On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 14, almost 500 people braved the pouring rain to attend a Tribute Gala held at Saint Sophia Cathedral Huffington Center in honor of the Rev. Father John S. Bakas and in recognition of his 27 years of devoted service. As the longest-serving dean of the Cathedral since its founding in 1952, Fr. Bakas retired on Jan. 22.
Tribute Gala for Fr. John Bakas
The event was chaired by Tina Callas and Diane Sakellaris Lapa and had the theme "Honoring our Spiritual Legacy and Endowing Our Future."
According to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, it featured a cocktail reception, dinner, a slide show, musical presentations, speeches from parish leaders, personal reflections from donors and their families, and a commemorative album.
Remotely, Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco blessed the congregation, and the evening began with a serenade of "You Raise Me Up" by lyric soprano Michelle Patzakis and her daughter, actor, singer, and artist Arianna Prappas and an invocation by fellow biker, Monsignor Francis Hicks, as per the report.
Constantine Boukidis, president of the Saint Sophia Foundation, recalled that when he went to the Diocesan Clergy Laity Assembly 28 years ago, Fr. Bakas was sitting in the seat directly in front of him. After that discussion, he realized he would be an excellent candidate for the position.
Boukidis said that because of Father Bakas's foresight, compassion, and leadership, all of their lives had been enormously enriched, and the Saint Sophia community has improved.
As per the report, in his speech, Father Bakas noted that "we are all stars" and advised everyone to share the many abilities they possess in order to foster further and improve the Saint Sophia community. He made a point to express his gratitude to all of the benefactors, including Michael Huffington, Tom Hanks, and Rita Wilson, among others.
Proceeds from the Tribute Gala will go toward supporting the Saint Sophia community, including its various ministries, activities, and programs for young people, local community outreach and expansion, and academic and service-based scholarships.
Fr. Bakas was ordained to the diaconate on March 7, 1976, and to the Holy Priesthood on Jan. 21, 1979, both by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos. During his time in office, he has been a spiritual guide and inspiration to numerous people.
He and his wife, Presvytera Maria, are devout members of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church, and they have raised four children to adulthood.
About Saint Sophia Cathedral
At Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, individuals of a wide variety of racial, cultural, and economic origins find their way into Orthodox Christianity and experience a sense of belonging there. The Orthodox Christian religion is to be preserved, practiced, and proclaimed as its mission at all times.
According to its website, Saint Sophia Cathedral has been declared a historical landmark in the City of Los Angeles.
Moreover, the Sextons, and more recently, the Docents, have always welcomed visitors and given them tours of the Cathedral. The Cathedral is constantly developing into a central part of the Byzantine-Latino Quarter's vibrant community rather than a solitary landmark.