Member Biographies

Fr. Peter Kastaris

Father Peter was born on May 24, 1929 in Alexandria, Egypt, the first-born child of parents of Greek descent that had immigrated there, Euripides from Avalil, Asia Minor, and Penelope, maiden name Doukas, from the Cyclades Island of Tinos. The couple later had two more children, a daughter, Fani, today Presbytera of Fr. Constandinos Kafasses who is serving the Greek Orthodox Church in Athens as a priest, and another son, Constandinos, a businessman who is also residing in Athens. At the age of three and a half, Father Peter's family moved to Athens, Greece which he thinks of as his hometown.

Fr. Peter is a self-made man. When he was only eleven years old in 1941, Greece, and most especially Athens, were suffering under a foreign occupation. So, being the oldest child in the family, he started working from that time. He always liked Education so after he came home from his work, he would use a kerosene lamp to study by in order to prepare for his examinations, which he would take every so often to proceed to the next class, an option available to working students at that time. Throughout all those years he had a dream to become a priest so he was preparing for that along with his other responsibilities.

On September 5, 1950 he was drafted into the army, which was the law for every adult male. He was sent to the school of cadets and become a lieutenant in the army, from which he finished with an honorary discharge in 1955. Throughout the time he was serving the country, he was also able to continue his studies in the School of Divinity in the University of Athens, Greece. He received an honorary discharged from the army in 1955 and also came out with a Master Degree in Sacred Theology.

At that time he met his Presbytera, Georgia, maiden name Skouras. After a short engagement, they were married in Athens on the 26th  of December 1955. The couple moved to Thessalonica
where a few months later, he was ordained as first deacon on August 3, 1956. Three days later on August 6, 1956, he was ordained a priest. He was assigned to the centrally located church of St. Constantine and Helen where he served as its pastor until 1961 when he moved to the United States.

When the family arrived in New York on the 7th of December of 1961, the Archdiocese assigned him to St. Nikolas Greek Orthodox Church in Lorraine, Ohio The couple had already three children, Penelope who today holds a bachelor's degree from Hofstra University in Long Island, New York and a master degree from another prestigious university in New York, Ford ham University. She is a journalist and a communications major. Demetrios, his first son, graduated with a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of New York in Manhattan, New York. He is a composer and conductor and teaches music in that city. He also holds a master's degree in music from the Manhattan Conservatory. The third child, Euripides, studied fine arts at Washington University in St. Louis, and is this year the national artist of the Olympics in Greece where he is going to make a piece of art, Kyklos, donated by the Ahepans of the United States to the state of Greece.

In 1966 because of the bad weather he and his family weren't used to, Fr Peter requested to be transferred and assumed the pastoral work of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church of St. Louis Missouri. The church was in a transition from the older generation to the younger generation so he found himself in a parish council make up of very young people with whom he worked very devoutly and successfully and grew together with them. During Thanksgiving 1979 the Archdiocese needed a new dean for St. Demetrios Church in Jamaica, New York; which was at that time the cathedral of Long Island, New York. The choice of the Archdiocese was Father Peter who accepted with all his heart.

For reasons of health and because the congregation was so huge amounting to 5000 family units, Fr. Peter decided to ask for a transfer to a smaller church in 19~and he was assigned to Church of Holy Trinity in Canton Ohio. This church was also in transition and Father Peter gave his best during the 15 years until July 1995 when he was old enough to retire. Yet he requested and received a smaller congregation in Winterhaven where he was pastor for five years. 1976-2001. After that span of time, he retired again, but he asked the diocese to use him as a "flying" priest who was on weekends. flying here and there wherever they needed a priest. This experience was good for Father Peter, yet being acclimated for a more permanent situation, he accepted and is now serving St. Elizabeth the Wonderwork Greek Orthodox Church in Gainesville, FL. 2003-2008. Here again Father Peter found himself at home and does all he can to help the church spiritually and in every other aspect commuting every week from Winterhaven.

Father Peter likes nature, classical music and reading. In the past years, more than now, he liked to hike and especially during the time he was at Holy Trinity in Canton, along with fulfilling his responsibilities there, he would hike several miles a day. Now more than before, he studies and listens to music during the week and prepares for his weekly journey to Gainesville to serve the church there.

Every time he was assigned to a new parish, by character, he accepted and thought it his best assignment so did his work enthusiastically. And unless he had to move from Europe to America or to take a higher position dictated by superiors, he liked to stay in one place for 10 to 15 years.

During his pastoral work in the United States, Fr Peter went through two more graduate programs, earning a master's degree in comparative religion from the Concordia Seminary and a Ph.D. degree in church history from St. Louis University, both in St. Louis Missouri.