St. Gregory the Theologian Orthodox Church in Wappingers Falls, NY commenced the 60th anniversary celebration on the weekend of January 27 and 28, 2024 with the Archpastoral Visit of His Eminence Archbishop Michael. The celebration was in conjunction with the patronal Feast Day of St. Gregory the Theologian as the parish gathered in celebration. His Eminence recounted the strong vision of the parish and the sacrifice of the founding members as they sought to establish an English speaking church in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Tracing the beginnings with Fr. George Timko and Fr. Pitirim Stehnach who helped establish the parish in the home of a parishioner which was followed by the ten year rectorship of Fr. Thomas Hopko and the forty year rectorship of Fr. Alexis Vinogradov, the parish became known for her hospitality and generosity. After acquiring the land of the present location and building a church in 1970, the parish grew as the region grew and attracted people from varied backgrounds and ethnicities. His Eminence emphasized the importance of keeping the vision of the founders alive and growing in missionary zeal for the Orthodox Church. His Eminence also thanked the parish for the hosting of the many Diocesan events over the past few years as the parish has become a center for activities for the Diocese.
His Eminence presented a Synodal Grammota signed by all the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America in recognition of the 6oth Anniversary. In turn, the parish presented a donation to the Diocese for the Distinguished Diocesan Benefactor program to assist in the expansion of the ministries and services in the Diocese. Fr. Eric Goerge Tosi, the current rector, announced the “60 for 60” initiative to pay down the remaining mortgage and received a sizeable donation with the expectation that the mortgage will be paid off by the end of the year.
The parish will be hosting events throughout the coming year with retreats, parish workshops, visits of sacred icons and other events. The anniversary year will be highlighted by a Primatial visit from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon on Saturday October 19 and a celebratory banquet. All clergy who have served at St. Gregory’s and their families will be invited for the Primatial Liturgy as well as past members of the parish who have moved. As Fr. Thomas Hopko, one of the clergy assigned to St. Gregory wrote, “An Orthodox parish, that is, a local community of Orthodox Christians with one or more priests, has only one God-given reason for being. It exists to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ. Whatever the original reasons and conditions for its founding, whatever other services and activities it may provide, whatever other desires and needs it may fulfill for its members, the parish must be Christ’s one holy Church.” St. Gregory continues to build on that vision for the future.