by Caitlyn Sargent

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center Celebration Gala took place this past weekend, February 10, 2018, in Boca Raton, FL, at the Marriott at Boca Center. There were nearly 300 guests in attendance to honor Helen and Louis Nicozisis, members of Annunciation Church in Lancaster, PA, St. Mark Church in Boca Raton, FL, and St. Catherine Church in West Palm Beach, FL. Helen and Louis were honored for their lifetime of dedication to Orthodox Missions and the OCMC.

The gala, chaired by OCMC Board Member, Athena Economou, saw presentations from OCMC Executive Director, Fr. Martin Ritsi, OCMC’s President Emeritus, Fr. Alexander Veronis, current OCMC Board President, John Colis, and OCMC founder, His Grace Bishop Dimitrios (Couchell) of Xanthos. Congressman Mike Bilirakis offered a congratulatory message and Mike Emanuel of Fox News served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.

The celebration acknowledged Helen Nicozisis for her role as the first layperson President of the OCMC Board, elected in 2001. She has served on the OCMC Board for three decades, in addition to being Chair of the Capital Campaign Committee, which led to the May 2009 dedication of the Archbishop Anastasios and Archbishop Demetrios Missionary Training and Administration Building of the OCMC in St. Augustine, Florida.

OCMC Board President, John Colis (left), OCMC Executive Director, Fr. Martin Ritsi (right), OCMC Board Member and Event Chair, Athena Economou (center right) with Lou and Helen Nicozisis at the first inaugural OCMC Celebration Gala in Boca Raton, Florida, where the Nicozisis family was recognized for their tremendous support of Orthodox missions. Photo courtesy of Diane Parsons Photography.

These major contributions are just a few of the many Helen was recognized for on February 10th. Some of Helen’s other achievements include being elected President of the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund for Orthodox Missions (EFOM) in 1981, as well as being on the Mission Institute Board as President of EFOM.

Alongside his wife, Louis Nicozisis was recognized for his lifelong service to Orthodox Missionaries and the Church. Louis was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2002, after serving for 17 years on the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. He was chair on the council, and in his service, underwrote and initiated its Department of Outreach and Evangelism.

In addition to his many years of dedication, Louis also served on the Leadership 100 Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2010. Louis also became an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Order of St. Andrew in 1992.

Helen and Louis Nicozisis received the St. Paul Medal from Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory, the highest award given to a layperson of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

These wonderful achievements were highlighted at the Celebration Gala, where the pinnacle of the evening was thanking the Nicozisises for their unwavering commitment to many Orthodox foundations and countless missionary endeavors.

We at the OCMC would like to thank Fr. Mark Leondis and the community at St. Mark Greek Orthodox Church in Boca Raton for being such wonderful hosts and to Helen and Louis for their dedication and support over the years. We congratulate them on their lifetime of achievements for Orthodox missions.

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is the official missions agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s last command to make disciples of all nations