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A Brief History of the St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church
It is believed that the first Greek
immigrants to settle in Newport, New Hampshire began to do so in the
1890's. As was the case across America, however, the majority of
the "first generation" immigrants arrived in early
1900's. The majority of this first generation, mostly men, were
attracted to Newport by jobs in shoe shops and mills. Others
opened their own businesses such as restaurants, fruit and grocery
stores, barber shops, cobblers, tailors, etc.
In the 1920's, when families became prevalent, the social,
education and religious needs of the growing Greek community became
more pronounced. A Greek school was established and children
attended the school after their regular sessions in the public
schools. Although they did not have a church building of their
own, Greek Orthodox priests were brought in from other parishes to
perform baptisms, weddings, funerals and memorial services.
In the 1940's, through the Christian kindness of the Episcopal
Church, member of the Newport Hellenic Society began holding
sacraments at the Holy Epiphany Episcopal Church, on the corner of
Cedar and Cheney streets. Also during this period, the
celebration of the Divine Liturgy became more common, and additional
church services were conducted for Christmas and Easter.
Baptism of A.S. Saggiotes-1948
Former Students of Father Rizos
In 1949, a Newport town meeting voted to donate a parcel of land
near the airport to the Newport Hellenic Society, with the provision
that it be named the Robert C. Hasevlat Memorial Park, and that it
would fall under the stewardship of the Greek American
community. Robert Hasevlat, of Newport, was a tailgunner in the
Air Force who was killed over Europe in World War II.
In 1950, the lot where the current church is located was
purchased. Fundraising for the construction of the church
building began in 1951, and the church opened its doors on June 29,
1952. The beautiful bell tower was added in 1992.
Divine Liturgy at St. Vasilios - His Grace Bishop Ezekiel - 1953
Many dedicated lay people and clergy have served Saint Vasilios
over the years. To this day the hallmark of the community is its
love-love of God, love of family, love of people, love of the Orthodox
Faith, love of the Hellenic culture and love of the town of Newport.
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