory came to St. Luke. At the end, as the attendees left that evening they were all proudly gifted a 169 page commemorative album and video by the Editors in Chief, Cary and Alexis Limberakis.
St. Luke shined that evening. And did I mention they danced!
By Andrea Papadopoulos