Our Founder-The Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Gambrilis
Honoring 50 Years of Service in His Vineyard
Golden Jubilee Celebration
A Lifetime of Great Accomplishments
“I came not to be served, but to serve"
At the age of five, he was dedicated by his pious mother to the Monastery of Osios Loukas (St. Luke), where her brother, Michael Oikonomos, was a monk. From the monk Daniel Kinias, the future Priest learned his first lessons of Christian principles. While at the High School of Patras, he was recalled to the Monastery, where he received the tonsure and habit of a monk. As is the custom, his name was then changed to Daniel.
On September 4, 1912, he was ordained a Deacon by the late Metropolitan Thebon and Levadias Senesios and served as Archdeacon in the Cathedral for two years. The Most Rev. Senesios then appointed him Counselor of his Monastery to which he returned.
On December 18, 1916, the late Metropolitan ordained him a Priest. In 1918 the Abbot of the Monastery appointed him pastor of the order’s Church of the Evangelist Loukas in Patras, where Father Daniel served until January 1921. In 1921, the Premier of Greece, the late Demetrios Gounaris, selected Father Gambrilis for an important nationalistic assignment and he was sent to the United States.
Upon completing the assigned project to the satisfaction of the Greek government, and seeing the great need of our Holy Orthodox Church for clergymen in this country, the Very Rev. Gambrilis decided to remain for what was to be a temporary stay that became permanent.
Father’s first Pastorship was at the Community of All Saints in Joliet, Illinois. While serving in Joliet, Father Daniel made regular visitations to the neighboring City of Kankakee, Illinois, to serve the faithful of that area. With the help of the local Greek-Americans, he built the beautiful Church of the Annunciation and began the Greek School , in which he taught for several years.
After six years of Pastorship in Joliet, the Very Rev. Gambrilis was called upon in May 1927 to establish and assume the Pastorship of the Holy Church of St. Nicholas, which was completely unorganized and without parishioners. The Protestant Building of Worship was purchased by the community of “Holy Trinity” to serve its members in the southern part of Chicago. He then decided to enroll in the Detroit Institute of Theology and there completed his theological studies.
With the aid of God and the help of the Patron Saint of the Parish, Father Daniel was able to establish a Parish which became respected throughout the city. It was not an easy task, but with his characteristic drive of overcoming great obstacles, Father formed the nucleus of our now envied Parish. With the help of priceless, deeply religious and dedicated co-workers, the laity, he was able to transform the old and neglected place of worship into the most beautifully decorated Church, in which we today offer praise and glory to Almighty God.
He formed the evening Greek School, which has 100-150 pupils annually, and which he supervised for over 20 years. Not neglecting the spiritual training of the children, he established the Sunday School department so that future Orthodox might learn our Holy Orthodox Doctrines.
An untiring worker, Father Daniel did not stint in giving of himself for the progress of his Parish. No task was too humble, and many will recall that during the remodeling of the Church, he would help the workers in the building process. No matter what time of day, or what the weather, this dedicated Priest would go forth to any lengths to see and obtain any contribution, large or small, to complete the project.
But Father Daniel did not always ask others to give. He was not seem only when the Parish had a need, but would speed to give a helping hand to his flock. Like a true Shepherd of Christ, he was always ready to help those in need. He denied himself that others in greater need might meet their obligations. One of the reasons his parishioners love him, is that he never refused assistance to anyone. Indeed many times he sped to help a family in difficult moments without being asked.
It was this faith, this love of God and of his fellow man that led this worthy Priest to establish and raise the Parish of St. Nicholas to the peak that it is today, the pride of Orthodoxy.
The Holy Church, cognizant of his many qualities and of his work, honored him in many ways and gave the title of Archdiocesan Counselor and of Patriarchal Representative, serving the then Archbishop, and now His All-Holiness Athenagoras (our Ecumenical Patriarch) and his successors, the late Archbishop Michael and our present Archbishop Iakovos, in matters of trust. Many times he was selected as the person to govern the Second Archdiocesan District.
Perhaps one of his greatest achievements, and one that shows his abilities, is the method whereby the educational unit, the School Building, was purchased about 15 years ago.
A group of established members of the Parish was called to meet with Father in a matter of great importance. When the group arrived at the meeting, they found their Pastor ready with a great plan. He explained to them the need for the purchase of the school building and began the drive himself making a donation of two thousand dollars. Enthused by his explanation of the need and by his example, the 21 persons that evening donated $31,000 and the next day this sum was supplemented by additional donations of $24,000. Within 24 hours, $55,000 was collected; and the spacious School, named Homer, became the property of the Parish. This example of the purchase of a building in only one day will be difficult for others to imitate.
A progressive Philoptochos Society started by Father has offered great services to the Parish. He founded the Ladies Auxiliary which is the first among all, in service and cooperation; the Society of Young Ladies Zoodochos Pighe; the choir, considered one of the best in Chicago; “The Holy Flame” Youth Society, and other organizations.
Among his many great accomplishments of sponsorships must also be listed the religious movie travelogue, “Grecian Panorama,” which gives an insight to religious and nationalistic life seen by few tourists in Greece, the Holy Land, and the Holy Patriarchate.
Among the many Parishes he has helped start or establish is also the Parish of St. Spyridon in Pullman, Illinois. Numerous are the Communities and clergy who have received his advice and counsel.
His driving force was not restricted only to religious matters, but extended to nationalistic and community-wide affairs. During World War II, as Archdiocesan Counselor he served as Chairman of various committees for fund-raising and gave devoted patriotic concern that Greece receives her due credit and assistance for her sacrifices. He founded the Omosmondia Stereas Ellados and was the Supreme President for several years. During his administration, three mobile hospital units were delivered to the Greek government for use in Sterea Hellas. Surgical supplies were sent to the regional hospitals by the Federation and the New York chapter “Athanasios Diakos.” Under his chairmanship, a scholarship was established for a blind student in Greece.
In his place of birth, Distomo, at his own expense, he built a school in memory of his parents. Here, also through his efforts and the Patriotic Society of Distomitans of Chicago, $10,000 was sent in 1955 to King Paul for the establishment of a permanent Trades School in Distomo to be sustained by His Majesty’s Foundation. The Building will cost in excess of $20,000, and is now under construction.
His ethnic and community service was recognized by the King of Greece, Paul I, who honored him with the Golden Cross of the Tagmatos of George I, a rarely given honor. His All-Holiness, Athenagoras I, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the Holy Synod of the Great Church of Christ is honoring him with a Patriarchal Office, which entitles him to wearing the Mandia and carrying the Pastoral Rod; the church of St. Nicholas being made a Patriarchal Shrine and Rt. Rev. Gambrilis its abbot. This is the first such honor given a Church or a Priest in this country and is worthy tribute to this outstanding man.
Our prayer is that God grant this worthy servant in His Vineyard many years of service, that he might help and counsel us further. We are humbly proud of him and grateful to him for his endeavors in our behalf; in religious, ethnic, cultural and domestic efforts; and for the unbounding inspirational contributions he has made to us all.