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Telegram and Gazette, January 31, 2005

St. Spyridon plans $4.5M expansion
Kotseases give $1M jumpstart

By Melanie Mangum Telegram & Gazette Staff

Charles and Helen Kotseas were married in St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in 1946, when its home was still on Orange Street. The Kotseases have been lifelong members of the parish where Mr. Kotseas was christened, and have seen it grow after St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Cathedral was built on Russell Street in 1952. Mr. Kotseas said he has always tried to invest in the church throughout its growth, and last year, he decided it was time to give back in a bigger way. “I always said God gave me the opportunity to make the money I made. He was good to me, and I want to give something back,” he said. The Kotseases decided to pledge $1 million to St. Spyridon last year, spurring the start of a $4.5 million expansion the church has been dreaming about for 50 years. This past weekend, St. Spyridon held the three-day kickoff of a capital campaign to fund the construction of a new Family Center that the church hopes will knit together its ever-growing parish and the community at large. “We’ve been looking to do this for a long time,” said William Kiritsy, parish council president. “We had a five-year plan to add on to the facility and provide education, recreational activities based on our spiritual foundation for our parish and the Orthodox faith in our community.” The donation by the Kotseases sped up the schedule considerably, since the only stipulation on the gift is that St. Spyridon breaks ground this fall. The church hopes to have the project completed within three years. “We’re being very aggressive with this project, more aggressive than usual for a project this size,” Mr. Kiritsy said. The St. Spyridon Family Center will include a gymnasium, athletic center and meeting rooms, as well as a cultural center with an amphitheater or function room. The idea behind the expansion is to address the changing demographics of the parish and provide a central place for parishioners and the community to come together. “The days of three generations of the Greek community living within walking distance of the church are gone,” states a fact sheet provided by the Parish Building Committee. “The vision for the center is to continue to unite all members of the Orthodox faith, while opening its doors to the Worcester community.” Opening its doors may mean bringing back an arrangement similar to one between the church and the Worcester public schools, which ended two years ago. The church provided space in 1995 for a Doherty satellite school, an annex to the Worcester public school system. A state-of-the art facility with classrooms equipped with new audio-visual resources will allow the church to host parish and community activities Mindful of its presence across from Elm Park — one of the oldest parks in the country — the church recognizes its need to include the surrounding community in its expansion plans. “We’re very excited, and we’re looking to bridge our project and help revitalize the area by providing a facility that aesthetically mirrors what is already here,” Mr. Kiritsy said. “We will work with the City Council and with the Elm Park Community.” Architects from BeeryRio Architecture and Interiors of Virginia held a series of presentations this past weekend, focusing on getting input for the project, which will happen in two phases. “The first phase will be the construction of the family center with the gym and the second phase will be the master plan phase — the long-term goals for the church,” said Leslie L. Sluger, associate with BeeryRio. “We’ve been eliciting a ‘wish list’ for the parishioners, looking at what will work for the church and what kinds of services they want to provide.” A huge consideration for the project has been making sure the church’s annual Greek Festival remains the success it has been for many years. “We made sure the architects understood how important it was to everyone who looks forward to coming to the festival and kicking up their heels,” said Christina I. Andrianopoulos, communications director for St. Spyridon. “The Greek Festival is part of the scope of the design.” The church expects a schematic for the master plan to be completed in March, with architects presenting three to five project designs to choose from. Construction documents are scheduled to be complete in June or July, with a groundbreaking set for September 2005. “We feel very confident that we’ll make this happen,” Ms. Andrianopoulos said. “We have many parishioners who have volunteered their time and their talents to this project.”

Copyright 2005 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.











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