EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey and Anne Michals, president of the Philoptochos of the Metropolis of New Jersey visited the family of Manolis Hajiantoniou in East Rutherford, NJ on January 6.
Hajiantoniou, who is 49 years old, and his 11-year old daughter, Maria, are fighting personal battles against pancreatic and brain cancers, respectively.
The visitors came to pray for their health and offer them holiday wishes, to bring them presents, and at the same time to take a close look at the situation.
Almost at the same time as the visit, the president of the Dodecanesian Society of America George Andriotis was signing a check on behalf of the Society and drafting an appeal to the members of the Board and the other Dodecanesian societies to take initiatives and stand by the family experiencing such an incredible tragedy.
Kristen Hajiantoniou spends every day with doctors and in hospitals to be present for the recommended treatments being undertaken by her husband and her daughter, while also taking care of their son Gianni, who is just 2 years old.
Metropolitan Evangelos told TNH’s Religion Editor Theodore Kalmoukos upon his return to his office after the visit that “we experienced touching moments,” but that “instead of giving, we received courage from these people.” He said the visit is just the beginning and that they will do everything they can to help the family.
Evangelos refused to reveal the presents they offered, underscoring that “they were presents of a father to a child and of a brother to a brother.”
Hajiantoniou was emotional when he told TNH, “This New Year’s and Epiphany were the most touching I have experienced. We did not expect, and we could never have imagined that on our return from treatments and the other medical appointments that we would be receiving letters from the mailman with messages of support and with the contributions of our fellow Greek-Americans. We thank the National Herald, which not only is fulfilling its duties as a newspaper and journalistic enterprise, but has inspired and passed the word on to our brothers to express their love and support.”
When asked about the metropolitan’s visit, Hajiantoniou said it was very touching for him and his wife and the children. It made the Epiphany holiday, which was special for him because he followed the coverage of the blessing of the water services in Smyrna and Famagusta, which were celebrated for the first time after 94 and 42 years, respectively, even more emotional.
“Metropolitan Evangelos encouraged our hopes and gave us strength and we had a much better experience of Epiphany,” he said.
Metropolitan Evangelos and the Philoptochos president remained at the home of the Hajiantoniou family more than forty-five minutes during which they had a conversation with Manolis and Kristen Hajiantoniou.
Hajiantoniou revealed to TNH that the guests brought the family fruits and sweets, and that the Metropolitan presented them with a personal check of one thousand dollars. He aslo offered aid from the Metropolis for three months back rent.
“The Metropolitan touched us deeply because he did not stop with the offers of financial aid, but he demonstrated his sincere interest for my children. He told Maria to contact the community of St. George in Clifton so that she could attend the afternoon Greek school free of charge,” Hajiantoniou said.
Evangelos was not interested only in the family members struggling with illness, but also for the little two-year old boy Giannis, who celebrated his nameday the following day, the same day as the Metropolitan’s father, Ioannis Kourounis.
The Hajiantoniou family did not have time to christen their son because at the time they had planned to do the baptism. Manolis was admitted to the hospital for the first time and began his fight with cancer.
“The Metropolitan said he will take care of everything with the baptism of my son and we thank him so much,” Hajiantoniou told TNH.
At the time this article was written Manolis Hajiantoniou contacted us again and asked us to express thanks on his behalf to the Ethnikos Kirix Foundation, Nick Andriotis, Lefkos Pyrgos and Julie Pantazis, the Greek supermarket Titan and Costas Mastoras, Panagiota Papacostas, Eleni and Anastasia Tsounis, Anastasia and Theodore Kalogiannis, Costas Ekentzis, Niki Pappas, and Constantine Tomopoulos for sending their contributions.
“As we spend the better part of our day with the doctors and in hospitals we don’t have time to thank these wonderful people one by one. Please thank them on our behalf for their sacrifices and the overflow of their souls,” Hajiantoniou said.
HOW TO HELP
The family’s needs are ever growing, Bills keep coming and the expenses are increasing dramatically for the many tests and treatments for Manolis and Maria, which are not covered by their insurance. They are unable to cover their needs and pay the rent.
TNH is calling upon all Greek-Americans to offer their contribution by sending their love and their gifts, as well as checks payable to: Manolis & Kristen Hajiantoniou at 236 Park Ave (2nd Floor), East Rutherford NJ 07073.