90th Anniversary of Saint Andrew: The History of the Holy Dormiton Chapel in New Carlisle

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

THE HISTORY OF THE HOLY DORMITION CHAPEL IN NEW CARLISLE

As we continue our 90th Anniversary celebration of our parish, we now, turn our attention to our chapel in New Carlisle and its history. It was known as "The Chapel tis Panayias "Virgin Mary".

The consensus of opinion of the early founders of Saint Andrew church and the Ahepa was that of all the functions they participated in, the picnic outings were the most pleasurable. The first parish picnic was held in 1928 on Riverside Drive just north of Cleveland Road by the Saint Joseph River, near the Darden bridge. For several years the picnics were held at the Crumstown Groves.

In the 1950's the Louis Nitsos family graciously permitted the church to use some of their farmland in New Carlisle for picnics, and in 1956 Mr. Louis Nitsos deeded five acres of land to the parish of Saint Andrew church, on which was constructed a small chapel in memory of his parents. What was different about this chapel was the fact the Louis Nitsos built it by himself from the foundation up to the roof! The chapel was given the name, the "Chapel Tis Panayias." (The Chapel of the Virgin Mary), and since 1956 the evening divine service of Vespers continued to be held annually at the chapel on the Eve, August 14th, of the Feast-Day of Koimisis or Holy Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God. The old Saint Andrew church bell that Peter John donated was moved to the chapel Tis Panayias where it was installed. Several Ahepans, George Mantalas, Louis Lampos and his son Gus planted evergreens around the boundary that marked the acreage that Mr. Nitso had deeded to the parish.

The Ahepans built a wooden stand for dancing and a Greek orchestra from Chicago Heights and Gary played old Greek favorites. There were times that Spyridon Balanis would place a bushel basket in the center of the circle of dancers and every time someone would lead the dance, he and his relatives and friends would throw dollar bills into the basket; the money collected was given to the parish of Saint Andrew.

At the Ahepa meeting of May 4, 1960, Ahepa was confronted with the issue of repairing the wooden structure that held the dance floor. A special meeting was held to appropriate the funds needed. Before the meeting was adjourned, Milton Kouroubetis made a motion, which was seconded by Louis Nitsos, that the Order of Ahepa, Chapter #100, hereby unanimously vote to build a PAVILION to known as "The Ahepa Pavilion: and appropriate the amount of $2,500 toward the project...Upon completion of said Ahepa Pavilion, the Order of the Ahepa will donate said pavilion to the Saint Andrew church free and clear."

Following the above resolution, 39 members out of 53 present contributed $1,800. The Good Samaritans donated $500.00 for the project. The Building Committee was composed of Louis Nitsos, Chairman, Geroge Mantalas, Gus Stangas, Tom Stangas, John Markis, Pendel Pappas, Gus Lampos, and Milton Kouroubetis.  During the planning stages, many of the parishioners expressed strong feelings that summertime Sunday services should be held at the Chapel Tis Panayias. This, however, did not materialize.

The Ahepa Pavilion was a large, open-air building with a full roof to provide shelter from inclement weather. In addition, there was a large building of concrete blocks which housed a complete kitchen, as well as storage and washrooms, located on the north side of the pavilion next to a long bar which was donated by Sam Caparell. On June 12, 1960, the Ahepa held the first picnic at the pavilion. Following the liturgical services at the Chapel Tis Panayias, Father Assimakidis proceeded to the pavilion where dedication services were witnessed by over 350 parishioners. Following the dedication ceremony, Christ Michalos (president of the Ahepa) formally presented the Ahepa pavilion to Mr. Louis Nitsos, who was vice president of the Saint Andrew church parish council. The parish council at this time were as follows: George Karras, George Orfanos, Otto Leonakis, George Mantas, Archontis Christos, Emmanuel Scopelitis, Christ Lampos, John Makris, Leo Lamberson, Sam Caparell, and Milton Kouroubetis.

Subsequently, the Ahepa commissioned a bronze plaque upon which were listed the names of the donors to the Ahepa Pavilion Building Fund as of May, 1960. The inscription read:

DONORS

TO THE

AHEPA PAVILION BUILDING FUND DRIVE

MAY 1960

 

LOUIS NITSOS -- DONOR OF GROUNDS AND CHAPEL

IN LOVING MEMORY OF HIS PARENTS

South Bend Chapter No. 100 of the ORDER OF AHEPA;

GAIA CHAPTER No. 60 of the DAUGHTERS OF PENELOPE;

THE GOOD SAMARITAN SOCIETY; THE PAN ARCADIAN SOCIETY;

THE SAINT ANDREW'S CHOIR; THE SAINT ANDREW'S GREEK SCHOOL

PTA and the SOCIAL CLUB.

The AHEPA Pavilion undoubtedly was the largest project ever undertaken by the local chapter of Ahepa and for many years enjoyable social outings sponsored there by the Ahepa and Saint Andrew Church were many. But the interests of the parish changed and the picnics were held less frequently. The Saint Andrew parish eventually lost all interest in the Ahepa Pavilion. In the early spring of 1981 the pavilion was bulldozed and the land reverted to the donor, Mr. Louis Nitsos. The Saint Andrew parish continued conducting services annually at the Chapel on the Eve of the Holy Feast-Day of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God.

MOST RECENT HISTORY OF THE HOLY DORMITION CHAPEL IN NEW CARLISLE

The Chapel Tis Panayias for many years had been neglected, forgotten and deserted by the parish. However, by the grace of God and the holy intercessions of the Most Holy Mother of God it has been revived and used weekly. It took about sixteen years to bring the Chapel to its current condition. It is truly a jewel and an asset to the parish.

The original Chapel was very small and only about fifteen or twenty people would be able to worship at a time. Now, however, the Chapel can accommodate more than eighty worshipers. It has a small office for the parish priest, a small kitchen and lavatories. New ecclesiastical furniture from Greece added to the comfort of those attending and to the beauty of the Chapel. The special chairs known as stasidia usually used by the parishioners with physical needs. The Holy icons were made by our nuns at Saint John Chrysostom Monastery at Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Recently the Chapel has been paved all around to accommodate the religious processions that take place, as well, flower beds and a sprinkler system. Of course all have seen the beautiful sign of the Chapel by the Chicago Trail street. Over 160 cypress were planted around the Chapel donated by Mr. Tom Leonakis.

All of the improvements and enlargement of the facility happened due to the very generous donations of our beloved parishioners who want to remain anonymous. The parish has not been burdened financially at all for the work done at the Chapel.

Our thanks to the Chairman of the Chapel Building Committee Mr. Nick Giannakakis for his dedication, vision, support, commitment and zeal.

Plans for the future of our beloved Chapel are: To add a bell tower, to erect a Pavilion, to asphalt the drive way, the parking area, to built a fence by the Chicago Trail with a gate, and to build a storage facility.

Over the last sixteen years more and more of our brothers and sisters in Christ are attending the divine services at the Chapel. Our Chapel has an unbelievable spiritual potential for our parish. To provide more opportunities to worship, to pray, to participate in the sacraments, to hold spiritual retreats for our parish children, the seniors, the young couples and O.C.F university students studying at the University of Notre Dame, of Indiana University of South Bend, of St. Mary's College.

After all the hard work and financial investments to bring the Chapel Tis Panayias to this point, I find it impossible for the Chapel not to thrive and continue to progress. 

Our parish has made a deliberate and conscious decision not only to keep the Chapel but to use it. The Mother of God, our Theotokos, offers her blessings to all who love her sacred place of worship.

This year the Holy Dormition Chapel is celebrating its 60th Anniversary and on Saturday, October 29th I will be conducting Orthros (Matins) at 9am and Divine Liturgy at 10am at the Chapel. Following the Divine Liturgy I will be conducting the services of the Artoklasia (Blessing of The Loaves) immediately following. This divine service is offered for the health, protection, and blessing of our entire parish of Saint Andrew.

With agape in Christ,

+Father George