In sermon priest asks for peace

An estimated 200 people held a peaceful vigil as rain relented in front of St. Athanasius on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Orthodox Stewards for Justice & Reconciliation, a grass-roots group of parish leaders and members, ask the public to support its goal reinstate Father Nick.

UPDATED, Aug. 20: The publicly unexplained removal of a popular priest from a Greek Orthodox church in Arlington has drawn a petition with 2,128 signatures. 

The number, as of 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, supported the Rev. Nicholas M. Kastanas after he celebrated what was billed as his final Sunday service. 

The Boston Globe reported July 29  that 400 were expected to attend the 9:15 a.m. divine liturgy in support of Kastanas, who served St. Athanasius the Great on Appleton Street for 27 years. Hundreds of parishioners among 800 families attended.

Parishioners have not been told why "Father Nick," as he is known, is leaving, and those asked for comment, including the head of the church in Boston, as well Rev. Kastanas, declined to comment or did not respond.

Clapping in St. Athanasius' church is forbidden, as it is in many Greek orthodox churches, the Globe reported July 30, but parishioners gave Kastanas three standing ovations during the service Sunday.

The Globe account of the final sermon quoted Rev. Kastanas as saying through tears: "I’ve been truly blessed to be a part of your family for 27 years. I want us to please calm down and be peacemakers. I know that you’re passionate and can’t help it, being Greek, but we must return to being brothers and sisters and not be nasty to each other."

Read the July 29 Globe report >> It was updated July 30 >>

See the petition, which cites undefined "turmoil" and says Kastanas has "no hope of being reassigned" >> 

Read a copy of the July 27 letter from Methodius, Metropolitan of Boston >> It cites "hurtful and destructive communication" attributed to Father Kastanas.

A blog entry titled "Look in the Mirror!" provides some background and opinion from one parishioner, Ioannis Moutsatsos. Read it here >>

The entry offers a list of complaints directed at the parish council. It says: "All were pleading for a constructive involvement of the Metropolis instead of the one-sided, misguided support of a few 'favorites' in the St. Athanasius parish council who seemed to have the ear of the Chancellor, and inevitably of the Metropolitan, who proclaimed his unwavering trust in his person." 

A former Arlington resident with ties to the church wrote to YourArlington on July 30: "I spoke with my father-in-law, and he said the bishop told him his [Rev. Kastanas'] services weren't needed anymore as he wasn't performing the duties expected of him. Other members of the board wanted him out as well.

"This is disturbing as Fr. Nick was well liked by the community. He went to the hospital when my grandmother was on her deathbed."

OPINION: Aug. 2, 2017: To Greek church leaders: Get past social media, come together

Opinion, Gregory Pappas: Aug. 19, 2017: Whatever happened to dignity, decency?

This news summary was published Sunday, July 30, 2017, and updated Aug. 20, to add an opinion link.