A veteran of two wars, WWII and Korea, Emmanuel Leventelis is also a member of the only Greek-American Veterans of Foreign War Post 6633. His military service and dedication to veterans are well known in the community and amongst his peers.
However, Manny is also known in the community, as a man of faith and unwavering loyalty to his church, St. Demetrios in Upper Darby. Leventelis has been a member of several churches, including St. Nicholas in Atlantic City, where he spent his childhood and Evangelismos in old Greektown in Philadelphia. But as a founder and lifelong member of St. Demetrios, it is there, where his roots are embedded deepest.
“There is a sense of Hellenism and tradition at St. Demetrios that gives me the comfort I find nowhere else. It’s my home”, says Leventelis. When the Greek community expanded into West Philadelphia from the center of the city, they were looking to establish a new parish. Leventelis and his family were part of those pioneers. They settled the newly formed congregation. First, at 59th and Larchwood, where the parishioners purchased an old church. At that time, they were known as St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Evangelismos.
And then, in 1965, with the birth of a new Greektown in Upper Darby, they moved again from West Philadelphia just over the border, where their new and permanent home is today.
Leventelis raised his family there and worked for his church in many different areas. From the building committee to church President he’s been there through the church’s 75-year history.
Today, Leventelis has remained steadfast. A Greek Orthodox Christian, devoted father and family man. His service to country and community symbolize the Greek-American journey.
Originally published on Cosmos Philly by Eleftherios Kostans. Video by Vasilis Keisoglou.