A Short History of St. Demetrios Church

Fr. Jim Doukas Fr. Jim Doukas

In 1960 the Board of Trustees of the American Hellenic Community of Greater Cleveland was requested to establish a Greek Orthodox Church of the west side of Cleveland. The request came from a contingent of immigrant Greeks and Greek Americans who felt the need for a Greek Orthodox Church that was more centered in the community in which they lived.

The Parish of Saint Demetrios was established in 1960 with the purchase of the old Rockport Methodist Church, located at 3300 Wooster Road, Rocky River, Ohio. The parish proudly became an integral part of the American Hellenic Community of Greater Cleveland. It was named Saint Demetrios at the wish of James Watson, who was the "Godfather" of the church and a very generous benefactor.

Fr. Peter Metallinos Fr. Peter Metallinos
Fr. Paul Patitsas Fr. Paul Patitsas

Reverend Father Daniel Sfikas was assigned as pastor and remained at Saint Demetrios for one year, after which Reverend Father Peter Metallinos succeeded him and served as the pastor there until his retirement in 1998. Upon Reverend Father Peter Metallinos's retirement, Reverend Father Paul A. Patitsas arrived and served as pastor. The mother church of the Annunciation, with her satellite of daughter churches, functioned as an administrative unit until July 2, 1967, when it was voted that each parish become administratively independent.

The growth of the Saint Demetrios Parish was phenomenal. In a few busy years, the little church was bulging at the seams. The Sunday school classes were overflowing, making it necessary to rent space and later to accept the hospitality of the Rockport Methodist Church across the street. The search for a location to build a new church and educational facilities began. A large, convenient lot on Center Ridge Road at the boundary between Rocky River and Westlake became available. The parish voted to purchase it.

In 1968 the impressive groundbreaking ceremony took place. In 1969 the successful fund raising campaign resulted in the building of the first phase of the new Saint Demetrios facilities and Hellenic Cultural Center. Christmas Eve 1970 Divine Liturgy was celebrated for the first time in the new Saint Demetrios Hellenic Cultural Center. Gratitude, pride, and misty eyes were very much in evidence that memorable evening. For a year and a half the church services were held at the Cultural Center.

St. Demetrios Church Saint Demetrios Church

The Building Committee never ceased working on the plans to build a new church. On May 14, 1972, the groundbreaking ceremony for the church complex took place. Finally, the church was partially finished. Saint Demetrios was officially opened by His Grace Bishop Gerasimos on October 21, 1973, when the cornerstone of the church was placed.

The final and crowning phase was realized when, on the historic date of Sunday, November 13, 1977, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, consecrated our new church.

The Dome Project

Dome before Mounting of IconsDome before Mounting of Icons
(Photo by Richard Woodward)
Completed DomeCompleted Dome
Artist Bruno Salvatore with Parish RepresentativesArtist Bruno Salvatore
with Parish Representatives
Bruno Salvatore (right) & Peter ParrasMr. Salvatore (R) & Peter Parras

In 2002, the church had commissioned Italian artist Bruno Salvatore to create new icons for the inside of the sanctuary dome. Icons of the twelve prophets were mounted on the inside of the dome and the twelve apostles were mounted on its base. Also, icons of angels were mounted at each of the four corners. (The icon of Jesus Christ, at the dome's apex, was already in place.) The new dome artwork was unveiled at the Candlelight Vesper Service on December 2002.

St. Philothea ChapelSt. Philothea Chapel
Zapis Activity Ctr. ExteriorZapis Activity Ctr. Exterior
Zapis Activity Center GymnasiumZapis Activity Ctr. Gymnasium

The Zapis Activity Center and St. Philothea Chapel

In 2003, the Zapis Activity Center, a large gymnasium was constructed behind the church. That same year, a classroom was converted into a small chapel dedicated to Saint Philothea of Athens.

Fr. Paul Patitsas continued to serve as pastor of the church until October 2006. Fr. James Doukas, who had grown up in Cleveland and was a former altar boy at St. Demetrios, has been serving the parish since December 2006.

Today we have a vibrant community with many ministries designed for the edification of our faithful. They include the following: Sunday School Children's Sermon, Altar Servers, Greek School, Greek School Board of Education, PTO, Mom's Bible Study, Tuesday Morning Bible Study, Library Committee, GOYA, Inquiry Class, Liturgical Choir, Youth Choir, Philoptochos, and the Helper's of St. Herman's Monastery. More than any other mark of our parish's success, we celebrate the multitude of Baptisms and Chrismations that typify the spiritual growth of this community.