Leonidas C. Contos
The Very Reverend Doctor Leonidas C. Contos was a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He is most known as President of Hellenic College Holy Cross School of Theology, and as co-founder of Narthex Press.
Leonidas Contos was born on February 18, 1920. He grew up in the Great Depression, at times selling blueberries from door-to-door to help the family.
Leonidas entered Holy Cross Seminary (Pomfret, Connecticut) in 1938. He is remembered as an excellent student, bold without brashness, dashing and daring, including with a particularly memorable prank that almost lost him his place. He met and married Athena (nee Evergates), who lived nearby. They had one daughter.
Leonidas was ordained in 1944, at the Church of the Archangels in Stamford, Connecticut, which was his first assignment. Fr Leonidas was then assigned to St Sophia, Los Angeles, where his extensive ministry in radio and television began and grew. On sabbatical, he earned a doctorate at Oxford before returning to Los Angeles.
A series of Archdiocesan assignments followed, most notably that of Ecumenical Officer. He then served as President of Hellenic College, Holy Cross School of Theology, giving new meaning and direction to the institution. It was during this time that Athena suffered from illness and subsequently reposed.
In 1979, Fr Leonidas was assigned to Belmont, California, where he went on to be Professor of Orthodox Studies at the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, Berkeley.
Fr Leonidas was a stickler for the proper conduct of worship, and was frustrated by bad translations. This caused him, with Fr Spencer Kezios, to found Narthex Press - an organisation that aimed to use elegant, contemporary and stylish language, to impart the beauty and meaning of Orthodox worship. Abp Iakovos afforded him the opportunity to concentrate on this work, and he was appointed the official translator of the Archdiocese. 11 books - 7 of them with major contributions from Fr Leonidas - had been published by the end of his life.
Fr Leonidas was known for his wit and wisdom, his oratorical ability and artful use of words. In 1995, Fr Leonidas died of cancer. His funeral was at Holy Cross Church (Belmont, California), using the translation that he himself prepared for publication. He is buried in Pomfret, next to his wife, and was survived by his daughter and grandson.