Father Dimitrios Moraitis: Making St. Paraskevi Shine

Photo Courtesy of St. Paraskevi’s official website.

Eight years after Father Dimitrios Moraitis was installed as the “proestamenos” of St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Shrine Church in Greenlawn, Long Island – and then starting his ninth year in the ministry – he has transformed the church into not just a place of worship, but of giving.

St. Paraskevi has always been a very bustling community. It has its food festival coming up from Sept. 20-23. The GOYA and their other youth ministries will begin in September. Their GOYA ministry has more than 120 young people registered. This next summer they will once again head down to Tijuana, Mexico, to build a home for a needy family.

Fr. Dimitrios said, “I transferred in my undergraduate to Hellenic College and graduated as valedictorian. I graduated from Holy Cross with highest distinction in 1998. My doctorate degree is a Dr. of Ministry. I wasn’t interested in teaching at a university level but I wanted to master all the aspects of parish ministry. I began the doctor of Ministry degree program after being a priest for five years and finished it four years later.”

He said his education helped him when it came time to make real world decisions. “The doctor of Ministry degree allows me to enhance what I learned at seminary, and take my experiences as a priest and refine them through the instruction of the professors and my fellow students as well. It was truly an enlightening program and I do believe that I became a better priest as a result. I also had the opportunity to do a great deal of research and groundbreaking surveys on the specific subject of ministry for the alcoholic and addict. In fact I will be publishing an edited version of my work as a book.”

He continued: “Having served two previous parishes, I truly feel that this community is different. First of all, St. Paraskevi is a holy shrine. We have an incredible chapel-grotto where holy water flows and is sent to the faithful throughout the world; furthermore, people come from all over the United States to receive the water and have special services read over them. I literally receive about two emails, telephone calls, letters, or personal visits every month, which give testimony to the miracles that have taken place in the lives of many of these faithful who have received the holy water. This is why being at St. Paraskevi is different than being in any other church.”

He added: “Instead of being the pastor of a community I feel like I am the caretaker of a very holy place. I also enjoy helping the parishioners get through some of most difficult moments in their lives, as well as being present as they celebrate some of the more joyous ones. I enjoy working with some of the more recent immigrants. In fact I have translated the written tests for many of them as they get their drivers licenses from the DMV. I also assisted several parishioners with their paperwork so that they can remain in United States as legal residents.”

As for his next goals, Father Dimitrios stated, “We have a building project which has not gotten off the ground. I pray that within this next year we will begin fundraising and perhaps put a shovel in the ground in 2013. We also have many social outreach ministries including a homeless ministry, where we take in, house and feed homeless people throughout the winter, a Life Center, which distributes diapers and other needy things for young mothers that have financial hardships.”

But there’s more: “Our Care Ministry consists of a group of volunteers and the clergy who visit shut-ins and the faithful in nursing homes. We have a seven day a week food pantry. Our Good Neighbor Fund provides financial assistance to those who have been affected by health issues.  My prayer is that these special outreach ministries continue to flourish and grow as the years go by.”

He said he’s been blessed. “I thank God for the faith of many of our parishioners. When my family members from Greece visit the United States, they are in awe concerning the role of the church in the life of the Greek-American and they cannot believe how many activities take place within the church and how much the priest is involved in the lives of his parishioners; moreover, they tell me about the diminishing role of the church inside of Greece and that trend truly concerns me,” he concluded.

To learn more about St. Paraskevi in Greenlawn, New York, visit their official website: http://www.stparaskevi.org.