Rev. Anastasios Gounaris is pastor at Holy Trinity, Central Indiana's only Greek Orthodox church.
Rev. Anastasios Gounaris is pastor at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox.
Rev. Anastasios Gounaris is pastor at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox. / Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
And now, with a suburban home minutes from his
parish office, two grown daughters and a shiny, golden-domed church nearly complete, what more could the 54-year-old Rev. Anastasios "Taso" Gounaris have left to do?
Awaiting retirement in the comfort of Carmel was sounding very good to him.
But God had other plans, Gounaris
On June 1, the popular priest and pastor at Holy Trinity
-- Central Indiana's only Greek Orthodox church, with about 2,000 members -- will move to New York City and take over one of the most high-profile jobs within the faith.
He will become the dean, or presiding priest, of the historic Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan.
And because this church is the spiritual center of the nation's archdiocese -- think of it as an American version of Constantinople -- Gounaris will be playing host to heads of state and world religious leaders.
Founded in 1891, the cathedral is the second-oldest Greek Orthodox parish in America. (The oldest is in New Orleans.) Gounaris
is about to become the new face of Greek Orthodoxy in New York, if not the United States.
was appointed by Archbishop Demetrios
of America, the leader of the faith in the United States.
Although in some ways Gounaris will be "second in command" for the archbishop, he
will not be able to ascend into that position because he
Only celibate clergy within the Greek Orthodox faith can become an archbishop.
Not that Gounaris
has any desire to do that.
In fact, he
wasn't sure he
wanted the job at all.
Unlike Roman Catholic priests, who have little choice but to be obedient to their bishop when asked to relocate, Greek Orthodox priests have options.
Married clergy (and about 90 percent of the priests in America are married) have the right to consider the impact of a move on the family.
"It was not mandatory, and I could have said no," Gounaris
will take the place of Father Frank Marangos, who stepped down from that role about nine months ago.
In many ways, the move to New York City will be a return to Gounaris'
was born just up the Eastern coast in New Bedford, Mass.
first assignment as a priest was in Manhattan.
He will be working for Archbishop Demetrios, who was his professor at the Holy Cross School of Theology in the early 1980s.
"It's for me a dream come true in the sense that I have the opportunity to work directly underneath a man I've admired for many years," Gounaris
"It will be truly an honor."
It's possible the connection with Demetrios helped get Gounaris
noticed among other priests in the nation.
But it's just as likely that Demetrios was impressed when he
visited Carmel a few years ago for the dedication of the new church, which lights up the corner of 106th Street and Shelborne Road.
has actually come here twice: once for the official door-opening ceremony for the new temple and once for our centennial celebration held at Lucas Oil Stadium," Gounaris
"Maybe that renewed his
notice of the ministry I have had here."
Gounaris' career as a priest has taken him from New York to Michigan to Indiana, where he
has been for more than two decades.
arrived in 1991 from a parish in Saginaw, Mich., to take over as pastor of Holy Trinity Church
in Indianapolis, spending 17 years at the old church at 40th and Pennsylvania streets before building the church in Carmel, which opened on Christmas Eve of 2008.
Gounaris took a year off after college -- working as a bank teller and trying to clear his head -- before entering the seminary.
It took him only three years to finish.
tested out of Greek instruction because he
was fluent in the language.
"The opposite," Gounaris
Reflecting on his
departure from Carmel, Gounaris
is certain the time is right for a change here.
After 21 years, he
was starting to baptize the children of parents he