St. Gregory of Nyssa
1992 – 2017
On May 23rd, 1992, a small group of Greek Orthodox faithful in the San Diego area saw the need for another parish in the east part of the county. Following the standards of the UPRs, after collecting over 70 signatures and petitioning the Diocese to further the endeavor, the organizing committee met with then Bishop Anthony at the GOC Mission in Temecula on June 14th (now known as “Founders Day) and were granted permission to proceed. On June 17th, the first official meeting was held and a mailing sent out to 200 households requesting support. In July, the first General Assembly was held at the home of Earl and Carol Cantos with Bishop Anthony presiding and, having been satisfied with the appropriate criteria being met, the Bishop officially sanctioned the parish, naming the organizing committee as the interim Parish Council. On August 7th, Fr. James Gavrilos was assigned to the community as its first priest and on September 10th, Fr. James arrived with his wife Presbytera Angela and their son Alexios. The facilities of a rented chapel and hall in El Cajon were used for services and other functions & ministries. The parish chapter of Philoptochos was instituted on December 8th, and began their ministries of time and talent with Project Mexico and St. Innocent orphanage, Martha & Mary House (refuge for unwed mothers) and God’s Extended Hand (homeless shelter/soup kitchen.) The first election for Parish Council was held in December 1992, and Kathern Rogers was chosen as the first president for St. Gregory of Nyssa.
1993 to 1997
Previously known as the East San Diego County Greek Orthodox Church, on Pentecost Sunday 1993, parishioners chose from among 8 names, selecting St. Gregory of Nyssa as the patron saint of the parish. Fr. James served as President of the Orthodox Clergy Brotherhood during his five-year pastorate, and inspired several young men to attend Holy Cross Seminary. Among them were Earl (Demetrios) Cantos, Carl (Paul) Schroeder, and George Hazlaris. The son of Iris Pilafas, a dedicated and devoted member since 1992, Fr. John Pilifas also was a parishioner of St. Gregory of Nyssa.
1997 to 2002
On August 1st, 1997, Fr. Peter Delvizis was assigned as the proistamenos of St. Gregory of Nyssa, arriving with his wife, Presbytera Victoria. On October 31st, 1998, St. Gregory honored his Eminence Metropolitan Anthony’s 20th anniversary to the episcopacy, with all fundraising efforts being directed to the St. Gregory of Nyssa building fund. Fr. Peter began a search for the relics of St. Gregory of Nyssa, seeking support from the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, who contacted the Vatican (which held the holy relics of St. Gregory in their vaults.) The Vatican agreed to the request; on August 21, 2000, the holy relics were brought by Monsignor Mikulanis and presented to Fr. Peter and the parish at a special service held in the church. In January 2001, 1.1 acres of vacant land in the Rancho San Diego area was purchased for the future site of the church edifice, and within a year, the mortgage was paid in full.
2002 to 2007
In August 2002, Fr. Demetri Tsigas arrived with his wife Presbytera Eleni and their two sons, Jordan and Jonathan. In 2003, another 0.5 acre of land (with an existing single-family house and garage) adjacent to the first parcel was purchased and added to the parish church holdings for the site of future church buildings. With the increase in rent at the chapel combined with the cost of a new mortgage, the parish held its final services at the chapel on December 31st, 2004. The parish then moved from the chapel and proceeded to conduct services at a bible bookstore, a restaurant, and an elementary school auditorium from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2006. During this time, enhancements and improvements were initiated for the house on the church property and, on January 1, 2007, the house, garage, and accompany land were then utilized for services, events, and all other purposes to serve the parishioners.
2007 to 2012
In February 2007, Fr. Simeon Corona was assigned to serve St. Gregory on a part-time basis as needed and available. In June 2007, with the help of a visit from Fr, Demetrios Earl Cantos, a General Assembly voted to resume full-time clergy status with Fr. Simeon as the proistamenos. Even with the drastic downturn of the economy in 2008 and 2009, parishioners rose to the occasion by donating their time, talents and treasure. The house received major renovations, the patio was expanded and covered, and the surrounding land had a major overhaul to accommodate the needs of the parish, including walkways, landscaping, additional fence, and room renovations. Growth by fellowship, word-of-mouth, and curiosity led to an influx of a number of converts from various backgrounds and origins.
2013 to 2017
On January 27, 2013, an arsonist set fire to our house, making all of the facilities unusable. From February through May, services were held in a makeshift area using a tent and the garage. In the summer of 2013, an unused library building was then used for our temporary needs. With God’s help, prayer, diligence, and the kindness & generosity of the faithful, rebuilding began by removing the debris and beginning construction of a permanent facility. On February 15, 2014, we held our first vespers in a new constructed church that included a fellowship hall, offices, restrooms, and a new patio. On June 14, 2014, our parish had the honor of hosting His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos for our Opening of the Doors Service [Thranaxia]. From 2014 through 2016, our parishioners have contributed to enable the church to install pews (in lieu of chairs), tile flooring, additional concrete for the patio and sidewalks, more landscaping, improved gravel for the parking, encompassing fence with gates, and new kitchen appliances. This year, we are pleased to have Fr. Simeon celebrate the completion of his 20th year as a priest (his 10th at our parish) and look forward to many more years.
John Vassos, Larry Anderson, Nick Paschalydis, Tom Crowell, Panteleimon Orologas, Greg Anastopoulos, Kathy Galanos, and Peter Shenas served as Parish Council Presidents between 1998 and 2016. Our 2017 Parish Council President is Chris Psillas.
The parish has also been a good supporter and sponsor for many missionaries who have come to our parish seeking additional help for their goal of overseas mission work under OCMC. Among the latest for 2016 and 2017 have been the Ritsi family (Albania), and Josef & Adrienne Candelario (Greece) who have found a warm welcome, hospitality, and fellowship here at St. Gregory.