"ONCE A YEAR,
GO SOMEPLACE YOU'VE
NEVER BEEN BEFORE."
This is who we are.
His Grace Bishop Ilia Katre
Titular Bishop of Philomelion
HIS EXCELLENCY METROPOLITAN ILIA
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected His Grace, Bishop Ilia Katre as Titular Bishop of Philomelion to lead the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of American. The ordination took place in Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey on May 12, 2002, with the blessings of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Bishop Ilia was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan in 1937, the son of Albanian immigrants who migrated to the United States in 1920. In his youth he attended St. George Greek Orthodox Church whose priest was a primary influence for young Ilia to become a priest. He mastered both the Greek and Albanian languages while still in high school. He chose to serve the Albanian Church. On the advice of his father, he trained to serve both Albanian and Greek Churches.
Bishop Ilia graduated from Hellenic College and Seminary at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School in Brookline, Massachusetts, with a Bachelor in Theology Degree in 1961. He was ordained to the priesthood in Boston in 1962 where he served at Holy Trinity Albanian Orthodox Church until August 31, 1983. He pursued advanced degrees including a Masters of Divinity before being assigned as Dean of Student Affairs at Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology. He remained there until 1988. He also held the position as Vicar General of the Albanian Orthodox Church of American until May 2002.
Bishop Ilia served as the priest of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Las Vegas, Nevada from 1988 to 2002. The Parish benefited from his strong leadership and dedication to the Orthodox Faith and a magnificent new church, community center and administration building were built under his guidance.
In 1992, Bishop Ilia was sent twice on a mission to Albania by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to help rebuild the Albanian Orthodox Church after years of subjugation by communist rule.
In 2004, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent Bishop Ilia to serve the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. His Beatitude Anastasios Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania assigned Bishop Ilia as the Dean of the “Resurrection of Christ” Theological Academy at St. Vlash Monastery near the city of Durres where he served for three years.
Bishop Ilia and his beloved wife, Helen, were married for 39 years before her death in 2001. They became the parents of two children, Sotir Mark and Eugenia, and have three grandchildren.
FATHER JOHN STRATOS HONDROS
Father John has been the Presiding Priest since 2002 at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Father John attended Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, receiving a Masters of Divinity with Distinction in May 1986. He met Maria Brogolias in Dallas, Texas at the Greek Orthodox Young Adult League Conference, and they were joined in Holy Matrimony on February 22, 1987 at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Ascension in Oakland, California in a ceremony officiated by His Eminence, Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory.
Father John was ordained to the Holy Diaconate on March 8, 1987 by Bishop Anthony at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Ascension in Oakland. Two weeks later, on March 22, 1987, Father John was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Metropolitan Anthony at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Long Beach, California.
Father John has served since 1987 in four Parishes in the Metropolis of San Francisco:
April 1987 – August 1991: Holy Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona, where he served as Assistant Priest under Father James Tavlarides.
September 1991 – April 1997: St. George Church, Eugene, Oregon, where he served as the first full-time Priest, leading the mission community in building its Church facility and achieving parish status.
May 1997 – August 2002: Church of the Assumption, Seattle, Washington, where he initiated planning and fund-raising for the new parish hall.
September 2002 – Present: St. John the Baptist Church, Las Vegas, NV. During Father John’s tenure thus far: The parish celebrated the grand opening of the St. John Community and Education Center; he received the Offikion of Oikonomos from Metropolitan Anthony; the parish choir hosted on two occasions the Western Conference of the Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians; in June 2005, Metropolitan Gerasimos, Bishop Anthimos, Bishop Ilia and Father John officiated the Holy Consecration of our beloved Church; Phases One and Two of the iconography project of St. John Church were completed in 2005 and 2006, and Phase Three (exedras) was completed May, 2019; in 2009 the parish celebrated the 50th anniversary of its 1959 incorporation in the State of Nevada, and in November 2019 St. John the Baptist celebrated its 60th anniversary. At this parish milestone, we retired our Church mortgage and Metropolitan Gerasimos elevated Father John to the rank of Protopresbyter. Father John has mentored two assistant priests thus far, Father Matthew Swehla and Father Seraphim Ramos.
From 2008 to 2012, Father John was elected and served for two terms as President of the Metropolis of San Francisco Snydesmos, the Brotherhood of the Clergy in the Metropolis of San Francisco. During these years Father John also represented the Metropolis on the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council. He has also served on the organizational committee for the National Clergy Retreats put on by the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council, which are held biennially.
Father John and Presvytera Maria are blessed with two children, Christopher (Darlene) and Marissa. Presvytera Maria serves regularly and tirelessly as the lead chanter, as well as the director of the Youth Choir.
Father John loves learning, sharing stories, laughing, writing, taking photos, teaching, preaching and traveling.
This will be Father John's second pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Fr. James C. Pappas
James C. Pappas was born in San Francisco, grew up there, was schooled there and experienced his first encounter with the Greek Orthodox Church when he became an Altar Boy. His Church was Holy Trinity. He went on to the university, undergraduate work at the California Polytechnic State University and the California State University, San Francisco.
A strong inner calling drove him to the Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, MA. There that innermost direction led him to complete a Master of Divinity Degree. What followed was a sequence of events leading him to the St. Paul Greek Orthodox Church of Irvine, CA as a Pastoral Assistant. Marriage to Donna, a classmate from Cal Poly earlier, followed. Ordination took place at the St. Sophia Cathedral, Los Angeles, where he then served as 2nd Priest, assisting his long time mentor, Fr. James Adams. His several years there took him to Southern California sites and events such as Easter Sunrise Services at the Hollywood Bowl, religious talk shows on radio and television.
Fr. Jim was assigned to the St. George Greek Orthodox of Fresno, CA. There he has lived with his Presvytera Donna along with their family of three children. Over the last twenty five years, he administers and provides Spiritual Support to a loving community. , Fr. Jim has served this Parish with all those liturgical services - Divine Liturgy, Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals. Add to that events like Clergy Laity Conferences, General Assemblies and Retreat programs. He has been instrumental in organizing a ‘Tour of the Holy Land’ and an excursion to Greece through the ‘Footsteps of St. Paul‘.
St. George in Fresno has clearly undergone revitalization over the last quarter century. It continues today. Fr. James C. Pappas is the instrument of this resurgence, this revitalization. He is Axios!
Fr. Gregory Rubis lives with his family in New Jersey and serves as a second priest at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Westfield, NJ. With a degree from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, including a semester at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Fr. Greg has degrees also in finance, law and economics. A visitor to more than two dozen countries, Fr. Greg was last a pilgrim in the Holy Land with Bishop Ilia Katre (under whom Fr. Greg serves) and a Heritage Tours group in 2010. Having lived in eight states and the District of Columbia, Fr. Greg now spends most weekdays in New York, employed as a lawyer.
Tour Director and Founder of Heritage Tours was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Her father and mother were born and raised on the island of Lemnos, Greece. In early 1930’s they immigrated to New York City. A graduate of the Greek-American Institute at Zoodohos Peghe Church, Victoria started in the travel business working at Pan American Airlines in Athens, Greece in the 60’s. She eventually went into full time travel in Greece and began conducting tours to the Holy Land and to date has visited the Holy Land 80 times. Victoria has taken over 13,500 pilgrims to the Holy Land and other areas. Along with the Holy Land she has traveled extensively in conjunction to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and all throughout Europe.