The National Herald - June 16-17, 2001

Hundreds Cheer Spyridon

By Demetrios Tsakas

NEW YORK. - The biography of former Archbishop Spyridon of America, titled, "The Lonely Path of Integrity," written by Justine Frangoulis-Argyris, was presented at an event held at Terrace on the Park in Flushing, New York, on Monday evening.

The event was "a gathering of love and support, which should not be misinterpreted," Greek businesswoman and philanthropist Georgia Kaloidis told The National Herald at the conclusion of the evening.

The former Archbishop's book presentation was organized by "Exantas" publishing company in cooperation with a coordinating committee, headed by John Catsimatidis, a former Vice-president of the Executive Board of the Archdiocesan Council. Catsimatidis was assisted by Evanthia Kondakes, president of the National Philoptochos Society; Panikos Papanikolaou, a former president of the Cyprus Federation of America; Savvas Tsivicos, the current president of the Cyprus Federation; and Kaloidis.

About 600 people, some of them representatives of Greek American organizations and Greek Orthodox parishes attended the event at the invitation of the organizing committee. Only two clergymen, however, were in attendance.

During his opening remarks, Catsimatidis noted that "we love the Church and we are not opposing the Archdiocese, but we are here to express our love and respect for former Archbishop Spyridon."

"When Archbishop Demetrios came to the United States we expressed our love and support for him, and we did not do what others did for his predecessor," he added.

Catsimatidis also noted that former Archbishop Spyridon did not attend the book presentation because he was unable to take leave from his current post.

Spyridon, however, did read a message over cell-phone connection and also sent a written message that was read in Greek and English. Tsivicos read the message in Greek while Dr. William Tenet, director of the "Kyrenia" Cardiology Center, read it in English.

In his message, Spyridon greeted those present, congratulating them on the event's success and thanking them for their support.

"This cultural event put together to present the book, 'The Lonely Path of Integrity,' affords me a good opportunity to greet you — members of the organizing committee, the author of the tasteful and original book, Justine Frangoulis, as well as all those unforgettable and dear members of the community. I would like to express my sincere congratulations for your efforts and hard work put into organizing this community event, dedicated to the projection of the recent history of the Archdiocese of America.... You did it knowing that the Greek American community deserves an honest and accurate account," the former Archbishop said in his remarks.

Spyridon also noted that the profits from the book sales would be contributed to the St. Basil's Academy, in Garrison, New York, which, he emphasized, operated for 25 years as the primary and fundamental home for Greek youth in America. "I hope that this gesture of yours brings this important ecclesiastical institution back to its original purpose, and also serves as a new, decisive contribution to the promotion of Greek letters in the U.S." he said.

"I also wish to congratulate again the author of the book," Spyridon added. According to the former Archbishop, "The work of Ms. Frangoulis, dedicated to depicting the remarkable and important events that unfolded in the bosom of this large community, offers a new perspective on the whole issue of the hard struggle of Hellenism and the survival of the diaspora."

Spyridon also greeted his friend, Dr. John Rassias, Ph.D, a professor, and the evening's guest speaker, saying "I always remember... his untiring labor for the future of the Greek culture and the Greek language in America."

Dr. Rassias' work, Spyridon noted, has created great results and has renewed the faith of many incredulous Greek Americans. In short, he said, "it will remain indelible."

A video about former Archbishop Spyri-
don's life was shown
in a giant screen during the event.

During Spyridon's tenure, Dr. Rassias was assigned to put together a committee which would investigate the status of Greek education in America, and come up with a conclusive report on how to improve it for the future. Spyridon, speaking about the committee, said that the reasons, which led to the termination of its study, were incredulous. He did point out, however, that the same results which went unrecognized in America are "currently finding support in other areas."

"To the dear members of the community, who took the time to come to this cultural event, not only in New York, but in other areas of the U.S. as well. I send you my greetings of love. A sincere love, assuring you that you will always be in my thoughts and heart."

Dr. Rassias, speaking at the book presentation, made reference to several threatening telephone calls he has received and displayed an anonymous, threatening letter to the audience, which he ripped at the podium. He also expressed satisfaction for the community's support, and referred to his collaboration with the former Archbishop, noting that he had focused his attention on the efforts of the committee, which were intended to help the future of the Greek language in this nation.

Lastly, he expressed his disappointment that the new administration did not consider the results of the committee's studies.

Frangoulis focused on how she wrote the book. She also expressed her satisfaction, saying she felt justice was done because the work she produced contributed to a realistic version of the tempestuous three-year tenure.

The audience was not so appreciative toward another cleric, Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, who is currently the executive director of the Leadership 100. When one of the speakers, Demetris Kastanas, mentioned his name, the audience jeered loudly.

At the end of the event, Catsimatidis announced that the profits from the book sales during the evening amounted to $16,000, and, in addition to a $10,000 contribution by Kaloides, would be donated to the St. Basil's Academy.

[ The National Herald - June 16-17, 2001 - pp. 1 and 3 ]