Listen to your mother!

Louie cleaning palms for Palm Sunday

Louie cleaning palms for Palm Sunday

Louie Xigogianis share a portion of his faith story and how he ended up at St. Mark's. As you read his story, you will hear themes regarding the importance of giving our time, talent and financial resources to the church, as well as the important role parents play in instilling values such as dedication, commitment, and determination.

My journey to St. Mark’s is a modern Greek religious Odyssey. Stage one begins in Illinois where I was born to a Greek Orthodox couple, the mother of which embraced her religion devoutly. She expected here four children to do likewise. We had to attend church regularly, serve as acolytes, and sing in the choir. We were constantly making the sign of the cross in or out of church. We were required to fast, to attend services even on Saints days and to kneel before our parents and ask forgiveness prior to communion. Get the picture?

I joined the Navy in 1953 to avoid being drafted and that marks the second stage of my journey here. The Greek priest told me that when I was stationed somewhere where there was no Greek Church, I could attend the Episcopal Church. My mother was somewhat assuaged with this news for the thought of my missing Mass was anathema.

After I got out of the Navy in 1957, I eventually found my way back to Hawaii in 1959 to make my home and to take a teaching position at Punahou School. There was still no Greek Church here, so I went to St. Andrew’s Cathedral, joined the choir, and was a member for 34 years.

In 1976, mother came to live with me since her kidneys were failing and she needed to be dialyzed. By now there was a Greek Church in Hawaii. She preferred that I attend the Greek Church with her, but she acquiesced to my singing at St. Andrew’s since I was serving the Lord. Mother died in 1984 after eight uncomfortable years on the kidney machine. She decided, with the doctors’ permission, to unplug herself and that she did! She was strong willed. Her death didn’t quiet here voice in my head though.

Once I told her that the St Andrew’s choir would be on a month’s vacation in August, and I wouldn’t be attending church during that time. She shot back with  “We don’t take vacations from God. Neither do we wear jeans or shorts to church. In addition, fast during Lent and don’t eat before communion.” Her voice never leaves me!

I’m a full-fledged member of St. Mark’s after 16 years of attending, pledging, volunteering for Vestry, the Queen Emma Outreach Guild, Project Dana, and the seniors of St. Mark’s plus several other duties. I enjoy the Anglican Services here since they are similar to the Greek Orthodox Services I grew up with. The people here are friendly, welcoming, and willing to help. We are one Christian ohana with an assortment of loving, caring members. I remember clearly after I had done my singing and Greek dancing at a church social event here, that Violet Mossman came up to me afterwards to praise my performance, but also to let me know that I didn’t kick as high as I used to. I told her I was getting older.

Inspiring me to do what I do here is my mother’s voice admonishing, scolding, and guiding me. So, listen to mother and attend church regularly!

Louie Xigogianis