Analysis: The Drama of Hellenic College-Holy Cross School of Theology

The National Herald Archive

Rev. Christopher Metropulos with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America at Fr. Metropulos’ installment as HCHC President. (Photo: TNH Archives/Theodore Kalmoukos)

Even a quick glance at the list of the Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology’s (HCHC) new Board of Trustees is enough to generate concern about the sacred institution with a great mission.

Granted, there are some notable exceptions, such as physician and medical professor Dr. Nicholas Madias. The vast majority of the new trustees, though, are priests who were appointed to replace those dismissed for daring to express in a signed document, as responsible stewards, their concern and agony about HCHC’s direction, and requesting the removal of its president, Rev. Christopher Metropulos.

It should be reminded here, though, that they were the ones who unanimously voted to appoint him in the first place, three years ago. Among the ones retained is Tomas Lelon, who is Metropulos’ koumbaro and a former HCHC president, whom Archbishop Iakovos reached the point of dismissing. His continuance is indicative of the stagnation that afflicts HCHC.

The Eparchial Synod hierarchs are included, though they rarely participate in meetings. Except for Metropolitan Methodios, who lives near the School, though it doesn’t seem he contributes anything substantial. Yet anyone in the know can legitimately ask: how can these trustees, most of them priests, contribute financially to HCHC?

Moreover, it is doubtful priests could have an opinion on administrative decisions, because they wouldn’t dare express their views in front of hierarchs, as they usually do in a surreptitious gossiping mode.

Clearly, appointing Fr. Metropulos as HCHC President was a mistake from the onset. This column raised the issue of his inadequacy early on, as well as his relationship with Lelon, even in an interview with Archbishop Demetrios.

As TNH recently revealed, the archbishop has admitted twice as of late HCHC’s dire situation. First, he cited not only a financial problem, but a leadership problem – a direct reference to Metropulos. Next, when challenged in the Holy Synod by Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, he promised to bring the matter to the Eparchial Synod – but to date has done no such thing. What a shame.

Again, it is important to note that because Demetrios is at the end of his Archbishopric tenure and his departure is imminent, 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 assumed 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 departs, because his true sentiments about the School are well-known to those in the area.

For the $12 million 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.

The new archbishop should make a bold decision to close Hellenic College. Certainly it would be a painful decision, but a necessary one, as for years, the College has been going nowhere. The truth of the matter is, it didn’t have capable and visionary leadership; it had exceptional mediocrities. It is not only costly, but an embarrassment to our community. Just think: Hellenic College and Brandeis University started the same year; just dare to compare the two.

As for the Theological School, it should be retained by itself, but advanced to the highest level, rediscovering its mission, which is the education and formation of Greek Orthodox priests with ethos, dedication, and sacrificial spirit. Not to produce religious clerks who mostly care about salaries and benefits.

Attention should be given to the students who are admitted to the School and also those who graduate and get ordained. Especially to those who remain celibate, because archimandritisism has caused many problems to the Church. Since they choose celibacy, they should go to the monasteries and not in the parishes near children and teenagers.

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