Parish Library: A Brief History

Categories: General Articles

Terry Kastanis, Chartophylax

The Sunday school and Educational Building of the parish was opened in 1971, and the library to this day is considered the “living room” of these facilities. The shelf-lined walls and windows that look out onto F Street provide for a pleasant meeting room, not only for the Parish Council, but for small groups and committees of our parish ministries.

The library has served as an important source of print resources for the Sunday School students for many years. Under the leadership of Lucille Vlahos, the Sunday School Program became an integral part of the parish and the library served as its link to the teachers and students. Joanne Andrews, Sunday School Director in 1955, was memorialized when the library first opened in 1971. Lucille Vlahos not only served as director and teacher of our Sunday School, but she was the driving force behind the acquisition of the hundreds of volumes that have been part of the library for the past 37n years. Lucile’s army of volunteers included many of our senior parishioners who still visit the library to fold, staple, and prepare mailings for the office staff. Among them are Jim and Helen Psihopaidas, Mary Stathos, Irene Compoginis, Bill Rotas, Helene Stathos, Mary Lydon, Marie Bravou, Mary Alifrangis, and many, many, others… far too many to list here in this brief history. A special note of those of Blessed Memory are Dolly Johas, Bess Alliapoulos, and Annette Theodoratos.

As our high school Sunday School teacher in the early years, I can remember spending time with our retired priest, Rev. Fr. Parthenios Kirimitsis, who would frequently visit with me in the library. He’d tell e about his many experiences as a young priest and about the books he‘d been given to the collections, including some of his personal Liturgical textbooks. Fr. “K” as we fondly referred to him, was a scholar and a teacher and had studied at Oxford University. As a matter of fact, one of his students was the well-known Archbishop of Cyprus, His Eminence Makarios who was noted for his role in the fight for independence of this island nation. Archbishop Makarios was also the President of Cyprus. Fr. Kirimitsis loved sharing his memories with those who’d drop by the library. Many of his archives are in the collection today.

Lucille Vlahos continued to serve as Sunday School teacher, co-director, and librarian for many years until her retirement. Over time teachers and the instructional methods of the Sunday School changed, Greek School, and Bible Study Classes increased in popularity and the library’s collection reflected the interests of many groups and purposes.

In March of 2006, I submitted a proposal to update the library and install a computer online catalog. The Parish Council graciously appointed me Parish Librarian, a volunteer position, to… “collect retrieve, organize, and provide for the orderly storage and/or use of the parish archives, records, and library resources.” These tasks continue and at a future date, a Parish Library and Archives Committee will be organized to assist with the parish picture archives that accumulated over the years.

A matching grant from the Annunciation Endowment Fund of $2,100 and $1,400 from a parish library account provided the start-up funds to purchase the equipment and software for the cataloging system. A financial base for the library was provided upon the retirement of Rev. Fr. Demetrius Dogias in 2005 when he gifted a $10,000 grant (from a larger gift from parishioner Gerry Kamilos) specifically for the parish library.

Fr. Dogias, along with Presbytera Ellie, have served this parish with honor and distinction for 24 consecutive years, and an additional year, assisting Father Retelas, 2005-2006, until an assistant Priest could be assigned. In their honor the Parish Council has named the library:

Father Demetrius T. Dogias Library
of the Greek Orthodox Church
Annunciation Parish, Sacramento

October 15, 2008