Church of St. John of Damascus

Centennial LogoHistory of our Parish

In October, 2007, the parishioners of St. John of Damascus celebrated the centennial anniversary of our parish.  One hundred years!  A journey that began in 1907 on Hudson Street in Boston, Massachusetts, to Museum Road in Boston and finally to our current home in Dedham, Massachusetts.  In celebration of our centennial, a complete history of the Church of St. John of Damascus was compiled.

We are so proud of our heritage and our culture, just as our ancestors were.  Their legacy has become our legacy—to nurture, encourage, and perpetuate for our children and generations to come.  After reading this, we hope you feel the same pride that our parishioners have at St. John's.  Enjoy!

The Early Years

The history of the Church of St. John of Damascus, in the United States, dates back to the early 1900s.  In actuality, however, its frontier was in Antioch, where the Disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

From 1900 to 1905, there occurred a very large influx of immigrants arriving at the shores of the United States from the Middle East, Early Yearsparticularly from Damascus, Syria.  The migration was motivated in the aftermath of the Turkish persecutions of Christians in Lebanon and Syria.  Hundreds of immigrants arrived and the majority of them settled in the South End (in the present day Chinatown section) of Boston, Massachusetts.  Most of these immigrants were of the Eastern Orthodox faith, which was little known in Boston at that time.

Since their faith and religious observances were an integral part of their life, culture, heritage of these immigrants, it became evident that a Antiochian Orthodox Church would  be needed to be established within the community.  In those days, the early settlers lived in close proximity to each other.  Soon, a group of women began holding regular prayer services in their home.

Each woman in the community contributed 5 cents per week, which enabled them to secure the services of a neighboring priest from Rhode Island on a once-a-month basis.  The women met every week and called themselves The Association of Spiritual Union.  Their primary motivation was to promote a feeling of cohesiveness by worshiping together and drawing strength from God's Love.  Thus, the first seeds of the church were sown.

The Beginning of the Church of St. John of Damascus

Early in 1907, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Damascenes, who had settled in the South End section of Boston, came to the realization that there was a dire need for a place of worship.  The male leaders in the community founded an organization to perpetuate the faith of their forbearers and to establish a place of worship in their adopted country.  Thirteen (13) men created the original committee organized as the Executive Committee of the Society of St. John of Damascus; St. John of Damascusthe entire parish comprised the "Society".  It is symbolic that our first pioneers chose thirteen men, correlating to the 13 original United States colonies, but more importantly it commemorates the fact the Patriarch of Antioch, was and is still considered the 13th Apostle of Jesus Christ.

They adopted the name of St. John of Damascus not only because St. John was a Damascene who is honored and respected by all of Christendom, but also because his faith and patience, which were sought for guidance.

The purpose of the Society, as stated in the Constitution, was "to promote Christian principles according to the canons of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church and to preserve the spiritual welfare of its members."  To that end, it was determined that the Society should maintain a church to be known as the Church of St. John of Damascus.

The men serving who comprised and organized the First Committee were:  Alexander Ayoub, Elian Bunai, Nicholas Ghazal, Fudlo Haker, Michael Hawah, Antoon Tamer Homsy, Elain Klam, Leon Maloof, Assad N. Mudarri, Nicholas Najjar, Dimitri Turk and Elain Zammar.  These men were loyal and devoted individuals who possessed a deep and determined desire to keep alive the spirit of Orthodoxy, which was so deeply a part of their life and culture.

The Committee began collecting dues and secured a priest to administer to the spiritual needs of the parish.  On a Sunday by Sunday basis, as funds allowed, they rented a "make shift store front" in a building located on the corner of Kneeland and Tyler Streets in Boston, which they reasoned would only be temporary quarters for this mission that was developing.  It was from that humble beginning that the Rev. Solomon FairnenyChurch of St. John of Damascus first became a physical reality.

The Committee secured the services of Very Rev. Alexandros Atalla as the first pastor to celebrate Divine Liturgy.  He was followed by Rev. George Mahfouz, who served the Church for two years, and Rev. John Kirshy, who served during 1910.  In the closing months of 1910, Rev. Solomon Fairneny arrived in Boston from Damascus, Syria.  After serving as guest priest for several months, he was asked to become the first permanent pastor of the Church of St. John of Damascus.

These pilgrims had many trials and tribulations that they had to overcome in their newly adopted country.  Day to day survival was a struggle, as they searched for ways to support their families.  One of the chief obstacles was the language barrier.  Unlike today, immigrants were strongly discouraged from keeping their native tongues, especially in the schools.

The Association of the Spiritual Union grew to encompass many men and women who eagerly wanted to teach their children the Orthodox Faith, not only because it was the only way of life that these immigrants knew, but more because it was a source of strength and cohesiveness to the community.  The Church served as an extended family to all its parishioners.  Soon after, the Association gave rise to another organization which became known as the St. George Burial Society, whose responsibility was to care for the needs of bereaved families.

On the road to Hudson Street

On November 27, 1913, the first official meeting of the Executive Committee was held, according to the earliest records.  At that meeting, the following officers were elected and recorded as the first official officers of the Society of St. John of Damascus:  Assad Mudarri, President; Nicholas Najjar, Vice-President; Toufic Hamwey, Secretary; Michael Hawah, Treasurer; Elian Bunai, Assistant Treasurer.  Meetings were held on a weekly basis.  On December 1, 1913, it was voted to research the feasibility of buying a church facility in order to bring some stability to the parish.  Soon after, a delegation consisting of Hudson St. Churchthree Executive Committee members and the pastor traveled to Brooklyn, NY to meet with then Bishop, St. Raphael Hawaweeny, Bishop of Brooklyn, in an attempt to secure some financial assistance.  However, this financial assistance was not forthcoming.

At the December 8, 1913 meeting, with $150.66 in the treasury, the Executive Committee voted that each member would make a confidential pledge in order to kick off a massive fundraising drive.  The drive also included a door to door campaign to raise sufficient funds to secure a church facility.

On January 9, 1914, a down payment, made possible by the fundraising drive, was paid on a house for the amount of $5,500 at 68 Hudson Street for the purpose of conversion into a church facility.  The first floor of the house was to be used as living quarters for Father Fairneny and his family.  The basement was to be styled and used for worship services.  On June 12, 1914, a group of parishioners decided to underwrite the mortgage of the church property.

On June 13, 1914, the church on 68 Hudson Street was consecrated by St. Raphael, Bishop of Brooklyn, who celebrated the first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Church of St. John of Damascus, Boston, Massachusetts.  The weekend festivities began with dancing and celebrating in the streets, culminated with a Grand Banquet and Hufla in the Grand Ballrooom of the Hotel Bradford in Boston.

The Virgin Mary Society

The small group of women, who had previously founded The Association of Spiritual Union, were zealous in their desire to help the Society of Virgin Mary SocietySt. John of Damascus and decided to form a Women's Auxiliary.  With the assistance of Father Fairneny and the President of the Executive Committee, the women organized a thirteen member association, closely correlated to the men's Executive Committee.  They named this committee, The Virgin Mary Society.  On August 16th, 1914, the Virgin Mary Society of the Church of St. John of Damascus was registered at the Archdiocese in Brooklyn, NY, where His Eminence Bishop Raphael Hawaweeny congratulated and commended the women for their courage and commitment in establishing this new organization.

At their first meeting, each member donated $2.00 to establish a fund in their treasury.  The Virgin Mary Society collected weekly dues of 5 cents from every woman in the parish.  They also made visits to the sick, to mothers after the birth of a first child and visits to newlyweds and their parents.  On October 19, 1914, the Virgin Mary Society submitted its own constitution to the Executive Committee, where it was approved for implementation.

 

The First Constituion

On December 28, 1914, The Society of St. John of Damascus was officially incorporated, and then recorded with the Office of the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  John Najjar, President of the Society, Church ServicesToufic Hamwey, Clerk and Elian Bunai, Treasurer, signed the Articles of Incorporation.

On January 4, 1915, a Parish meeting was held and the first Constitution and By-Laws of the Society of St. John of Damascus was accepted for implementation.  The Executive Committee from that point on would be known as the Standing Committee of the Society.

Regular meetings of the Standing Committee were held on every Monday evening.  The annual meeting was held on the last Monday of December at which the election of members of the Standing Committee would take place.

On April 12, 1915, a real estate mortgage was secured from the National Shawmut Bank of Boston in the amount of $6,200 and the church property at 68 Hudson Street was transferred from the names of the underwriters to the Society of St. John of Damascus, as all loans were paid back in full.  The priest was compensated at that time for his services at the rate of $50 per month.

The joy of the church was short lived.  At the end of 1915, the City of Boston condemned the Church building as unsafe because the outside left wall was extremely weak and in danger of collapsing.  On January 16, 1916, an emergency Parish meeting was held at Morgan Memorial Hall and interest free loans and donations from the church organization were secured.  Renovations and design work Easter - Sword fighttotaled $5,200.  The church was to be constructed with a hall underneath so that there would be meeting space for the church organizations.  Consecration of the reconstructed and refurbished building was scheduled to be held on the 5th Sunday of Great Lent, 1916.

There were no pews in this Church, only the booth-like chairs which lined the left and right walls.  The "elder men" sat on the right side and the older women on the left.  The other members of the parish stood up through the entire Divine Liturgy. The small balcony was reserved for very young children and widows.  The chanters had their own lecterns … one on each side.
Our parishioners were very happy in their new Church and were finally and joyfully able to implement the practices of our culture.  The Church was the center of the ethnic community … socially and physically.  During the Easter celebrations, the traditions, customs and ethnic heritage of our community took center stage.  A favorite activity was the Easter parade, with the traditional Sword and Shield fighting exhibitions.

In December, 1925, Rev Solomon Fairneny submitted his resignation.  On April 1, 1926, Rev. Father Basillious Mahfouz became Pastor of the Church.

The Young Peoples Association

Young PeopleThe young, first generation Americans of our Church community found it extremely difficult to bridge the gap between a very ethnic and parochial church and the American society at school and work.  In the early 1920s, the young men of the Church community organized a "grass roots" club and called themselves the Young Men's Association of the Church of St. John's of Damascus.  The purpose of the organization was for companionship, solidarity and support.  Soon thereafter, the women felt the same need and started a group called The Mary Magdalene Society.  As the decade of the 1930s unfolded, the young people were no longer happy with the segregation of the sexes, so they Young Men's Association and The Mary Magdalene organization expressed a desire to merge into one group.  Continuing the spirit of companionship and fellowship which had originally motivated them, they now joined the two organizations to form the Young People's Association for the youth of the church community from ages 16 through 21.  This "co-ed" group was a very innovative concept for our parish and was initially frowned upon.  However, the Associations was organized in 1933 and formally instituted in 1936.

Growth of St. John's through the 30's and 40's

On March 6, 1929, at a historic parish meeting and in the presence of His Eminence Victor Abo-Assaly, Antiochian Orthodox Bishop of New York and North America, the members of the Society of St. John of Damascus voted to join the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.  His Eminence Victor accepted the Society into the Archdiocese with much joy.

On March 1, 1932, V. Rev. Basillios Kerbawey was invited to serve as the pastor of St. John of Damascus.  The Hudson Street church was starting to show signs of wear and tear.  Inspection of the church confirmed leakage through the church walls and a need for Huflamajor renovation and repair in order to be in compliance with the safety standards of the City of Boston.  The parishioners voted to repair the church to the best of their ability.

In December of 1932, a Grand Hufla and Banquet were held in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Church of St. John of Damascus.  Metropolitan Germanos Shaday celebrated the Divine Liturgy and was presented with a Silver Cross and a Silver Plate imprinted with the date of the founding of the Church.  In 1935, Father Kerbawey resigned and Father Solomon Fairneny was asked to come back to St. John's and pastor the flock.  Father Fairneny was very enthusiastic in bringing the young people of the Parish back to their heritage.

Early in 1939, a group of young adults who believed they had outgrown the Young Peoples Association, and yet felt strongly about their commitment to the Church organized a group called The Crusaders.  The Crusaders were service oriented men and women who held many functions for the church.

The parish was deeply saddened by the loss of Very Rev. Solomon Fairneny, who passed away on May 1, 1939.  After a few interim priests, the Standing Committee finally accepted Father Abdallah Shaker as the Pastor on January 1, 1940.

World War II affected almost every family in the parish.  World War II dedicationThe parishioners of St. John of Damascus clung fiercely to their faith and hopes that our boys would soon come marching home.  Divine Liturgy was offered for our young people in the Service each Sunday.  Among the first to give their lives in supreme sacrifice of our country were PFC Nicholas G. Beram, Air Force Navigator Dimitri Cahaly, Staff Sargeant Abraham Eddy and Captain Beshara E. Battit.  Missing in action was Fredrick M. Nashawaty.  World War II took a serious toll on our Parish.

Throughout the 1940's, the English language began to be introduced into the Divine Liturgy.  January, 1945 marked another change;  a choir of 14 young boys and girls was organized and directed by Fred Cahaly and George Razook, who had been serving as chanters for years. 

The Need for a Larger Home for the Parish

The parish grew by leaps and bounds, and it became increasingly evident it had grown beyond the capacity of the Hudson Street Church facility.  Parishioners had to stand in the crowed quarters during Divine Liturgy each Sunday, and once again, the Hudson Street Church was in need of major repairs.  It was agreed that a new church facility had to be secured.

In 1945, the Standing Committee began to plan for an extensive fundraising towards a goal of $200,000 for a Church Building Fund.

Museum Road blueprintSeveral properties were evaluated.  The parish felt that the church should be located in Boston proper and accessible by public transportation.  For years the Standing Committee sought land and/or church facilities throughout the Boston area.

Finally, on June 12, 1950, a parcel of property, owned by the Albanian Church of Boston was purchased for $11,000.  The land was located on Museum Road, in the Fenway area (opposite the Museum of Fine Arts).

A fund raising program was adopted on June 21, 1950, with a goal of raising $250,000 for the building of the new church on Museum Road.

The construction of the new church facility was once more under way.   While the construction of the new church was taking place, a new Constitution was approved on November 27, 1950.  The new Constitution called for a 21 member Executive Board as well as a 12 member Virgin Mary Society.

In 1953, John Khouri, President of the Executive Board, created a Building Committee to be chaired by Fozi Cahaly.   Later in 1953, the Parish became aware of a proposed expressway to be built through our land on Museum Road.  Despite this threat, our parishioners voted to build the Church proper first and build the Hall Museum Road Churchin the future as funds became available.

In 1956, the parish was informed that the new church would cost approximately $222,800.  Fundraising efforts were strong.  The new Church was to have pews;  an innovation much anticipated with joy, and would seat 300 people.  Excitement and hope was on the rise.

In March 26, 1956, at a parish meeting attended by 225 parishioners, the Society of St. John of Damascus voted to change its name to The Church of St. John of Damascus in order to more fully express its existence as a religious entity.

On December 30, 1956, the new Church of St. John of Damascus was consecrated by His Eminence Archbishop Antony Bashir.  That move culminated almost 50 years of continuous growth.

The Museum Road Years

Father Abdullah ShakerIn January, 1957, Father Abdullah Shaker gave notice of his pending retirement.  On November 1, 1957, Rev Father Paul Moses became pastor of our Parish.

The Executive Board decided that sentimental objects be brought from Hudson Street and installed in Museum Road.  Among those were the Bell, Crystal Chandelier and the All Seeing Eye of God and Grapes.

Soon after the Golden Jubilee Celebration held in late 1957, the Executive Board voted that the Parish Hall be built with a large function room upstairs and Sunday School classrooms downstairs.  Prior to this, Sunday School classes were being held at the Greek Cathedral on Ruggles Street.

The year 1958 brought more changes to our Parish.  A very welcome addition to the Parish Organizations became a reality with the creation of the Church School Guild.

The groundbreaking for the Church Hall was anticipated with much Fr. Paul Mosesenthusiasm by the parishioners.  On March 21, 1960, the Executive Board held its first meeting in the new Church Hall.  At the annual Feast Day celebration in December, 1960, a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence, Metropolitan Antony.  Fr. Paul Moses was elevated to the rank of Archpriest.  A Grand Hufla and Feast Day banquet was held in our own Church Hall.  For the first time in the history of St. John of Damascus, all celebrations were held in our Church complex.

The threat of the Proposed Inner Belt Highway by the state continued to haunt the parish.  However, our parish kept flourishing.  In the early 1960s, the Parish had 1,265 baptized souls recorded on its roster, including 299 children registered in Sunday School.  In 1964, a new by-law was added to the Constitution of the Church of St. John of Damascus.  Women, 21 years of age and older, were now allowed to vote for Executive Board members.  Prior to this time, only men 21 years and older were allowed to vote.

VMS - 50 yearsSt. John of Damascus hosted the 20th Annual Archdiocese Convention from August 24th – 29th, 1965 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.  The convention was a huge success.  By 1965, there were nine Church organizations in existence:  the Executive Board, the Virgin Mary Society, the St. George Burial Society, the Crusaders, the Young Adult Fellowship, the Young People's Association, the Church School Guild, the Sunday School and the Choir.

In 1965, the threat of the proposed Inner Belt Highway arose again.  This time it could not be defeated.  In November, 1966, the Boston Redevelopment Authority informed the Parish that our Church property would be purchased.

Fr. Stephen FraserSoon, property at 47 Dudley Road in Newton, just off Route 9, was purchased for the sum of $125,000.  Many problems existed with this property, not least of which was the fact that a good portion of the land was on unusable ledge.

On February 11, 1970, Governor Sargent directed that all work on the Inner Belt Highway be halted as a new transportation study was to be undertaken.  The parish voted to suspend the church building program and rent the house on Dudley Road.  The parish was relieved and now directed their energies towards Parish expansion.

In early 1971, Father Paul Moses submitted his resignation.  On September 1, 1971, Father Stephen Fraser became Pastor of St. John of Damascus. Father Gerasimos Murphy

In June of 1971, our parish was notified that our Church was in status of "tenant at will" in relation to the Boston Redevelopment Authority.  The Parish authorized the Executive Board to sell the property on Dudley Road and to commission a new site committee to research properties for the Church.

In 1974, the Parish voted to purchase a home for the Pastor.  A raised ranch on Pleasant Valley Circle in West Roxbury was purchased.  Early in 1976, Fr. Stephen Fraser resigned and soon a new pastor, Father Gerasimos Murphy was assigned to St. John's.

The next few years were very exciting and eventful.  The Museum Road Church became available for repurchase.  On March 10, 1978, the Parish appropriated $350,000 to buy back the Church and an additional $150,000 for renovations.

Father Gerry set into motion a Parish Newsletter and a Choir Christmas Card, which are still in existence in our parish today.

The search again for a new church

At the January 9, 1979 Executive Board meeting, President Raymond Sabbag informed the Board that an offer to purchase our property had been received by the Museum of Fine Arts.  Repeated incidents of vandalism in the area and frustrations and uncertainty over the Inner Belt Project convinced the parishioners that we should make a move to a safer area.

In 1980, the Parish voted to sell our Church for the sum of $750,000.  In the agreement, our Parish would continue to use the church until we were ready to relocate for a maximum of 18 months.

During the next four years, the Parish of St. John of Damascus went through a "desert experience", much like that of our early pilgrims in the 1900s.  Struggling to stay unified as a parish, we utilized rented facilities, including St. Mary's Church Hall in Dedham for Divine Liturgy.  Parish functions and church holidays were celebrated with our sister parish at St. George Orthodox Church in West Roxbury.  Office space was secured in a building on Dedham St. in Needham.

In 1982, Richard Cahaly, Executive Board President, appointed George Khouri to be the Design and Construction Committee Chairman.  On March 6, 1983, the Parish authorized the Executive Board to spend up to $2,000,000 for design and construction of a new Church complex at 300 West Street in Dedham, Massachusetts.

Our Current Parish Home

On April, 17, 1983, the groundbreaking exercises took place for the new Church of St. John of Damascus.  GroundbreakingArchbishop Michael, Father Gerry and Robert Zahka, Chairman of the Executive Board did the honors with shovels in hand.

As we were anxiously awaiting the construction of the new church, our parish was devastated to learn that Father Gerry was resigning as Pastor effective June 13, 1983.  Soon, a new Pastor, Father Joseph Purpura was assigned to St. John's.

On February 1, 1984, the Dudley Road property in Newton was sold, thus ending a difficult chapter in the life of the Church of St. John of Damascus.

Fr. Joseph PurpuraThe plan was to build the Church Hall first, then later the Church proper.  On September 8, 1985, a very special day occurred in the life of St. John's parish … our Opening Day.  Matins was held at 9:00 a.m. in the Church Hall.   After Matins, on this day only, everyone was asked to enter the new Church.  The Preparation of the Holy Gifts was held in the center of the church.

Mitch Hallal was appointed General Chairman for the Consecration Celebration, scheduled for October 4-6, 1985.  Well over 100 people worked on the various committees.  The new Church of St. John of Damascus was consecrated by His Eminence Archbishop Philip Saliba on October 6, 1985.   The parish had raised over $600,000 in pledges and $120,000 in special gifts to support the building of our new home.Construction of Church

During 1985, a "mini-Bazaar" was suggested.  This Bazaar, which was chaired by James Ahto and Margaret Khouri was so successful, that it has become an annual Parish Function.

A Time Box, which had been put into the Corner Stone of the Museum Road Church in 1956 was brought down to the 1986 Parish meeting and opened by Executive Board President, Richard Cahaly.  It contained:  The Original Scroll of The Church of St. John of Damascus, a list of Pastors through 1956 and a list of Executive Board and Building committee members in 1955 & 1956.  Another Time Box was placed in the Altar of the Dedham Church.  Along with the items above, it now contains a list of parishioners as of 1986 and a copy West St. Churchof the Consecration Service Items from the Sanctuary used during the Consecration.

1n 1989, the Parish voted to sell the parish home at Pleasant Valley Circle in West Roxbury and purchase a new parish home in Westwood.  This transaction was completed on May 10, 1989.

In 1990, through several years of hard work by Mitchell Haddad and his committee, the "Tree of Life" was dedicated and placed on the wall as one enters the Church Hall.  This magnificent sculpture commemorates the names of all the donors who made the new Church complex possible.Tree of Life

On January 1, 1991, Fr. Joseph Purpura was assigned to the position of Youth Director for the Archdiocese.  Father John Nicholas Ozone was assigned as interim Pastor of our Parish.  Father John instituted many innovated programs, such as calling parishioners on their birthday and sending out birthday greetings … as well as instituting Arabic classes.

In 1991, a historic event occurred on the Executive Board.  Laurice Maloley was elected the first woman President of the Executive Board.

On July 18, 1991, Rev. Father Nabil Hanna was assigned Pastor of St. John's.   In 1992, the Archdiocese assigned Father Nabil to the Cathedral in Toledo, Ohio. Fr. John Teebagy

In August, 1992, the Reverend Father John Teebagy was assigned to the Church of St. John of Damascus. 
As we entered into 1997, our parish went "on-line" on the internet.  The web site, www.stjohnd.org, was implemented.  The Church of St. John of Damascus was one of the first parishes in the Archdiocese to have their own web site to reach out to our large parish community.

As we approached the end of the millennium, the Executive Board reflected on the years of struggle our forefathers had to endure.  While we were only in our new church for 14 years, there were major signs of wear and tear taking its toll on the church complex.  In 1999, John Haddad, Executive Board President, set a challenge toBurning of Mortgage the Executive Board and the Parish to raise $200,000 over a two year period to pay for the needed repairs and upgrades, and to finally pay down the mortgage on the church complex by our Feast Day, 2001.

Mitch Hallal was asked to chair the fundraising committee to accomplish this goal.  Through the hard work throughout 2000 and 2001 by the committee, the Executive Board and the generosity of the parish, all our goals were met.

On December 1, 2001, at the Grand Banquet at our Feast Day weekend, a ceremonious "burning of the mortgage" was held with His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Very Reverend Father John Teebagy, John Haddad, Executive Board President and Olivia Waishek, Vice President.  For the first time in decades, our parish was debt free!

Centennial and Beyond …

As we celebrate our Centennial in 2007, the Very Reverend Father John Teebagy continues to provide spiritual guidance and leadership to our Parish with his passion and dedication to the parishioners of St. John of Damascus.

Today, the Executive Board of the Church consists of 21 men and women who are the administrative body of the parish.  The Virgin Mary Society Church Entrancehas expanded to encompass all the women of the parish.  Teen SOYO includes young boys and girls from 13-19 and is the regional and national title of the original Y.P.A.   Senior SOYO, developed in the wake of the demise of the Crusaders, evolved into the Fellowship of St. John the Divine.  The Church School has progressed dramatically over the years..  We are so proud of those children who have won awards in the Regional Oratorical Contests and Bible Bowls, as well as Creative Arts. The Choir boasts 25 members. A Community Scholarship has been established. A Stewardship Program has been developed which is leading the parish from a dues system to a tithing system.

In late 2005, the Executive Board, realizing that our Centennial Celebration was approaching fast, agreed that we should honor all those who struggled and worked so hard over the past 100 years to for the Church of St. John of Damascus.  Alan Cardoos, Executive Board President, asked Tom Sabbag to chair the Centennial Committee.  The goal of the committee was to spotlight our Centennial throughout 2007 with various functions and events to celebrate and honor the legacy of our parish.

After almost two years of planning and tireless effort of so many parishioners, the Centennial Committee successfully accomplished their goals.  All the hard work of the committee culminated with a beautiful and memorable Centennial Gala weekend, which was held October 5-7, 2007.Centennial

Our parish family has endured a long journey over the past 100 years.  From the Middle East to its humble beginning on Hudson Street, to Museum Road and its comprehensive growth to West Street with its beautiful, expansive design, the gaps of time were bridged.  The parish family has sailed some rough seas to reach a safe harbor, together, sometimes in sunshine and at other times in rain, but always with God at our helm.   Those of us who are fortunate enough to be here to celebrate this 100th Anniversary realize that this is not the culmination of a dream that at times appeared almost impossible, but rather a commencement.  We are so proud of our heritage and our culture, just as our ancestors were.  Their legacy has become our legacy—to nurture, encourage, and perpetuate for our children and generations to come.

As we move towards the next century of our parish, we must begin once more to demonstrate the devotion, discipline, dedication and love for our Church that our ancestors so strongly demonstrated.  We must go forward together, with love for each other and commitment, for the glorification of God.  We must continually strive to improve and augment our efforts in order to leave a proper legacy to our future generations.  After all, we are the Church of St. John of Damascus.

Source: Our History, Antiochian Orthodox Church of St. John of Damascus: originally written by Fr. John Nicholas Ozone, Laurice Maloley, Anita Mabardy.  Edited by the Centennial Ad Book Committee.