Reverend Chris Hadgigeorgeby Representative Marcy Kaptur
Posted on 2016-01-06
KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an
American and extraordinary human being who led with quiet strength, the
Reverend Chris Hadgigeorge of Toledo, Ohio, who was laid to rest this
Father Hadgigeorge served the Toledo community so wisely and so generously for over a half a century, anchoring his service at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, which he helped to elevate from a church to a cathedral during his service. He was 91. What an incredible life.
Surviving are his beautiful wife, Presvytera Ann Hadgigeorge, who he married in 1948; daughters Pattie Senerius and Angie Bohland; son, William; sister, Presvytera Zafera Bartz; six grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters. He worshipped them all.
He was born in Youngstown, Ohio, to immigrants from the Greek island of Samos. When he was growing up, he served as an altar boy. When the family went visiting with friends, children asked what he would like to play and he said: ``I would like to play church.'' So Father Chris would be the priest. As he said in a Blade interview back in 1998, he would marry his brother to one of the girls, and he would have a bag of marbles that he would use as his censer.
Father Hadgigeorge attended Holy Cross, a school of Greek orthodox theology in New England, and was ordained in 1948. He served as pastor in a broad range of communities, including Indianapolis and Detroit, before arriving in Toledo. How lucky we have been.
He served as pastor starting in 1960 and pastor emeritus after 1991, and he has been a leader for more than half of the North Toledo landmark church's existence. As I mentioned, it is now a cathedral due to his efforts.
He had such an influence beyond the congregation he so dutifully served. The pastor recognized the changing needs, not only of the congregation, but of the community, as he saw his own congregation transition from U.S.-born members whose forebears arrived decades ago to more recent Greek and Cypriot immigrants. As his son said: ``I always called him a peacemaker.'' He served as a board member of the Toledo Council of Churches and was active in the International Institute, building goodwill with every step and every word he uttered. He raised his article of faith far beyond the congregants of his own cathedral.
He planted his congregations's commitment in the heart of Toledo and maintained it there at a time when it was really needed, before the community had transitioned to the new century when it was struggling. He led his community to oversee renovations to the church building as it was elevated to a cathedral, including the construction of a beautiful educational center and the purchase of surrounding property, while supporting the parish leaders' decisions to stay put and not move, not suburbanize. He felt that that congregation should control its own destiny and to grow where it was planted.
Father Chris was enthusiastic when the parishioners decided to throw a festival in 1971. The Holy Trinity's Greek festival has become an annual affair in our region, bringing people back to the city and being so much a part of the revitalization of Toledo long before it was popular. He was a true leader. He was such a leader for us.
``There are many generations who knew Father Chris,'' said the Reverend Larry Legakis, who became Holy Trinity's pastor in July 2014. Reverend Legakis said: ``For some of the people in their eighties, they remember working side by side'' with Father Hadgigeorge. ``Some see him as a father and a grandfather. And he was with us for so long, others see him as a great-grandfather.'' Personally, this Congresswoman sees him as a friend.
Our community is forever indebted to him, and the Greek American community he shepherded is an essential building block of the city of Toledo. We would be so much less without having their faith-filled commitment.
May his family draw strength from his beautiful life and from the lessons that he taught us and from the city that he loved and the cathedral to which he gave his life. May his family be blessed and may he rest in peace.
I would like to place in the Record as well the obituary that was printed in the Toledo Blade this week.
[From The Blade, Jan. 3, 2016] The Rev. Chris Hadgigeorge (1924-2015): Orthodox Priest Unified Greek Community, Parish (By Mark Zaborney, Blade Staff Writer) The Rev. Chris Hadgigeorge, a leader of what is now Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, as pastor and pastor emeritus, for more than half the North Toledo landmark's existence, died Thursday in his Sylvania Township home. He was 91.
He died in his sleep, his son William said. The cause was not immediately known. He had surgery recently to replace a heart valve and put in a pacemaker, but he did not appear ill and took part in liturgies at Holy Trinity for much of December.
The Holy Trinity community was organized in June, 1915, and has worshiped at its distinctive home on Superior Street north of downtown since 1919. Father Chris arrived as pastor in 1960.
``There are many generations who knew Father Chris,'' said the Rev. Larry Legakis, who became Holy Trinity pastor in July, 2014. ``For some of the people in their 80s, they remember working side by side. Some see him as a father and a grandfather, and he was with us for so long, others see him as a great-grandfather.'' Holy Trinity was consecrated as a cathedral in 1966, ``because of his leadership,'' said George Sarantou, a former parish council president.
Father Chris oversaw renovations to the building and the educational center and the purchase of surrounding property while supporting parish leaders' decision to stay put.
``He felt we should control our own destiny,'' said Mr. Sarantou, Toledo finance director and a former member of the city council. ``He was a good solid leader who understood what our needs should be. He got the job done with his quiet but effective leadership. He knew how to motivate people.'' Father Chris was enthusiastic when the parish threw a festival in 1971, and Holy Trinity's Greek festival has become an annual affair.
``He loved the city and the community. It was home,'' his son said.
The pastor recognized the changing needs of the congregation, from the U.S.-born members whose forebears arrived decades ago to more recent Greek and Cypriot immigrants.
``He was a great unifier in the Greek community. He could work with all groups, young and old,'' Mr. Sarantou said.
His son said: ``I always called him a peacemaker.'' ``I'm speaking as a son now,'' William Hadgigeorge said. ``He would never lecture me about God's way. It was always the right way; do the right thing, even when others aren't looking.'' Father Chris retired as Holy Trinity pastor in 1991. Afterward, he was interim pastor of a Springfield, Ohio, church for several months but stayed in Toledo.
He was named a protopresbyter in the church by Archbishop Iakovos in 1973, and received the patriarchal cross from Patriarch Bartholomew in 2006.
Father Chris was born Aug. 3, 1924, in Youngstown, to Paraskevi and William Hadgigeorge, immigrants from the Greek island of Samos. He was an altar boy growing up and sang in the choir. When the family went visiting and friends' children asked what he'd like to play, ``I'd say, `Let's play church,' '' Father Chris told The Blade in 1998. ``And I would be the priest. I would marry my brother to one of the girls. I would have a bag of marbles that I used as my censer.'' He was a 1942 graduate of Youngstown's East High School. He went to Holy Cross, a school of Greek Orthodox theology in New England and was ordained in 1948. He was a pastor in Indianapolis and Detroit before arriving in Toledo.
He'd been a board member of the Toledo Council of Churches and was active in the International Institute.
Surviving are his wife, Presvytera Ann Hadgigeorge, whom he married March 7, 1948; daughters, Pattie Senerius and Angie Bohland; son, William; sister, Presvytera Zafera Bartz; six grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.
Visitation will be from 1-9 p.m. Monday in Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, with Trisagion prayers at 7 p.m. A vesperal liturgy at 9 a.m. Tuesday will be followed by funeral services at 11 a.m. in the cathedral. Arrangements are by the Ansberg-West Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to Holy Trinity's memorial fund.