A Greek family from Vestal, NY, connected with the Greek Orthodox monasteries in Pennsylvania and New York, which has offered the Greek Church two priests, one hierodeacon and a novice monk so far.
Protopresbyter Father Michael Michalopulos
March 1, 1931 – April 4, 2008
Fr. Michael Michalopulos was born in Filia, Kalavrita, Greece on March 1, 1931. As a child he served as a Novice at the Monastery of the Great Cave in Kalavrita, Greece. After graduating from high school, young Michael moved to Argentina where he met Magdalene Prodromidis; they were married in 1956 and have 2 children: Katherine and Alexandros, and five grandchildren. He was ordained Deacon in Buenos Aires in 1956 by Bishop Irinaios Kassimatis, first Greek Orthodox Bishop of South America. In 1959 Deacon Michael left for Boston to study for the priesthood at Holy Cross School of Theology, while serving as Deacon to Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America. In 1961, Fr. Michael, after his ordination to the priesthood by Archbishop Iakovos, he was transferred to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fr. Michael served there for one year, and then was transferred to Brazil as the parish priest in the city of Florianopolis also serving all the cities of southern Brazil until 1966 when he was transferred to San Paulo as Archdiocesan Vicar for all Brazil.
In June 1970, Fr. Michael returned to Buenos Aires to serve at the parish of The Archangels until August 1, 1981 when he was transferred to Annunciation Church in Vestal, New York. Fr. Michael served there until his retirement in 2003. As a retired priest, Fr. Michael offered his services at the Dormition of the Theotokos Church in Windham, New York every summer and here in Ottawa with his son Fr. Alex Michalopulos.
Protopresbyter Fr. Alex Michalopulos
Fr. Alex Michalopulos was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 6, 1958, to Fr. Michael and Presvytera Magdalene Michalopulos, both of Greek decent. He was raised in a devoted Greek Orthodox household, assisting his father and other clergy at Church services and was very involved in the life of the Church.
As a young adult, Fr. Alex decided to enter the business field and began his post-secondary education with a Three Year Associate Degree in International Affairs at the University of Buenos Aires. He then chose to continue his education in the United States, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He worked in the retail and fashion industry as a manager and buyer, but soon realized that his calling was to serve the Lord and His Church.
In the early 1980’s Fr. Alex enrolled at Hellenic College-Holy Cross Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline Massachusetts, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religion in 1985, and a Master of Divinity degree “with honours” in 1987. While studying at Hellenic College-Holy Cross, Fr. Alex worked at the office of Admissions, becoming the acting Dean of Admissions.
He met his future wife, Maria Hallas, at an Orthodox Youth Conference during his studies at Holy Cross and they were married in 1987.
Fr. Alex was ordained by Bishop Timothy of Detroit: into the Deaconate on September 14, 1987 and into the Priesthood on April 3, 1988.Fr. Alex giving spiritual guidance. He served at Holy Trinity – St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Cincinnati, Ohio from 1987 to 1990, and at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from 1990 to 1992. Their two eldest daughters Alexia and Nicoletta were born in the United States.
In May of 1992, Fr. Alex, Presvytera Maria and their family moved to Ottawa when he was appointed to serve at the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa. Their youngest daughter Michaela was born in Ottawa, completing their loving family. The Community continues to progress under Fr. Alex’s spiritual guidance and leadership, accomplished with the loving support and hard work of the many wonderful volunteers and staff. The Light at Easter, 2009 He introduced several new youth and adult programs to enhance the spiritual life of the Community: the Hellenic Playgroup (H.O.P.E.), the Junior Orthodox Youth (J.O.Y.), and Bible Study. He has worked closely with all Parish Councils throughout the 90’s and into the new millennium to expand and renovate the church building, the banquet centre and to host: His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I during his first visit to Canada in 1998; the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Constantinos Stephanopoulos in 2000; the Clergy/Laity Assembly of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada) in 2003 and upcoming again in 2011.
Devoted to his congregation, Fr. Alex visits the sick in hospitals and their homes, sharing their grief and providing comfort & counseling, and also sharing and delighting in their happiness during the good times. Fr. Alex is honoured to represent the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada’s Capital, serving over 7,000 Greek Orthodox Christians in Ottawa and surrounding areas.
Fr. Alex is the current Vice President of the Clergy Association of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (for all of Canada). He has been bestowed the honour of Kentucky Colonel from the Governor of Kentucky; the offices of Economos and Protopresbyter by His Eminence Archbishop Sotirios of Toronto (Canada); the Queen’s Jubilee Medal; and the Cross of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by His All Holiness Bartholomew I. Fr. Alex speaks 5 languages: English, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, and is learning French. He works tirelessly, together with caring and devoted parishioners, for the betterment of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa, the Greek Orthodox Church and for the glory of God.
Fr. Alex’s ecumenist activities and mindset have always been a sore spot for the two brothers at the monastery. Many of his ecumenist and secular activities have been recorded in the mainstream media:
2003: Religious Leaders Warn of Political Consequences for Failure to Protect Marriage
2004: Presbyterians participate in ecumenical service.
(Fr. Alex Michalopulos, Dormition of the Theotokos, Greek Orthodox Church was among those who participated in an ecumenical service for Christian unity held at Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa on Jan. 19).
2005: Enthronement of His Grace Bishop Alexander, Bishop of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York (Archpriest Alex Michalopoulos representing H.E. Metropolitan Sotirios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto)
2010: Baha’is help organize Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast http://www.bahainews.ca/en/101209-intefaith (The theme of the breakfast was “The Golden Rule: Common for all Faiths” Reverend Lillian Roberts of the United Church and Father Alex Michalopulos of the Greek Orthodox Church read the Golden Rules for each of the religions represented).
2011: Living Together as Neighbours http://ottawa.interculturaldialog.com/10recent-upcoming-events/interfaith-gathering-living-together-as-neighbours/ Intercultural Dialogue Institute – Ottawa organized its first interfaith gathering at Sala San Marco on Monday, February 28, 2011. The theme was ‘Living Together as Neighbours’. The keynote speaker was Father Alex Michalopulos, Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa.
Cathy and Harry Gianakouros parents of Deacon Stefanos and Novice Michael
Cathy Gianakouros is Fr. Michael Michalopoulos’ daughter. She and her husband have been spiritual children of Geronda Ephraim for many years. After her second son, Michael, was born, Cathy and harry asked Geronda Ephraim if they should have more children or stop at two? Geronda Ephraim told them to stop at two, no more children. He also informed her that her two sons would later become monks. Thus, from that point on, the Gianakouros couple lived as brother and sister in celibacy and had no more children.
Over the years, Cathy Gianakouros has made a large number of the baked goods that have been sold in the St. Nektarios Monastery Bake Sale section. Both Harry and Cathy are both “Friends of the Metropolis” (Detroit) representing Vestal, NY http://www.detroit.goarch.org/index.php?id=101
Harry Gianakouros use to work as a Director Sales-APL Logistics for New York State Electric at Corporate Dr Binghamton, NY 13904, Tel: (607) 762-7200. The company webpage is http://www.nyseg.com. Currently, he is Principal Engineer at Substation Engineering Company: http://www.subengco.com/
In the mid-2000s, their oldest son Konstantinos (now Deacon Stefanos) went to St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY to become a monk. His younger brother, Michael, followed not long afterwards.
On an interesting note, Fr. Alex Michalopoulos, the uncle of Deacon Stefanos and Novice Michael Gianakouros, is a dedicated ecumenist. Fr. Alex’s nephews are dedicated anti-ecumenists who follow a Kollyvade mindset. Furthermore, Fr. Alex holds a prominent position in the Metropolis run by Metropolitan Sotirios, whom happens to be in direct opposition to Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery (where Fr. Alex’s two nephews live as monks).
Metropolitan Sotirios has gone as far as banning Geronda Joseph from Canada (though Geronda Ephraim has overrode that obedience since it is unjust; i.e. the ban was motivated by personal feelings and not motivated by any ecclesiastical grounds)
As well, Fr. Philotheos Allison, who was a monk at St. Nektarios Monastery and knows the Gianakouros family, is now also a parish priest in the same province and Metropolis as Fr. Alex Michalopoulos; both parish priests being under obedience to Metropolitan Sotirios.