HCHC Holds 76th Commencement, Honors John Calamos

John Calamos receiving the honorary doctor of humanities degree. Shown are Fr. Christopher Metropulos and Archbishop Demetrios. (Photo by TNH/Theodoros Kalmoukos)

BOSTON, MA – The Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology (HCHC) held its 76th commencement on May 17. Twenty-four students graduated from the College and 35 from the Theological School, of which 19 graduated with a master’s in divinity, the degree for those who wish to become priests. Of the remaining 35 School graduates, seven received a master’s in theology and nine a master’s in theological studies. Also, seven received a certificate in Byzantine music.

The College’s and School’s valedictorians, respectively, were Theofanis Rauch and Jeremy Troy.
John P. Calamos, Sr., Founder, Chairman, and CIO of Calamos Investments, was awarded the doctor of humanities (DHum), which is an honorary degree.

Also awarded a DHum was Efstathios G. Valiotis, Founder and CEO of Alma Realty and Founder of Alma Bank.

Priest and author Fr. Anthony Coniaris was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity (DD).
In his address, Calamos congratulated all the graduates and said that graduating college for many is taken for granted. But not for me. I’m from a Greek immigrant family that came to the United States and struggled through the years. Our family values and strong work ethic was very valuable to me. We had a grocery store in Chicago where I grew up. Growing up we went to church and Sunday school. I was the first of any of my family and relatives to go to college.

Efstathios Valiotis was honored with a honorary doctor of humanities degree. Shown are Deacon Antonios Papathanasiou, Fr. Christopher Metropulos, Efstathios Valiotis, and Archbishop Demetrios.(Photo by TNH/Theodoros Kalmoukos)

“I lived the American Dream.

“Looking back, that college experience changed my life along with my family values it gave me the foundation for any success I achieved.

“I worked my way through college. A very confused student, I changed my major several times. When I was a student at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), studying architecture and switching to finance, it was all about critical thinking. When I was in college, I gained knowledge about the history of the world through philosophy. Looking back, my education was critical to my success over the years.

“From my experience in Sunday school I became very interested in philosophy and to support that effort I have endowed and donated to IIT a Chair in Philosophy.I have often been asked: ‘why did you endow a Chair in Philosophy?’ My introduction to philosophy inspired me to take many courses in philosophy. It really stimulated critical thinking and how to create new ideas. My introduction to philosophers through my undergraduate coursework taught me how to really think. Philosophy asks what assumptions did you use here and why did you use them?

“I had interest in finance and as a teenager began managing my parents saving by trading stocks. In college I learned that economics is not a math problem. It is economic philosophy: how are we organized as a society? Reading many philosophers from Plato to Socrates and many others, I felt it taught me a great deal about life and gave me a perspective of history going back thousands of years.

“I continue to feel that learning philosophy today is extremely important. Socrates said ‘know thyself.’”

The graduation ceremony of Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology at Pappas Auditorium. (Photo by TNH/Theodoros Kalmoukos)

In his address, Valiotis called for the Church in America “to become autocephalous or for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to move to the United States. We cannot be governed by a small group of people from Turkey without any flock and purpose, with no mission and with different agenda. Among others present during those remarks were His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, who is also Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Metropolitans Methodios of Boston, Gerasimos of San Francisco, and Savas of Pittsburgh, and Archdiocesan Chancellor Bishop Andonios of Phasiane.

Valiotis told The National Herald that “the problem of the Church in America is that over the last thirty years it has had two archbishops. One is elected and he is celibate in New York and the other is married and lives somewhere on Long Island”. Valiotis refused to identify the one he labeled the “married archbishop.”

Archbishop Demetrios praised the honorees, stating that “they are extraordinary men. They are successful businessmen, very creative, but they have the characteristic that they are in church on Sundays.”

The archbishop also made reference to the First and Third Chapters of the Book of Revelation and he emphasized the term “be victorious.” He also conveyed the wishes of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

After the ceremony, Demetrios told TNH that “the School is trying, it is going ahead and we always look at the future ahead.” Regarding Valiotis’ statements, Demetrios said “Mr. Valiotis is always impressive”. When asked if he agrees with his statements, the archbishop said “that is another issue.”

Archbishop Demetrios and Metropolitans Gerasimos of San Francisco, Methodios of Boston, and Savas of Pittsburgh along with Consul general of Greece Stratos Efthymiou, Tomas Lelon, and Bishop Andonios of Phasiane listen to Efstathios Valiotis speaking about the need the Church in America to become Autocephalous.(Photo by TNH/Theodoros Kalmoukos)