On Saturday morning, the babies were baptized at our parish of St. George's here in Panorama. I celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the morning, and then there was a short break before the baptism began at 11:00 AM.
In the photo above, you see four of the five priests just before we began the prayers for making the babies catechumens. Immediately to the right of me is another Fr. Gregory, a friend who lives in Harilaou (a section of Thessaloniki), and who has a parish out in a village outside Thessaloniki. To the right, in the pink shirt, is my Byzantine music teacher, Manolis Yiannopoulos, recently elected a professor at the university. To the right, in the foreground, is Fr. Alexios, followed by Fr. Panayiotis, the two priests assigned to St. George's.
The godparents were: for Paul, our good friend Paris, a Greek who lives here in Panorama; for Benjamin, our dear friend and neighbor, James Lillie, an Englishman; and for Phoebe, our niece, Anastasia, an American. So it was an international affair. Here you can see Anastasia with Phoebe and me during the prayers for the making of a catechumen.
Here the sponsors and the babies, after renouncing Satan and all his works, turned to the east, toward the church, and accepted Christ. You can see Sister Makrina from the monastery in Goldendale, WA on the left. We were blessed that she and our beloved Gerontissa Efpraxia from Goldendale were able to be with us.
Here the babies are getting undressed for the baptism. From left to right, Paris' sister Litza, Anastasia, Pelagia, Sophie (our friend Angela's daughter), and James Lillie.
Here Paul is being anointed with oil before he is baptized. Paris, the godfather, is holding the oil cupped in his hands, while his sister holds Paul and Fr. Alexios anoints him.
Who would have thought it, but babies slathered in oil and then dunked in water can be quite slippery! Fortunately, I didn't lose anyone at the bottom of the font.
Now it's Benjamin's turn. After the priests anoints the baby with oil, the godparent (here, James) covers them completely with the oil.
Benjamin being baptized (which simply means, in Greek, to immerse or plunge).
Here Anastasia holds the oil as Fr. Alexios anoints Phoebe. The mom, Pres. Pelagia, got to serve as Anastasia's assistant.
Finally, it's Phoebe's turn. I'm sure all the kids will thank us later for posting so many photos of them naked on the internet.
Here Fr. Alexios is tonsuring Paul. Under his arm, you can see Anastasia and Gerontissa Efpraxia's sister-in-law, Sophia, looking on.
Freshly baptized, the babies get changed into their baptismal gowns, which Pres. Sophia made.
Here we are making the Dance of Isaiah around the baptismal font. Everyone was so happy that we did it four or five times. :)
A view from the balcony. I am standing in front of the font, while each of the godparents is holding their baby on the other side.
I saved Holy Communion from the Divine Liturgy, which was celebrated just before the baptism, so that the babies could commune right away. All three babies received it with great ease! Fr. Alexios said it was the first time in all his years as a priest that he saw babies so eager for Holy Communion.
Afterwards, as is the tradition in Greece, the parents sponsored a meal to thank the godparents and all those who had come together to pray for the babies at the baptism. Toward the end of the meal, Fr. Alexios forced me to say something, so here I am talking about something.
Here Fr. Alexios' wife, Pres. Georgia, holds Paul, while Paul's adoring godfather plays with him.
From left to right, front row: Sister Makrina with Benjamin, Gerontissa Efpraxia with Phoebe, Sophia with Paul, Pres. Sophia. Back row: me, Fr. Alexios, and Pelagia.
For many more photos, you can click here to see 200 taken by Pres. Sophia.