PARISH PROFILE: Tiny Greek Orthodox Parish Exists on Michigan's Canadian Border

Tiny Parish Exists on Michigan's Canadian Border

Founded 1927

Article printed in the Orthodox Observer, November 2016

Following are excerpts regarding the history of this parish:

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan - In the early 1900s, the first Greek Orthodox Christians settled in this small city on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, about 350 miles north of Detroit, to work at a leather factory and tannery.  It is not known what their total numbers were, but there were enough to start a parish in 1927.

Today, however, only about 30 permanent members comprise the parish of St. George.  They gather once a month for Divine Liturgy officiated by a visiting priest, Fr. Ciprian Streza, the full-time priest from Archangel Gabriel Church in Traverse City, nearly 180 miles away on the Lower Peninsula. ....

Sault Ste. Marie (population about 14,000) sits on the south bank of the St. Mary's River, which connects Lake Suerior with the other Great Lakes, and is the northern terminus for Interstate 75.  It is the third oldest European settlement west of the Appalachians, having been established by French Jesuit priest Fr. Jacques Marquette who founded a Catholic mission near an Indian village,  It grew into a fur-trading settlement.  

Across the river is its twin city, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, which also has a small Greek Orthodox community served by visiting priests from the Metropolis of Toronto.  In the early years of the parish, services took place in a rented hall by visiting priests from Chicago and Detroit, according to information contributed by parishioners Dina Kritselis.  By 1925, weddings and baptisms were held in a rented funeral home.

In the early 1930s the community built its first church building and a priest from Chicago (name unknown) who also was an iconographer came to hold services.  Archbishop Athenagoras consecrated the church in 1939. . . . . 

- compiled by Jim Golding