BOSTON – Fr. Christopher Metropulos was dismissed as President of Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, according to well-informed sources who contacted The National Herald from within the School and the Archdiocese. Fr. Metropulos did not respond to TNH’s telephone message.
These developments began on Thursday, April 17, 2019, which was the deadline for the School to reply to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which through a letter dated April 4, 2019 asked for explanations regarding the School and specifically the size of the student body, as well as about issues of academic, financial, and administrative nature.
The letter was signed by Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education, and it left open the possibility of revoking the School’s diploma granting authority. The letter stated very clearly that “the Board may conduct an adjudicatory hearing to determine whether to revoke or suspend the institution’s degree-granting authority.”
In the meantime, George Cantonis, a member of the Board of Trustees from Florida who until recently was one the strongest supporters of Fr. Metropoulos, last week spent many days at the School conducting on-the-spot research and studies on the issues related to the School, including finances. Cantonis did not return TNH’s telephone call.
A few weeks ago Kevin Derrivan, the School’s Chief Financial Officer and the closest confidant and co-administrator with Fr. Metropulos, suddenly resigned after six years of service at the School. Derrivan was contacted by TNH but he also declined to speak.
It was widely circulated that Metropolitan Methodios of Boston will assume temporarily the presidency of the School, which he visited Monday morning, April 22.
It is reminded that Metropolitan Methodios had served in the past as president of the School during the tenure of Archbishop Iakovos, who was forced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to dismiss him.
On Friday, April 19, Archbishop Demetrios relieved Fr. Metropulos of his duties as president of HCHC and ordered him not to participate in Holy Week services at the School’s Holy Cross chapel. Fr. Metropulos did not participate in the Palm Sunday Liturgy, nor at the Service of the Bridegroom that evening.
The issue of the dismissal of Fr. Metropulos from the School arose almost a year ago, specifically on June 4, 2018, when a group of members of the Board of Trustees wrote a confidential letter to Archbishop Demetrios pointing out the dire academic, financial, and administrative condition of the School and called for Fr. Metropulos’ immediate removal. They stated very clearly that, “We need a leader who will work with us – not ignore us; who will solicit and listen to our expertise – not sideline and patronize us; and who will bring out the best in the students, staff, faculty, trustees, alumni, and benefactors of this sacred school.”
The issue had come up at the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate during the period when both Archbishop Demetrios of America and Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey were members of the Holy Synod. The Archbishop did nothing despite the promise he had given in the Synod that he would dismiss Fr. Metropulos.
Procrastination has led to a financial dead end. The letter to the School states, “as of June 30, 2018, HCHC had borrowed nearly $9.5 Million from its temporary and permanently restricted funds to finance its ongoing operating losses. Borrowing had increased significantly over the past few years, from $1.4 million in FY15 to almost $3 million in FY18. The institution has acknowledged that there is no plan for repayment for these loans.”
Fr. Metropulos was chosen for the presidency of the School on October of 2015 from among another 41 candidates, despite the fact that there was a family relationship with the vice chairman of the Board of Trustees Tomas Lelon. TNH mentioned the issue in its articles and had also raised the matter during an interview with Archbishop Demetrios.
The same information sources from within the School and the Archdiocese told TNH that last week that Fr. Metropulos was negotiating his remuneration for the early termination of his five-year contract since it has one more year left.