In this bi-weekly program, Christo Pappademos sits down with young, recently ordained priests and deacons and chats with them about their personal journey to ordained ministry. In recent times, it seems fewer and fewer young men choose to pursue the priesthood as a life path. Christo would like those who have decided to serve Christ’s Church to share their stories, in hopes of inspiring others to realize God’s hand and perhaps even calling in their own lives. As Christ tells us in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Let’s see if we can’t encourage a few more workers for Christ’s harvest!
In Episode 6 of Path to the Priesthood, Christo speaks with Fr. Nick Manuel. Fr. Nick was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1993. He is the youngest of four children. He grew up in Richmond, Virginia at the Cathedral of Sts. Constantine and Helen. Upon graduating High School in 2011 he attended Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Virginia. There, he received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts with a focus in Psychology. Following graduation at Hampden-Sydney, he sojourned north to Boston, and enrolled in Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology to follow his call to the priesthood.
In 2017, he met his wife, Demetria, of Saint Louis, Missouri, and married her two years later in January, 2019. He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate at Annunciation on December 5, 2019 by His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh. Dn. Nick and Demi had their first child, John, in November of 2019!
On March 15, 2020 Fr. Nick was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh at Annunciation. In March of 2021, Fr. Nick and Presbytera Demetria welcomed their second child Eleutheria into the world! Fr. Nick is grateful and humbled to be here in Akron and serve at this vibrant and active community! Glory to God for all things!
In Episode 5, Christo speaks with Fr. Alexander Eliades. Fr. Alexander is Bay Area born and raised and grew up attending Nativity of Christ in Novato. He graduated UC Davis, majoring in History and a minor in Religious Studies and after a year of work in San Francisco, began at Holy Cross in 2015. In the summers between he was a regular counselor at St. Nicholas Ranch Summer Camp and All Saints Camp in Arizona. It was at All Saints Camp that he met his now wife, Pres. Laura and they now have a son, Max. He now serves at and loves it at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix.
In Episode 4, Christo talks with Fr. Sampson Kasapakis of St. Stefanos Greek Orthodox Church, St. Petersburg, FL.
Rev. Fr. Sampson Kasapakis, originally from Chicago, IL, graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Psychology and minors in Chemistry, Biology & Leadership Achievement. He met his wife, Presvytera Mallory, during his time at the University of Central Florida and now they have two wonderful children Sophia and Christopher. Fr Sampson enjoys time at the beach, all sports but most importantly football, and fishing.
Fr. Sampson is a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and after graduation served as the Youth Director & Pastoral Assistant at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL. On September 14th, 2015 Fr. Sampson was ordained to the Holy Priesthood and assigned to his first assignment as the Efimerios at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, FL. After serving St. Nicholas Cathedral for 5 years, he served the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Pensacola, FL as the Proistamenos, Lead Pastor. Fr. Sampson is currently serving as the Proistamenos, Lead Pastor of St. Stefanos Greek Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg, Florida.
In addition to his service to the St. Stefanos community, Fr. Sampson serves the Holy Metropolis of Atlanta Ministries as a member of the Religious Education Committee, the Clergy Representative of the Hellenic College Holy Cross Alumni Board, the Week 5 Director of St. Stephens Camp and as the Hellenic Dance Festival Associate Director.
In Episode 3 (Tuesday, April 5), Christo talks with Fr. Patrick O’Rourke, a convert to Orthodox Christianity who currently serves the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake.
Fr. Patrick was born on January 15, 1986 to Dennis and Suzanne O’Rourke in Toledo, Ohio. After graduating from Whitmer High School, Fr. Patrick enrolled at The Ohio State University, where he studied art and journalism. In the summer before his final year at Ohio State, Fr. Patrick discovered the Orthodox Christian faith, and was Chrismated into the Church on August 24, 2008. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in May 2009.
Fr. Patrick is married to Jessica Tindle, of Austin, TX. They were joined in Holy Matrimony at Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Austin, TX by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit on June 7, 2014.
Fr. Patrick was ordained to the Holy Diaconate on Palm Sunday (April 24) 2016 by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Toledo, OH. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Holy Cross later that Spring. He was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in New Rochelle, New York on September 18, 2016, where he served as Assistant Priest until July 31, 2018. He then served as Proistamenos at Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Ogden, UT until August 31, 2020. He was assigned to The Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake, serving as Assistant Priest, beginning September 1, 2020.
Fr. Patrick and Presvytera Jessica are parents to their sons Jacob and Lucas. Father Patrick celebrates his Name Day March 17, on the feast of St. Patrick of Ireland.
In Episode 2 (Tuesday, March 14), Christo talks with Fr. Nikolaos Mataragas about his incredible personal transformation that led to his calling to the priesthood.
Fr. Nikolaos Mataragas was born and raised in Chicago, IL as the second of three children to Stefanos and Dionysia Mataragas. He grew up in the Metropolis of Chicago in the Southwest Suburbs of the city. Fr. Niko participated in the life of the Church ever since he was a young boy. His parents wasted little time to incorporate him into parish activities (i.e. altar boys, Sunday School, Greek School, etc.).
Since childhood, a serious, dignified and disciplined understanding of what it meant to both be an acolyte and an Orthodox Christian was instilled into Father. He then realized his vocation of becoming a clergyman when he visited Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA in 2001. However, it took him almost 14 years to see his vocation through, as he took a different path than what God laid out for him. Finally, in 2015, after confiding in his spiritual father about his vocation and obtaining the blessing from Metropolitan Iakovos (of blessed memory), he applied and was accepted to the seminary.
The miracle of God’s economy is truly great because within his first three years of the seminary, he met and married his wife, Presvytera Arete, and she gave birth to their first child, Stefanos Pavlos. On August 3rd 2019, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago at his home parish, St. Spyridon in Palos Heights, IL. Then on August 24th, 2019, in front of the blessed faithful of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Waterbury, CT, Fr. Nikolaos was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. Since then, Fr. Nikolaos was assigned to serve the faithful of Holy Trinity in Waterbury.
In Episode 1, Christo sat down with Fr. Christopher Retelas, who currently serves as the presiding pastor at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Anaheim, California.
Fr. Chris a PK (priest’s kid) and, being raised in an Orthodox priest’s household, he grew up in different communities throughout the West Coast which offered him the opportunity to be involved in various ways. He also grew more and more involved with summer camp, and it was especially his involvement with camping and youth ministries that truly sparked the desire for him to pursue a life of service to the Church. One of the most profound summer camp experiences for Fr. Chris of course came in the summer of 2009, when he had the opportunity to work as a staff member at the Ionian Village summer camp in Greece. This is where he not only felt a greater calling to his vocation in the Church, but it is also where he met his bride-to-be, Kalli, another PK from New York.
After graduating from California State University Sacramento with a degree in Business Administration, Fr. Chris moved to New York and worked for two years as a project estimator at one of Manhattan’s largest Mechanical/HVAC contracting firms. It was during his time working in New York that Fr. Chris really started considering and praying a great deal about pursuing his vocation in the priesthood and a life dedicated to the work of the Church. After getting married, Fr. Chris and Kalli moved to Boston in the fall of 2012 and, with the blessing and guidance of His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, he enrolled and started his studies as a seminarian at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
Fr. Chris graduated from Holy Cross in 2016 and shortly thereafter was assigned to be the associate pastor at Saint Anthony in Pasadena. After four months of serving the parish of St. Anthony as a Deacon, Fr. Chris was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by the hands of Metropolitan Gerasimos. Fr. Chris and Presbytera Kalli now have three children, Asimina, Demetri, and Nikos.
Let’s Talk Live: Introducing Path to the Priesthood