NEWS

Greek community rallies after Koimisis Tis Theotokou fire

04/17/2015 01:15 EDT | Updated 07/03/2015 08:59 EDT
There was an emotional church service in Montreal's Parc-Extension neighbourhood Friday morning, several days after a Greek Orthodox church burned to the ground.

About 100 worshippers and members of the community gathered in front of the Koimisis Tis Theotokou church otherwise known as Panagitsa, at the corner of De L'Epée Avenue and St-Roch Street.

One by one, they shuffled in and out of the only part of the church that wasn't touched by the flames, lighting candles for the Virgin Mary.

Except for the prayers, the crowd was nearly silent all morning.

Martha Karounis's family has been coming to the Panagitsa church for decades. Karounis broke down in tears as she described the role the church played in her growing up.

"I grew up in this church and so did my sister. I was in Girl Scouts, I was in Sunday school, my sister went to the basement to Greek school, my mother was in the auxiliary committee for 35 years, she said.

"This church held the community together. This priest is just amazing and I hope we rebuild and I just don't know why it happened. There's a reason for everything, but I just don't know what it is."

Petros Vouloukos said he the church means too much for too many people for it not to rebuild.

"A place of serenity. A place of solace. Particularly when I had tough times in my life I was able to pass by here and… I don't know… find some peace," he said.

Voloukos said seeing so many people from his community gather this morning lifted his spirits after what has been a difficult week.

"It gives me a boost morally to see that a lot of people, in spite of all that they have to go through everyday, in spite of their daily routine and whatever other responsibilities they might have in their life, they make the time to come out here for something that they find it important, he said.

"This is our community. It's a boon for me morally and I think it gives the entire community a renewed sense of vigour and confidence that we can go forward and rebuild the church and once again make it the beautiful shrine that it once was."

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