OCEAN: The joy of a warm summer day was matched by the welcoming warmth of the Jersey Shore Greek Festival at St. George Greek Orthodox Church on West Park Avenue over the three days of last weekend, June 27 to 29.
It was the second year for the festival since the church moved from Asbury Park as the need for a larger church and buildings evolved over the years.
The festival celebrates the orthodoxy of the Greek community and the spiritual bonds that bring traditions and religions together.
“The two are inseparable,” said the church’s pastor Father Andrew Eugenis. “The members of the community are more joined in all facets of life."
The 86-year-old parish is comprised of approximately 400 families.
The parish has an educational center where the history and culture is taught to the young, as well as Sunday Catechism, the religious ties. The cultural center is used for plays, banquets, and social events, said Co-Chair Theo Ritorto. “We also have a collegiate gymnasium for athletic pursuits,” she said.
The church and the center are looking to the future.
“The next 100 years,” Fr. Eugenis said. “The parish members cover almost 4 generations of families.”
He added the church welcomes the community, all groups and religious assemblies as St. George become a part of the Ocean and surrounding communities.
The festival featured the goods and services of merchants from local and distant towns. Traditional names and terms on booths and food counters helped display the traditional words that capture the Hellenism of the parish, the Greek language bolstered by English translations next to them.
Fr. Eugenis told of the parish’s "little miracle” the orthodolgy in the painting form that graces the wall in the Chapel, a smaller room of the church used during the week when fewer of the congregation will be resent.
The canvas that contains the image of the Virgin Mary and Jesus was coming loose form the wall in the Asbury Park location just as the parish was about to move.
"They wanted to go with us to this new location," Fr. Eugenis smiled.