FLUSHING, NY – It was more than a Christmas party. The annual holiday gathering of The Cyprus Federation of America and The International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) was a celebration with many dimensions – and a plethora of emotions.
The guests who filled the ballroom of the Terrace on the Park alternated “Merry Christmas” and “Kalles giortes” with “Good luck Koula,” “Thank you Koula” as they bid fond emotional farewells to Cyprus’ Consul General in New York, whose four year tenure ends imminently.
One community leader after another lined up to offer gifts and words of praise for, in the words of PSEAK President Philip Christopher “raising the bar,” for diplomats in New York.
During her acceptance speech, Sophianou said she was not trying to raise the bar. “I tried to respond to the community as you deserve, with respect and love,” she said.
The word “harmolipis” (joy/sadness) was heard often. It was bittersweet – like biting into a holiday sweet and encountering the cloves amid the sugar: Sophianou will be missed like no Greek or Cypriot official in recent memory.
Numerous speakers and guests expressed their confidence that Sophianou will return to American in the not too distant future – most assume in a new diplomatic capacity.
Many said they could not imagine a more genuine and effective representative of Cyprus and the struggles and hopes of its people, but His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios bestowed upon her ancient and rare title “Theopresveftis – God’s Ambassador”
The penultimate speaker – before the honoree, he said it was “a special joy and honor to take my turn to honor Koula for four wonderful years,” and convey the best wishes of the Archdiocesan Synod and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Archbishop Demetrios wondered out loud how the ebullient and gregarious public servant will respond to her new high level post in the Foreign Ministry of Cyprus which has limited scope for the community interaction and outreach in which she excels.
But he added his hopes and prayers that her God-given gifts and her faith will enable Sophianou to work for the resurrection and complete liberation of her country.
Among the special guests were Cyprus’ UN Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou and its Ambassador to the United States George Chacalli, Greece’s Consul General in New York and his wife Anthousa and Greek Consul Manos Koumbarakis.
Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, who is also from Cyprus, was also in attendance.