Holy Trinity Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana is having a big celebration this weekend. It’s the oldest Greek Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere. This year, it’s 150 years old and local news channel WGNO dedicated a segment with a great historical spot on the church (see video below).
150 years goes by in a flash.
“Many of us remember when we first came into the church and started worshiping in here, they didn’t have all these beautiful icons. It was just a plain room. Over the years, raising money, added the stained glass windows, added the icons, added all the beautiful things you see in here,” says Barbara Stavis Wolf.
“Even in 150 years, in world orthodoxy, that’s a short amount of time because you go the Middle East, and Greece and the church in the Balkans and you see churches that are thousands of years old,” says Father George Wilson.
During the Civil War, New Orleans was a bustling port city, attracting immigrants looking for a better life.
“There were Greek’s settling in the city who were merchants, cotton brokers, people that had come over from Greece looking for opportunity in the new world,” says Stavis Wolf.
In the 1860’s, without a place to worship, Nicholas Benachi led the call to prayer.
“He offered his home to the community members because they didn’t have a church and he said you can come to my house and we’ll have prayer meetings and start to build a church together,” says Stavis Wolf.
The congregation expanded and a church was built at 1222 N. Dorgenois. Decades later, with 900 members, the community found their home at Holy Trinity Cathedral at Robert E. Lee Blvd. Being the oldest Greek Orthodox Parish in the Americas is reason to celebrate.
“From my perspective, the best way to celebrate is worship but second best is food and the Greeks know how to do food,” says Father Wilson.
From food and drinks to historical exhibits for a community rich in history, preparations are underway for three days of celebrations.
“We invite everyone to be Greek for the night. Opa! Ouzo. Wine. Dancing. Greek music. American music and fireworks. Every celebration should end with a great fireworks display.”
A love of history and culture that’s threaded in the fabric of New Orleans.
For a compete list of Holy Trinity’s celebration events, click this link.