History of St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church
The founding members of our community met at Tony and Marsha Dritsas’ ranch in Paso Robles on Pascha, 1984. The group voted to form a Greek Orthodox congregation in San Luis Obispo County The first service was a house blessing by Fr. Constantine Raptis at the Paso Robles home of Terry and Dimitra Dritsas in the fall of 1984. Fr. Constantine traveled to our area from St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Salinas.
In December 1984, our first Divine Liturgy was performed at a borrowed Pentecostal church in Paso Robles. In the following years, we had a growing number of families regularly attending services performed by St. John’s Fr. Tom and Fr. Marin in churches around San Luis Onispo Cpunty
Fr. Mark Vinas brought the Divine Liturgy to us twice a month on Sundays. With the assignment of Fr. Mark, Metropolitan Anthony proclaimed us a Mission. We continued in this fashion for eight years as Fr. Mark baptized our babies, married our young couples, chrismated our mates, and interned our beloved. We purchased the property on which our church now resides in 1990.
After six years of using the property as rental housing, we felt we had enough money to develop the property and build a church. Maria Sheean was the Project Manager. Tony Dritsas was the contractor and was ably assisted by Basil Nafpaktitis, Terry Dritsas, Ed Sheean and many others in our parish. The Iconostasis were donated by the Metropolitan of Gordinii and Arkadios in Crete. His Eminence Kyrill commissioned the Icons to be painted and shipped to San Luis Obispo. They were created in memory of his mother and father.
All of this could not have been possible without the gift of our Benefactress, Constance Nightingale. You will see her mosaic, made from pebbles gathered from local beaches, of St. John the Evangelist on the eastern wall of our church as you enter. Ms. Nightingale later left heir home and land to our Mission. After the sale of the property, we were able to pay off our mortgage and the personal loans taken out by several of our parishioners for the creation of our chapel. Later, the beautiful stained glass window was donated by Olivia Casatini.
Our community has continued to grow under the loving care of Fr. Costas Constantinou, who became our first full time priest in 2003. We have expanded our outreach to nearby areas, other churches, and to Cal Poly University and Cuesta Collage students. In 2002, Cal Poly students formally established the Hellenic American Association (The Greek Club) of Cal Poly. In 2003, a local chapter of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) was formed. Our annual fundraiser, “An Evening in Greece”, just had it’s 20th year of bringing the Greek culture to the citizen of San Luis County. So many of our parishioners are responsible for this evening of great food, dance, and camaraderie.
In 2006, with God’s help and all of our industrious family and friends, we were able to purchase a larger building just down the street. The new building (formerly the Unitarian Church) will require some reconstruction, but we hope to move into our new home in mid-2007.
There will be more to add in the years to come. As the first Greek Orthodox church in San Luis Obispo County, we are proud to say that St. Andrew The Apostle Greek Orthodox Church is our spiritual house. It took a strong sense of community and commitment to bring this about those same qualities that make up our parish will also guide us through
whatever changes come our way in the future.
Father Silviu Stanculescu
On September 1, 2006, St. Andrew the Apostle was blessed with a new Priest—Father Silviu Stanculescu. Father Silviu’s clerical traditions go back nearly three hundred years as he is the ninth uninterrupted generation of priests in his family. After graduating in Romania with the equivalent of a Master of Divinity degree, he worked for the Romanian Patriarchate in Bucharest. He then enrolled in and received his Master of Theology degree in 2005 from Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, MA. After his assignments in Massachusetts and California, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood in 2004 and assigned to the Church of the Holy Cross in Belmont, CA.
Father’s knowledge and patience is limitless and on the rare occasion when he doesn’t have the “answer”, he will search until he finds it. The Community of St. Andrew is fortunate to have Father Silviu, Presvytera Irina and their two children, Tiberiu Nicolae, and Maria Antonia in our midst.