… Much of our group arrived in Dendroportamou, just outside the courtyard of the magnificent Church dedicated to and seeking the intercession of St. Nectarios. This Church was stunning and built by the poorest of the poor in an essentially crime ridden, cutoff western region of the city that has approximately 3,000 families, 2,000 of these families being Roma. As their name suggests, they have roamed from place to place from country to country, carrying little, but often inheriting a ghetto laden with crime. Their city here is no different.
What is different in this community though is the presence of extreme joy, a joy that radiates from the Sanctuary, through the nave and far beyond the confines of this Parish! Of course, this joy is ultimately founded in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Here though, where the vast majority of the community was not welcomed to the Church and unable to find joy – Christ – amidst the crime, the poverty, and the hopelessness, simply because they were “Roma”, joy came to their community some ten years ago and it came in the form of a youthful, humble and ever smiling priest with a vision to serve, Fr. Athenagoras.