New priest at Greek Orthodox Church says his parents set example he wanted to follow (760 w/cut)


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)

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)


03-21 greek priest

County: Pastor at corrections facility is not being censored


LACONIA — County officials say that the pastor of the Bible Speaks Church in Lakeport is still free to conduct Bible study sessions at the Belknap County House of Corrections and deliver his message in the manner he considers most appropriate and is not being censored.
Pastor Robert Horne, in a letter to the editor published in Friday's Laconia Daily Sun, wrote that, after 30 years of conducting Bible study classes for inmates at the county jail, he was not willing to compromise the message has been delivering and would no longer conduct classes with the thought in his mind that everything he was saying was being monitored for its content.
He said that on March 14 he received a phone call from Tamara McGonagle, program director at the facility, in which he maintains that he was told "that we are no longer allowed to tell the truth of the Bible to inmates."
Jail Superintendent Keith Gray said McGonagle's call to Pastor Horne was an invitation to a session to be held at the jail on March 30 at 9 a.m. which would involve others who have ministries at the jail. He said the meeting is designed to address concerns raised by inmates about the content of the classes offered by the various ministries and whether or not they are appropriate in a correctional systems setting.
Horne said that he told McGonagle that he would not attend the meeting. On Friday he said that he decided not to be a part of he meeting as he expected it would be confrontational.
"We were being told we couldn't talk about sin and hell. I don't compromise the Gospel,'' said Horne, who added that he is concerned "we're going from a situation of political correctness to one of religious correctness."
He said that he wouldn't resume the every-other-Tuesday Bible study classes until he has assurances from county officials that he will be able to continue with the same message in the same manner that he has delivered in the past.
An email invitation to March 30 meeting was received by another pastor who has a ministry at the jail, Jim McCool, who confirmed that the invitation was for a discussion along with the jail's chaplain, Deb Hoffman, and McGonagle of appropriate Gospel messages in a correctional facilities setting.
Gray, who was attending a meeting of corrections officials Friday, said that he had not yet read Pastor Horne's letter and would meet with McGonagle and Hoffman on Monday to discuss the situation.
County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that he was upset by Horne's letter and noted that inmates are free to attend whatever Bible study group they want to and if they don't like the message are free to leave.
He said that he has discussed the situation with Pastor McCool and hopes to make contact with Pastor Horne in order to reassure him that his message is welcome at the jail and that the county appreciates his efforts in working with inmates over the last 30 years.
"I'm not sure that it's a good idea to be asking the pastors to reshape their messages. No one is made to go to the meetings and if the inmates don't like the message, they don't have to go," said DeVoy.

Gilford Village Knolls III ready for site plan review Monday


GILFORD — After many years of looking for a site and an investor, the Gilford Village Knolls III project is ready for site plan review from the town's Planning Board.

The proposed Village Knolls III, which is a 24-unit low-income senior housing project at 43 Potter Hill Road, site plan application will be heard Monday at 7 p.m. by the Gilford Planning Board.

The Village Knolls III is the third of three planned senior affordable housing units in Gilford Village. Both Village Knolls I and II were completed by the late 1980s with Knoll I located at land belonging to the late Milo "Red" Bacon's home and Knolls II on property on Potter Hill Road that abuts Bacon Avenue.

The property for Village Knolls III belonged to the town of Gilford and was sold in 2004 by Bacon as a site for the proposed new library. A capital reserve fund provided $100,000, and $40,000 came from private donations.

While voters at Town Meeting said yes to buying the land, they rejected a $2.25 million bond to build a new library. SB-2 in Gilford went into effect in 2005 and voters again rejected a bond for a new library.

In 2006, Richard and Betty Persons offered to give the town $3 million to build a library 41 Potter Hill Road.

The library was built in 2007 and the Friends of the Gilford Library (a not-for-profit fundraising arm separate from the library) asked the town for $110,000 with the appropriation to be funded only if the town could sell the lot at 43 Potter Hill Road.

In 2008, selectmen agreed to sell the lot to the Village Knolls for $150,000 but a few members of the Budget Committee mounted a petition to stop the sale because they didn't want Gilford to have any additional low-income property. The Village Knolls withdrew its offer.

When selectmen later tried to sell the property at 43 Potter Hill Road for $150,000, there were no takers.

By 2009, selectmen asked voters to sell the property to Gilford Village Knolls; however, the amount was reduced to $110,000 at the deliberative session of Town Meeting.

After losing access to all federal and state money in 2010, Village Knolls head Tony Feruello said he would continue to seek the funding, which has apparently come, at least in part, from the Laconia Area Community Land Trust.

According to the Zoning Board application filed earlier this month with the Planning Board, the project has been approved the the Gilford Conservation Committee and a dredge-and-fill application has been filed with the state.

The site will be regraded to lower the high side and raise the low side, which will create 28-space parking lot. A porous pavement walkway is proposed along the edge of the building and other paved walkways will allow access to Village Knolls II and to Potter Hill Road.

Water will be provided by the Gilford Water District and electricity, telephone and cable services will come underground from Potter Hill Road. The building will get fire sprinklers and the water for this will come from a buried concrete cistern uphill from the building.

The site, according to the application, has been approved by the Historic District and Heritage Commission and is being undertaken by the Laconia Area Community Land Trust using at least some federal funding. No construction start date is known at this time.