A tribute to the Greek Orthodox faith and Religion.
Glenwood Memorial Gardens, a cemetery located in Broomall, PA, has announced the opening of the “Garden of Agape”, a beautiful section designated exclusively for Greek Orthodox families. The cemetery is located within one mile of the St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church and in close proximity to St. Demetrios in Upper Darby, St. George in Media, and St. Sophia in Norristown. Families have the opportunity to reserve property in the scenic tree lined section for their future needs. The cemetery is offering special pricing and terms for Hellenic families. Bill & Agapi Vassilakos of Havertown were the first to reserve spaces in the “Garden of Agape”. They selected spaces near the stavro monument, a proposed fifteen foot granite Orthodox cross. Their daughters, Katerine Simpson and Antonia Egonopoulous, are pleased with their parents’ decision. “We’re blessed that my parents have the foresight to plan ahead”, said Katerine. “It will relieve us of the burden of having to make cemetery arrangements in the future at the time of need”. Most of the Greek Orthodox burials in the area are handled by the Vraim Funeral Home. According to its owner, Michael Vraim, “This is a wonderful opportunity for families who share the rich customs and traditions of the Greek Orthodox faith to be memorialized together in a dedicated section within a beautiful cemetery. The families are fortunate to have the chance to be a part of an area for the eternal tribute to its own community”. John Vraim “Vraimopoulos” and his wife Christina started Vraim Funeral Home at 53rd and Locust St in West Philadelphia in 1950. As the cliental moved west so did they. In 1964 John purchased and renovated part of the Sellers estate at 66 S. State Rd where we still remain till this day. In 1979 John retired and lived peacefully next door to the business he founded until his death in 1995. Although helping his father John out with the business from a small boy Tony officially took over in 1979. In the coming years he would triple the business by opening new and larger relations with the Greek, Armenian, Albanian, and Orthodox communities.
With his partner Albert LaBricciosa he served the public diligently for 37 years. Today Tony takes a back seat and is proud to have his two Suns Michael and David run the business. Along with their Partner Al they are proud to continue the legacy and tradition of honesty and service their father and grandfather built, and they hope to continue it long into the future.The cemetery already serves all Greek-Orthodox communities and churches in the area and its establishment makes it clear how important it is to have a Greek-Orthodox section to a cemetery. The Greek Orthodox religion puts a big emphasis on funeral and burial services. God’s mercy is infinite and His goodness is beyond measure. This is what our Holy Church has always maintained, and thus believes and hopes that the loving Lord will be merciful even to the deceased. For this reason the hymnographers of the Orthodox Church have composed a most moving Funeral Service that is virtually a treasure-house of profound spiritual thoughts.From the earliest Christian times, psalms and hymns were sung to our life-giving God when a believer died. But the basic parts of the Funeral Service in use today can be traced mainly to the fifth century. With the passage of time the Service has been enriched with psalms and hymns so that it has become one of the most versatile, dramatic and impassionate services of our Church.
The Funeral Service of the Orthodox Church is an example of how Orthodox theology influences the formation of a healthy understanding of the true nature of life and death. The Service accomplishes the following: a) utilizes the occasion of death to help us develop a more profound understanding of the meaning and purpose of life; b) helps us to deal with the emotions we have at the time of death and as time passes after the death; c) emphasizes the fact that death for the Christian is not the end, and affirms our hope in salvation and eternal life; d) recognizes the existence of the emotions of grief caused by the separation from a loved one, and encourages their expression.In the readings, prayers, and hymns of the Funeral Service a dramatic dialogue takes place between the faithful and God and the deceased and God. The Service acknowledges the reality of human existence—the frailty of life and the vanity of worldly things—and directs our minds and hearts to contemplate the incomparable value of the eternal blessings of God’s kingdom. At the same time with a contrite spirit, the priests and people invoke the infinite mercy of the Almighty God for the departed. Anyone who attentively follows the hymns and prayers of the Funeral Service will be edified and consoled in many ways. The Service is not only an opportunity to express our love for our loved one who has fallen asleep; it is also a sacred time, a marvelous opportunity for reflection and inner meditation on our own relationship with God and on the orientation of our lives. When we reflect on the sublime thoughts of the Funeral Service our souls becomes contrite, our hearts are softened, and we pray fervently for the forgiveness and the repose of the person who has been transferred to the life beyond the grave. Also, we who are still alive are beckoned to live the rest of our lives in repentance and in full dedication to Christ.