History of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral is the first Greek Orthodox church in the Americas!
During the early 1800's the first recorded settlers arrived, including Orthodox faithful of primarily Greek origin, but also of Serbian, Russian and Syrian citizenship. Most of the settlers immigrated due to their trades, such as merchants and sailors. An association was formed in the 1840's to assist those affiliated with the shipping industry.As the Orthodox community increased, the need for a church became apparent. Early attempts failed, due to a lack of sufficient financial support.
In 1860, Mr. Nicholas Benachi, a businessman and Consul of the Royal Government of Greece, spearheaded an effort to secure a site for the construction of the Church, which was also unsuccessful. Finally, in 1864, Mr. Benachi offered his personal property for a temporary location for worship, at which time he and a few cotton merchants the Church. Until 1866, services where held there as well as other locations, with the Very Reverend Agapios Honcharenko serving as the first priest of the Community. During that year, Mr. Benachi sold a parcel of property to the Community (for $1,200) on 1222 North Dorgenois Street and, with the assistance of generous donations by Mr. Benachi, Mr. Demetrios Botassis and Mr. John Botassis, Holy Trinity Church was erected.
Later additions to the complex included a parish house, a small library and a nearby cemetery. In 1909, a charter was granted by the State of Louisiana to the Eastern Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, later rechartered in 1920 as the Hellenic Orthodox Church. In 1922, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, headquartered in New York, was established under the spiritual direction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. The Archdiocese brought together all Greek Orthodox churches within the Americas.
Due to the necessity for a larger church, the original building was demolished, with a new edifice constructed in its place in 1950. In 1960, the 15th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress, supreme legislative body for the administration of the entire Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, authorized the consecration of the Holy Trinity Church as a Cathedral. On Sunday, October 9th, 1960, His Grace Bishop Silas of Amphipolis was ordained at Holy Trinity by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of North and South America, His Eminence Archbishop Athenagoras, Primate of Europe, and Metropolitan Polyefktos, head of the Diocese of South America. On that same day, Holy Trinity was consecrated as a Cathedral and served, until 1965, as the See of the Diocese for the Eighth Archdiocesan District. In 1961, Holy Trinity was further honored to welcome His Beatitude Patriarch Benedictos I of Jerusalem during his visit to America.
In 1974, the members of Holy Trinity hosted the first Greek Festival, which over the last 25 years has become an annual New Orleans tradition of Hellenic pastries, dishes and heritage. In 1976, the property on North Dorgenois was sold, and the Community eventually relocated to the present site on Robert E. Lee Boulevard, next to Bayou St. John. Through the dedication and commitment of our faithful parishioners, the Hellenic Cultural Center was built in 1980, and the new Cathedral was completed in 1985. The Thyranixia (Door-Opening Ceremony) was held on December 8, 1985, presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos.
In 1992, Holy Trinity served as host to the 31st Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Archdiocese, along with the National Philoptochos Convention and the Archdiocesan Young Adult League Conference. A record number of participants, numbering in the thousands, attended the joint events.
In 1999, our Cathedral celebrated the 135th anniversary of the establishment of our parish and of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere. In recognition of the Anniversary, Sunday, May 30, 1999, being the Feast of Pentecost and falling during the celebration of the Annual Greek Festival, was proclaimed "Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral Day" by the Council of the City of New Orleans, by the Mayor of the City of New Orleans Marc Morial, and by the Governor of the State of Louisiana M. J. "Mike" Foster, Jr.
Another milestone was reached on February 3-4, 2001, with the Consecration of the new Cathedral edifice.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, along with His Grace Bishop Alexios of Atlanta and His Grace Bishop John of Amorion, presided over the weekend's events assisted, among other clergy, by the former Deans of the Cathedral Rev. Fr. Anthony Stratis, Rev. Fr. William G. Gaines, Rev. Fr. Demetrios S. Katerlis, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Pastrikos, and Rev. Fr. Nicholas W. Jonas.
Events included a luncheon at the Nicholas Benachi House, a Trisagion at the Greek Orthodox Mausoleum at St. Louis Cemetery #3 (for the souls of the departed clergy of New Orleans, including Metropolitan Silas, and of the founder Nicholas Benachi), a dialogue with the youth of Holy Trinity, the Consecration services with the entombing into the Holy Altar of the Holy Relics of St. George the Triumphant, St. Demetrios the Myyrhflowing, and the Holy Fathers Martyred in Raitho (also including the Relics from the Consecration of the original church and names of the living and departed that were offered by the faithful), receptions, the Celebration Banquet at the Hellenic Center, and a concluding dinner at the New Orleans Country Club. Chairpersons for the Consecration were Charles and Helen Malachias, and the Honorary Chairpersons were Capt. Lucas and Kay Ktistakis. The Consecration is an event which occurs once in the lifetime of a church edifice and is analogous to a service of Baptism and Chrismation.
Today, our Cathedral serves the Greek Orthodox faithful throughout southern Louisiana, including over 400 families from the greater New Orleans area, under the spiritual guidance of the Diocese of Atlanta (covering the southeastern United States), the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.