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Greek Orthodox Church Celebrates a Triple Anniversary

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On Friday, Dec. 15, the members of Christ The Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Spring Hill had much to celebrate. They marked the 50th anniversary of the ordination of their pastor, Father John Lazarek, the 20th anniversary of the church’s founding and the 10th anniversary of their membership in the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce. They celebrated these milestones as only the Greeks can: with a solemn church ritual and plenty of good food.

The celebration began with a Greek Orthodox service of thanksgiving, the “Artoklasia.” Curt Thomas and eight-year-old Fenix Broderick assisted Father John in the service.

In the ritual, Father John began by thanking God for everything He has provided for us.

“He is the One who created us and who sustains us. We at Christ the Savior have many things for which to be thankful,” Father John remarked.

The service was conducted in English. However, he did recite the “Lord have Mercy” (“Kyrie Eleison”) prayer in Greek

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In referring to the history of their parish and its relocation to the church on Spring Hill Drive, he remarked, “For years we were like the Israelites wandering in the desert looking for a place to call home.”

For many years the church was located off Sunshine Grove Road. Then they moved to temporary quarters. Finally they found the property they’re at now, where they’ve been for five years.

Father John went on to talk about Christ and the miracle of the loaves and fishes. He described how Christ nourished the multitude physically and spiritually. To represent this event there were five loaves of bread on the altar.

Bob Hatfield, representing Congressman Gus Bilirakis, presented Certificates of Recognition to both Father Lazarek and to the church in commemoration of the anniversaries.

Father recounted how the church got its name. In 2003 when the church was founded, various names were put into a bowl and one of the boys in the parish drew the name Christ the Savior. He remarked that the name commemorates when Mary and Joseph presented Christ in the temple.

Father Lazarek and his wife, Diana, came to Christ the Savior five years ago from Pittsburgh. He had retired and was living in Trinity in Pasco County, but when the church needed a pastor he answered the call. So he has been the “temporary” part time pastor ever since. He fills in at other parishes when he’s needed and is also a hospital chaplain.

His goal is to grow the parish. Anyone is welcome to join. Membership is not based on ethnicity. Some of the members are converts from other religions. and he gives classes periodically for those who are new to the faith.

Ashley Hofecker, CEO of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, conducted the ribbon cutting in front of the church to commemorate the church’s ten-year membership in the chamber.

After the ribbon cutting, everyone gathered in the pavilion for a buffet feast of spanakopita (Greek spinach pie), dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice), various salads, pastas, and, of course, baklava and other desserts.

Right now the parish is preparing for its annual Greek Festival which will be held February 2nd and 3rd. There will be more details as the date approaches.

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