Konstantine D. Tsigas, Protopresbyter

City hotel room they blindly and faithfully accepted the invitation to serve the burgeoning community of Dover, New Jersey. He spoke not a word of English; the community president spoke not a word of Greek. The challenge served them well as the Tsigas family never looked back. He spent the entirety of his priestly ministry as the spiritual leader of St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox community, first at the little church on River and Union Streets in Dover, and finally on Sussex Turnpike in Randolph, where he led the community in purchasing land and building a beautiful Orthodox edifice, consecrated in December 1991, as well as the community center.

From the first Divine Liturgy celebrated on the Sunday before Christmas 1962 with about 70 families, the community grew to over 500 families over the next 42 years. Together with Presbytera Spiridoula, the couple selflessly served with sincere commitment and concern for the welfare of their Saint Andrew’s family. Their love and devotion was commemorated in 2011 when the newly erected gymnasium was commissioned in their name.

He would often visit the restaurants and diners to spread the Word, especially to those who worked on Sundays. As a spiritual father, he spent many hours regardless of the time of day to be with those whose lives were suddenly beset with trials and tragedy.

Father Konstantine touched the lives of so many people within and beyond the walls of the church, inspiring countless individuals and couples with his marriage counseling, promotion of education as the bedrock for all of life’s challenges, his life story of personal transformation, and the penultimate roles of sacrifice and respect in any loving relationship. Sacrificial love and hospitality, above all else, personify The Tsigas Way. If you ever want to do an impression of Fr. Tsigas, just don your heaviest Greek accent and proclaim with clear and unequivocal conviction, pausing between each word, “Love is sacrifice!” The passion and volume of his stories only grew with time, even as he held court in his final days in the hospital.

Outside the church, he was known and respected by many civic officials, served on the State Youth Committee for 41 years, and was a member of the Randolph Clergy Association. His love of the earth and comfort with animals was manifest in gardens he planted and nurtured, grafting fruit trees, hand feeding birds that arrived when he whistled, and growing the organic vegetables and fruit that made their way to the family dinner table – a table that always included new friends and abundant fellowship. He planted hundreds of olive trees in his hometown, a living legacy for his grandchildren that he tended during his many trips back to Greece in his later years.

In 2005 it was time to pass the torch to his successor and “retire” to Orlando, Florida. Holy Trinity in Maitland, Florida, became their new home even while Metropolitan Alexios tapped Fr. Konstantine, now in his 80’s, to serve extended pastoral assignments for the communities of St. Demetrios, Daytona Beach (2008), St. Nicholas, Fort Pierce (2009), and St. Mark, Ocala (2012).

Reverend Father Konstantine Tsigas was bestowed three Offikia offices of honor in the priesthood. He was elevated to Sakelarios by Archbishop Iakovos on December 21, 1970. Metropolitan Silas bestowed the Offikia of Economos on November 14, 1983, and Protopresbyter – the highest office for a married priest – on December 4, 1992.

The thousands of babies he baptized, couples married, confessions heard, faithful interred, exorcisms performed, sick and imprisoned visited, counseling sessions imparted, all testify to his faith, love and sacrifice for God, while trusting his family to the Lord’s care. Neither family or friends can argue with his focused devotion and relentless quest to bring all people to the loving embrace of Jesus Christ, an embrace that clearly saved him. Perhaps his most egregious sin was the amount of pride that he boasted for his progeny.

A visitation will be held at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Maitland, Florida from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 15.

A Trisagion prayer service will be offered at 6:45 p.m.

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