Ancient. Modern. Unbroken. Dynamic. Salvific.
For more than a century the Dormition Church has been a spiritual center for generations of Greek Orthodox Christians, engaging in Christ-centered activities, outreach, and celebrating the sacraments.
The Dormition Church in Somerville has been the central anchor in the troubled waters of the world for over a century, and, God-willing, for many more years. In the early twentieth century, many Greek immigrants came to this area from Asia Minor as a result of the Asia Minor Catastrophe and the subsequent Population Exchanges between Greece and Turkey. Many of these early immigrants found jobs in the local factories and plants that once filled the area around Somerville. They were joined by subsequent waves of immigrants from Greece and other areas, seeking opportunities and a new life here in America. Through the hard work and determination of these early immigrants, the Dormition Church was established in Somerville.
The Dormition Church has ministered to generations of Greek Americans and other Orthodox Christians, and it has always been a beacon of the Orthodox faith, from its location on the top of the hill on Central Street, to these and to the wider Somerville community.
Private, 1st Class, George Dilboy (b. 1896 - d. 1918)
United States Army, Company H, 103d, Infantry, 26th Division, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient (1919)
The memory of George Dilboy is legendary at the Dormition Church and is wider Somerville, Massachusetts. George Dilboy was born on February 5, 1896 in Alatsata, a flourishing village in Asia Minor where many Somerville families emigrated from. The Dilboy family were among the first parishioners of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Somerville, after they came to the United States.
George Dilboy had six brothers and two sisters. His family fled increasing Ottoman persecution in Asia Minor and immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island. He lived on Poplar and Linwood Streets in the “Brickbottom” section of East Somerville. At the age of 16, he returned to his native land and fought for Greece in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13.
George and one of his brothers arrived back in Somerville to join their family. They found work at local Swift's meatpacking plant, the Boston hotels, and other industries in the area. George went to school here and got a job in the laundry room at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also worked as a busboy at the Georgian Café and at the Copley Square Hotel as a bellhop.
When war against Germany was declared in 1917, George Dilboy joined the United States Army and served in the battle of Belleau Wood in France when his unit came under heavy attack. German machine guns punished Dilboy’s platoon. A German sniper shot him twice, but he single-handedly knocked out a pillbox that contained a machine gun crew to successfully beat back the German Army, and he gave his life for the United States on July 18, 1918.
As a result, George Dilboy of Somerville, Massachusetts was the first Greek American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest decoration for valor. George Dilboy is interred in Arlington Cemetary in our Nation’s capital and has been honored by three US presidents; Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge.
When Dilboy’s father was presented his Medal of Honor in 1919 he remarked:
“In other circumstances I would have shed tears because of my son’s death, but when I learned of the manner in which he died, I was proud that he had given his life with honor to the cause of his adopted country, the United States.”
Each year, the Dormition Church lays a wreath at the George Dilboy statue, which is located in front of the Somerville City Hall. Hierarchs often lead the Dormition community in saying the Trisagion memorial service, and a 21-Gun Salute is offered by American Legion Post 1 and the Somerville Honor Guard. May his memory be eternal!
Harry Agritha. “Somerville Honoring George Dilboy.” The Somerville/Medford News Weekly. March 6, 2023 (available at: https://thesomervillenewsweekly.blog/2023/03/06/somerville-honoring-george-dilboy/)
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston. The Greek Orthodox Churches of New England: The Metropolis of Boston and its Parishes. Brookline: The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, 2010.