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Looks like Utah's Greek Orthodox community soon will be getting a home-grown priest.

Starting on Sept. 1, Anthony — Tony, to his friends — Savas will be the full-time priest at the newly created Greek Orthodox Mission Parish.

Savas, a native Salt Laker, earned a degree in journalism from Westminster College in 1990. Seven years later, he received his master of divinity from the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and then was assigned to serve a Dallas church, where he remained for eight years.

In 2005, Savas was reassigned to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Northridge, Calif., where he worked for until recently.

The move to Utah was approved by Metropolitan Isaiah, regional head of the Greek Orthodox Church.

"I first met Father Anthony when we were served together at Ionian Village in 2003," Charles Beck, president of the Utah's Greek Orthodox Mission Parish, wrote in an email to members.

Beck said he was "impressed by [the priest's] humility and approachability, and particularly how well he interacted with the young people."

The church, meeting in leased space from St. Thomas More Catholic Church at 3015 Creek Road in Cottonwood Heights, is "especially blessed," Beck wrote, "to have him as our parish's first full-time priest."

Savas' wife, Andrea Zoumadakis Savas, also hails from the Beehive State. The couple, with their four children — Damian, Alexia, Markella, and Dimitri — will move to Utah toward summer's end.

The priest will conduct his first service at the mission parish Sept. 6, the mission's one-year anniversary.

"Who could deny that the hand of God has been overtly active," Beck said, "in the astonishingly rapid development of our parish?"

Peggy Fletcher Stack