Archdiocesan Cathedral’s 86th Annual Gala Honors Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos

NEW YORK – The 86th Annual Gala of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on May 31 honored former long-time Cathedral Dean Rev. Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos and his late wife Presvytera Nikki. The event, described by the attendees as the most successful event in many years, was held at 583 Park Avenue, a landmark building built in 1923 and designed by the renowned architectural firm Delano & Aldric, was a multifaceted celebration according to the Gala Chairs, Dr. John Athas and Dr. Monica Tadros.

“The Cathedral is everyone’s home,” noted Dr. Tadros and then spoke about the history and mission of the Cathedral and the sense of our global community. “What defines us as a people is that we honor history through tradition and that this leads to an extraordinary sense of satisfaction and stability. The history of the Cathedral began in 1891 with a group of perhaps 500 men and 20 women called the Athena Brotherhood and it was the first association of its kind in the Western Hemisphere whose mission was to promote Hellenism and Orthodoxy in New York… with their persistence, they organized the first church in New York which they called Holy Trinity.”

Left to right: George Stephanopoulos, John Catsimatidis and Margo Catsimatidis at the Archdiocesan Cathedral’s 86th Annual Gala. Photo: TNH/Yanna Katsageorgi

Dr. Tadros continued with the history of the Cathedral, Archbishop Athenagoras and Iakovos who put the Orthodox on the political map of America in the 1960s and mentioned the community’s beloved priest Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos for whom the Cathedral served as a springboard to spread what he called “the jewel of our Orthodoxy.”

Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral Archimandrite Chrysostomos Gilbert received warm applause from those present and declared in his remarks that “today, we celebrate all those who have worked to build and maintain the existence of our Cathedral. One of the people who worked tirelessly and continuously is Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos and his wife Presvytera Nikki, whose contribution to the life of our parish members is irreplaceable and is a source of inspiration for the younger generations, as well as for their four children, George, Mother Agapia, Marguerite and Andrew, who continue the wonderful work of their parents. We are blessed, because over 200 people are currently serving the work of the church with dedication, energy and purpose. The arrival of Archbishop Elpidophoros in 2019 strengthened us and inspired us to continue our work.”

Yanni Papastefanou and his orchestra entertained the guests at the Archdiocesan Cathedral’s 86th Annual Gala on May 31. Photo: TNH/Yanna Katsageorgi

Elias Lambiris, Cathedral Board of Trustees President, introduced the honorees characterizing them as pillars of our soul, and referred to their life and work, noting that both had understood the importance of the Greek culture that they elaborately and harmoniously applied to their lives and to their family, creating with their gentleness and stoicism an example of life for everyone.

Before Archbishop Elpidophoros presented the Holy Trinity award, he thanked all those who support the Christian faith, and spoke about the contribution of the Christian family of Fr. Stephanopoulos and the Presvytera to the Community and everyone’s gratitude for their great and varied contribution to the life of the Church. “Hearing the name Stephanopoulos makes all Greek-Americans proud,” said the Archbishop.

The Stephanopoulos family in 1977. Photo: Courtesy of Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos

He continued: “These two gifted people, this wonderful couple, had in them all the love, but also a broad theological education, and a deep experiential knowledge, so that they could see the function of the parish both from the point of view of the minister, and from that of the believer. Their contribution to our communities is invaluable.”

The Archbishop also referred to the founding of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York City in 1922, under the name Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America which was a pivotal moment in the history of Orthodoxy in the New World and marked the beginnings of a more organized church life under the patronage of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Presvytera Nikki and Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos. Photo: Courtesy of Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos

Afterwards, George Stephanopoulos and his sister Marguerite represented their father, and accepted the award on behalf of their parents, who remained lifelong, humble pilgrims of Orthodoxy. The well-known journalist George Stephanopoulos also spoke with very few touching words about his parents and their devotion to the Church.

Among those present were Dr. Miranda Kofinas, Nicholas Kourides, Dr. George Liakeas and his wife Nicole Contos, John Catsimatidis and his wife Margo Catsimatidis, Stavro Sousou, Paulette Poulos, Froso Beys, Stella Pantelidis, Nancy Papaioannou, Nektaria Trikounakis, Antonis Rigopoulos and his wife Stella Rgopoulos, Antonis Argyridis, Catherine Moutoussis, the nieces of Fr. Stephanopoulos and many other valued members of our community.

The music program featuring Yianni Papastefanou, together with Elena Kouros and an excellent orchestra, kept the attendees entertained and dancing throughout the evening.


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