Members of the St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox Church in Arlington, MA are crying foul of their parish council’s “desperate moves” to raise cash for refurbishment of sacred liturgical vessels.
Items used to share Holy Communion, scripture books used during Divine Liturgy and other vessels and containers for Holy Water were— literally— put on display on a table with what appeared to be price tags laid on top of them, itemizing the cost to repair or refurbish each item.
The action caught many parishioners by surprise.
Toni Pakas, a member of the parish took photos and circulated them on her Facebook page.
“How low has St. Athanasius parish council and Priests gone? Putting the “Sacred Altar Vessels on display in the back of the church? Near the kids play room? With price tags? Parish Council needs more money to pay for upgrades? The Parish Council should pay for refurbishment not asking for more donors! Anyone can handle these Sacred items play with them and grab them for the right price… DROPI! AFTA THEN INE PEXNIDAKIA”
In Pakas’ last words of her post, in Greek, she wrote “Shame! These aren’t toys!”
Some were confused by the post, thinking the items were up for sale, but parishioners who knew of the real situation confirmed that the parish council was simply trying to attract donors for the refurbishment and cleaning of each item.
“Refurbishment not sale, but still an inappropriate way to do this. So sad!” according to Ioannis K. Moutsatsos, a parishioner at the suburban Boston church, which has been plagued with controversy since July when long-time parish priest Fr. Nick Kastanas, was fired after almost 30 years at the parish.
Corina Kapetanakis also commented: “So sad.. What a disgrace… Such holy items should not be left on tables for everyone to touch and inspect.. I’m confused as to who would allow such a disgusting display to happen!! I didn’t realize we turned the church into a second hand thrift store.”
Metropolitan Methodios, the head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston has yet to comment on his reasons for firing the popular priest and hundreds of families have been staging protests and withholding their financial contributions to the church, opting instead to pay into a GoFundMe account to support the embattled priest.
The unpopular move by the Boston-based bishop has drawn ire from many families who have been established at the Arlington church for several generations and many have left the parish for other Greek Orthodox churches in the area, as well as other denominations all together.