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George Christy Talks About Holy Holidays, Jim Gianopulos, St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedal and more!

The majestic Good Friday Service at St. Sophia’s Cathedral is embraced by Greeks, who commemorate the unforgettable evening with their lighted candles and prayers under the guidance of the Reverend Father John Bakas.
Father Christopher Kolentsas assists the Reverand Father John Bakas, Dean of St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
The Cathedral, built in 1952, is at 1324 S. Normandie Ave. (at Pico Blvd.)

Posted Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 4:56 pm

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Jim Gianopulos and wife Ann, with their beautiful children Alexa, Nikki and Mimi, arrive year in and year out, for the Holy Friday Evening Services at the magnificent St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in midtown Los Angeles.

Joining the hundreds of the devout of all ages, including parents with sweet infants, rewarded with their first religious experience.

Every Greek worthy of his Orthodox soul carries lighted white candles to commemorate the burial of their Lord. As they did this past weekend.

The Cathedral was founded by the Skouras dynasty with funding from the international faithful in 1952 (The Los Angeles Greek Community was Incorporated in 1908 with a church on San Julian Street).

We worshippers are beholden to Reverend Father John Bakas, our Dean, who led the haunting Byzantine lamentations with his resounding tenor voice. Interacting with the psaltes (canters) and the women’s choir.

Father John’s multitude of selfless accomplishments for the Church are worthy of a Nobel Prize. He received the call from our Lord while a police officer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A major exception this year is the addition of a new sound system, created by Andrew Setos of BlackStar Engineering, that replaced the existing forty-year-old failure.

These centuries-old sacred Holy Week Services melt the hearts of the parishioners, who’ve grown up with this rich tradition.

As they walk outdoors on Holy Friday night under the flower-bedecked tomb with the image of Christ, holding their lighted candles while listening to prayers about the immortality of their Lord and asking for mercy.

Holy Saturday night commemorates the Resurrection during the midnight service that Jim Gianopulos considers “the most beautiful.” Bringing worshippers to the ancient ritual that “Christ Has Risen.”

Reflecting, as we have, from time to time, on the hierarchy of the Greek Orthodoxy, we’ve come to acknowledge that the hierarchy is our royalty.

The Patriarch in Constantinople, the original site of our Orthodoxy.

Followed by the Metropolitans, Bishops, and Priests. Who share their wisdom from their worldliness about the salvation of humankind.

Once upon a time there were Greek kings and queens, but emerged as playing card figures, and were ultimately deposed.

In Los Angeles, Easter Sunday evolves into “let’s party.” Jim and Ann Gianopulos generously invite our faithful locals and visitors to their Westside estate. To savor Inna Poncher’s feast of the roasted spring lamb, Greek delicacies and Easter bread (not unlike the Jewish halal).

Bouzouki music and folk dancing. And, boy oh boy, Jim Gianopulos struts his vigor dancing a la Grecque. A champ.

Ann Gianopulos’ mom, Bebe McRae with husband Colin McRae, fly south from their Bay Area life to participate in the high spirits of the fun and the popular cracking of the red Easter egg.

Greeting the Gianopulos family and Jim’s sister, Despina with husband Jay Landers (who records Barbra Streisand’s albums) were Athenian shipping heir George Kulukundis, Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Jim’s loyal assistant Dawn Knepley (a new dog owner), Michelle and Michael Chiklis.

New daddy John Stamos with Caitlin McHugh, Nancy and Sid Ganis, Alex Berliner, Lilly Reeves, Lisa Harbach, whose dad, Bill Harbach partnered with the producer Nick Vanoff to produce the timeless Perry Como Show and dozens more.

Additionally, The Tonight Show hosted by Steve Allen, the fabled Kennedy Center Honors, The Judy Garland Show, Sonny And Cher, etc.

Buffalo-born Nick, growing up in his father’s cafe, danced his way into Broadway with the Charles Weidman’s Dance Theatre. Before performing as the lead dancer with New York City Opera. Soon becoming the extraordinary showman, whose first job was as a cue card holder, and later produced ten successful television hours a week.


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