ASTORIA – The Cretan Association Omonoia NY celebrated its 100th Anniversary on October 20 at the Kritiko Spiti in Astoria with traditional music of the iconic Cretan artists, Nikos Zodakis and Manolis Kontaros. The "Omonoia" Association, founded by expatriate Cretans in 1918, currently has over 700 members, of which at least 350 are active, heading into the 4th generation of New Yorkers, who will take over the reins in a few years and will continue the efforts of this dynamic association.
The program began with the prayer led by the presiding pries of St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria, Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos and Nicoletta Papoutsakis singing the Greek National Anthem.
“I congratulate you, because your presence is necessary in the Diaspora and continue to pass the culture and your traditions to your children. That was the purpose of the Association, when it was founded 100 years ago,” said Fr. Papazafiropoulos.
Maria Koudellos acted as presenter of the program and Omonoia Vice President Panagiotis Rodamis gave the welcoming remarks. The Association’s Secretary Manolis Christodoulakis, presented the history of Omonoia highlighting the important moments of the Association, from its founding in 1918 up to the present.
Pancretan Association of America President Lefteris Dramatinos praised the members' efforts to keep the Association not only vibrant but also prolific for 100 years.
New York State Senator Michael Gianaris also expressed his deep appreciation of Omonoia, as well as the Cretan Omogeneia, noting that his first pre-election appearance 18 years ago was at an Association event, at their Broadway premises.
New York State Assemblymember Aravella Simotas received a warm round of applause when she said that “we are all Cretans tonight,” urging the members of Omonoia to continue to maintain their customs and traditions from generation to generation.
Omonoia presented a Cretan knife as a commemorative gift to the two Greek-American elected officials, with the hope that “they are not forced to use them.”
During the annual dinner-dance, the Board of Directors of Omonoia presented four awards: The “Venizelio” for the president of the Association, George Digenakis, The “Daskalogiannio” to Eleni Mouzourakis-Nakis, as well as honorary distinctions for two young expatriates with a charitable contribution: Evangelos Kouridakis and Stella - Nicole Frangoudakis.
Mr. Digenakis was honored for his contributions to the association with the “Venizelio” but was unable to attend the event due to serious health issues.
Visibly moved during the presentation, Rodamis asked Digenakis’ four children, George, John, Anthoula, and Sofia to accept the honorary plaque on behalf of their father.
“My father treated the Association better than his home, and you all know that. The Association has taught us many things. As children of Omonoia, we were born and grew up here. This is why Omonoia is 100 years old and will continue to exist. Even the controversies are for the sake of the Association,” John Digenakis said.
Eleni Mouzourakis-Nakis, the first woman to be awarded the “Daskalogiannio,” gave thanks for the honor, while the other two honorees, Evangelos Kouridakis and Stella Frangoudakis received a warm round of applause.
The traditional feast followed, as well as traditional dances performed by Omonoia’s corresponding sections.