The History of our Community
In the spring of 1913 a small group of Greeks decided to organize the first Greek Orthodox Community in Brooklyn. By August of the same year they started holding services in a small church on Johnson and Lawrence Streets. That was just the beginning. The members of the community wanted more. They joined their resources, collecting donations from all parts of the United States ranging from a few pennies to one hundred dollars, and acquired the property where our church is today on Schermerhorn Street. On April 16, 1916, the cornerstone of the Saints Constantine and Helen Church was laid, eventually creating the warm and welcoming Cathedral that we find ourselves in every Sunday.
A few years later, in 1922, the growing Saint Constantine community purchased a building on State Street. This building was used to provide an afternoon school for its youth and a Community Center for its many functions.
By 1929, the afternoon Greek program had begun to attract children from Manhattan, Flatbush, Nostrand, Bay Ridge and other surrounding neighborhoods. The roster, which documents the names of our early students, their parents and educators, is maintained among other valuable archives in our church.
The number of Greeks in Brooklyn kept increasing and the eagerness of the hardworking parishioners to provide the best possible education for their children within a Greek environment made the dream of a day school an ever-pressing need. A new campaign to collect funds started and, with generous donations, the doors of the brand new school opened in the fall of 1963. Named after its primary benefactor, Argyrios Fantis, the school was immediately filled with Greek-American children who would spend their full day learning and growing while strengthening their Greek identity.
The church building, which had already been expanded in 1946, was renovated again and rededicated in 1960. A true Byzantine Church with valuable icons, many by the famous iconographer Constantinos Yioussis, Sts. Constantine and Helen became Brooklyn’s Cathedral in June 1966 at the same time the community celebrated the graduation of the first eighth grade class of the A. Fantis School. The Cathedral became the center of Hellenism in Brooklyn and is visited by many dignitaries from Greece, Cyprus and the United States.