Analysis: Painful Admissions about Holy Cross Theological School

The National Herald

The main administration building of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek-Orthodox School of Theology in one of the most prominent areas of Brookline Massachusetts. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

We have written about the dire situation at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology recently and in the past. There are three reasons that I revisit the issue: 1) The recrudescence of the financial situation to the point that the school cannot even meet payroll and for this reason “secret” meetings and teleconferences are held about the possibility of leasing part of its real property. 2) The revelations made by Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco during his exclusive interview with The National Herald that “they are suffocating up there (at the School) financially, let us not include the rest. I receive every day e-mails saying for God’s sake we are drowning.” 3) A letter of clarification that was sent to us on January 4, 2019 from Argyris Vassiliou the chairman of Leadership 100 in which he stated, “we read your recent article on Hellenic College/Holy Cross and would like to bring to your attention that Leadership 100 has offered a total $20,403,617 for scholarships since 2000. We have just completed our second $10 million grant and the scholarship program is up for renewal in 2019.” I had written that Leadership 100 has given $10.0 million dollars.

The late Archbishop Athenagoras who became Ecumenical Patriarch, and the pioneer Greek immigrants will be turning in their graves because it was through their vision and sacrifices that they purchased that jewel of Boston real estate which their successors are trying to get rid.

Gerasimos’ admission that “they are suffocating up there” is very painful but not even one bit of the School’s property should be leased or sold. Let the Metropolitans contribute from their own secret and known coffers and even from their salaries.

The School’s president, Fr. Metropulos should acknowledge the catastrophe and go way along with his koumbaro Thomas Lelon, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees, and some others as well. Let a group of lay Greek-American volunteer academicians and businessmen assume the management of the School for the spring semester until Patriarch Bartholomew decides to do what he should have done a long time ago, before the odor of death began to emanate from the Archdiocese and the School of Theology.

What I am saying is that because Demetrios is at the end of his archbishopric tenure, the proper thing is for HCHC not to be shackled with new appointments, such as the presidency and deanships. These extremely serious tasks should be undertaken by the new archbishop, who should clean out the stench in the Archdiocese generally and HCHC pointedly. The new archbishop, as Board Chairman, should renew the faculty with able, respected, and learned professors and certainly with a new able and a visionary vice chairman and trustees. Another thing: the theological school will find its peace when the local hierarch of Boston also departs. Look at the situation at some parishes in Boston and New England.

For the $12 million in annual expenditures, the combined HCHC student body of 154 is unacceptable. Metropulos made some cuts, but not nearly enough. Not all of those professors, department heads, assistants, and secretaries are needed. A house cleaning is needed. Argyris Vassiliou’s note to TNH that “Leadership 100 has offered a total $20,403,617 for scholarships since 2000” is really worthy of praise but is also a matter of concern because it gives the impression that this eminent organization has been downgraded to a fundraising agent for the theological school, while it could have done many essential things for the Greek-American Community to be proud of. Today, it simply has to wonder about “the black hole” of the Theological School.

Thanks are owed to George Behrakis for making Leadership 100 legally independent, moving it out of the Archdiocese in 1998, otherwise nothing would have been left in the accounts if we judge by what happened with the Archdiocese, the St. Nicholas funds, and the School’s endowment fund.

Now, before the Board of Leadership 100 approves another $10.0 million dollars for the School, it should request a detailed accounting regarding how much was given for scholarships, how it was distributed and to which students, and whether all the funds were used for scholarships from the year 2000 up to now. There should be serious reports from independent auditors and not “quickies” from the School’s “economists” on the School’s official letterhead.

The new archbishop should make a new beginning at the Archdiocese, the Metropolis of Boston, and other metropolises, and certainly at the Theological School. Otherwise the current stagnation will lead to self-destruction.