90th Anniversary of Saint Andrew: Priests Assigned to Our Parish (Part V)

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

PASTORATE OF REVEREND FATHER DIONYSIOS ASSIMAKIDES AND REVEREND FATHER GEORGE C. MASSOURAS

Father Assimakidis was born in 1910 in Selianitika, Aigion, Greece. He graduated from Rizareios Ecclesiastical School, Athens, where he received his degree in theology and education. Father Assimakidis continued his education by studying Byzantine and European music at the Conservatory of Music in Athens, Greece. He married Tassia, the future Presbytera, in 1934 and they had one son, Theodore. He was ordained in Aigion, Greece, at the Koimisis of the Theotokos Cathedral. Father Assimakidis came to America where he served the parishes at Saint Demetrios, Jamaica, New York; the Assumption, Price, Utah; and the Holy Trinity, Spokane, Washington.

After the re-assignment of Father Velis, Father Assimakidis was assigned by the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Chicago to the Saint Andrew's parish in South Bend, Indiana on a temporary basis in 1959. Father Assimakidis was in attendance at the parish council meeting on March 7, 1959. On April 7th a letter from the Good Samaritan Ladies Society was read at the parish council meeting urging the parish council to retain Father Assimakidis as permanent priest.

There were certain aspects of Father Assimakidis' tenure in the Greek Orthodox parish which were controversial. The entire church service continued to be performed in Greek, and many parishioners felt they were back in the day of Father Mazokopakis. He even insisted that the members of the parish council speak in Greek at the meetings. As president of the parish council, Father Assimakidis, refused to entertain any motion or suggestion to which he did not approve. When the parish council attempted to change the Saint Andrew Parish Constitution, which provided that the priest serve as president of the parish council, Father Assimakidis resisted. He would adjourn the meeting whenever the change was attempted. Finally, the Chicago Greek Orthodox Archdiocese warned the Saint Andrew parish that there would be problems if the church did not approve the Archdiocese Uniform Parish By-Laws. Father Assimakidis requested to be reassigned from Saint Andrew and was assigned to the Annunciation Cathedral.

The year 1963 was a crucial period in the history of the Saint Andrew parish. His Grace Bishop Meletios of the Chicago Diocese made several visits that year. His visits, as well as those of other concerned parishioners, proved to be unsuccessful in solving the problems of that time.

By the end of September, our parish was notified by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America that His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos would visit the Saint Andrew parish on October 2, 1963. On the occasion of that visit, His Eminence would also be accompanied by Father George C. Massouras.

The Archbishop's trip to South Bend resulted in changes that would permanently alter the makeup of the Saint Andrew Greek Orthodox parish. His Eminence appointed the first Lay-president of Saint Andrew's parish council, Mr. Louis Thomas. The St.Andrew parish ratified the Archdiocese Uniform Parish By-Laws and finally the Archbishop informed the parish that the priest that had accompanied him to Saint Andrew, Father George Massouras, would be the parish's new Presbyter.

Father George C. Massouras was born on December 7, 1933 at Ellisburg, Washington. He attended schools in Ellisburg, Spokane, and Yew City, Washington. Father Massouras received his theological education at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School at Brookline, Massachusetts.

While at the Seminary, he was instrumental in the founding of the Holy Cross Missionary Society. The group, comprised of seminary students, built and equipped a three-room hospital in the wilderness of Uganda, East Africa. The seminarians also supplied books and equipment for over 500 Korean Orthodox children in the capital city of Seoul.

Father Massouras married the former Despina Besbokos of Dorchester, Mass., in 1959. Father was ordained a Deacon at Norwich, Connecticut that same year. Father George was ordained to the holy Priesthood in Worchester, Mass. and was assigned to Saint George the Tropaiophoros Church in Pittsfield, Mass., until the Archbishop reassigned him to St. Andrew at South Bend, Indiana. While at Saint Andrew in South Bend, Father Massouras furthered his education at the University of Notre Dame. He received his Masters degree then served as a guest lecturer in the New Testament and Greek at the University and at Saint Mary's College.

After the Archbishop's assignment of Father George Massouras to the Saint Andrew parish, the parish's problems were slowly resolved.

As spiritual leader of the Saint Andrew parish, Father Massouras was active in the Council of Churches of Saint Joseph County. He served on the Council's Faith and Order Committee and also the Foreign Exchange Student Committee. According to Mr. Thomas Poulos, Father Massouras was instrumental in the organization of the Annual Lenten Lectures and the founding of the Bishop Philotheos (Mazokopakis) Parish Library. Through these efforts, Father Massouras furthered religious education of his parishioners and left his mark on the future of Saint Andrew.

The parish council and the whole parish honored Father George Massouras with a farewell dinner shortly before he left South Bend for Anahaim, California on September of 1969, to assume new duties as parish priest of Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church.

 Please note: Father George and Presbytera Despina were assigned to serve the Greek Orthodox parish of Assumption in Chicago, Ill., in 1981. He later retired as the Proistamenos of the parish because of health issues.

Father George and Presbytera have three sons, Theodore, Thomas and Christopher, with families of their own.

[Source: The Greeks Of Michiana by Milton Kouroubetis]

(To be continued)

In Christ,

+Father George