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Husband-wife team to lead Massena and Malone Episcopal churches

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MASSENA — A husband and wife team has moved from Wisconsin to Northern New York to take over as the rectors of the Episcopal churches in Massena and Malone.

The Revs. Elizabeth and Tom Papazoglakis arrived this week and said they are looking forward to their first services at their new churches.

The Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis is the new rector of St. John’s in Massena, while the Rev. Mr. Papazoglakis is the new rector of St. Mark’s in Malone — though they will swap on occasion.

“We’re functioning as a clergy team,” the Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said.

“I’m her assistant here. She’s my assistant there,” the Rev. Mr. Papazoglakis said. “We both have a variety of experiences in our background.”

The Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis, a native of Louisiana who was ordained in 2010, said she officially will begin at St. John’s on March 17, just in time for Holy Week and Easter. Her husband was ordained in 2002. They have three daughters and three grandchildren.

“I felt called by God,” the Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said. “That’s what starts the ball rolling.”

Before arriving in Massena, she was assigned to Trinity Episcopal Church in Wauwatosa, Wis. Her husband was assigned to St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church in Pewaukee, Wis.

They said the priests and the church get to choose if they’re a good fit for each other, and that was the case in Massena and Malone. They came to visit Massena, and the Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said that when they left, “it felt like we left family.”

“God’s will brought us here,” the Rev. Mr. Papazoglakis said.

“We were attracted to the Diocese of Albany,” his wife said.

Sonya A. Boyce, chairwoman of the St. John’s search committee, said the parish is happy to have brought the Papazoglakis family to the north country.

“They were sent to us by God. Mother Elizabeth is especially warm and gracious and generous and definitely wants to meet and care for people. They’re a team,” she said.

As they settle in to their new roles, one of their goals is to meet and get to know their church members. The Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said she will look on this Sunday as the Rev. Charles S. Smith leads St. John’s for the last time.

“Our first goal is to know everybody. We want to know the story of the people,” the Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said.

They also want to work collaboratively with other clergy who make up the Greater Massena Ministerial Association, the Rev. Mr. Papazoglakis said.

At the same time, they welcome others who want to join their church community.

“We would like to find people who don’t know Jesus Christ and don’t know the love of Jesus Christ. These are tough times with the economy. People are hurting for a variety of reasons. We just want to bring people in and let them know the love of Christ and share God’s house with other people to help them understand they’re not alone,” the Rev. Mr. Papazoglakis said.

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