Father Metaxas of Taxiarchae Church in Watertown dies at age 85

Photo courtesy of Taxiarchae Greek Orthodox Church
Father Emmanuel Metaxas

By Laura Paine Wicked Local Watertown Posted Feb 24, 2011 @ 05:58 PM Last update Feb 25, 2011 @ 12:16 PM

WATERTOWN — Watertown icon Father Emmanuel Metaxas may have passed on, but those who knew him will remember him as a unique man and miracle worker. The 85-year-old former pastor of the Taxiarchae Greek Orthodox Church on Bigelow Avenue in Watertown died on Feb.23. Metaxas joined the church in 1953 and has touched the lives of dozens of families through more than 2,800 baptisms, 1,660 marriages and 1,350 funerals. Father Demetrios Tonias of the Taxiarchae Church said Metaxas worked seven days a week and poured his soul into the priesthood. “The number of lives he touched you just cant put a value on,” Tonias told the Watertown TAB & Press. “In many ways, Father was Watertown. He raised his family here and he was like a village priest, not just for our own people but for everybody. He did it with a smile, humility and that kind of touch.” Metaxas was ordained to the holy diaconate in 1951 at the Holy Trinity Church in Lowell. In 1951, he was ordained to the holy priesthood again at the Annunciation Church in Woburn where he then served as pastor for two years. In 1953, he joined the Taxiarchae Greek Orthodox Church in Watertown. Watertown resident John DiMascio said Metaxas was the most dedicated person to Christian unity that he has ever come across. “When I began to struggle with what I believed as a minister and as a Protestant with my Catholic upbringing, I didn’t come back to the church right away, but I went to him as a third party,” DiMascio said. “Not once in that process did he try to persuade me to be a Greek Orthodox. Father had a real understanding for Christian unity no matter what and I always loved that in him.” Paula Mahoney said she was 12 years old when she first met Metaxas, who married her later in life and came to her aid after she lost her first child. “I told him I had been trying to get pregnant [again] and I didn’t get pregnant,” Mahoney told the Watertown TAB & Press. “He put his hand upon me and said a prayer. He told me that I would be pregnant and have my baby by Christmas day. I got pregnant and was due on Dec. 25. My son was born on Dec. 23.” John Airasian said Metaxas was his neighbor for many years and that he frequently called to find out how changes in the town would affect the church, but never called for himself. “I got to know him pretty well,” Airasian said. “He was kind, gentle and modest man who over the years became an icon in our community. We’ve had other pastors in town who really were well known and highly regarded throughout the community, and he was certainly one of them for so long. He will really be missed here.” Town Councilor Angie Kounelis said Metaxas has been like a father to her and that he had "shoulders a mile wide" to carry everyone in town. “This is certainly a great loss for us as individuals and for the community at large,” Kounelis said. Watertown resident and church member Teddy Kokoros wrote to the Watertown TAB & Press, saying Metaxas was a man who would do anything he could to help someone in need. Kokoros recalled when his grandfather, who lived the majority of his 100 years in Greece, was in the hospital. When he went to visit, Metaxas was by his grandfather’s side.

“Father Metaxas had never met my grandfather prior to that but merely stopped to chat with him after he noticed his Greek name while he was visiting another patient,” Kokoros said. “Despite not knowing my grandfather, he stayed and talked with him in Greek for over a half an hour which was a great comfort to him.” Watertown resident and Governor's Councilor Marilyn Devaney said she cherished the 40 years of friendship she had with Metaxas and that she considers him family. She told the Watertown TAB & Press that he stood by her through everything in her life. “I know that the Father Emmanuel was such a role model,” Devaney said. “He was just so unique, compassionate and kind. He’s someone you never think of not having in your life. You know the day is coming but you’re never ready. I have a lot of good memories about him and I’m going to miss him.” A wake will be held at 4 p.m. on Feb. 28 at Taxiarchae Church, 25 Bigelow Ave. Funeral services will be held on Mar. 1. The Orthros service will begin at 8 a.m., the Liturgy at 9 a.m. and the funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Metaxas will be laid to rest at Ridgelawn Cemetery and a memorial luncheon will follow at the church. Laura Paine can be reached at lpaine@cnc.com. Copyright 2011 Watertown TAB & Press. Some rights reserved

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