It is always a joy for me to write about something that occurs in my life and that I wish to share with my readers.
Every Monday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., my friends and I have traveled to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church at 7 Harris St., Newburyport, to enjoy the luncheon that is put on for anyone to enjoy. Only a small donation is suggested from those who can afford to give to the program.
This year the church celebrates the 20th anniversary of the lunch program and everyone is very excited about having a celebration at a Monday luncheon soon.
Many people are involved with this effort. Father Constantine Newman, whom I respect very highly, has been involved with Annunciation Church for several years and has performed many services that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend. I’ve been to funerals, Christmas Eve services, as well as going to many of the fundraising events that the church has held in Nicholson Hall, Yankee Homecoming, the fall craft and jewelry show, and have the privilege of helping the women serve on Mondays when they’ve been short of help.
Father Constantine, as he is known by his parishioners, has vast experience, plus he teaches at the University of New Hampshire along with his wife, who is a very gracious and caring woman. He certainly is an asset to the members of his parish. They both teach the “classics” to their students at UNH, and you can tell by his enthusiasm that he loves everything he does in his two careers. He earned his PhD at Johns Hopkins University and attended seminary at Holy Cross in Brookline. He is well trained, don’t you agree?
The members and volunteers who every week serve, cook and visit with all their guests are the following: Don Argyrople, the overseer of the lunch program, who shops, sends recipes to members of the parish who contribute to the main meal, coordinates with Michael, who has been present in the kitchen every Monday for the past five years. Don’s wife, Jill, worked with Don at the kitchen project for several years and now teaches Sunday school to the teenage members of the church. Michael Murphy is a faithful volunteer who has worked hard to coordinate the servers, getting the meal out on time and taking care of last-minute emergencies in the kitchen. He has been extremely dedicated and is very well loved by everyone who works with him. Peter Mamakos helps out at the kitchen every Monday. The wonderful women who are so faithful are Mary Dollas, Barb Carolan, Mary Clare Francis, Ann Peralta, Margaret Seaman, Helena Greene and Connie Mathieu. The enjoyment and sincere love that these volunteers show is pure dedication.
Father Constantine has had several small services and prayers for certain Greek Orthodox holidays during the lunches and he held a remembrance service at the luncheon in memory of a young man from Germany, who drowned in the Merrimack River and was unknown and alone in this town. He has sensitivity for everyone regardless of their age, wealth or their way of living. Truly he sets a wonderful example for Annunciation Church. He has taught us so much about the Orthodox religion and the Greek saints. I have loved learning from him and so have many others.
It is my hope that this program lasts forever and we all have dreams that it will be extended to other events of the church dealing with possibly another meal served during the week. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! I can’t think of a better place where you can feel more at home than 7 Harris St. As Christmas approaches, it’s nice to know that people care about each other and we all have the opportunity to help various organizations and our churches with their help to homeless shelters and seniors. Thank you to the Annunciation Church, its members, and Father Constantine for your leadership and guidance.
The parishioners of Annunciation are very much involved. They contribute cooked main courses each week as well as contribute canned goods to the food pantry that is offered every week to the men and women who attend the lunches. The children from kindergarten through high school in Sunday school are taught by Father Constantine to bake and on Thanksgiving week, they had cupcakes for Monday’s dessert and baked small loaves of bread for each person to take home for the holiday.
When I moved here in 1985 to Newburyport, there had been a fire in 1983 that had destroyed this church. The new church was built and running when I moved here and I’ve been attending these lunches for 4 1/2 years and look forward each week to seeing all of the people that help out and the diners plus enjoy the conversations and company. It is a blessing for everyone.
Sara-Anne Eames lives in Newburyport.