The Rev. Ted Toppses moved to Lewiston from a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the months immediately after 9/11.
Almost nine years later, the priest of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church has found a home in the small church at 155 Hogan Road and has found a warm community in which to raise a family. Toppses and his wife, Vicki, have two girls: Nicole, 8, and Julianna, almost 6. Later this month, Father Ted plans to lead a celebration of the parish’s 100th birthday.
Name: Rev. Ted Toppses
Hometown: East Greenbush, N.Y.
Current Town: Lewiston
Married, relationship or single? Married
Job: Priest, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
You grew up in a Greek Orthodox household. What are your first memories of the church? My first memories are of my grandfather bringing me into the Altar as a young 6-year-old boy to serve. I remember the feeling of awe and amazement; wanting to learn as much as I could about what was going on in the service.
Was Greek a tough language to learn? How is it different than learning English? Because my mother was born in Greece, Greek was my first language I learned as a child. I felt it was actually easier than English in many ways. I just think any language you are not immersed in seems harder to learn.
We all love Greek food. What’s your favorite and why? I love pasticho — a Greek type of lasagna — because of the way it tastes and the memories of my grandmother making it for us every Sunday. The warm cream sauce over the pasta and hearty meat sauce; it is the Greek comfort food.
When did you first consider the priesthood? When I was a youth, about 8 years old, and then again when I finished high school. I was encouraged by my parents not to go yet, but to continue with my education before making a final decision about going to the seminary to become a priest. It was after I graduated from Sienna College and during my first job that I made my final decision to answer God’s call.
If you hadn’t become a priest, what career might you have chosen? I suppose I would have continued in the upper-level management program I was in with a major corporation. I had just finished their management training program when had to answer the call for God, so I left the job for the seminary.
What was your first impression of Lewiston-Auburn? How has that impression changed? In some ways it reminded me of my hometown of East Greenbush, N.Y. (a suburb of Albany). East Greenbush is a small town where everyone knows your name and your family. Lewiston was where my wife and I wanted to raise a family, and the pace in Lewiston is a lot slower and values are held more dearly than in the other metropolitan cities that we used to live in.
What do you do for fun? I love to fish, bike, play tennis and play with my family. Oh, and I am a big hockey fan and just love the Maineiacs!
Can you do the Zorba dance? I used to do this dance many, many years ago, but haven’t done it for years. As a Greek Orthodox priest, I am restricted to dancing only certain types of dances — not to make a spectacle of one’s self. You may see me dance once or twice with my wife at a wedding, but rarely do I dance the Greek dances.
In an area like L-A, where many people are uninformed about the Greek Orthodox Church, are people surprised to learn that you are a priest and married with children? It was really shocking when we first moved here and people assumed I was a Catholic priest (because I wear a collar). I would get stares when I would be holding my wife’s hand in public and I would be with my children. They would assume the worst! But now that we have been here for almost nine years, I think people do recognize me as the Greek Orthodox priest, and in the Orthodox Church we do have married clergy. I usually get positive reactions.
You seem like such a positive person. What keeps you so happy? Oh, I do have my down times now and then, but I think when I am happy, I feel that I am doing something very special and worthwhile. God carries me through and gives me strength to share his love. I am happy to be with people because each person is a special gift from God, a relative in God’s family. We all share in each other’s pain and joy. I am so grateful that God has given me such a gift of sharing his love with others.