BOSTON – Businessman and philanthropist Nick Manolis and his wife Voula from Dracut Massachusetts were the first Greek-Americans – besides the leaders of AHEPA who also happened to be visiting the Patriarchate at the time – that have met the newly-elected Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. They were visiting Constantinople and expressed a desire to meet their new Archbishop, who responded immediately. They met at the Ecumenical Patriarchate for an hour-and-a-half, had coffee together and during their conversation on May 14 he won over their hearts. They were not able to meet with the Patriarch because he was away to his native island of Imbros.
In a telephone interview with Nick Manolis from Greece, he said, “I thanked His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros for the opportunity to meet and speak with him. I found him to be very approachable, understanding, spiritual, humble, and personable.” He added that “I believe he will be the spiritual father that will move the Church of America to the next level with love, harmony, and inclusivity.”
Manolis also said that “we can’t believe that we actually met with our Archbishop of America. Truly I had tears in my eyes because I couldn’t believe that we were in the presence of such a humble and approachable prelate. We stayed with him for more that than an hour-and-a-half and he made us feel so comfortable that we thought we were friends for many years.”
Asked what issues they discussed, Manolis said, “we spoke on all issues and I have to tell you that he knew many of the topics we discussed.” He added that, “when we were leaving from the Patriarchate we entered again the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George and I thanked God for the election of Archbishop Elpidophoros to be the prelate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. He has such a pleasant personality,” and Manolis added, “he will be adored by the youth and I am saying this first for my own children. The Archbishop invited us to attend his enthronement at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York.”
It is reminded that Manolis and his family are the ones who distribute every Thanksgiving thousands of turkey dinners with all the trimmings, providing a decent meal to people in need.
They have established the Manolis Family Foundation, which helps people in need throughout the year, and also provides scholarships to students. He has instructed his employees at his restaurant not to charge those needy people who don’t have money to buy a decent meal.
Manolis also said, “the experience of meeting the Archbishop was unique and I believe it was from God. We happened to be visiting Constantinople to venerate the Hagia Sophia and the other Greek-Orthodox Shrines including, of course, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and we ended up meeting our new Archbishop of America.”
Speaking about Hagia Sophia he said, “I was so moved but at the same time I felt angry about this Great Church of Orthodoxy. I had difficulty accepting that this masterpiece was ours, it was Greek Orthodox and now it is a museum and they want to make it a mosque.”
To the question how did you find Constantinople as you had though in tour mind better or worse he said “I didn’t know what to expect but even only for Agia Sophia and the Ecumenical Patriarchate it is worth it to visit Constantinople. I was always thinking about Orthodoxy and Hellenism it was like I didn’t see anything else. We were impressed with the warm welcome and hospitality at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Someone came and showed us the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George and then he took us to the Room of the Throne, near the Patriarch’s office.” Mr. Manolis added that “never in my life I felt and I saw so much warmth, and hospitality, especially by our new Archbishop. I will be at his side for anything his needs.”
Voula Manolis said that “Archbishop Elpidophoros is the most friendly and approachable hierarch that I have never met in my life. I don’t know which adjectives to use to describe him. He is a down to earth man, humble, affable truthfully and honest, exactly what our Church in America needs. I truly believe he is sent by God.”