EL PASO, Texas -- The Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church has been without a priest for about two years now.
"In the meantime the dioceses has sent us a part-time priest every couple of weeks," explained Christos Maiagoudakis, the church treasurer.
Though the wait has been hard, in May of this year a new permanent priest will be sent to take over the flock.
But the parishioners have been busy regardless of who leads them.
This past weekend they held El Paso's first Greek Mardi Gras. Saint Nicholas member David Velez said he saw the beginning of the Greek Lent coming up and thought about combining it with the Mardis Gras festivities the following week.
He spoke with the owners and management of Acetunas Beer Garden on the westside of El Paso and asked for permission to hold the celebration there. To his delight they agreed.
Velez explained it like this, “So we are having El Paso’s very first Apokriatiko Glendi, which is a Greek Mardi Gras of sorts. The city has never seen it before and the church made a bunch of food. We decided to blend the Greek Mardi Gras with the Apokriatiko with the Mardi Gras that Louisiana has. That's why you see the beads and the masks and all that.”
With the new priest coming in May, Velez believes this celebration is the church's re-emergence into the community. He also believes the Greek community is very good for the Borderland.
“St. Nicholas is made up of a lot of people who are half-Hispanic and half-Greek, so it's a good melting pot culture. It's good to have, plus the Greeks are a lot of fun - we need to be around,” he explained.