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REDDICK, Fla.–March 25, 2015
Xrisanthi (Kristin) Giannas
The Byzantine call resounded through the Annunciation of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery on Wednesday.
His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, enthroned Gerondissa (Abbess) Agapia, before hundreds of gathered faithful celebrating the feast day of the Annunciation.
The monastery takes it’s name from Archangel Gabriel’s announcement to the Theotokos (Birthgiver of God) that she would bear Christ, and is commemorated annually on March 25th , according to the Orthodox calendar.
Although Gerondissa Agapia has been serving in this capacity since 2006, the enthronement marks the ecclesiastical beginning of her rule of the monastery.
Escorted by Gerondissa Olympiada and Melanie of Holy Protection Monastery in the Poconos, PA and St. John Chrysostom Monastery in Kenosha, WI respectively, Gerondissa Agapia was brought before the Holy Altar.
He then dressed her with a mandia (cloak), gave her a vaktirian/ravdos (staff), adorned her with a stavro (cross) and lead her to the Bishop’s throne.
“In this monastery we have to have a leader, we have to have a person who is responsible for everything that goes on, and especially for the salvation of the souls of the people who they are helping,” said His Eminence.
The enthronement ceremony took place during the Divine Liturgy, attended by over 300 pilgrims, priests, and monastics from across the country, including Geronda Nektarios from Panagia Pammakaristos, Gerondissa Agne from Panagia Prousiotissa both in North Carolina, Fathers Ignatius and Anthony of St. Anthony’s in Arizona, and Geronda Modestos from the neighboring men’s monastery in Williston- Panagia Vlahernon.
“It’s just joy- joy of the community coming together.,” said Vasiliki Tsigas-Fotinis of New Jersey, who visited the monastery for the first time.
Maria Morrell of Ocala, who converted to Orthodoxy with her husband and son in 2008, was pleasantly surprised by Gerondissa Agapia’s enthronement.
“It was a wonderful, amazing blessing and it was also like seeing some wonderful thing happen for a family member,” she said.
“I was crying,” said Julia Leontaritis of Tarpon Springs, who has been visiting the monastery since it opened 16 years ago.
“Having the Bishop doing the enthronement, those prayers… it was very very touching and it makes it official- it makes it more sacred,” she said.