Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Schwarma With Your Pierogis? A World Of Food At The St. Matthew Festival

This weekend's festival at St. Matthew in Columbia is why I love eating in America.

The Orthodox church that meets in Columbia is holding its second "multi-cultural festival" this weekend, October 3-4, 2009 at the King's Contrivance Village Center. They're offering crafts, kids' activities, and other fun. But the HowChow angle is that St. Matthew's is serving "home-cooked" food that ranges from Lebanon to Russia, and you can mix and match your way around the map.

How about a Lebanese lamb schwarma with a side of Polish pierogis? Or Greek spanakopita and then a plate of Romanian mititei -- grilled meat rolls served with mustard? Or those nut horns in the photo above? The St. Matthew festival menu offers all those plus dolmades, gyros, stuffed cabbages, borsch and kielbasi, along with Mexican and American favorites like enchiladas, ribs and hot dogs. The parishioners are cooking it all on site -- often from family recipes, according to Andrea who sent me a tip. This is the variety that makes me love the Asian grocery stores in Howard County that sell Japan, Korea and Mexico on a single aisle.

The festival runs 11 am to 9 pm on October 3 and 1 pm to 7 pm on October 4. There is free entertainment, including music and dancing from Spain, Poland, Greece and Polynesia. Click here for more about the St. Matthew Festival.

(Update: On April 27, 2010, I am turning off the comments here.  This festival is long over, and the comments are way off subject for a food blog.)


John said...

I love this site! It seems I find something new almost every week. And that's coming from a long time Columbia resident!

HowChow said...


Hungry Bob said...

I'll be sure to make this one! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The presiding priest of the parish, Fr. Raymond Velencia, has been sued by a former parishioner for abusing the seal of confession and discriminating against her in the workplace, among other things. Fr. Velencia has yet to be disciplined by his superiors. You may read more about the case at http://pokrov.org/display.asp?ds=Article&id=1111 . I would encourage you NOT to attend or support this event in any manner.

Anonymous said...

You should be ashamed of yourself HOWCHOW!!!!, take this add DOWN for the St Matthew Festival. LEARN THE FACTS. In addition to violating HUD federal rules, the presiding priest of the parish, Fr. Raymond Velencia, has been sued by a former parishioner for abusing the seal of confession and discriminating against her in the workplace, among other things. Fr. Velencia has yet to be disciplined by his superiors. You may read more about the case at http://pokrov.org/display.asp?ds=Article&id=1111 . I would encourage you NOT to attend or support this event in any manner.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what cultures and races are represented in the St. Matthew House clergy and parishioners????????? I have personally witnessed racist comments by staff there after Hurricane Katrina. It was extremely sad and made me sad that this was in Howard County. LEARN THE FACTS,
DO NOT SUPPORT the criminals at St. Matthews house. Father Ray has already done enough damage to good people.

djas4032 said...

The anonymous author(s) of these posts appears to be Kristine and/or Nick Koumentakos who are currently plaintiffs in Case 13C08073089 being heard in the Circuit Court for Howard County, MD. The case concerns matters evolving from Ms Koumentakos being fired in Feb. 2006 from a charitable non-profit organization of which Fr. Velencia is the president of the Board of Directors.
In Jan. 2007, 24 hours after receiving her complaints, the parent church (OCA) initiated a preliminary investigation which produced about 700 pages of testimony, witness statements and other documents. In June 2007, it concluded that the source of the alleged violation of the seal of confession might be (and likely is) the complainant herself and that it appeared that Fr. Velencia violated no canonical and/or doctrinal teachings of the church. In addition, the associate priest asserts that Ms Koumentakos never received confession from either Fr. Velencia or himself.
On several occasions the parent church offered the opportunity for a formal church hearing which, by church statutes, require the accuser agree in advance that the decision of the church court is final and non-appealable to the civil courts. Ms Koumentakos decided to pursue the matter in civil court.
According to the case details available on the web, on 22 April 2009 the court decided in favor of Fr. Velencia and dismissed with prejudice counts 3 and 4. In particular, count 3 concerned making false statements while count 4 was the allegation, repeated in the posting, that the seal of confession was violated. Since the court dismissed the counts “with prejudice” it means that they were dismissed for good reason and the plaintiff is barred from bringing actions on the same claims. Similarly, on 17 Aug. 2009, the court granted a determination in favor of the parent church on all counts. The case has not yet concluded and is currently active. More information can be found at: http://stmatthewsmd.info/
Please note that these events have brought profound and heartfelt spiritual sadness to all who have become aware of this matter.

Anonymous said...

It's confidential but I'm guessing they settled for at least $2 million or so given the extent of Valencia's actions. Doesn't make things better though until Valencia IS DISCIPLINED and not allowed to hurt others.

News From Around the OCA

• Columbia MD

The Koumentakos lawsuit has been settled. Contrary to some internet reports, the OCA was dismissed from the case (in April 2009).....based on First Amendment grounds. The OCA, therefore, was not party to this settlement. However, the settlement does follow an apology from Metropolitan Jonah to the Koumentakoses that the issue was not dealt with “in a pastoral manner” (and that personal information was shared improperly). The records from the two-year old case have been sealed and the terms of the settlement will not be made public. ---- ocanews.org 4/19/10

Anonymous said...

If Valencia did nothing wrong then why is there a need for a confidential and sealed settlement? Give that some thought, Einstein!

Anonymous said...

Barring intervention and discipline of this priest (the absence of which speaks loudly on the part of the oca), a call for a boycott or withdraw of financial support is not unreasonable. there is not interest in destroying anything or anyone...only to prevent this from happening to others and if the church won't address this priest firmly and decisively, then warning others is the least that can be done, and follows Christ. Also, preventing Valencia from hurting others HELPS the church follow Christ!

Anonymous said...

I'm so saddened to see how confused djas4032 is. How can you say this has brought on spritual sadness when your priest is the cause of so much wrongdoing and hatred. How could a priest and your church support such a hateful website about the Koumentakos family. For shame!
Anyone viewing that site, including those without knowledge of the case or the players in the case are repulsed -- you continue to HURT YOUR CAUSE, and show your true colors by doing this. In fact, I showed it to many friends and family members and they unanimously agreed that they'd never go to a church so obviously filled with hate.
Here are the facts:
1. The word is out that the national church never offered a hearing of any kind. They only attempted to bully the Koumentakoses into signing a release protecting the national church from liability.
2. The word is out that the national church is in the process of reviewing and changing their policies, including forcing victims to sign releases in order to get a fair investigation.
3. The word is out that the priest involved is heading for a spiritual court...I hope he gets defrocked because what he did is reprehensible.
4. The word is out that there was a settlement in the case....I hope it was huge and that it will be made public. And I hope they file a civil suit against the shameful website creator (s) as well.
5. The word is out that the judge did not dismiss the count against the church based on the merits of the case. He dismissed the counts based on First Amendment arguments, stating that even if the priest committed these breaches, the church is hierarchical and the court cannot get involved in matters of church discipline.
6. The word is out that the head of the national church published an apology to the Koumentakoses on their website and in their magazine.
7. The word is out that Howard County ruled twice against your priest when he fired Ms. Koumentakos late in her pregnancy.
You know very well what is right and wrong here. Don't confuse yourself any further!
But if you continue like this, and your parish plans another festival, I hope it will be boycotted more widely. I will help!

Anonymous said...

Statement issued by Metropolitan Jonah
Posted 03/05
SYOSSET, NY [OCA]-- After discussions that took place at the joint session of the Lesser Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America at the Chancery here during the first week of March 2010, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah issued the following statement.
"As the Archbishop of Washington, certain matters of the dispute between the Archpriest Raymond Velencia, Pastor of Saint Matthew Church in Columbia, MD, and Kristine Koumentakos fall under our hierarchical/diocesan oversight. This has also been a serious concern within the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America. Complaints from Ms. Koumentakos were brought to the attention of the administration of the Orthodox Church in America in January 2007. An investigation by the Orthodox Church in America took place in the early part of 2007. Ms. Koumentakos protested that the investigation was incomplete and brought her concerns to the members of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council during the summer of 2007. The response to Ms. Koumentakos by the Orthodox Church in America was inadequate. During that time a private letter containing sensitive information was improperly shared with members of the Metropolitan Council.
"I apologize, on behalf of the Orthodox Church in America, to Kristine Koumentakos and to her family, for the lack of pastoral attentiveness and sensitivity to the matters at hand. The lawsuits that came about as a result of the disagreement between Ms. Koumentakos and Father Velencia were most unfortunate and should have been avoided. At this time the Orthodox Church in America is in the process of revising and updating its policies, Standards and Procedures that address questions of alleged misconduct. Together with that there is an ongoing review of how to respond to complicated pastoral issues, conduct pastoral investigations, provide pastoral comfort and address allegations of misconduct. We will do all in our power to insure that the response and intervention in such matters of alleged misconduct will be ethical, professional and proper, as is befitting the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the teachings and canons of the Orthodox Church."