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Featured Greek NewsFather Panayiotis Lekkas: Strengthening Greek Orthodox Faith and Hellenism in Holmdel, NJ

Father Panayiotis Lekkas: Strengthening Greek Orthodox Faith and Hellenism in Holmdel, NJ

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Father Panayiotis Lekkas, a dedicated worker for the Greek Orthodox faith and Hellenism, serves as the Protopresbyter at the Kimisis Tis Theotokos in Holmdel, New Jersey. For years, he has lived and been active in an area with a strong Greek and Greek-American presence. He highlights the growing respect for the Orthodox faith, with some Americans beginning to show interest. In his parish alone, approximately 10 baptisms of Americans are planned for 2024, with seven having no Greek heritage.

Journey to Priesthood

Growing up, Father Lekkas was deeply rooted in the church. “I grew up in the church. As a child, every Sunday, my parents and I would go to the Church of Agia Zoni in Patissia, my parish in Athens. I cannot imagine my life outside the Church,” he recalls. His parents were devout and active in the Church, which influenced his decision to pursue a path in religious service. After graduating from the Theological School of Athens, Father Lekkas decided to continue his service in the Church. Initially coming to the USA as a teacher and chanter, he was a member of the Greek Byzantine Choir of Lykourgos Angelopoulos.

father-lekkasContinuing Education in the USA

In the USA, Father Lekkas met his wife, Presbytera, and continued his education. “I worked in my father-in-law’s businesses and continued my studies. I studied Greek and world philosophy, as well as the philosophy of religion. I had the late Father Konstandelos as my professor at Stockton University, and I later pursued my graduate studies at Westchester University,” he shares.

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Religious Traditions and Community Impact

Father Lekkas emphasizes the importance of maintaining religious traditions and the role of the church in transmitting Greek culture. “In the USA, most churches have Greek schools. From the late Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America, the churches in America have been pillars for transmitting the Greek language, culture, and history to our children who are members of the communities,” he explains. The presence of Greek schools helps children better understand Orthodoxy and realize that their roots are Greek, making them Greek-Americans.

Interaction with the Local Community

The church’s interaction with the local community extends beyond the Greek community. “Wherever there is a Greek Orthodox community, there is an influence on the broader social environment. This is positive because it leads to recognition of the Greek diaspora and the Orthodox Church,” Father Lekkas notes. He highlights the respect for Orthodox faith and the growing interest from Americans. In his parish, they are planning around 10 baptisms of Americans in 2024, seven of whom have no connection to Hellenism.

Greek Orthodox
Greek Orthodox

Support and Guidance

The Church does everything it can to support its members. “The Church does everything it can to support its members. Let’s not forget that the church in the USA is still considered a mission, as there is not much financial aid. There is love, support, and selflessness from the people who help each parish, the Archdiocese, and the Metropolis continue their work,” Father Lekkas explains.

Role of the Church in Modern Society

Father Lekkas sees the role of the Church evolving to embrace everyone and show love to the world. “The Church is a spiritual hospital where we all find our spiritual and mental health through our participation in its sacramental life. The Church is a place of prayer and love, a place where anyone seeking spiritual rest can find it,” he says.

Advice for Those Interested in Orthodoxy

For those interested in learning more about the Orthodox faith, Father Lekkas offers a welcoming approach. “Everyone is welcome in our community. Anyone interested in Orthodoxy can be helped through catechism to understand what the Orthodox Church is. We can help the interested person understand the common aspects of Orthodox Christianity and their religious background, and then we can show the uniqueness of Orthodoxy,” he explains.

Embracing Diversity

Father Lekkas speaks about the inclusivity of his community. “In our community, we have several families of non-Greek origin who are baptized Orthodox Christians. I am part of the family of the Dormition; there is no distinction or racism. Every Sunday, we all worship our All-Good Father. Our Church embraces everyone seeking God,” he notes.

Father Lekkas concludes by acknowledging the support and respect he receives from the community. “Here, everyone, more or less, knows our Community. They know the celebrations, participate, and this is very good. There is unlimited respect from the parishioners and the broader community towards me, and I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart,” he says.

Final Thoughts

Father Lekkas emphasizes the importance of promoting the diaspora. “The work you do with the Hellenic News of America and the Hermes Expo is very important. If we do not promote the diaspora, then who will?” he asks.

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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