A teen from Tarpon Springs is being honored with dove bearer duties at this year’s Epiphany celebration.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral announced 15-year-old Stella Bilirakis as this year’s dove bearer in the 2019 ceremony.
Per tradition, Bilirakis will sing with a choir and carry a white dove that symbolizes the Holy Spirit of the Holy Trinity of God. Then she’ll join thousands in a procession along the banks of the Spring Bayou and release the dove before the Epiphany cross is thrown into the icy cold water. Dozens of boys, ages 16 to 18, will dive in after the cross. Whoever retrieves the cross is said to receive one year of blessings.
Bilirakis, 15, was born and raised in the Tarpon Springs area. She is the daughter of Dr. Emmanuel and Maria Bilirakis. She’s enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School and spends the week tutoring children at local elementary and middle schools and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and at Florida Hospital North Pinellas.
“Her life centers around her Greek Orthodox Faith and her love for music and helping others. Fulfilling her passion for music, Stella has been a member of the Saint Nicholas choir since she was eight-years-old and plays the violin and piano,” the church said in a news release. “Stella is following in the footsteps of her older sister, Evelyn, and her Paternal Grandmother, Evelyn Bilirakis.”