The history of the Greek community of Greater Harrisburg is much like the history of America, in that the strong flourishing and well-populated community that we know today is the result of the courage, energy and the will to succeed of its pioneers. In the last years of the 1890's and into the early years of the present century, the young Greek immigrants began to settle into the Harrisburg area.
Among the first were the Rolles brothers (sempeles) who came to Harrisburg about 1902 and established the Greek-American Confectionery on Market Street in Harrisburg. Many a young Greek ate his first meal in town and was put up at the Greek-American. Some stayed on to become cooks, dishwashers or confectioners right on the site. Others remained to work just for a brief period of time, and then went back to Greece. And still others settled in the Harrisburg area and expanded the empire of Greek businesses.
During the twenties, the immigrants and their families, with Orthodoxy in their hearts, gathered together with the sole purpose of establishing some type of foundation upon which their religion could grow. The families gathered and decided to sponsor a visiting priest to perform the Divine Liturgy at various sites in the city.
The permanency of the community was officially recognized during the thirties via a letter issued by the Archdiocese to the first constitutional president. In 1937, the Board of Trustees petitioned the Archdiocese for a permanent priest and the Archbishop sent Rev. Tsekouras who would be one of many of the priests to serve the community over the years. Church services were conducted in paint shops, dance halls, homes, and the chapel building on 17th and State Streets where the liturgy was fully complemented with altar boys and a choir. Church services were then held at Saint Steven's Cathedral on Front Street until the church was built on Walnut Street. Archbishop Athenagoras, later Patriarch, spiritually and personally placed the community on the map among the growing numbers of Greek-American communities in the United States.
In addition to being recognized by the Archdiocese, it was during the late thirties early forties that the Greek community was beginning to be noticed by the established citizen as could be witnessed by the annual Greek participation in the ethnic folk festivals held the Forum. It was also during this period that other church organizations began to evolve and become active; among them the Greek School.
As the forties approached, the ever-growing Greek community realized the need for their own church. The properties on Walnut and Strawberry Streets were purchased, the building razed, and construction for a church and community center was begun. The first liturgy in the New Greek Orthodox Church of the Greater Harrisburg Area -the AGIA TRIAS -was celebrated in the spring of 1946.
The community began to grow quickly. More programs for the improvement of the church and community were initiated. The young people of the community participated with other Greek communities in religious and social activities. As the fifties ended, the church premises on Walnut Street were bursting at the seams again, not only with people but also with enthusiasm. This enthusiasm was directed towards the establishment of a building fund which would be utilized for a new church.
On March 5, 1967, the General Assembly approved the relocation of the church to its present site, Riverview Heights, Camp Hill.
In the summer of 1968 the ground breaking ceremony was held and parishioners with happy hearts and love for their newly acquired home became so emotional that they dipped into their pockets once again to help make this dream come true. After one and a half years, construction was completed and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Camp Hill held the official door opening services -THRANIXIA -on December 6, 1970, with His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos officiating.
In May 1980, His Grace Bishop Maximos came to our church and at a special ceremony he elevated the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church to a Cathedral, thus making it the third Cathedral in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. One year later, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral reached the climax of its history when, on May 23 and 24,1981 the consecration of the Cathedral took place.
Thus, the community of the Greater Harrisburg area has evolved. What began with a handful of immigrants who came to this land searching for a new way of life, has led to a community of nearly 550 members. What started with a handful of faithful wishing to maintain a heritage and a religion has lead to subsequent generations, immigrants from many countries, and converts wishing to hold onto the same ideals as the founders. What began with a few pioneers laying primitive foundations, has lead to a future that even they could not have envisioned -a future which continues to maintain and expand the teaching of the Greek Orthodox faith -a future which will bring additional progress and accomplishments. For where there is faith, goodness and devotion to spiritual values, there will always be a brighter tomorrow.