BOSTON – The Metropolis of Boston postponed at the last minute its Clergy Laity Assembly which was scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 5 with Archbishop Elpidophoros of America as its keynote speaker, blaming the Maliotis Cultural Center as “unsafe.” The Clergy Laity was supposed to take place at the Maliotis Center, which is located on the campus of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
Fr. Theodoros Barbas, chancellor of the Metropolis sent an URGENT MESSAGE on October 2 “To the Reverend Clergy and Faithful Stewards of the Metropolis of Boston” telling them that “Regrettably, we were just informed today that the Maliotis Cultural Center is not in a position to host our Metropolis Clergy-Laity Assembly this coming Saturday, October 5, due to urgent structural-electrical problems recently communicated to Hellenic College Holy Cross by an engineering expert. Seeing that no other venue is available at this late date, we are forced to postpone this Saturday's Assembly to a future date. More information will be forthcoming.”
In the meantime, the Metropolitan had left to go to Greece to bless a wedding.
The Maliotis Center, however, denies that the Center has structural electrical problems. The president of the Board of Directors Professor Philippos Seraphim told The National Herald that “Fr. Theodoros Barbas visited the Maliotis Cultural Center and he was satisfied about the upcoming visit of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. The only preparation that remains is the change of the electric bulbs on the EXIT signs. Yesterday there was a new visit by personnel of the College who stated that there are serious structural electrical problems. We don’t have any structural problem. If there was such a problem we would have corrected it immediately for the safety of the students and the many people that visit the Center daily. I don’t understand why they made such a statement before the visit of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros. The distinguished engineer Mr. Velivasakis is a member of the Board of Directors of the Maliotis Center and I would ask him to check if the statement of the College is correct.”
The National Herald revealed the story in its Greek edition, which caused the interim president of Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology Metropolitan Methodios of Boston to issue a statement.
Forwarding the statement “To the Reverend Clergy and Parish Councils of the Metropolis of Boston.” Barbas called Mr. Seraphim’s statement ‘fake news’. Barbas wrote the following: “In light of some incorrect and misleading information (fake news) being circulated by irresponsible and uninformed sources, please see the attached official statement of Hellenic College Holy Cross regarding the condition of the Maliotis Cultural Center. In order to properly and accurately inform your Community on this issue, please share this statement with your Parish leadership.”
The statement reads:
“Hellenic College Holy Cross Statement Regarding Condition of Maliotis Cultural Center October 3, 2019 “It was recently reported in the National Herald that the Maliotis Cultural Center located on the campus of Hellenic College Holy Cross is ‘safe’ to host events. The Cultural Center is owned by Hellenic College, but it is operated by the Friends of the Maliotis Cultural Center, Inc., a separate non-profit organization. Earlier this week, the College received a report from a professional engineer retained in connection with an ongoing litigation matter between Hellenic College and the Friends. Among other deficiencies in the Friends’ maintenance of the Cultural Center, the engineer reported that: (1) emergency lighting battery units failed to turn on, (2) emergency exit signs did not light up, (3) the smoke detector at the fire alarm control panel was missing, (4) the emergency light in the electric room failed, and (5) the battery for the fire alarm control panel needs replacing. The engineer stated, ‘The Cultural Center cannot be occupied without a working emergency lighting system.’ The report also stated that the ‘Cultural Center continues to be poorly maintained.’ “These electrical issues raise immediate, serious health and safety concerns. As a result, Hellenic College retained an electrician to address the needed repairs and determined that all events at the Cultural Center should be rescheduled until the repairs are complete. Hellenic College regretfully notified the Metropolis of Boston that the Cultural Center could not host the October 5, 2019 Clergy-Laity event.”
The National Herald has learned that on Saturday, October 5 representatives of the Board of Directors of the Maliotis Center headed by Philippos Seraphim met with Archbishop Elpidophoros and discussed at length the issue and the legal battle that continues between Hellenic College and the Maliotis Center that has cost some millions on both sides. The Archbishop will personally assume the responsibility for resolving the issue in a manner that is peaceful and just for both sides.
It should be noted here that there are other places where the Clergy Laity Congress could have taken place. Specifically, there is the Pappas Auditorium where the graduation and other ceremonies take place, and also there are the classrooms for the Assembly’s seminars. Also, at a very short distance there is the community center of the Annunciation Cathedral with meeting rooms, and the offices of the Metropolis are just steps away from the Center where seminars can be held.
It is reminded here that no new date was set for the Clergy Laity Assembly. The Metropolis of Boston has not had a Clergy Laity Assembly for three years, as TNH has written many times. Nor have financial reports been given about the income and expenses of the Metropolis, Philoxenia House, and the Camp in Contoocook, NH, or the huge donations given to the Metropolis which amount a few million dollars. An example is the $1,183,486 left to the Metropolis by Greek-American George Grinis in October of 2015.
There are problems in parishes in Boston and in other parts of New England pertaining to finances and also lower rates of participation of the faithful in the Sacred Services and the life of the communities. One of the most serious hemorrhagic wounds is the case of the dismissal of Fr. Nick Kastanas in July of 2017 from St. Athanasios in Arlington. There are serious questions about the way it was done, the reasons for the move, and its reverberations in the parish from which there has been a massive exodus of its members.
Fr. Kastanas was placed on suspension by the local hierarch two years ago because he filed a legal motion in court to recover his computer and personal items which had been confiscated by the Metropolis. Fr. Kastanas is not receving any salary, nor does he have medical coverage, and the long-term liturgical suspension without a final decision goes against the Canon Law of the Church. Fr. Kastanas was not permitted to bless his own son’s wedding a few months ago, or his grandson’s baptism.