The idea for a parish in Harford County, MD, originated in late 2001, when Mr. George Gazonas first requested information from the Archdiocese on how to start a parish. Over the course of of the next year, Mr. Gazonas identified over three hundred Greek last names in the Harford County phone book. On February 5, 2003, Mr. Gazonas held the first meeting of an organizing committee in his home. Over the next few months, the organizing committee gathered 110 signatures for a petition to start a parish, which was sent to the Metropolis of New Jersey on May 23, 2003. This initiated a series of discussions with Maryland Vicar Fr. Kosmas Karavelas and His Eminence Evangelos of New Jersey, who gave his blessing to proceed on February 27, 2004. The new parish was finally born on April 3, 2004, when Fr. Kosmas and the other priests from the Baltimore area, met with the petitioners. At that meeting, His Eminence Evangelos, through his representative, Fr. Kosmas, named an interim Parish Council. On April 12, the new Greek Orthodox Church of Harford County officially filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Maryland.
The Parish in its Infancy
The new parish held its first service on July 17, 2004, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, with Fr. Lou Noplos of St. Demetrios Church officiating. Local priests served in rotation until the first permanent priest, Fr. R. Nicholas Rafael II, was assigned on September 1, 2004. Shortly after Fr. Rafael’s arrival, the parish began meeting in the chapel of The John Carroll School. Fr. Rafael served the parish until July of 2006, when he was transferred to another parish. Local priests again serviced the church in rotation. During this period, the parish purchased its current building on Dublin Road in Darlington, MD, and submitted a list of possible patron saints, among them St. Markella, to the Metropolis. His Eminence, Metroplitan Evangelos, came to the new property on September 9, 2006, to conduct a Thyranoixia (Official opening of the doors and blessing of the Church). At the ceremony, His Eminence announced that the parish would be officially chartered and given a new name: Sts. Mary Magdalene & Markella (feast day July 22), in memory of his mother, Magdalene, and the many parishioners from Chios, the home of St. Markella. Finally, His Eminence announced the assignment of a new permanent priest, Fr. Basil Kissal, who served the parish until health problems forced him to retire in May of 2007. Once again, the parish was serviced by local clergy through the summer of 2007, during which time the parish also held its first Greek festival.
A Full-Fledged Parish
His Eminence Evangelos appointed Fr. Manuel Burdusi as presiding priest of Sts. Mary Magdalene & Markella, beginning September 1, 2007. That same December, the Interim Parish Council was replaced by the first elected Parish Council. During Fr. Manuel’s tenure, the parish grew and expanded its ministries. The Annual Greek Festival also grew and was eventually moved to its current location on the grounds of The John Carroll School in Bel Air. Fr. Manuel served the parish until September of 2014, when he was replaced by Fr. Sean Govostes, who served until August 2015. A visiting priest, Fr. Sokratis Dimitriadis, provided Sunday services through the fall.
The Parish Now
In November of 2015, His Eminence assigned the newly ordained Rev. Gregory Gilbert as the presiding priest of Sts. Mary Magdalene & Markella. Fr. Gregory arrived for his first service on November 15, 2015. Today we are a parish of about a hundred families and growing. We would love for you and your family to join us, too.