HISTORY ofGreek Orthodox Community of West Island1979-1980
On April 1st 1979, a handful of courageous residents of the Montreal West Island area, decided to create the Greek Orthodox Community of West Island under the auspices of the then Holy Archdiocese of Toronto, by accepting the Community Uniform Regulations of the Holy Archdiocese of North and South America.
The Community of West Island was officially inaugurated on June 20th 1979. The first official community council included: Konstantinos Asimakis, Dimitrios Kambisis, Konstantia Tsassi, Konstantino Sousaris,Ioannis Georgiadis, Georgios Pilos, Nikolaos Enepekidis, Pandelis Despotopoulos, Georgios Kalaidopulos, Panagiotis Marinopoulos, Zanis Rafaletos, Athanasios Fotakis, Stelios Ioakim and Michael Spanogiannis.
Although the community was ready to proceed, the main spiritual pivotal member was missing. The presence of a priest was an important sign for the start of the operation of this community and parish.
The council which was formed in 1979, accepted a motion to request the services of retired Protopresbyter Konstantinos Spanos, then residing with his relatives, who were also members of the newly formed Community. Father Konstantinos kindly agreed to offer his services, and with the blessing of his Eminecne Bishop Sotirios, the Orthodox members of the Community were able to celebrate the Holy Week Services in the rented Lutheran Church on Westpark Street in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.
The Community vision was to have a more permanent place for its religious services, but the financial means were not very promising. The council rented the Anglican Church on 11400 Gouin Blvd for the religious services of the Greek Community of West Island. In spite of the hardships of those days, the community made important progress towards its establishment.
Sunday school and teaching of Greek dances were initiated by the already in operation Saturday Greek School, PYTHAGORAS.
On Nov 25th 1979, the temporary council passed on the administration of the church to the first officially elected council.
On Sept 1st 1980, Reverend Konstantinos Halvatzakis was appointed as the priest of the Community.
The council’s goal was to have a proper church facility. On March 22, 1981, during the General Assembly meeting, it was decided to purchase a vacant lot on Pierrefonds Blvd. On May 29, 1980 the purchase contract was signed for the lot of 115,000 ft2. On Aug 22nd 1981, Vesper and Holy Liturgy were celebrated and the site was blessed by Bishop Sotirios.
However, changes were in the works, after learning that the Anglican Church was for sale, the new council decided to purchase the church for $135,000. The deeds were officially signed on Nov 11th 1982.
Unfortunately life’s ordeals did not spare our community. On Feb 7th 1983, at 10:00 pm, a fierce fire destroyed the Holy Sanctuary. The previous joy and happiness was replaced by sorrow and disappointment. However, without a Golgotha there would be no Resurrection.
A new endeavor begins. The City of Dollard-des-Ormeaux come to our rescue and offered us the use of the Coolbrooke Park Chalet to perform our relegious services. Sunday’s Divine Liturgy, was celebrated alternately in different halls, restaurants and reception rooms of the area.
When time seemed right, during a General Assembly meeting, a decision was taken to form a committee whose mission would be to explore the idea of building a new church.
Following a feasibility study the newly-formed committee recommended to have the church built in the Dollard-des-Ormeaux area, where most West Island Greeks lived. The CEMP INVESTMENTS STD offered free, the lot at the corner of Brunswick and Spring Garden Streets. Mrs. Eva Karagianni, Mr. Panagiotis Prassas, and the late Stavros Spanos, personally got involved to complete the transaction. The property transfer deed was completed and signed on Aug 5th 1983.
The “Site Exploration Committee” became the “Building Committee”. The wish of all concerned was to build a Byzantine Cross Basilica type church, with a dome. However, the cost was too much to undertake. This architectural design was replaced by another simpler less costly design, a Byzantine type Basilica, the cost of which was about $370,000.
The church construction started in the month of Aug 1984 and it was completed early Dec 1984. The inauguration took place on Dec 8th 1984. The church was now ready to be used and the liturgies started right away.
All hardships and efforts were coming to an end, because of the Divine help, the co-operation of the Executive Council members, the Philoptochos and all Ecclesiastical committees. Through their dedication, hard work, generous donations and support the dream became a reality.
Reverend Father Konstantinos Chalvatzakis left the parish in 1986 and the parish reverted to the services of memorable Rev. Konstantinos Spanos.
The West Island Community was under turmoil for a few months until Archimandrite Nektarios Mostratos, from Greece, was appointed as the parish priest of the community. A new period of spiritual enlightment envelopes all the parishioners. The rallying and participation in the Holy Divine Worship and the cultural and community gatherings, raised the religious organization’s moral, and the church became the pride of the West Island Greeks.
The Internal church decoration and improvements became ongoing. The generous donations and support of the Montreal Greek Community and prominent benefactors and donors of the West Island Community, made this a reality.
2004 to Date
In August 2004 the Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Mostratos was appointed Rector of the Holy Cross Church in Laval and Rev. Dr. Lambros Kamperidis assumed his duties as the new Rector of the Community. As more young families of Greek descent began moving to the West Island area, our Community has witnessed in the past years a resurgence of its life and an active interest from the new members flocking to the Church in exploring their faith and discovering the hidden treasures of Orthodoxy. An important factor for the newly aroused interest of the younger generation may be ascribed to the fact that English has been introduced in our services and the second and third generation Greek-Canadians are finally comprehending the message of the wonderful hymns and the scriptural readings from the Gospel.
The Holy Sacraments, especially those of Holy Matrimony and Baptism are also celebrated in various languages, such as Italian, Spanish, German and other, thus making accessible and communicating to the non-Greek spouses the message and meaning of the sacramental texts. This is a reality we can no longer afford to ignore, as over 60% of marriages conducted in our Community are between spouses of mixed origins.
In these various ways, our Community is led in its mission to the world by the Holy Spirit, the dynamic principle, the Life-giver, who moves us closer to the life of Christ, leading us to the Father, acting energetically to reveal our living faith in this modern, multicultural and complex society in which we have been called to live.