Numbers have their own language and certainly their own dynamics, because they accurately define facts and situations, and in a relentless way that cannot be disputed. Recently, especially from Christmas onwards, some information has been circulating both within the Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology, but also from the Archdiocese itself, regarding the number of students in both schools, that is, Hellenic College and the School of Theology, as well as the number of staff and also their annual operating costs.
In the meantime, no one, neither the hierarchs, nor the clergy, nor the members of the Board of Trustees, nor even the members of Leadership 100, which finances the schools with donations amounting to millions of dollars, knew the exact details.
We wrote a short questionnaire to the president of the Hellenic College and Holy Cross Theological School, George Cantonis, who answered with a delay of a few days. We quote intact the questionnaire and the answers of Mr. Cantonis:
1) TNH: How many students are enrolled at Hellenic College presently?
2) How many of those will be entering Holy Cross Theological School?
3) How many students are enrolled at Holy Cross School of Theology?
4) How many of those students are enrolled in the M. Div. program leading to the Holy Priesthood?
5) What is the total number of employees including professors at both Hellenic College and Holy Cross: administrators, secretaries, Deans, all who are salaried by the schools?
6) What is the annual cost of operation of Hellenic College – Holy Cross?
It should be noted that Mr. Cantonis wrote a long note trying to explain the numbers, referring to the pandemic, the reduction of the deficit, and the appointment of the new Dean of the School of Theology, without our having asked him a related question, as we made clear to him in our response.
Because the Church and our Omogenia, which in many ways support Hellenic College and the Theological School, have every right to know exactly what is happening in them, I think that when the numbers speak, there is no need for any further comment or explanatory whirlwind, or ‘spinning’, as it is called in the terminology of public discourse, by anyone, including Mr. Cantonis.
And yet every prudent and thinking person seeing these numbers, and specifically that Hellenic College has only 40 students, that is, classroom, not a college. It is a joke to talk about a college. For the sake of fairness, it must be said that Hellenic College was a problematic situation in the past; it could never recover from the years of the late Iakovos or the presidency of Thomas Lelon, despite the multitude of millions spent and the ambitious programs that were attempted, but in the end it could be said that it struggled to survive.
Today, however, we are talking about death throes. In other words, it is utopian to hope for and expect a miracle of resurrection. The last miracle of resurrection, except that of our Lord, was that of Lazarus – who died again.
Of course, the number of students at the Theological School does not make the situation more auspicious and hopeful, because we are essentially talking about only 36 students who are destined to be priests – of course, if they all get ordained. The condition of the School is very problematic, if not tragic.
After all, this is the essential issue, this is what the Church here and the Omogenia are interested in, and that is why they give the money – to make priests, quite simply.
As for the 56 employees that Hellenic College and Holy Cross have and pay, it is indeed an impressive number in terms of the total number of students, and basically exceeds the staff of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In other words, we are talking about a strange situation no matter how much Cantonis tries to tell us that the Academic Authorities said that staffing level was required for reaccreditation.
And one more thing: The National Herald is in a position to know not only about the ineffectiveness of many staff members, but also about the general confusion that prevails to the point that even secretaries decide on issues of utmost importance for the life and mentality of the School.
I left for last the annual cost of operating expenses, amounting to $8,978,892. Over the past five years, the School’s operating expenses reached $45 million. Of course, here things have reached the point that dynamic and groundbreaking leadership on the part of the Archdiocese was expected that would make bold cuts in structures and search for capable people, but the institutional leadership of the Archdiocese cares about and strives for other things and has proved from its choices so far that it favors ‘exceptional mediocrities’.
So the messianic hope that had been created was exhausted between Facebook and Twitter. Very much so.