Greek Orthodox 'shining light' dies at 108
Montreal's Greek community is mourning the death of Father Nicholas C. Salamis, a cultural icon who died Saturday night at the age of 108.
"The Greek community in Montreal will eternally remember Father Salamis because he was a person who was a shining light, a leader," said John Theodosopoulos, president of the Montreal Greek Community and one of a number of parishioners interviewed as they left mass at St. George's Greek Orthodox Cathedral Sunday.
"There is no Greek person and even beyond the Greek community that doesn't know him," said Joanna Tsoublekas.
Salamis came to Canada from Greece in 1914 and worked at locations across the country, helping newly arrived Greek immigrants to settle in Canada.
"In the '50s, we were bombarded with immigrants â men who jumped ship who wanted to stay in this country, girls who came to work as domestics â and they were running to the priest with all their problems," said Demetrius Manolakos.
Salamis would help them find an apartment and land a job.
Became a priest 67 years ago
After returning to Greece to study theology, Salamis was ordained in 1938. He returned to Canada and spent seven years as a priest in a parish in Toronto.
He then returned to Montreal in 1945, and served as a Greek Orthodox priest, bonding together four generations of Greek Montrealers.
"He was the only priest then, so he had to do the whole Greek community â go to the hospitals, see people and things like that," remembers Marika Coulourides. "Sometimes it was funerals in the morning, baptisms and weddings all day."
Over the decades, Salamis was the priest who married or baptized most of the members of Montreal's Greek community.
Performed 10,000 religious ceremonies
Salamis estimated that he had performed more than 10,000 religious ceremonies by the time he retired 18 years ago, at the age of 90.
Even then, he remained involved with the church and never forgot his parishioners.
"I remember in his early 100s, him remembering me [and] what we did in the past, and being very inquisitive as to what's happening in our community," says George Tsoukas.