By Dimitri G. Soultogiannis
Special to the Hellenic News of America
Warren, Ohio—The Pan-Rhodian Society of America «Apollon» and its local Ohio Chapter number 9, hosted its 84th annual convention in Warren, Ohio from October 7th through the 9th, 2011. The Hellenic American National Council (HANC) was represented by its President Mr. Paul Kotrotsios who was invited by the Society’s board. The Hellenic News of America was also represented by a two-member team that was there to support and cover the convention and the three day festivities that followed it.
Apollon’s Supreme Lodge President Steve Pelardis told the Hellenic News of America that «it has been a great honor for me and my family to have been elected to the highest office of the Supreme President for the past year by the 83rd Annual Convention,» According to Pelardis the deliberations were an occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and also a time to make plans for future growth and progress for the Pan-Rhodian Society of America. «I am inviting all the young Rhodians to come and embrace ‘Apollon’ and carry the torch to the new horizons and lead us into the future for the good of our society,» he added. «I pray God to enable all of us to meet at the 85th Annual Convention and lead ‘Apollon’ forward into the future,» he concluded.
HANC President Paul Kotrotsios was also welcomed by Apollon’s Supreme Vice-President Polyvios Pavlidis. «I thank everyone who has supported our Society and especially all those brothers and sisters, young and old who made it to our convention,» he said. «As another year has come and gone, I want to thank everyone for all of their support and dedication in helping keep the Pan Rhodian Society in its rising capacity. Whether it was an opinion, a disagreement or a fresh idea, all decisions were made for the good of Apollon. It is with all my heart felt love and respect for each other, I thank you,» he added.
According to Pavlidis all of the chapters with their members and appointed leaders have shown great dedication and growth. «Our younger brothers and sisters will play an important part in the continued growth of our historical society. It is crucial that we let them know that we are here to support them and help them in any way we can. With the fresh ideas and enthusiasm of our younger brothers and sisters and the experience and wisdom of our older brothers and sisters we can achieve this goal,» he added.
Rev. Fr. Constantine Valantasis of the Saint Demetrios Community of Warren, Ohio welcomed everyone on behalf of the parishioners. «It is truly an honor to be part of the 84th annual convention. «Because so many of our faithful parishioners are descended from the glorious island of Rhodes, this convention was anything but dry and formal. It has taken on the quality of a family reunion. My prayer is that everyone who visited us, truly felt being a part of our Saint Demetrios family. For in Christ we are all members of his one holy body, the church» he said. Rev. Fr. Valantasis the Divine Liturgy on Sunday October 9th which concluded the convention.
Chapter 9 President Michael Aivazis said he is privileged to host the convention. «This event would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our committees and sub-committees. I would like to thank them for all of their efforts during the lengthy planning process,» he said. According to Aivazis they all share the same goals and aspirations for the youth to maintain the Greek traditions, customs and language. «Conventions like this offer one opportunity to assist in maintaining these goals and aspirations,» he added. Aivazis also said this was a wonderful reunion of friends from previous conventions, family and friends from the local areas and from afar. «The convention offers an opportunity for all new attending participants to make new friends and long lasting relationships and to celebrate our rich heritage together,» he concluded.
During his speech at the convention’s dinner, special guest HANC President Paul Kotrotsios thanked the Board and all Rhodians for the invitation and laid out HANC’s priorities. «Our priority is to expand our organization with the addition of new members, our reorganization, equipping various Committees with clear goals and informing the members and Bodies, as well as the public on the problems and common issues of Hellenism,” Kotrotsios said. Right after Sunday’s Devine Liturgy Kotrotsios gave the Board the Magna Charta by Rigas Velestinlis, as a small gift to the board, with the Hope that Hellenism in the region and around the world will never faint. All participants are now looking forward to the 85th Annual Convention next year.