August 4, 2000 Vol 15, No. 31
Former Archdiocese Chancellor
Named Head of Hellenic College/Holy Cross
By Eleni Daniels
NEW YORK-. Nearly eight months since the appointment of an eight-member search committee by Archbishop Demetrios, a new president for Hellenic College/Holy Cross (HC/HC) has finally been selected.
The archdiocese announced last Friday that the corporate board of Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology, under the chairmanship of Archbishop Demetrios, has accepted the unanimous recommendation of the search committee and appointed the Rev. Protopresbyter Nicholas Triantafilou as the new president of HC/HC in Brookline, Mass. The position had been vacant since the resignation of Rev. Archimandrite Damaskinos last August.
"With good wishes and congratulations, our warm prayers accompany Father Nicholas, as he embarks on his sacred ecclesiastical and academic mission for the promotion of the Greek Orthodox Faith, Tradition and Paideia, and for the glory of God, " said Archbishop Demetrios in a public announcement.
Triantafilou told The GreekAmerican that he was excited for the "privilege to serve the ecumenical patriarchal church" in America.
"Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology is the womb of the Church in America," said Triantafilou. "It is one of the centers of the ecumenical patriarchal church of Constantinople, so in that light we view this holy hill with a sense of awe, responsibility towards the ecumenical patriarch, the archdiocese, and to our faithful throughout the country."
Triantafilou views his new post as the singular most important privilege in his life and says that no one prepares for such a privilege; however, his long standing affiliation with the Church is a true indication of his abilities.
"I have over 40 years experience in the life of the Church in America through my years with Archbishop Iakovos, hierarchs, fellow priests and laity. It is my duty to offer that experience back to the Church."
He spoke highly of Archbishop Demetrios, referring to him as a "a man of total faith and vision," who holds the ultimate responsibility for HC/HC. "It is my privilege to serve under his 'omophorion' and to facilitate his vision for our school," Triantafilou said.
On the question of priorities for the school, Triantafilou said he would begin with an assessment of the current situation as a starting point. He stressed that the spiritual health of the school was of utmost importance.
"The spiritual health of everyone affiliated with the school is of concern to me so as the bodies of believers are strong and united, especially in fulfilling his or her mission through the school. Each person at the school has a calling as a family.
"I believe the school has a place in the heart of every clergyman and laity in the U.S. We have a responsibility to fulfill the school's mission and move forward as a unified body and have the highest number of candidates for ordination as well as male and female leaders in the Church."
Triantafilou believes there must be a united effort among clergy and laity and that they "come together in the Eucharistic experience as priests and deacons [to] serve under the mantle of bishops who follow the lead of the presiding hierarch."
"We both receive and are nurtured by the body of Jesus Christ. In turn, the laity participate in that body of Christ through various ministries but not in the changes of the dogma of the Church."
Faced with a number of difficulties over the past few years (including a decline in enrollment, financial hardships, a publicized sexual harassment case, and faculty layoffs under then-Archbishop Spyridon), the school has seen better days. For a long time, it was in great need of a leader who could turn the institution into a viable Orthodox resource for generations to come.
Triantafilou does not seem overtly concerned with any adverse difficulties facing the school. He is quite delighted to join the "excellent work" of the staff and faculty and hopes to continue the work of its past presidents.
Asked specifically about the sexual harassment case of three years ago and if he felt it has permanently scarred the school, Triantafilou says that there has been a "quieting" over that issue.
"Dr. [James C.] Skedros [acting dean of HC/HC and Professor of Church history] has done an excellent job this year in keeping the school focused on Christian demeanor and academics. This shows a Christian maturity on our part. We should do our utmost to preclude any adverse issues that may come up in societal settings. If not, we must deal with them honestly and faithfully. I've had a year, since July 1999, to witness a moving froward from that wound that took place," he said.
Skedros was very excited when he heard of Triantafilou's appointment, telling The
GreekAmerican that "Fr. Nicholas brings with him a unique pastoral sensitivity, administrative expertise, and a wide knowledge of the Greek Orthodox community both here and abroad. This will surely benefit the school in the short and long term," he said.
George Behrakis, the search committee's chairman, said that the committee was unanimous in its endorsement of Triantafilou, largely because of his experience in prior administration duties. "We felt that he had tremendous knowledge of the school, administration expertise, and extensive travel throughout the country," Behrakis said.
"When you get seven Greeks to agree, you accomplished something," he joked. "We had to be very cautious. We were looking for someone strong to be able to take the school forward."
Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos, acting dean of Hellenic College could not be reached for comment.
Fr. Nicholas has 37 years in church administration, as a pastor and leader in religious and philanthropic organizations with a strong background in development, fundraising and coordinating multiple assignments.
"I feel I am a privileged clergyman because I have learned so much and feel very connected to the clergy and the laity in these 37 years. I traveled throughout the country at over 300 parishes and I have seen the life of our laity as they advanced the Church with the clergy," Triantafilou said.
"My various post assignments will help me deal with the different perspective of what we're doing at our school. The complexion of the student reflects the parish itself. We have third and fourth generation inter-Christian and interfaith marriages. I am able to understand and appreciate those situations."
Triantafilou served as chancellor at the archdiocese, under the leadership of Archbishop Iakovos from 1994-1996; as administrative assistant to the archbishop from 1992-1994; director of Leadership 100 from 1992-1996; and vicar general of the archdiocese from 1988-1992. Additionally he served as consultant to the executive committee of the Archdiocesan Council and as pastor of the Mission Parish of Austin, Texas.
A native of Woburn, Mass., Triantafilou received his B.A. from Holy Cross Orthodox Theological School in 1963 and an M.A. from Saint Thomas University, Houston, Texas, in 1970. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 3, 1963 and served as dean of the Annunciation Cathedral of Houston from 1966-87; archdiocesan vicar and administrator of the Diocese of Atlanta from 1988-90; and administrator of the Diocese of Denver from 1990-92. He was co-founder and director of the Annunciation Orthodox School and for ten years (1970-80) was director and moderator of a weekly interdenominational radio talk show that tackled topics that included capital punishment, the criminal justice system, abortion and religion in the public schools.
He has served as president of the National Presbyters Council and chairman of various task forces on the Texas Conference of Churches. Most recently, he served as director of the Boston Diocese Camp and Retreat Center. He currently lives in North Andover, Mass. with his wife, Diane. Triantafilou and his wife have three married children, Constantine, Diane and Melanie, and two grandchildren, Lucas, Anastacia and Nicholas.
HC/HC is scheduled for a 10-year accreditation review in the fall of 2001.
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