The Coastal Star

Finding Faith: Ceiling at St. Mark's offers a biblical history tour

The Rev. Mark Leondis stands at the pulpit below some of the iconography that adorns the ceilings

at St. Mark Greek Orthodox Church in Boca Raton.

Kurtis Boggs/The Coastal Star


St. Vincent Ferrer is preparing for its annual Parish Festival, set for Feb. 28-March 2.

Organizers hope to raise $100,000 to support the parish school.

Photos provided


A $2.4 million gift honors the late Norman and Ruth Rales.

INSET BELOW: Van Richards

By Tim Pallesen

    The new ceiling at St. Mark Greek Orthodox Church is theology in color.

    The vividly painted icons of Christ and other faces and symbols of the Bible will be finished this month after a 10-year project that cost $2 million.

    The Boca Raton church followed Greek Orthodox tradition for its ornate ceiling. 

    “Byzantine iconography has been called the windows to heaven,” the Rev. Mark Leondis explained. “It’s a glimpse of heaven on Earth.”

    The artist, Laurence Manos, learned the classical Byzantine style and lively use of color while living at the Mount Athos spiritual center in Greece. Manos has been painting the ceilings of Greek Orthodox churches in America since 1986.

    St. Mark’s ceiling was finished just in time for the Feb. 22 visit by Archbishop Demetrios, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, to consecrate the sanctuary.


    Mormons, take note! The first Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Florida opens next month in Fort Lauderdale.

    The temple will serve 25,000 Mormons from South Florida congregations.

    Temples are considered houses of the Lord, where Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ceremonies that unite families for eternity. The only other Florida temple is in Orlando.

    The public is invited to tour the temple from March 29 to April 19, except Sundays.

    Details at www.fort  


    The origin of the local Jewish Family Service can be traced back to the Great Depression, when a boy named Norman Rales was embraced by the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City.

    His mother had died and his father had no money to care for eight children. Rales grew up appreciating the foundation for life that his Jewish community had given him.

    Rales made a fortune in a building supply business. He retired to Boca Raton, where he established the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service in 1979 to honor his wife, who died in 2004.

    The faith-based agency offers Meals on Wheels for seniors, Holocaust survivor support, a food pantry and a Delray Beach senior center.

    Norman Rales died last year. Now his four sons have donated an additional $2.4 million to rename the social services agency to honor both of their parents.

    In the past, social services were limited to seniors. The latest grant will allow the newly named Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services to also assist families and children.

    A new family center will offer academic tutoring, job training and other programs that focus on young people. New counselors will provide the same early direction that Norman Rales received in his life. 


    A sold-out crowd of 350 prominent guests raised $500,000 for Jewish Family Services at its annual gala and auction Dec. 12 at St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton.

    Partygoers were treated to dinner, dancing and a Night of Fantasy created by event co-chairwomen Wendy Legum, Roxanne Lipton and Jill Viner.

    Guests entered on a purple carpet that was the elaborate train of an elegant gown worn by a lady on stilts. The cocktail area also had a living tree walking on stilts and a woman was tumbling inside a hoop in the silent auction area. The wait staff wore hot pink wigs or purple bow ties.

     A rousing cash call raised $155,000 for the Jacobson Family Food Pantry. Michel and Lawrence Blair received the annual Ruth and Norman Rales Humanitarian of the Year Award.


    As one of Delray Beach’s top annual family events, the St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Festival will feature a midway with 20 carnival rides, live music, games, an antique car show and more.

    But the biggest attraction might be in the Irish pub where Monseigneur Tom Skindeleski will serve up his famous clam chowder. “The chowder might go faster than he can make it,” festival organizer Lisa Hargrove worries.

    The three-day festival from Feb. 28, through March 2, has a goal of $100,000 to support the parish school.

    The great food includes a Friday night fish fry, plus corned beef and cabbage all three days to honor the congregation’s Irish tradition.

    “We began as an Irish festival,” Hargrove said. “So we make sure to keep the corned beef and cabbage.”           


    The new music director at Unity of Delray Beach just finished performing as jazz pianist Fats Waller in the stage show Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Lake Worth Playhouse.

    Karl Van Richards is a skilled performer in music, dance and theater. A Jamaica native, he has performed around the world and locally with the Greater Palm Beach Philharmonia, the Coral Gables Symphony and the Boca Symphonia.

    Van Richards was ordained last October and also serves as a pastor at St. Paul AME Church in Miami. 

    Watch for more public concert opportunities at Unity of Delray Beach under the new music director. He says he loves sacred and contemporary music, in addition to jazz.

    “It’s wonderful to be at a place where I’m free to do all this,” Van Richards said. “Unity has a very strong tradition of good music.”

Tim Pallesen writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events. Email him at

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