It was an honor to attend both the evening Greek Orthodox Trisagion service and the next day’s funeral for Angelo James Gineris at St. George Greek Orthodox Church. “Ange,” who died at the age of 77 from pancreatic cancer, was celebrated as a as a father, grandfather, mentor, businessman, and friend.
Holding an evening service followed by a funeral and burial the next day is a similar pattern followed by Roman Catholics, who hold an evening visitation and Rosary service where eulogies are offered by family and friends. However, the Greek Orthodox Trisagion (pronounced tri-say-on) is a markedly different service from the Rosary.
Ange’s body lay in an open casket in the funeral home chapel, surrounded by a dozen flower arrangements. The casket remained open throughout the visitation and service.
Reverend Father Conan Gill with St. George Greek Orthodox Church chanted the Trisagion liturgy, primarily in English, with bits of Greek scattered throughout. The language was poetic: “We pray for Angelo who has fallen asleep in a place of sunshine and green pastures… Everlasting be his memory… Rest in the bosom of Abraham.” He also spoke words of comfort related to scripture, saying, “Christ says death doesn’t have a sting – though you may die, you yet live again… Angleo has simply moved from linear time to God’s time.”
Ange’s three children, his wife, a sister, his grand-daughter, and friends got up to speak eulogies. They painted a portrait of a man of character, tenacious, generous, compassionate, self-reliant, and intelligent. He was his own man, felt that friendships were more important than money, and loved the banquet at the table of life. He never compromised on who he was and what he believed. Indeed, the cover of the multi-page program filled with color photos sported the Ange Gineris quote, “I did it my way.”
The funeral the next day was held at St. George Greek Orthodox Church. It is an awesome setting, with an icon-filled divider at the front, and a dome in the ceiling with a tile mosaic of Jesus’ face. Candles burn in holders of red glass, and more tile mosaics and iconic images adorn all the walls. Pallbearers escorted the casket to the front of the church as Father Gill led the way, chanting and swinging a censer dispersing aromatic incense.
A majority of the funeral service was chanted, mostly in English with some Greek, continuing the poetic imagery of the Trisagion service. The theme of the repose of the deceased, “who has fallen asleep,” emerged several times. There were readings from the Gospel of St. John, from Thessalonians 1, and II Timothy, Chapter 4: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Father Gill added words of comfort, saying, “Angelo no longer travels by our side, but watches us from far off – cheering us on in his heavenly abode.”
Attendees were then invited to come forward to greet the family in the front pew and pay their respects to Angelo. The immediate family were the last to gaze upon him and touch his face. His wife placed a white rose in the casket. The pallbearers’ white carnations were removed from their lapels and placed in the casket, and Angelo was anointed with oil and sprinkled with earth with the words, “to the earth you shall return.” The casket was closed, and Father Gill led the procession out of the church.
A motorcade followed the hearse to the cemetery for burial, and everyone was invited to the home for a reception afterward.
Rest in peace, Angelo James Gineris. May his memory be eternal.