About Us

Welcome to Saint Spyridon

FAQs About the Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Christian Church is the original Church, founded by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as read in the pages of the New Testament. To this day, the Orthodox Church has maintained the practices, beliefs, and ecclesiastical Traditions since its inception 2,000 years ago. Our faith is informed by these timeless Traditions and dogmas, and experienced today through the Holy Sacraments and our personal connection with Christ.

We celebrate Orthros at 8:30am and the Divine Liturgy at 9:45am every Sunday. Below you will find some helpful information and links to learn a little bit more about us, and how we worship. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us.

We are men, women, children, of all occupations and businesses, but most of all we are a family! While many of our parishioners are descendants of immigrants from traditionally Orthodox countries (i.e.. Greece, Romania, Russia, etc.), the Orthodox Church is open for ALL people!

The Orthodox Church is, above all, a worshipping community which gathers together to experience the Divine Grace of God through the Holy Sacraments. Our bilingual services stem from the Traditions of the earliest days of Christian worship, and ALL are welcome to attend!

The community was officially established on October 15, 1914 through a constitution enacted at a meeting hall, however this beautiful Cathedral wasn’t built until 1952.

The first Greeks arrived in Worcester in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s, for the most part it was single men who were looking for a better way of life due to political, economic, and religious persecution caused under Ottoman rule and as a result of the many difficulties in pre and post-World War I Europe. By 1914 there were between 3,500-4,000 Greeks in Worcester but only about 25 families; the rest were either bachelors or their families remained in Greece. Once the early arrivals to Worcester had jobs many then returned to Greece, married and returned to Worcester with their families.

 The name “St. Spyridon” was chosen for the church for two reasons. Most of the initial Greek Immigrants in Worcester from Epirus in Northwest Greece. Since Corfu, where the body of St. Spyridon is still preserved is located across from Epirus, they named their church in his honor and memory. Also, factories were closed very few days in the early 1900’s, Christmas Day was one of the few days they were closed. Saint Spyridon’s Feast Day under the old calendar fell on Christmas Day and this allowed the first Greek immigrant workers to celebrate their Saint’s Day without the loss of a day’s wage of work.

For a more in depth read about the history of our Church and the Greek community, click here!

Today our Cathedral is situated in one of the most beautiful settings in the city overlooking Elm Park. The Parish is vibrant and growing with a long list of ministries to include the Orthodox Food Pantry, Philoptochos, GOYA, Little Angels, Seniors, Youth Basketball, Board of Education Certified Pre School, Greek Language School, and Religious Education.

FAQs About the Orthodox Church

What is Orthodox Christianity?

The term “Orthodox” means “correct praise” or “right doctrine.” During the early centuries of its history, when it was united, the Church was both orthodox and catholic; that is, it was the Church of “correct praise” and was “universal” (which is what catholic means).

The term “orthodox” was used by the Church to separate itself from other groups that held false doctrines about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, and the Church. These groups were called “heterodox” or “heretics” by the one, orthodox and catholic Church.

The Eastern and Western halves of the Christian Church split from each other in 1054 A.D. The halves that became the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, respectively, blamed each other for this split. For centuries before that, the two halves of the Church (which corresponded roughly with the Eastern and Western halves of the former Roman Empire) had growing differences.

Two major disagreements brought the united Church to this split — a split that created the Orthodox Church in the Eastern part of Christendom and Roman Catholic Church in the Western part.

One disagreement involved how the Trinity was to be understood. Orthodoxy stayed with the traditional understanding of the Holy Spirit as coming from God the Father, which the Roman Catholic Church adopted new language to say that the Holy Spirit proceeded from both the Father “and the Son.” It is hard for us to see today that this was far more than a debate about a word or two. As with so many debates over terms, something seemingly small contains within it radical differences.

A second disagreement between the Eastern Church and the Western Church arose over the authority of the Pope, the bishop of Rome. Orthodoxy views the bishop of Rome as the “first among equals;” meaning, the bishop of Rome is the senior and most highly respected of all Christian bishops of the undivided Church. The Roman Catholic Church, however, holds that the Pope is the sole head over the entire Christian Church. The Catholic Church insists on the “supremacy” of the Pope, while the Orthodox Church holds this bishop of Rome to have “primacy.” Since the split between East and West, the Patriarch of Constantinople (modern Istanbul), has been considered the “first amongst equals” of the bishops of Orthodoxy. The see of Constantinople was, according to Church tradition, founded by St. Andrew the Apostle.

Coming into our Church from outside, you first enter the narthex, which is a kind of “half-way” space between the outside world and the temple. Lighting a candle in the narthex can mean several things. One purpose is to signify, as we light the candle, that we wish to leave our worldly cares in this room before we enter the temple.

Another reason for lighting a candle may be that we are remembering someone who is in need. We say a brief prayer for them as we light a candle and kiss one of the icons. In a way, then, our worship begins out in the narthex, even before we come into the worship service itself.

No. Only God (as Trinity — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is worthy of worship. The Virgin Mary and the saints are worthy of our deepest respect and love, or what is called “veneration.” As was said above, even as we might kiss a picture of a loved one, so we kiss the icons to show our love and respect for these spiritual beings who are alive with Christ and, therefore, with us in worship.

The priest is actually facing toward the altar and the icon of the crucified Lord. He is facing the same direction as we are, as we look to Jesus throughout our worship.

The area where the congregation gathers we call the nave. That word is related to the word “naval,” which should remind us of a ship. The priest, then, might be compared to the first mate on a ship. From the altar area, the priest leads us in prayer and directs the readers and chanters.

You will notice, also, that the priest does not always face forward, but turns toward the congregation on occasion. He faces the congregation to bless us, to give the sermon from the pulpit, and to cense us with incense.

Baptized Christians confirmed in the Orthodox Faith who have prepared themselves may approach the priest for Communion. The fact that the Orthodox Church does not extend Communion to persons from other Christian groups who may be present is not meant as an insult, but as a sad acknowledgement that the Church is divided. It is the prayer of all Orthodox Christians that Christ’s Church may again be one, as Christ Himself prayed. All visitors are invited, at the end of the service, to join with the congregants in approaching the front to receive from the priest a piece of antidoron, or “blessed bread.”

Orthodox Christians do not themselves take the Eucharist as some “right.” We must prepare for Communion by fasting, prayer, confession of sins, and a repentant heart. This means that, on any given Sunday, not every Orthodox Christian present will approach the priest for Communion. Of course, frequent Communion, and the spiritual preparation that precedes it, is strongly encouraged.

Most emphatically NO! The various Orthodox churches in the United States welcome anyone for worship and to consider membership. At the present time, the Orthodox churches in the West are experiencing significant growth from converts interested in our worship and doctrines. The Orthodox Church is Christ’s Church and is therefore open to everyone.

Greek was the language of the early Church. Evangelists, such as St. Paul, evangelized the Roman world in Greek. The entire New Testament is written in Greek. The councils of the early Church were also conducted in Greek. To retain the Greek language is to connect ourselves with our Christian roots. You will notice, however, from the liturgy books in the pews that English is offered for every aspect of the service. English and Greek are used for a majority of the service. You do not need to speak Greek in order to participate in worship.

We realize that you may have more questions and invite you to not only join us at the festival, but to call the church office for further information about our Parish, or you can email our presiding Priest, Father Christopher Stamas. We look forward to having you!

Reverend Father Christopher Stamas

Presiding Priest