The GreekAmerican - June 16-17, 2001

Spyridon is heard at biography presentation

By Nikos Angelides


A crowd of 800 people attended a presentation of Ioustini Frangouli-Argyri's biography of former archbishop Spyridon (H Monaxia Enos Asimvivastou) in Queens, New York on Monday. The evening's emcee was attorney Peter Kakoyiannis.

Ioustini Frangouli signs copies of her biography of Archbishop Spyridon.

Although the archbishop was not able to personally attend the event (he had received no response to his request for the Ecumenical Patriarchate's permission), he addressed those present via telephone. Spyridon congratulated everyone for the beautiful presentation, which was organized by former Archdiocesan Council Vice-Chairman and Archon of the Patriarchate John Catsimatides, Panicos Papanicolaou, Cyprus Federation of America President Savas Tsivicos, and Georgia Kaloidis.

"With tonight's gathering, you demonstrate yet again the greatness of your souls. You show how much love you have for the Church and for the community. As much as distance separates us today, I want you to recognize that you are always in my thoughts and in my heart," he said. "May God always be with you... May the prayers of Panagia accompany your every step. You have all my love. I embrace you all."

Dr. William Tenet, Director of the Kyrenia Cardiovascular Center of New York Hospital-Queens, read Spyridon's message in English.

Before the event, many of those attending had received threats intended to keep them from being at the event. In his remarks, Catsimatides, who announced that proceeds from the sale of books that evening would be donated to St. Basil's Academy and who with his wife Margo presented a $10,000 donation for that cause, expressed his disappointment concerning this type of behavior.

"These things are a shame for our Church and for the Greek-American community," he stressed.

"For all of us who find ourselves here, it is because we are involved with the Church. Orthodoxy and Hellenism have common roads and common concerns," added Tsivicos.

Professor John Rassias, one of the main speakers, showed a letter he received, the contents of which he preferred to not convey to the public. However, he said that it contained harsh phrases about the former leader of the Greek Orthodox Church of America.

Rassias said of the event he sought to bring to fruition with the initiative of the former archbishop, "it was not a typical effort. The struggle for the preservation of Hellenic education in the United States is the strongest weapon with which we are invited to fight the disappearance of our Hellenic identity. Greece does not mean feta, ouzo and syrtaki. Our Hellenic roots are at risk of being lost and for this exhibition, which we prepared after many months of research and with the participation of academics and other community members, the response of some was that its implementation was not necessary."

Demetrios Kastanas presented the author of the controversial Spyridon biography, who was moved by the audience's response.

"This evening does not belong to me but to Archbishop Spyridon, whom I would like to publicly thank for making available to me, a humble and insignificant person, his personal files as well as the confidence to write his history.

"The archbishop, however, isn't absent because his spirit and his soul are with us at this moment," Frangoulli-Argyris said.

National Philoptochos President Eve Condakes spoke with The GreekAmerican's sister publication Proini about phone calls she received to prevent her appearance at the event.

"They didn't threaten. They told me that if I were to come, the patriarch would be very worried. During my many trips to meet with the patriarch, I begged him to not take away the archbishop. The patriarch loves me and understands that my love and integrity brought me here tonight.

In response to the question, "Who is hiding behind the prohibitions?" she responded, "GOAL, who else?"

In a letter she gave Proini, she states that her appearance was not as a representative of the National Philoptochos, but reflected her personal desire to appear as a simple individual.

[ The GreekAmerican - June 16-17, 2001 - p. 13 ]