NEW YORK – The Athenians’ Society began what promises to be another year rich with cultural and philanthropic events with a traditional vasilopita cutting at St. Demetrios Cathedral’s the Petros Patrides Cultural Center in Astoria where the society also honored Nikos Papakonstantinou, the Director of the Greek Press office.
The guests were welcomed by Panos Adamopoulos, the Society’s president, who thanked its members and board of directors and all who contributed to the success of the event, including the sponsors who made it possible to donate the proceeds to the Brefokomeio, the Foundling Home of Athens.
Adamopoulos also acknowledged the leaders and member of other community organizations and the participant in the society’s events who are drawn by their love of Athens regardless of their own roots and emphasized the importance of cooperation among them for the good of Greece and the progress of the community.
He took a moment to note the passing of Dennis Syntillas, the driving force behind the creation of Astoria’s Athens Square Park who was named the society’s honorary president.
“I now present to you our beloved Nikos Papakonstantinou, a friend of our society who has always stood by our side and welcomed us to the Press Office. He supported our dream of establishing out library there, where we also present discussions and lectures on the third Tuesday of the month.”
Tassos Mouzakis, the Society’s vice president who served as Emcee, spoke about the honorees life and career. Papakonstantinou was born in Karditsa in Thessaly and has homes in Volos, where his mother has roots, and Thessaloniki where he spent his student years.
Papanconstantinou, who was very touched by the honor, and asked for a moment to collect his thoughts “so I can say a few words to you, my friends, and to my friend Panos.
He said, in the spirit of Isocrates, who said “Greeks are they who partake in Greek education – Έλληνες είναι οι μετέχοντες της Ελληνικής παιδείας,” we are all Athenians who love and Athens and what it symbolizes and the Greek achievements which have their sources there.”
Being a Greek public servant, he could not fail to comment on the Greek election and the fact that “today is an important day for the people of Greece, who voted for a new beginning. Europe will look at us differently and more carefully.”
He then thanked the society for honoring him for his 35 years of service to the Greek nation which is drawing to a close – Papaconstantinou surprised amd saddened his friends by announcing he will retire and return to Greece this spring – but declared “I will always have you in my heart. Our ties are indissoluble, and I will come visit you.”
Papaconstantinou reminisced about his two tours of duty in New York and his tenure in Washington, where he welcomed his New York friends who travelled there for numerous demonstrations on the Cyprus and Macedonia issues.
He concluded by expressing his faith that his successor will continue to support the society, which will always be welcome at the Press Office
After Papaconstantinou was presented with a gift, a wonderful reproduction of a classic New York street clock, Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, the Dean of St. Demetrios Cathedral, praised the Society for its cultural and philanthropic work and blessed and cut the vasilopita. He also conveyed Archbishop Demetrios’ prayers for a happy and healthy New Year for all.
Entertainment was provided by representatives of the choir of the St. Demetrios schools directed by Vangelis Harizoglou and a live band led by Kostas Fotiadis.
Among the dignitaries were Amb. George Iliopoulos and Amb. Vasilios Philippou, consuls general of Greece and Cyprus respectively, xxx Triantafilou, the founding principal of the Cathedral’s High School, and Timoleon Kokkinos, the principal of the parish’s afternoon Greek school