Priest Is Blamed for Missing Cash
Greek Parish Says $500,000 Unaccounted for
By Ali Winston
Star-Ledger [New Jersey]
November 30, 2006
A priest, accused by his former parishioners of leaving the Hudson County congregation with dozens of relics and more than $500,000 in donations unaccounted for, had bounced from one congregation to another before landing at St. De metrios Greek Orthodox Church in Jersey City, archdiocese officials said.
The Very Rev. Kyrillos Markopoulos, a native of Greece, first ar rived in the U.S. as an ordained priest in the Old Style Calendarist sect, which is separate from the mainstream Greek Orthodox Church. He first opened a "storefront" church -- St. Rafael, Nicholas and Irene -- in Astoria, Queens, in the early 1980s, said Bishop Savas of Troas, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New York.
In 1982, Markopoulos successfully petitioned the archdiocese to become a priest under their order, Savas said.
Over the next 10 years, Markopoulos held several assignments -- as a hospital chaplain in a Hellenic- American nursing home in Astoria, then as pastor for churches in smaller Greek Orthodox communities in New Haven, Conn., Middletown, N.Y., and then Norwalk, Conn., which all fall under the New York Archdiocese.
However, his frequent reassign ments had to do with his personality, not any allegations of wrongdoing, Savas said.
"He liked to portray himself as a conservative, uncompromising Hellenic and would interpret his inability to acclimatize as a virtue," Savas said. "He was rather quick to put forth his opinions and slow to accommodate others."
His "traditionalist" outlook -- and weak English language skills -- put him at a particular disadvan tage in communities with small numbers of native Greeks, Savas said.
Markopoulos was transferred to St. Demetrios in 1992 and was apparently a better fit with Jersey City's larger Greek Orthodox population at least until 2001, when parishioners said he disbanded the church council and took direct control of its finances.
After he left in mid-September -- the archdiocese said he was re- assigned to a church in Greece, but would not say why -- parishioners discovered more than a half-million dollars in donations accumulated over the years was unaccounted for, and that dozens of relics and other items from the church's col lection were missing, along with all the marriage licenses, baptismal certificates and other documents issued during his tenure.
Parishioners said they filed a theft complaint against Markopou los after they said they discovered he was selling church items on the Internet auction site eBay.
Efforts to find Markopoulos have been unsuccessful. The New Jersey Greek Orthodox Archdio cese did not respond to requests for comment yesterday; officials from that archdiocese previously told the Jersey Journal they could not comment about Markopoulos because he was no longer in New Jersey.
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