Cherry Hill, NJ – Celebrations continued at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church this past Sunday, where a ribbon cutting ceremony highlighted St. Thomas Day. As the Fifty year anniversary approaches, preparations continue to be part of the year-long series of events.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey along with an enclave of priests from the Delaware Valley hosted Orthros and the liturgy at St. Thomas. Following services, parishioners and dignitaries from Cherry Hill Twp gathered outside, in front of the church where a blessing of the new facade entrance was commemorated. The recently updated facade of the church brought the exterior inline to a traditional Byzantine style. The architectural blend of Greek Revival and Byzantine style was topped off with a golden mosaic that came handmade by nuns in Greece at the cost of nearly $30,000. Several parishioners and his Eminence commented that this is the first stage of the updates that will go on to the exterior at St. Thomas. A new dome and a Byzantine bell tower will be added in the coming years.
A reception in the Danielle Kousoulis Center followed where a historical exhibit of the early Greek community of Camden and the surrounding area was featured. The exhibit featured photographs and a sign from the “Hellenic Orthodox Center” that was the proud home of the Greek community in Camden. That building was eventually sold as the community moved further into the suburbs.
St. Thomas has since been established as the home of the Greek community of South Jersey. It has grown to include a senior center and Greek school. The property now stretched a full block and has a parking lot as large as the hosting facility.
Following the opening prayer to the mid-afternoon lunch, mc Elias Iliadis of St. Thomas announced several speakers including Peter Kousoulis. Peter is the brother of Danielle Kousoulis who the center was named after. “Danielle was a lifelong member of the church before her life was cut short tragically at 9-11”, said Peter. “It’s nice to see that her memory will live on here,” he added. Peter spoke on behalf of his family that was recognized for their support of the church improvement. The day closed with a presentation of a golden framed key to his father George Kousoulis from his Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, for their dedication and philanthropy the St. Thomas community.