It’s 3 p.m. Monday and Father Constantine Makrinos is behind his desk at Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in Mattituck.
A priest of 30 years, Father Makrinos’ spiritual journey has led him from Detroit, Mich., to Newark, N.J., to Ocean City, Md.
The son of a Greek immigrant who worked as a coal miner in the hills of West Virginia, he has spent the past six years at the church built on a former potato farm along Breakwater Road.
On this particular afternoon, the phone in Father Makrinos’ study rings often.
It’s the last week in July, which for many represents the one weekend a year they visit the church. That’s the usual date of the church’s popular Greek Festival, during which Greeks and non-Greeks alike visit the property to enjoy Mediterranean cuisine, craft vendors and rides for children.
But with each and every phone call, Father Makrinos finds himself the bearer of bad news.
“I have to tell them we are not having a festival this year,” he said moments after one call. “Our workers are not here, I tell them. They are in Greece.”
The festival, which has been more popular than ever in recent years, is a local victim of Greece’s economic crisis, which Father Makrinos said has forced many of the men and women who volunteer at the annual event to return to their homeland to protect family real estate interests.
For a church that has seen a decline in attendance since 2000, the cancellation of the festival, which raised more than $50,000 in 2014, creates a hardship.
But for a church founded more than 50 years ago on the backs of working class immigrants, this is just one more obstacle to overcome.
Photo: Father Constantine Makrinos inside Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in Mattituck, where he has served for the past 6 1/2 years. (Credit: Grant Parpan)