An “Ecclesia” or church in Greek, is a group of faithful who are united in their beliefs and principles. Christ founded His Church to perpetuate His mission of salvation, a mission whose purpose was to demonstrate the path to inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is followed through His Church that Christ offers His faithful followers forgiveness of sins and reunion with God. It was on these principles that the Orthodox Church was established.
With these principles in mind, a group of faithful Greek Orthodox Christians gathered in 1974, endeavoring to establish a new Greek Orthodox Church in the far Northwest suburb area. A core committee was formed with temporary officers who were presented with the challenge of determining how to form a new parish. These individuals made calls to friends and family, and even looked for Greek names in the local suburban telephone directories to notify people of an informal social coordinated to determine the level of community interest. The committee then met with then-Bishop Timotheos and sought his advice and opinions on this endeavor. Subsequent to the meeting, an application was made to the State of Illinois for a charter in the name of St. Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church; in honor of the 20th Century saint and miracle worker. The charter was issued in the summer of 1974, making us, at the time, the only church named for St. Nectarios in the country.
The first Church services were held the weekend of St. Nectarios’ feastday on November 10, 1974 at the Rolling Meadows High School Auditorium. This was the initial temporary home of St. Nectarios. That evening, the First Annual Dinner Dance was held at a nearby banquet facility.
The first parish council elections were held in 1974 and the newly-formed Church continued to gather at Rolling Meadows High School through 1976. Father Steve Zanis was the first clergyman to serve the parish. His successor, Father Nicholas Voucanos served the majority of the years at the high school. The community held numerous activities including an Apokreatiko Glendi in March of 1975, a fundraising activity in May of 1975 and a second annual Dinner Dance in the Fall of 1975. Interest in the parish continued a growing enrollment in the Sunday School and Greek School emerged. Modern Greek and Greek Dance instruction was offered.
In 1976, a land acquisition was established with the objection to purchase property to serve as a permanent church location. On January 13, 1976, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America issued an Ecclesiastical Charter to the parish, and in March of 1976, a five acre parcel of land was purchased near the intersection of Roselle and Palatine roads in Palatine. Father Dennis Strouzas was the parish priest, and a small building on the property was renovated to become “The Chapel” of St. Nectarios.
Following this renovation, the Chapel was furnished with an Altar, and iconostasion and icons, a solea, a nave to accommodate 150 faithful, a narthex, a meeting room, a parish office and a basement. On September 26, 1976, a Thyranoixia, or Door Opening ceremony was held with Bishop Timotheos officiating marking the first true House of Worship for St. Nectarios Church.
There was substantial growth in the church programs and activities, especially for the youth. In order to address this growth, a five-acre land parcel adjacent to the church was purchased. This gave the church access to the property that reached to the corner of Roselle and Palatine roads. On this land was also a split-level residence that was converted for the use of Sunday School and Greek School classrooms which replaced the mobile classrooms, which were adjacent to the chapel building. The residence was also used for weekday meetings and fellowship activities. Zoning and finance issues were resolved and finalized at this time.
In 1981, Father Demetrios N. Treantafeles began his service and marked growth demonstrated the need for a larger House of Worship. On June 20, 1982, His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Chicago officiated the Ground-Breaking Services for the new church facilities. One year later, on June 19, 1983, the new church edifice was completed.
The newly-built church now accommodated 450 faithful. The initial embellishment of the church edifice was then begun. Wooden pews were installed in the nave. The initial phases of iconography were completed. Icons of Christ, the Pantocraator, in the dome of the church and the Theotokos, the Platytera, in the apse of the altar, were iconographed to embellish the church.
On November 15, 1987, the Ground-Breaking of the community center began the construction of the facilities adjacent to the church edifice. These efforts culminated on September 24, 1989, with the Door Opening ceremony officiated by His Grace, Bishop Iakovos of Chicago. The community center consisted of a fellowship hall, ten classrooms, a library, offices and a full basement. This structure was joined to the church proper via a hallway. The community center provided expanded facilities for the Sunday School, Greek School, church administration, parish organization meetings, and for social and fellowship activities.
Throughout the decade, the embellishment of the church edifice continued with the final phases of the iconography, the purchase and donation of church furnishings and utensils, the installation of new iconostasion, chandeliers, and the completion of additional church embellishments.
In April of 1994, Dean Photos was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Chicago. He served St. Nectarios Church as lay assistant, and now as Deacon. In March of 1995, Father Dean was ordained to the Holy Priesthood, and served the St. Nectarios community as assistant priest.
During the mid-1990’s, the 250 students enrolled in Sunday School had outgrown the community center classroom space. In addition, there was an expansion in the youth programs offered, with HOPE (Helping Orthodox Parents Educate), FAITH, JOY, GOYA and YAL programs to serve the youth parish. The Greek School offered Greek as a second language and conversational Greek classes.
In 1996, approximately five acres of land adjacent to the church property became available and was purchased to increase the community to nearly sixteen acres. The parish had now acquired the entire area comprising the southeast corner of Roselle and Palatine Roads. The purchase of the property incurred more debt for the community and the Vision 2000 program began to increase fundraising that the community needed to expand and bring the community into the 21st Century.
In February of 1996, the goals of the Vision 2000 program were announced to reduce the debt of the mortgage and to plan for the needs of the community in the future. That summer, a blessing service occurred in the midst of the wooded landscape of the new property.
In October of 1999, Father Treantafeles announced the Metropolitan Iakovos of Krinis had approved the Consecration of St. Nectarios Church. This momentous occasion occurred on September 23rd and 24th of 2000. This event signified the culmination of the efforts of so many faithful in a quarter century of endeavor. The faithful of this community continue to strive for salvation and the principles upon which our “Ecclesia” was established.
In 2001, Father Peter G. Balkas became the Proestamenos of our parish and helped it grow to nearly 600 families and making it one of the largest parishes in Metropolis of Chicago. Father Peter continued to help institute in the importance of ministries and stewardship as well as the expansion project of our Gymnasium/Community Center. The Gymnasium was dedicated in 2006 and it has been an instrument used to allow the growth of our community to prosper.
January 15, 2019, Fr. Chris R. Mihalopoulos began his work as Parish Priest of Saint Nectarios. Under the auspices of Fr. Chris, St. Nectarios looks forward to building our community as one community in love and fellowship to serve and minister all the people of God. The opportunity to make St. Nectarios a beacon for the Metropolis of Chicago is at hand and we will grow and prosper in spreading the word of God through outreach and service.