NEW YORK – The 46th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America concluded July 7, 2022 after a packed final Plenary Session, during which various institutional organizations shared their progress and their vision for the next 100 years. Presenters included Hellenic College Holy Cross President George Cantonis, Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society National President Arlene Siavelis Kehl, Archon National Commander Anthony J. Liberakis, on behalf of the Order of St. Andrew and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation, and Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Foundation Chairman Demetrios G. Logothetis. Archdiocesan Departments, like those of Inter-Orthodox, Interfaith, and Ecumenical Relations; Benefits Office; Youth and Young Adult Ministries; Camping Ministries; Ionian Village; the Young Adult League (YAL); Religious Education; and Greek Education, among others, also presented.
In his remarks, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America said, “Some might say that the labor of this Centennial Clergy-Laity Congress has concluded. But I say to you that the endeavor has only just begun. We assembled in this Congress in a work of exploration: reflecting on the legacy of our past, engaging in renewal in our current moment, and forging even stronger bonds of unity for our future. As a community, we are as diverse as any other in the United States. We need to own this, and not allow it to own us.” (Full Opening and Closing Remarks)
The Finance Committee also announced that the Archdiocese had achieved financial stability, with revenues exceeding expenses from 2018 to 2021, and budgetary controls in place and operating. Cost controls and CARES Act funding—an anticipated $6 million of which shared with Metropolises and parishes—allowed the Archdiocese to manage the pandemic while delivering on its priorities. Moreover, in response to the pandemic, $2.4 million in PPP funds were shared with parishes in 2020, while $2 million were shared with Metropolises in 2021. The Archdiocese Covid-19 Relief Fund provided over $600,000 in financial assistance to 350 individuals and families, and $450,000 in parish relief was provided based on Metropolis assessment of need.
The Committee also reported a total of $1.1 million dollars raised by the Archdiocese as part of its 2021 Greek Fires Response, which, in collaboration with the IOCC, supports the immediate and long-term needs of those affected. The GOARCH Ukraine Relief Fund, also launched by Archbishop Elpidophoros in March 2022 in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has raised $925,000 to date.
A Grand Banquet followed in the evening, with over 1200 delegates and guests in attendance to celebrate a fruitful Centennial Congress, which saw the long-awaited Consecration of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, concurrent and historic national conventions for the Ladies Philoptochos Society and YAL, and a Special Plenary on the Charter of the Archdiocese.
Patriarchal Representatives, their Eminences Elder-Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymnon and Avlopotamos; the Ambassador of Greece to the US, Her Excellency Alexandra Papadopoulou; the Vice-Chair of the Archdiocesan Council, John Catsimatidis; the National Philoptochos President, Arlene Siavelis Kehl; and the Congress Co-Chairs, Chrysanthy Demos and Nicholas Karacostas, offered remarks. Also among the speakers was former Governor of New York George Pataki, who was honored by Archbishop Elpidophoros for his support in the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Shrine.
In his Keynote Address, the Archbishop also recognized as Centennial Honorees the Vice-Chairs of the Archdiocesan Council, John Catsimatidis, George Tsandikos, Demetrios Moschos, and the late Michael Jaharis, the longtime General Counsel of the Archdiocese, the late Emanuel Demos, the Centennial Congress Co-Chairs and their spouses, Chrysanthy and George Demos and Nicholas and Anna Karacostas, and four “intrepid workers” of the Archdiocese, Marissa Costidis, Maria Andriotis, Jamil Samara, and Theo Nickolakis.
A Centennial honoree is a person who has contributed significantly to the life of the Archdiocese; who has served with distinction and on the front lines; who has given true stewardship of time, talent, and treasure to the Archdiocese; and who is the true Icon of a faithful member of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.