NEW YORK – The Archdiocesan Cathedral Philoptochos Society Annual Spring Luncheon took place on May 15 at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. The event began with boutique shopping and cocktails at11 AM and lunch at noon. New York University Provost Katherine E. Fleming was the guest speaker, presenting “Her Greek Odyssey” at the event to benefit the Scholarship Fund and the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Archdiocesan Cathedral Philoptochos Society President Dr. Miranda Kofinas, Luncheon co-Chairs Carol Contos, Maria Pyrros Vergos, and Carlene Soumas, were among those present.
Fr. John Vlahos, the Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, led everyone in singing Christos Anesti and was joined by Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos for the opening prayer.
Dr. Miranda Kofinas gave the welcoming remarks thanking all those in attendance for their support of the Philoptochos’ mission and their generosity, raising thousands of dollars to help those in need.
Co-chair of the event, Carol Contos introduced the guest speaker, scholar, author, and Philhellene New York University Provost Katherine E. Fleming who gave a charming speech, demonstrating her wit and intelligence, and highlighting her love of Greece. She said, “I am not Greek,” but noted that “despite the fact that I am not Geek, I find that I am Greek.”
Prof. Fleming sad, “It is a tremendous honor to be here and being honored by a society that devotes itself to the most downtrodden members of society to people who are otherwise without assistance, people who are homeless, people who are in despair, people who are despondent, people who are trying to better themselves who would not be able to do that without the assistance of not only the Society but all of you.”
She added that “It’s nice to be honored here and there for this or that, but it’s really, really meaningful when you’re honored by an organization that itself is actually the entity that is deserving of this honor.”
Fleming learned the Greek language from the only two Greek books her parents owned- The New Testament in the original Greek in an inter-lineal English translation and the complete poems of George Seferis as well as through her time spent in Greece, at Chora Sfakion, waiting tables at the Androulakakis family taverna and learning from Kyra Eleni who was a formidable character and the grandmother of the restaurant’s owner. “She was smarter than all of us, even without a smart phone” Fleming said. When she spoke fluently in Greek, the audience was delighted. Fleming concluded by thanking her parents and the Philoptochos Society as representatives of Greece, she said, “Thank you for all the things your country has done for me.”
A gift was then presented to Fleming. Dr. Kofinas said the small sculpture was “a little piece of Greece.”
Katherine E. Fleming was named Provost of NYU in April of 2016. She joined the NYU faculty in 1998. As NYU’s Deputy Provost (since 2013) and Vice Chancellor (Europe) (since 2007), she worked closely with the deans, directors, and schools on academic planning and also provided oversight of the Provost’s Global Research Initiatives program, which she created in 2011.
A historian, she is the Alexander S. Onassis Professor of Hellenic Culture and Civilization in the Faculty of Arts and Science, and served for many years as the Associate Director and then Director of the Remarque Institute.
Beyond NYU, Dr. Fleming has been an associate member of the History Department of the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and served as the president of the Board of the University of Piraeus, Greece. A specialist on modern Greece, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean, she is most recently author of Greece: A Jewish History, which won several prizes, among them the National Jewish Book Award and the Runciman Award. She holds a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. (Chicago) and B.A. (Barnard/Columbia) in comparative religion.
Also in attendance at the event were Presvytera Nikki Stephanopoulos, Consul of Greece Lana Zochiou, Mrs. Popita Pavli- wife of the Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Atlantic Bank President Nancy Papaioannou, Marilena Christodoulou, Yanna Darilis, Olga Alexakos, Aphrodite Navab, Nicole Contos Liakeas, many members of the Philoptochos, and the Greek media.