This article is taken from Krētē: Monthly Publication of the Pancretan Association of America, November 1994, p. 35:
Shortly after the turn of the century, Cretan immigrants to the United States began to settle in Western Pennsylvania: Ambridge, Aliquippa, Burgettestown, Canonsburgh, Clairton, Francis Mine, Langleloth, Slovan, Pittsburgh—the big city—and its suburbs and many other. There they found work in local coal mines and steel mills. The entrepreneurs soon followed: bakers, restaurant owners, cobblers, tailors and more. They raised their families, built churches, and organized social clubs in an effort to preserve the customs and traditions of their homeland, Crete. Today, many of their offspring—sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—still make their homes in Western Pennsylvania and many of them are now members of Arkadi-Maleme, the combined Men’s and Women’s Chapter of the Pancretan Association of America.
Recently, Arkadi-Maleme members were made aware of the tremendous pride exhibited by those first Cretans to arrive in this area. In a letter dated September 30, 1993 and addressed to the Cretan Society of Pittsburgh, PA, E.P. Christulides writes:
“A few months ago I was told by both Bishop Maximos and the Abbess of the Greek Orthodox Convent of Saxonburg (Pennsylvania) that the Parish council of the Holy Trinity Church at Ambridge, PA, decided to make a gift of one of the two bells they had removed from the old church when they sold it and then built a new one…I was asked if I could make arrangements to transport the bell.”
“I visited Ambridge twice before I made any transfer arrangements. But from the very first time I uncovered the bell, which was stored in a garage warehouse, I could not help seeing right in the front of the bell this inscription in big Greek letters:
Thoria Kriton 1920…
“I made the arrangements and had the bell transported…It is a big bell and it has a very harmonious tone…It weighs around 1500 pounds…
“I believe with all my heart that you, the children and grandchildren of those Cretans who donated the bell in 1920…would like to get involved…The bell sits on an old deteriorated and broken base and it is dangerous to use…The bell may be damaged if the supports give way…
“I urge you to take this project seriously and build something which will remind your children and grandchildren of their parents, grandparents and their glorious roots…”
At a subsequent general meeting of Arkadi-Maleme, Mr. Christulides’ letter was read and the members agreed to fund the construction of a bell support or “cambanario.”
Above is a recent photograph of the bell atop the newly-constructed “cambanario.” The two young “palikaria” in the photo are Nicholas and Christos Semanderes, sons of Stavros and Eleni Semanderes. Stavro is the past-Treasurer and current Chairman of Task Force 2000 of the Pancretan Association of America. The “cambanario” was a personal donation of Mr. Semanderes.
The officers and members of Arkadi-Maleme wish to acknowledge and thank Stavro for his generosity.
People of all nationalities, races and creeds are invited to visit the Monastery at Saxonburg, PA, to view the bell, a proud memorial to those Cretans who left their homes in Crete to make their livelihoods in a foreign land, and who made tremendous contributions to the country in which they chose to make their new homes—and in which we, their sons, daughters and grandchildren now live. May their souls rest in eternal peace.