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Greek CommunityEventsImportance of Greek Language and Christianity at GOA Awards Ceremony

Importance of Greek Language and Christianity at GOA Awards Ceremony

Hellenic News of America
Hellenic News of America
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By Catherine Tsounis

How does the world view Greek culture and Christianity? “The best pagan literature of the classical world, however, it did not pass away. It was too deeply ingrained in Roman culture, to intertwine with intellect to be so lightly cast away. The future was with Christianity, but not one who considered him or herself Roman could completely reject the classical world”- Lars Brownworth, author, speaker, broadcaster, creator of the genre-defining ‘12 Byzantine Rulers’ podcast.

Long Island born Brownworth believes “unlike their Western counterparts, early Byzantine church authors recognize the benefits of pagan philosophy, arguing that it contained valuable insights. The careful reading would separate the wheat of moral lessons from the pagan religion. The most famous example was the fourth-century father Saint Basil of Caesarea, sing praise who wrote a treatise entitled To Young Men, on How They Might Derive Profit from Pagan Literature.’ Byzantine universities, from Constantinople to the famous Academy of Athens, would preserve and cultivate classical writing throughout the Empire’s history. Even the Patriarchal Academy in Constantinople taught a curriculum that included study of the literature, philosophy and scientific texts of antiquity.”1

My neighbors in Bayside, New York returned from a tour of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with amazing information. The UAE Palace Library had an exhibit on Greek Mathematician/Geographer Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria, Egypt who lived in 200 A.D. Claudius Ptolemy (whose name was common of the Macedonian Aristocracy of Alexander the Great’s time) mapped the Arabian Peninsula. In the 14th century, cartographers recreated Ptolemy’s world map on the basis of coordinates found in his treatise Geographia.

2023 Three Hierarchs Award of Excellence winners. Photo by Catherine Tsounis

The UAE exhibits explained “Astronomy is believed to be the oldest natural science. The understanding of this science was advanced by our scholars …and exchange of knowledge between ancient Greeks, China, India, and Persia. The Greeks created the astrolabe…

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During the Arab Medicine Golden Age, intellectual life was dominated by traditional sciences which were inherited from the Greeks and developed by the Arabs. The Arab world not all helped to preserve the medical knowledge of ancient Greece, but also developed it and shared this knowledge with European scholars.”2.

This is the 2023 world view promoted by American and Middle Eastern scholars. On February 4th, 2023, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America celebrated Greek Learning at the Feast of the Holy Three Hierarchs, Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and Saint John Chrysostom, in the afternoon at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Manhattan. The celebration was organized by the Office of Greek Education.

Students from the Day Parochial, Afternoon and Saturday Schools who excelled June 2022 Language Examination in Modern Greek, were presented with the Three Hierarchs Award of Excellence. The celebration concluded with the cutting of the traditional Vasilopita. For more information, the Director Mr. Anastasios Koularmanis at [email protected] or the Associate Director, Mrs. Athena Filippou at [email protected].

Mrs. Athena Tsokou Kromidas. Photo by Catherine Tsounis

Prominent persons who attended included: ,Rev. Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne Elias Villis, Chancellor of the Archdiocesan District; Rev. Protopresbyter Gregory Stamkopoulos Assistant Director, Department of Greek Education Database Administrator, Department of Information Technology; Rev. Gerasimos Ballas; Consul General of Greece in New York, Konstantinos Konstantinou: Leonidas Raptakis, Rhode Island State Senator: the benefactor Stefanos Tserpelis, Mrs. Athena Tsokou Kromidas, President of the High Council for Greek Education in the U.S.; Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis, Director of the Office of Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Eirini Grapsia, Senior Education Coordinator of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs of the Greek government; Prof. Demosthenes Triantafilou, Director of the Office of Greek Education of the Metropolis of New Jersey Mrs. Stella Kokolis, President of The Federation of Hellenic Educators of America, Mrs. Vasiliki Filiotis, President Hellenic Paideia of America, Inc. with Georgia Filiotis and Pandora Spelios; Dr. John Nathanas, Surgeon/International Leader/Founder of DIAS International Academic Studies, with Cretan Political/Education delegation Haroula and Kostas Travagiakis, Mayor Manolis Kokosalis, Christina Sfougari, Antonia Mazaraki and Mayor Ioannis Segkos; schools, and leaders of education and business.

Consul General of Greece in New York, Konstantinos Konstantinou, delivered greetings. Keynote address was delivered by Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis. Senator Raptakis is a Democrat representing District 33 (Coventry, West Greenwich) in the Rhode Island Senate. Students from the Parochial Greek American Day Schools presented speeches on the Three Hierarchs.

“Greek language is the basis of Western civilization,” said Consul General Konstantinou. “We congratulate the Greeks of New York and the USA. Greece cares and supports the education of Greeks overseas. The next generations count. We are in the second, third and fourth generations. Youth matters. Parents must think of what they will give to their children. We are trying to be next to Greeks in all their concerns. Love of ancestors and country is immense. We promote this tie. You are the future of Greece here in the USA.”

Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis. Photo by Catherine Tsounis

Director Anastasios Koularmanis emphasized “February 9th is Greek language Day. Greek language and heritage should be taken in college and university. The Greek departments are closing, because of lack of interest. I thank the parents and grandparents to support our language schools. Language and religion altogether.”

Mrs. Athena Tsokou Kromidas, President of the High Council for Greek Education in the U.S. said “We must keep the language alive so we will not vanish in the world. Our language must live on. Our teachers, priests parents and grandparents giving Greek civilization to youth. They will continue their trip in life holding Greek ethics in their souls. Greek language is the spirit of our people in the global world. We must work to help our children become better than us, because they are our greatest achievement.”

Congressman Raptakis, explained “we have given you the pillars of education: Greek language and civilization. We must fight for funding of the Greek language education on state level. Funding is necessary for Greek classes to stay alive. Be proud of this tradition that gives you strength in life, knowing you are the torchbearers of an ancient people and culture.”

Dionisios Lourdas of the Greek American Institute of Zoodohos Peghe, Greek Orthodox Church, Bronx, NY was one of the honored students. He comes from an Italian/Greek family that supports his learning of the Greek language with excellence. His parents, Stella and Aristides were sitting in the last row with a unique pride that their child achieved excellence in Greek. This is what every parent and grandparent wants their American youth to achieve Greek excellence.

Consul General of Greece in New York, Konstantinos. Konstantinou. Photo by Catherine Tsounis

Warren Treadgold, Byzantine scholar, explained “Ever since a population exchange in 1923 removed most of the Greeks from Turkey, few people have spoken Greek outside Greece and Cyprus. Yet a patriarch of Constantinople remains in Turkish Istanbul as head of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodoxy remains the majority faith not only in Greece and Cyprus but in Russia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Belarus. Eastern Orthodox Christians remain significant minorities in Albania, Syria, and Lebanon–and in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Most Armenians and many Egyptians and Ethiopians remain Eastern Christians without formally belonging to Eastern Orthodoxy. All of these groups have inherited much of their culture from Byzantium.,, If Byzantium had a strong sense of superiority over its neighbors, it usually did surpass them in wealth, political and military organization, literacy, and scientific and philosophical knowledge.. While Byzantium’s complacency and lack of aggressiveness may have contributed to its fall after 1,168 years, that was nonetheless more than five times as long as the United States has lasted so far.”3


1. Brownworth, Lars. Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire that Rescued Western Civilization. Three Rivers Press, New York, 2009, p. 37-38.

2. United Arab Emirates Presidential Palace Library, information by Irene Cheung.


Dionisios Lourdas of the Greek American Institute of Zoodohos Peghe, with parents Stella, Aristides, and teacher (first from left). Photo by Catherine Tsounis

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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