The Golden Anniversary of St. Sophia Cathedral,
Los Angeles

By Mavis Manus

The month-long celebration of the golden anniversary of St. Sophia Cathedral brought together the Greek community with faith, spirituality and liturgical music. It was also an opportunity for many of the members to renew friendships and recall the events of the past fifty years. Again the community must thank parish council President Ted Pastras, co-chairpersons Susan Patzakis and Mary Gallanis and the chairs of the Patron and Album campaigns, Historical Exhibit, Choir Concert, Ecumentical Service, Ball, Video and Power Point, Luncheon and all the related committees for organizing the enormous and totally successful multi-leveled celebration.

It was only on August 1 of this year that Fr. Alex Chetsas was assigned, for his very first official appointment, to St. Sophia as Associate Priest, so it was a case of 'jumping in at the deep end'. Speaking for himself and Fr. John, as pastors they are immensely thankful to God for having such an open-minded, dynamic community. So many people, he said, have worked for the Lord on this site, given their love, time, prayers and energy to make this Cathedral what it is today. "We are," he continued, "very aware that we can't rest on our laurels. The future holds a host of challenges - we must find creative ways to welcome back those Orthodox who have drifted away from the faith; we need to keep reaching out to our youth, take care of our elderly, to support our young parents."

Fr. Alex talked about the establishment of the Byzantine Latino Quarter Foundation which is committed to founding a community center and other outreach efforts, a place of opportunities where (as Fr. John says) 'oopah' meets 'Ole!'
"His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony supports us all the way and we are grateful for his guidance and love."

From a personal point of view, Fr. Alex confesses he has on occasion felt rather overwhelmed but that with everyone being so supportive and eager to help he could not ask for a better parish.

"And," he added, "I'm connected with a unique priest: Fr. John Bakas. The 'Padre', as we call him, is really a tornado of energy; he's on fire with the Word and wants to share it with everyone, not only in words but through action, by the care he shows his parishioners and his tireless efforts for this community." It was not unusual, Fr. Alex said, to see him strolling the neighborhood picking up trash, hoping others will follow his lead (and they do!). Later you might find him in a discussion with law enforcement officers about neighborhood issues, or appearing at a local court to help remove a drug dealer from the neighborhood. "The man loves his God and loves his community and he's courageous enough to act on this love. -- Not a bad first assignment, huh?"