By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — It was the example of his own parents that led Father John Routos to the priesthood.
"My father was a prayerful person," said Routos, who was assigned permanently as priest of Taxiarchai Greek Orthodox Church last fall. "He had holy pictures in the bedroom, and when I would go to bed at night I would see him saying prayers."
He said that his mother always prayed quietly and that her life was dedicated to serving others, especially veterans, and that she worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Manchester for nearly 30 years.
Routos said his father, Constantinos Routos, was born in Athens, Greece, and fought with the supporters of the Greek monarchy against the Communists in the Greek Civil War from 1946 to 1949, a war which sparked the creation of the Marshall Plan to help rebuild war-ravaged European states following World War II.
His father served in the Greek Navy as communications specialist and emigrated to the United States in search of a better life in 1954, settling in Manchester, where he worked briefly in the mills and then for Sanders Associates, which was in the defense industry and where his military background made him a good fit and he worked for over 30 years.
His father married Christine Siomos, who was a member of Manchester's vibrant Greek community and who had led the prayers at Manchester Central High School on June 6, 1944 for Allied soldiers who had landed on D-Day.
He says that his mother was in charge of a ward at the VA Hospital. She made it a point to put up seasonal decorations, which were the only way that some of the patients knew what time of year it was, and said his father often helped her decorate.
Born in 1956 in Manchester, Routos was an only child and attended St. George Cathedral and served as an altar boy for many years. He says that Father George Venetos was a great mentor to him, and that after graduating from Manchester Central High School, he attended Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts.
He married his wife, Ann Brisson, who is of French-Canadian ancestry, in February 1979 at St. George Cathedral. He was ordained to the diaconate in the Russian Church Abroad in 1983 and served at the Theotokos Orthodox Church in Concord, He was ordained priest in 1994 and remained in Concord until 2010.
Fr. John worked at the former Cummings Printing Company in Hooksett for 29 years, because the parish he served could not support a full-time priest. Over the last five years, he has served at St. Peter and Paul Russian Church as assistant priest. He began serving at Taxiarchai church as a substitute priest in June of 2015 and was assigned permanently to the parish in September last year.
He and his wife have four children – Rebekah, Maria, Martha and Constantine – and two sons-in-law – Michael O'Leary and Robert Makris.
Routos said that he finds his life as a priest rewarding and is enjoying his new assignment.
"It's a small church but very important in the lives of the people who worship here and even though I live in Manchester I'm always available to them," he said.
The Greek community in Laconia organized its first parish in 1931, with services held in private homes. Founders of the church were George Mastoras, Stanley Emanuel, Paul Christy, John Orthafenes, James Salta and Michael Argiropoulis. A woman's auxiliary called Athens was formed in 1933.
In 1936, George Mastoras, owner of the Crystal Restaurant and the building in which it was housed, offered space on the third floor for a place of worship.
In 1957, plans were made to build a church on land purchased on the corner of North Main Street and Oak Street, and in 1958 the Taxiarchai Greek Orthodox Church opened its doors with 43 members. Current church members recalled that Ed Spadafora, who ran the Captain's Table Restaurant on Union Avenue, was among those who helped make certain that the church was successful.
In 1986, the church celebrated its 50th anniversary. James Noucas was president at that time and Peter and Hope Makris became godparents of the church.
Others who have served as president of he church include Stanley Emanuel, George Mastoras, Paul Christy, Milton Christy, Arthur Ortakales, Dennis Yaianis, George Phillips, Peter Kariagianis, James Tatakes, George Anthony, George Condodematraky and Peter Makris.
Father John Routos has been serving as the new priest Taxiarchai Greek Orthodox Church since last September. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
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