On the weekend of December 5-6, 2020 the Saint Nicholas Family celebrated its parish Feastday in historic fashion! There have been memorable events in years past, but by all accounts the 2020 iteration was one that will be remembered quite differently. Despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic concerns, hundreds of faithful gathered to take part in the Church festivities over the course of the two days. Thanks to the Parish Council's guidance, and the compliance of the faithful in adhering to safety protocols, the Feastday events went smoothly without any noticeable detriment or threat to the health of our parishioners.
The Weekend began on Saturday at 6pm with the Festal Vespers service celebrating our Patron Saint, Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Our worship was complete with our beautiful Saint Nicholas icon being decorated by our Philoptochos Society, and a delicious Artoclasia offered by Debbie Rallis in honor of her father, Nicholas. Following the service we had a special presentation of the blankets our families made as part of the Fall Family Plan to First Fruit Ministries. Local volunteer, and editor of the Wrightsville Beach Magazine, Pat Bradford was on hand to accept the blankets, and offered some very touching remarks of gratitude on behalf of First Fruits.
Afterwards, the faithful went outside for our FIRST ANNUAL TREE LIGHTING & NATIVITY DISPLAY dedication. The evening was full of Christmas music, fellowship, and complimentary Hot Chocolate courtesy of our Forever Young ministry. We were also honored to be partnering in an OCMC fundraiser with our newly formed sister parish Saint Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Mission in Jacksonville, NC. Together we were able to sell gold-covered chocolate coins and 75th Anniversary memorabilia to benefit the Orthodox Church in Albania. This event is proof that even despite the Coronavirus restrictions, our faith and joy as a parish cannot be diminished. We thank Tia and Nick Saffo, and their team, for coordinating our efforts for the tree lighting and the evening festivities, and we look forward to a beautiful the continuation of our new Christmas tradition next year.
The following morning on December 6, we celebrated our Feastday Divine Liturgy. At the conclusion of the service the faithful processed outside for a special prayer service and Grand Opening of our Saint Nicholas Activity Center! The event was marked by triumphant speeches offered by Parish Council President Evangelos Fragos, and Campus Committee Chair Nick Saffo, and culminated with the long awaited Ribbon Cutting with our very own city of Wilmington Mayor, Bill Saffo! Once the ribbon was cut, the faithful in attendance were able to enter the gymnasium and activity center for the first time. Once inside our clergy led a prayerful Holy Water blessing of the space, and in a surprise move Fr. Steven even made the first official basket in the new gym!
This will undoubtedly be remembered as a landmark occasion for our Saint Nicholas Family. But while this was yet another entry into our proud 75 year history, it also is the first step in a proud new era for Saint Nicholas to come!