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Father Nicholas L. Vieron PASTOR EMERITUS at ANNUNCIATION GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH By Lesley Harris Colvett; photography by Mark O. Ramirez & courtesy of Father Vieron Father Nicholas L. Vieron is a Renaissance man. At the age of 91, “Father V” lives each day to the fullest. Father V provides a wealth of knowledge about the Greek Orthodox faith, has been teaching a 14-week adult Greek class for 45 consecutive years, and until seven years ago was an avid racquetball player. Father V was born November 13, 1925, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ironically, he lived right across the street from the first Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. Father V graduated high school when he was only 16 years old, then graduated from Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts, and married Bess, who was from Brooklyn, New York. Father V came to Memphis in 1955, when he was assigned to the Memphis Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. He also earned a Master’s Degree in History from Marshall University in Huntington, WV., and a Jurisprudence Degree from the University of Memphis School of Law. Bess worked as a Registered Nurse in Memphis for 42 years, and taught children of the Annunciation parish in the afternoon for 42 years as her “gift” to the church. Father V lights up when he talks about his family, “Bess and I are blessed with two sons, Lee, a local physician, and Paul a graduate of our HC seminary, 4 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.”

his church’s Retired Clergy Association, and for almost two decades he served as the editor of the monthly newsletter. “Over the 17 years, I never missed a deadline, even while in the hospital during my two bypass surgeries,” Father V says. There are many awards in Father V’s office at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on North Highland Street - including racquetball trophies and clippings from The Memphis Press-Scimitar and The Commercial Appeal newspapers. A couple of Memphis Touchdown Club football trophies sit on the shelves as well. “I’ve been the Chaplain for the Touchdown Club, so they gave me a lifetime membership. This is an activity that I started before my retirement, and I continue it now. I offer the prayers before all the meetings, and with the coaches...and it ends with the Liberty Bowl.” The Touchdown Club is held during the college football season, with various college coaches from area teams as guest speakers - Nick Saban from the University of Alabama, and Archie Manning of Ole Miss to name a few - and some coaches from as far away as Michigan and Notre Dame. His faith and Greek culture has truly impacted others in the Memphis community who are enrolled in his adult Greek Class at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. Here are just a few of the touching compliments Father V has received in the handwritten student evaluations: “This class is the highlight of my week,” “Through your eyes, I have seen God” and “The passion you have for God and your homeland...you have made me more interested in Greek culture.”

In 1991 Father V retired, and the present pastor of the Annunciation Church is Father Simon Thomas. “He is the most admired, loved and appreciated person in the community; a great spiritual leader,” Father V says about Father Thomas. Retirement has been fun for Father V, because “that means no meetings”, but he certainly has not stopped. As Pastor Emeritus, Father V visited small parishes across the country that may not have had a priest at the time, and he remains active in the ecumenical life of the city, as well as the Memphis Ministers Association. Also during retirement, Father V was asked to create a newsletter for 40 / June 2017

Father V is passionate about the message Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for, and on January 19, 2015, Father V received a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Be the Dream Legacy Award” for Keeping the Dream Alive. “Ever since Martin Luther King, Jr. day was declared a holiday, I have started my Greek class on that day - the third Monday of January - in honor of the fact that my students reflect a cross-section of people, the kind of world Dr. King envisioned,” Father V says. A phrase Father Vieron often includes in a prayer, especially before an Ecumenical group, is this: “Make us mindful, O Lord, that whether we worship in the Shadow of the Cross or near the Star of David or by some other symbol, we stand as brothers and sisters under the Fatherhood of our one God. Inscribe this truth, O Lord, indelibly in our hearts in black and white.”

4Memphis | June 2017  

One Night // Fashion: Down by the Little Red River // Father Nicholas L. Vieron // Dishes for Wishes // Easter Eve Concert // Roar...

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