Created on Monday, 17 July 2006 16:35
The Ever-Memorable Bishop Petros of Astoria (whose secular name is Stephanos Astyfides) was born in 1915 in the city Chora on the island of Chios. His parents, Demetrios and Maria , were pious and deeply and conscientiously ingrained in the Orthodox Christian Faith. They were simple individuals who lived a rather frugal lifestyle with prudence and were deeply devoted to the Faith and the traditions of the Orthodox Church. As virtuous and faithful as they were, they guided both their sons, Stephanos and Nikolaos, to an analogous spiritual lifestyle bounded by the Holy Mysteries. Characteristic evidence of their Love towards God is the fact that when his most beloved wife passed Demetrios followed the path to monasticism which led him to Mount Athos where he was renamed Damaskenos.
From a very young age, both brothers were inclined towards the Priesthood. Slowly but firmly they were initiated into the spiritual lifestyle under the spiritual guidance of their elder Fr. Anthimos (Vagianos).
When he reached 18, young Stephanos along with his brother departed for Mount Athos were he spent his life at the Skete of Saint Anna in the Cell of the Holy Ascension. Ten years later, the monks, Petros and Nephon were ordained by Bishop, Germanos (Barykopoulos)of the Cyclades, as Deacons and then priests in order to service as parish priests the spiritual needs of the GOC in Thessaloniki. The people there embraced them and reinforced their work and struggle for the Old Calendar. This struggle, of course, came with a price, for they were persecuted.
Later on they offered their services to the Church of the Old Calendar of Chios and Tinos. The later served as parish priests at two holy churches in Athens: Saint Andrew in Peristeri and the Transfiguration of the Savior in Kypseli.
In 1951, they followed separate paths and Archimandrite Petros Astyfides departed for the USA at the invitation of Bishop Arsenios (Saltas). He became the rector of the church of Saint John the Baptist on 17th Street in Manhattan. He will also service the historical church of Saint Nikolaos (near the former Twin Towers) which was destroyed on September 11, 2001. In 1954, he founded the parish of Saint Markella in Astoria, NY. Saint Markella's became the center of his pastoral activities as well as the spiritual starting place for the development of his spiritual endeavors. Later on, once people began to embrace his work and his struggle for Genuine Orthodoxy in the parish of Saint Markella, he proceeded to establish Greek school of Saint Markella from which it is estimated that about 7,500 Greek-American students have graduated. The school?s administration was (and still is) under the supervision of the nuns of the Holy Orthodox Convent of Saint Syncletice, under the abbacy of the Prioress of the Convent, Mother-Superior Syncletice. In 1962, he is consecrated a Bishop by Archbishop Leontios of the Supreme Russian Orthodox Church in Chile (S.A.) and by the Bishop of Venezuela-Caracas, Seraphim. As a Bishop, he saw that the Bishops of the GOC in Greece be consecrated as well. They were under the same Russian Orthodox Church which happens to be completely recognized on a Pan-Orthodox level. After being consecrated a Bishop, he becomes very active and swiftly surrounds himself by monks and nuns. He establishes churches in Montreal and the Holy Monastery of Saint Anna (in 1986) for women. Ten years later (1996), he founds the Holy Church of Saint Mark the Noble in Canada. Furthermore, he expands his activities in America from Long Island to Florida.
After 10 years of full activism and of major contributions, many other churches of the GOC become part of his jurisdiction (Saint Spyridon in Detroit, Saint Nektarios and the Saint Unmercenaries in Chicago). During his Episcopacy, he ran a radio program (The Voice of Orthodoxy) and published a biweekly magazine The Torch of Orthodoxy. By his Blessings and his guidance, there was a 12 year weekly television program which addressed the entire Greek community in America. In 1986, he participated in the election of the current Archbishop of the GOC of Greece, His Beatitude, Chryssostomos. During his Episcopacy, he ordained numerous priests and tonsured numerous monks and nuns. According to the vast majority public opinion, his contributions became the lighthouse of Orthodoxy for all Greeks and that is it gained full support and was embraced by everyone.
When he turned 80, he is inflicted by the disease of leukemia which became the cause for his passing in 1997. He was buried according to his wishes in the Holy Monastery of Saint Mena in the area of Athoussis in Attica, Greece, where he lays alongside with his long-departed blood brother, Nephon. His work which was left behind and was begun 50 years ago here in Astoria, is being unstoppably carried on by his close colleagues and his spiritual children and everyone who is inspired by Him.
A legacy with deep roots in the True Orthodox tradition and faith in the Old Calendar. Today, his endeavors have been condensed to an organized Metropolis with eight parishes all over America, two monasteries, which he himself founded (the third monastery was founded by the current Metropolitan Pavlos) a school which slowly brings to light his research and study of life, his activism and his contributions. It is expected that many things will be presented during the Jubilee of the 50 year Anniversary in October of 2004.