MINUTES OF JOINT MEETING OF THE METROPOLIS COUNCIL AND FAITH & HERITAGE CENTER COMMITTEE
The joint meeting of the Metropolis Council and the Faith & Heritage Committee began with a prayer and remarks from Metropolitan Methodios who extolled the ministry of the Priests who serve throughout New England. He is saddened that he must fill three to four vacancies because of the upcoming retirements of very dedicated Priests.
George D. Behrakis, chairman of the Faith & Heritage Center Committee welcomed all attendees and proceeded to report on the Leadership 100 meeting that had just ended in Palm Desert, CA. Mr. Behrakis had served as chairman of Leadership 100 for the last two years.
The meeting proceeded with various reports. John Gianakouras was thanked by Metropolitan Methodios and all attendees for his efforts the past two years as chairman of the Golf Committee. Last year more than $100,000 were raised to help support the Camp Programs of the Metropolis. This year’s committee will be chaired by Drake Behrakis.
Fr. Philippe Mousis gave an extensive report on the Metropolis Youth Programs. He emphasized the Mission Mexico Project where High School Seniors go to a third world country to build a home for the poverty stricken. This exposes our youth to the reality of the poor, and also gives them an opportunity to stay in an Orthodox Orphanage where they share their faith experiences on a deeper level. This may instill a missionary zeal in some of our young people as seen in those who have gone to do mission work in other countries.
Fr. Philippe said that we must instill the treasure of our Hellenic traditions and culture to our youth through dance and other programs. The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has active groups in 14 college campuses. Metropolitan Methodios gave the keynote address at a special OCF event held at Boston College where more than 200 filled the hall to capacity. It was a landmark in OCF history and a great presence on this prestigious campus.
Fr. Chris Foustoukos reported on the Metropolis Youth Choir which is being organized under auspices of the St. Vasilios Parish (Peabody, MA) Choir Director. On Thursday, March 6, Youth Choir Directors from the parishes of Arlington, Brockton, Cranston, Transfiguration in Lowell, Peabody and other communities will be meeting to begin this important program. We hope to have an 100 voice Youth Choir in the near future which will learn religious hymns and cultural music in both languages.
Fr. Nicholas Kastanas reported on the new Parochial School at the Arlington Parish. This school will focus primarily on Faith, culture and language. Seed money in the amount of $100,000 is needed for kindergarten and first grade. Metropolitan Methodios remarked that it is indeed sad that the needed funds have not been raised as yet.
John Katsaros reported that the St. Nectarios Parish in Roslindale, MA has become an Examination Center for Greek Studies. The exams will take place this spring---May 15 and 16---at the church. Those who pass will receive a certificate that will allow them to work in Greece or be eligible to enroll in colleges and universities in Greece.
Michael Sintros, director of the Faith & Heritage Center, reported that this year three JOY Winter Camps took place, one of them at the St. Methodios Faith & Heritage Center and the other in parishes. The GOYA Winter Camp, held at the Faith & Heritage Center, attracted 110 young people and their counselors. The Summer Camp Program will run for six weeks this year to accommodate more campers who will be introduced to new program focusing on faith and heritage---hymns, Greek dancing and customs.
Michael also said that the new cabin for campers with special needs is being constructed thanks to the generous gift of the Niarchos Foundation.
A lengthy discussion followed concerning the Summer Camp Program. It was emphasized that, while the cost per camper will increase this summer, scholarships will be available so that every child who wants to attend can do so.
Metropolitan Methodios spoke on the importance of advocating and supporting the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards (FOS) Program for our Metropolis, singing out Fr. George Tsoukalas who recruited many FOS members in 2007. The FOS committee will be expanded so that our goal of 300 members can be reached during 2008. Hopefully every member of the Metropolis Council and Faith & Heritage Center Committee will join FOS if they have not already done so and recruit at least one more steward.
Fr. Al Demos spoke about the National Ministries Allocations. We reached over 95% of our goal during the past two years and hope to surpass our goal this year within the cushion. Members of the Metropolis Finance Committee are: Angelo Stamoulis, chairman, Arthur Anton, Dr. Marica Arvanitis, Peter Condakes, John Macaris and Dean Stamoulis.
Michael Sintros reported that he is confident that we will be able to begin construction of the new Retreat House very soon. Our case will be heard by the New Hamphsire Supreme Court next month.
The Philoptochos report was read by Frances Levas. The fall luncheon will be held at the Newton Marriott on Sunday, November 16, 2008 to benefit the Philoptochos ministries.
Following is the Philoxenia House ministry report:
Thanks to a grant from the Niarchos Foundation, a generous donation from the Monemvasia Society of New England, and the generosity of many Philoptochos Chapters, organizations and individuals, the residence was updated in 2007.
During the renovations the contractor was very sensitive to the needs of the residents. When the kitchen could not be used, the volunteers took many to restaurants or brought food in for those who could not go. The challenge was made a pleasant experience for all. The dining area has a new beautiful granite table which was donated by the Katerinioton Piereon Society in memory of Dimitri Haitas. John Katsaros, former president of this society, facilitated the donation.
Guests still come from around the world but mainly from Greece and Cyprus. In 2007, we hosted three boys and their moms from the Ukraine, and that was a great experience for all as they communicated using Christ’s language, that of love. Mass General Hospital anesthesiologist, Dr. Gennadiy Fuzaylov who speaks Russian, has been visiting the Philoxenia House and is serving as a volunteer while these guests are here. Also helping taking them to and from doctors’ appointments is a local Serbian family from the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
We also hosted patients from Florida and New Hampshire who are being treated for cancer in Boston hospitals. As one of them said, “We never know when any of us will need help, even staying in the Philoxenia House.”
The Philoxenia House was aptly described as a typical Greek village by the mom of one young boy. “It is always open to all and people do stop by at all times to see us, bring us food and other items, take us out, share our tears and laughter.”
Since 1986 when Metropolitan Methodios established this ministry, the faithful of New England have been generous with their time, talents and donations. In their own words, “We are inspired by our Metropolitan. We do and will do whatever we can for this ministry, thus expressing our respect, love, and appreciation for our Spiritual Father.” One lady who comes from Ipswich on a regular basis, brought a beautiful dress to a three-year-old girl with a cancerous tumor in the head and gave it to her. The next day she called and said that the reaction of the youngster will stay with her forever. “I would drive five hours back and forth to experience that which I did yesterday,” she said in tears.