Tarpon Springs teen to serve as Epiphany Dove Bearer - WFLA News Channel 8

Tarpon Springs teen to serve as Epiphany Dove Bearer

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Epiphany Dove Bearer Joi Theophilopoulos (left) with her mother Ellyn Theophilopoulos. Photo courtesy Joi Theophilopoulos Epiphany Dove Bearer Joi Theophilopoulos (left) with her mother Ellyn Theophilopoulos. Photo courtesy Joi Theophilopoulos
TARPON SPRINGS, FL (WFLA) - A 16-year-old Tarpon Springs girl will serve as Dove Bearer for the 2014 Epiphany celebration Monday.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral choir member Joi Theophilopoulos was selected to carry the dove for the 108th Epiphany.

The annual Greek Orthodox celebration in Tarpon Springs is one of the largest in the western hemisphere and commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan.

Theophilopoulos is a junior at Tarpon Springs High School whose family has a long involvement with the church. Her grandfather Tryphon Theophilopoulos was a priest at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral for 30 years.

"When they announced it in church everyone was saying, 'Your grandfather would be so proud.... He'll be smiling from up above,' " said the teen about the moment she learned she'll be Dove Bearer.

"I absolutely will be thinking of him the whole time," she added.

Related: 2014 Epiphany schedule

Theophilopoulos' fellow church members are very proud of her.

“Joi is a Joy… She is very full of life,” says Katie Faklis, Choir Director at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. “She’s very committed to her religion. She’s a very active member and active in school.”

Theophilopoulos will hold a dove while leading a colorful procession from St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral to Spring Bayou on Monday.

The procession will include Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodix Archdioses of America and other church dignitaries, school children in costume, choir members, Greek folk dance groups and 48 teenage boys who will dive for the cross. The cross dive is considered a right of passage for the boys and brings blessings for the boy who retrieves it. Theophilopouos' father and uncle were cross retrievers.

Theophilopoulos will release the dove at Spring Bayou prior to the cross dive. She says she's talked to previous Dove Bearers who say the moment is very special.

"I'm really excited to have that feeling," she said.

Planning on going to Epiphany?



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