A SHORT HISTORY OF THE ZOODOHOS PEGHE PARISH
Note: A detailed history of the church and the school is being put togther at this time and will be posted here upon completion.
The church of Zoodohos Peghe can be traced back to the early 1900’s. Early Greek immigrants lived in the Mott Haven and Melrose sections of The Bronx, as well as in various parts of Manhattan and the Tri-State area.
During the turn of the twentieth century religious services took place in people’s homes or in meeting places that could be temporarily rented. Due to the continuous Greek immigration to the US, with the exchange of populations to Greece from Asia Minor in 1922/1923, the community continued to expand. Greek owned bakeries, meat markets, coffee shops, produce markets (bakalika) and kafenia opened between Third Avenue to Prospect Avenue and 149th Street to 163rd Street. It had become a Greek-Italian-German neighborhood.
In May of 1912 the Greek American Institute was established and received its official recognition by the State of New York. This school and a chapel dedicated to St, Nicholas were established at 985-989 Eagle Avenue, near 161st Street and Third Avenue in The Bronx.. It was the first Greek American school in the New York City area and the second one in the country.
As the Greek immigrants settled in, a church was founded unofficially by the late 1920’s and was dedicated to The Virgin Mary of Zoodohos Peghe. The church was first opened on the upper floor of a firehouse at 163rd Street and Forest Avenue and at 886 Forest Avenue at the Premier Fuel Saving Devise building. Since the rented spaces were not adequate for the needs of the community, it was decided to look for another and permanent site.
In 1931, a former Jewish synagogue was found at 860 Forest Avenue and was purchased. The first floor was set aside for the church, while the second floor was converted into classrooms for the Greek American Institute. The basement served as a cafeteria and a community center for social gatherings for both groups. Finally, a church and a school shared one structure.
In 1966, due to changing demographics, it was necessary for the community to move again. With the guidance and final approval of Archbishop Iakovos, a closed Jewish convalescent home was found at 3573 Bruckner Boulevard, the present site.
On Sunday, April 16, 1967, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the new location by Bishop Germanos Polizoides and Fr. Diodoros Tsekouras. The Greek American Institute started it new scholastic year in the new building in September 1967.
At this point in its history, the church and the school merged into one entity under the title “Hellenic Orthodox Community of The Bronx.” During the next decade there was a resurgence of the membership as Greek families began moving into the Pelham Bay, Throgs Neck, Country Club and Morris Park neighborhoods as well as Fordham, Kingsbridge and Riverdale.
On May 2, 1976 Archbishop Iakovos assisted bt the pastor of the church, the Rev. Nikolaos katsoulis, officiated at a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a community center which was completed and in use by September 1977.
At a General Assembly meeting that was held in November 1986, under the guidance of the Very Reverend Archimandrite Sylvester Berberis , the parishioners voted to proceed with plans to build a new church
On Sunday, October 2, 1988, under a very large yellow and white tent, a Divine Liturgy and Ground Breaking Ceremonies were officiated by Archbishop Iakovos.
CHRISTMAS EVE 1992was a special night where the Sunday School presented the traditional Christmas Eve Pageant in “the old church” and at the conclusion the whole congregation moved into “the new church” even though incomplete, to celebrate the Divine Liturgy of Christmas. By the spring of 1993, we had unofficially moved into the new church building.
To the credit of the dedicated parishioners and their inspiring pastor the V. Rev. Sylvester Berberis, the church became the first in the history of the Archdiocese to be built without a mortgage.
The official Thyranixia took place on Thursday, April 27, 1995 and was officiated by Archbishop Iakovos under the able pastorship of the then Archimandrite Andonios Paropoulos and today Bishop Andonios of Phassiane
On Sunday, November 4, 2007, Archbishop Demetrios together with Bishop Andonios of Phasiane , Bishop Philotheos of Meloa, the presiding pastor of the parish the V. Rev Archimandrite Sylvester Berberis and other clergy of the area , officiated at the Consecration of the church. The relics of St. Panteleimon, St, Kyrikos and St George the Tropeoforos were and sealed in Holy Altar Table
On Sunday, April 10th, 2011, Archbishop Demetrios Assisted by the pastor V. Rev. Archimandrite Sylvester Berberis consecrated the Holy Water Fountain/Hagiasma in the shrine dedicated to the Theotokos of Zoodohos Peghe.
Today the tradition in The Bronx continues. We celebrate our proud heritage of Greek language, culture and education through The Greek American Institute, and we celebrate and maintain our faith as we continue to serve countless future generations of faithful. We, as a community, are deeply committed to both.
If you have any additional information please write to us at the church address: 3573 Bruckner Blvd, Bronx, NY 10461