In 1991, four Orthodox Christians met with His Grace Bishop Methodios (now His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios) to discuss the possibility of starting an Orthodox church in the 95/495 area where many young families had settled and where the presence of an Orthodox parish was lacking. Together with His Eminence, who strongly encouraged the idea, they formulated a mission statement which engendered great enthusiasm among clergy and laity throughout the Archdiocese. The words "prototype" and "the future of Orthodoxy in America" were often heard.
Soon, approximately fifty others joined the effort to create a new parish, all sharing and supporting the vision of a church with a powerful mission statement:
"TO SERVE THE RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS OF ALL GREEK OTHODOX CHRISTIANS, CONVERTS, THOSE OF INTER-FAITH MARRIAGES, AND THE ‘UNCHURCHED’ LIVING IN THE 95/495 AREA, AND ESPECIALLY, THOUGH NOT EXCLUSIVELY, THOSE WHOSE MOTHER TONGUE IS ENGLISH.”
United in purpose, they rented a tiny building in Norwood, MA. Working with great commitment and dedication; they created an Orthodox house of worship in a very small space. On Sunday, May 10, 1992 the first Divine Liturgy was led by Father George Economou, who had been assigned by His Eminence to serve the parish.
Almost immediately the congregation outgrew the Norwood church, and a committee was formed to pursue a larger facility. Eventually, the parish rented a warehouse five miles south in Sharon, MA. Once again, committed and dedicated volunteers worked night and day giving generously of their time, talent and treasure. Their efforts, under the caring guidance of Father Stanley Harakas (the second priest assigned to the church), bore much spiritual fruit. Shortly afterwards the church, which had been known as the Greek Orthodox Parish of Rtes. 95/495, received its proper name: Saint Gregory the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church.
In 1995, Father Michael Bird was assigned to the parish and joined in the effort to find a permanent location for Saint Gregory. In 1997, after much prayer and through the Grace of God, an existing church building situated on 8 acres was found in the town of Mansfield, MA, almost exactly where Routes 95 and 495 intersect. It is difficult to describe the fervor with which the parishioners transformed—almost overnight—a neglected building into a magnificent Orthodox Christian church building. With love and devotion, they worked tirelessly to construct a narthex, nave, sanctuary, refurbished classrooms, offices, a social hall and, later, a bookstore and library.
Upon the retirement of Father Michael, Father Ted Toppses, became the 4th Priest to serve Saint Gregory, conducting his first Divine Liturgy on August 15, 2014. Fr. Ted marked his tenure by helping Saint Gregory through the grieving process after Father Michael Bird’s passing, the glorious celebration of their 25th Anniversary and the completion of their beautiful icon screen.
Since September 20, 2020, following Father Ted’s reassignment to Saint Catherine Church in Braintree, MA, Father Alex Chetsas has been the shepherd of the parish.
As we look to the years to come, may God give us the strength, wisdom and courage to serve the Gospel of our Lord and continue to bring our mission statement to fruition. Finally, may we always be true to Christ’s great exhortation: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of the age." (Matthew 28: 19 - 20)