Source: The National Herald
Rev. Anastasios Gounaris, former presiding priest of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, FL, who last June abruptly left his parish and family and departed the United States for an unknown destination, now lives in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada with his mistress, Patricia T., TNH has learned. The love story between Fr. Gounaris and Canadian Patricia, who is said to be wealthy, began in 2012 or even before that in Chania, Crete, where she and her husband are building a summer home for their retirement there.
Both Gounaris and Patricia are married with three adult children and grandchildren. Over the last few years the couple was planning to abandon their families without any notice and fly to Grete.
While in Crete, Patricia convinced her husband to fly there, but when he arrived he found the locks changed. When she broke the news of her love affair to him, Gounaris was hiding in the house. The husband tried to convince her to return to Canada with him in order to save their marriage, but she refused.
In May, Patricia went to Florida, pretending to visit relatives and friends, but really was there with Gounaris. The couple plans to return to Chania in the spring.
Recently, Gounaris and Patricia returned to Tarpon Springs to gather his belongings, which he had stored in warehouse. Parish Council President Nikitas Manias took the couple to dinner.
His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta told TNH that “I tried to help Fr. Gounaris without knowing what condition he was in. I knew him from the time of the late Bishop Filippos in Astoria, who was Presbytera Maria’s uncle. I met Fr. Gounaris then, and I considered him a cleric who loved and cared for the Church. In my mind, I thought I was doing something honorable to the memory of Bishop Filippos.”
Metropolitan Alexios said that “Fr. Gounaris hasn’t communicated with me since his departure last June and from what I have learned he hasn’t communicated with his wife, either. I was informed by the parish council president that he visited the United States and he went to Tarpon to pick up his personal belongings, and he said that he feels bad and that he will try to communicate with me.”
So what will the Church do about Fr. Gounaris? “I have placed him on indefinite suspension,” Alexios said. “I don’t know where he is and I can’t contact him. As soon as I am able to communicate with him I will ask him to appear in front of the First Degree Spiritual Court.”
Neither Gounaris nor Patricia responded to TNH’s request for comment. TNH was unable to reach Presbytera Maria Gounaris, who after Gounaris’ departure left Tarpon Springs to be close to her daughter, in Indianapolis.
In an email sent to his parishioners on June 11, Fr. Gounaris wrote among other things that “it has been an honor serving Christ’s Church for nearly 32 years and to have had the privilege of serving St. Nicholas Cathedral for the past year. During that year I have been fortunate to benefit from the welcome, advice, support and assistance of many of you. However it is, at best, naive to believe that one priest can serve such a busy and thriving parish non-stop without it exacting an emotional and physical toll. After much soul-searching, this led to my decision to relinquish my parish duties and leave the active priesthood. I am convinced that no one benefits when a priest has been stretched beyond his human limits. Going forward I will have limited access to this e-mail account. Those e-mailing me should not expect a response, as I will have limited access to e-mail and phone going forward and will be retreating to assess my future course.”
“I am grateful to Metropolitan Alexios, Metropolitan Nikitas and Father Rousakis for their kindnesses and to Council President Nikitas Manias, Vice-President Costas Sisois and the rest of the officers and members of the Parish Council for their support.”
After an unsuccessful tenure as Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral in New York City, Gounaris was removed by Archbishop Demetrios and accepted by Metropolitan Alexios, who placed him at St. Nicholas.