St. Gregory of Nyssa
1992 – Present
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 2019
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. In 2017, we were 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.
In March 2020, the Parish and the entire world responded to the COVID 19 Pandemic. State and local governments drastically limited public gatherings seeking to reduce the virus spread. In obedience to our spiritual father, His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, and in concert with the guidance from state/local health organizations and advisors; St Gregory rapidly and extraordinarily created continuing worship opportunities for the Glory of God. The resilience of the faithful demonstrated once again that the Church was not a building fixed in stone, but rather her people who found ways to gather together to worship inside, outside and on-line. We remained focused on our central purpose as a parish: Worship, Communion, Intercession and Praise. Our recognition of the need for our a common Prayers and Intercessions as well as our needed connection with our Lord and each other only grew in this time of crisis. Remembering that even if they were “behind locked doors for fear...” the anxious Disciples still gathered and the Lord showed up and gave them His Peace and Spirit. To this end, St. Gregory began live stream and on-demand broadcasts so that our traditional schedule of weekend and weekday worship services continued uninterrupted and we could all continue to Come and See.
Past Parish Council Presidents
- Kathern Rogers
- John Vassos
- Larry Anderson
- Nick Paschalydis
- Tom Crowell
- Panteleimon Orologas
- Greg Anastopoulos
- Kathy Galanos
- John Manos
- Peter Shenas
- Chris Psillas
The 2020 Parish Council President is Chris Psillas.
The parish has encouraged and sponsored many missionaries who have come to our parish seeking assistance in their overseas mission work under OCMC. Among them have been the Ritsi family (Fr. Stephanos , Presvytera Alexandria, and children) - Albania, and our own Josef & Adrienne Candelario - Sweden.
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