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Church

HCHC Holds Its Eightieth Commencement

BOSTON – Hellenic College – Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology held its eightieth commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 21 at the school’s Pappas Auditorium. It was the first in-person Commencement since the COVID pandemic. In 2020 no commencement took place and in 2021 it was done virtually.

Present were Metropolitans Methodios of Boston, Savvas of Pittsburgh and Bishops Ioannis of the Antiochian Diocese of New England, Joakim of Amisos, and Athenagoras of Nazianzos.

Twelve students graduated from Hellenic College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and twelve received their Master of Divinity Degree from the School of Theology that can lead to the Holy Priesthood – a woman was also among the twelve. Six received the Master of Theological Studies, including a physician Dr. Ioanna  Popa. Five received the Master of Theological Studies, six received a Certificate in Byzantine Music, and six received a Certificate in Youth and Young Adult Leadership and Ministry.

From the Commencement Ceremony of HCHC. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

George J. O’Donnell was the Hellenic College Valedictorian and Nicholas George Eliadis was the Valedictorian of Holy Cross School of Theology.

Eliadis said:

“By the Grace of God, we have reached this amazing moment of our graduation. We have been through a lot, but we will never forget our time here. We came to know many people, some of which helped us to progress both academically and spiritually. We have grown together, we have excelled together, we have grieved together, we have laughed and rejoiced together. We will always remember each other in our prayers, and we will always remember the memories which we created together.

“A few days ago, I attended a meet and greet event with the Alumni Executive Board. There I was able to see the alumni reminisce about their time at Holy Cross, recalling stories which took place years ago. After all these years, it seems like they just picked up right where they left off. I hope that one day we may find ourselves again on this campus, so that we may reminisce about all the things that went on during our time here.

Honoree Paulette Poulos delivers her acceptance speech. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

“In years to come, wherever we may find ourselves, we must pray for our school and we must support our school. This Sacred School plays a vital role in the future of the Orthodox Church in America. This school must always remind us of our uniqueness, that we are not only American, but that we are also Greek-Orthodox. It is important that we do not forget the immortal Greek Language, through which Christ’s words, the dogmas of Christianity, the teachings of the Fathers, and our ecclesiastical traditions were maintained and spread. As Orthodox Christians, but even more so as graduates of this theological school, we have the responsibility to maintain and disseminate this inheritance, not only to the next generation, but to the whole world. Saint Paul even reminds us of this in his second epistle to the Thessalonians: ‘Brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught.’ Beloved classmates, may the Power of the Most Precious Cross always follow us and protect us, as we go on to do great things.”

Paulette Poulos, the Executive Director of the Leadership 100 endowment, was honored with an honorary Doctor of Humanities. Constantine Triantafillou, Executive Director and CEO of IOCC, was awarded Doctor of Divinity. He was not able to attend and instead Rev. Elias Villis received the degree on his behalf.

Archbishop Elpidophoros, hierarchs, and officials of HCHC are chanting the hymn ‘Christ is Risen.’ (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

In accepting the honorary Degree Poulos said among other things:

“This day belongs to you, the beloved graduates who have worked tirelessly toward receiving your degree and preparing for your graduation. We join with your beloved parents and families in congratulating you as you begin a new chapter in your lives. To those of you graduating from the Theological School, who have received the special calling to become priests of our Archdiocese, we pray that your ministry will be a fruitful and meaningful one offering your full self to the Church and to the parishes you serve.

To those of you who have completed your courses here at the College, I want to assure you that there is a place for you to serve our Archdiocese and to offer your talents toward paving the way for other young men and women to become a vital and active part of this Church.

“As students at Hellenic College, you had the unique opportunity to learn the Greek language and experience our Hellenic culture. We are truly blessed to have these gifts and no matter what path you choose in your life, I urge you to cherish and preserve the language and heritage that has been given to you through your beloved parents and ancestors. On a personal note, I had the privilege of being blessed with two exceptional parents who raised us in the Church and instilled in us the values of our Orthodox faith and Hellenism.

“I am not a scholar or a celebrity, but a worker in the vineyard, who has been blessed to be mentored by a great leader, Archbishop Iakovos of Blessed Memory, who set the course for our Church in the modern era. I have been doubly blessed to carry out his legacy as Executive Director of Leadership 100 and continue to enjoy the support of the exceptional men and women who have led us to the current day.”

Consul General of Greece to Boston Stratos Ethymiou in his message said that, “it has been an enormous privilege serving Greece in America, and I would like to thank you all for your cooperation, efforts, and love. Warm congratulations to all graduates! This is a very important day for parents, professors and students… I want to thank especially the trustees, sponsors, and generous supporters for their tireless commitment to Greek Orthodox theological education and to the school’s mission to forge values, principles, and the future leaders of our Church.”

A commemorative photo of the Holy Cross Valedictorian Nicholas Eliades, with Archbishop Elpidophoros, Paulette Poulos and Demetrios Logothetis. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

Archbishop Elpidophoros, in his Paterexhortatory address, among other things said:

“I am so happy to be here with you this week and this very special day, my second Hellenic College and Holy Cross graduation in person – but my first as Archbishop of America! It was 2004, and I was teaching here for a semester. Who could have predicted at that time the tremendous obstacles and difficulties that would lie in wait for us, so many years later?

“But you have persevered. You have triumphed. You dug in your heels, and all of you – student, faculty, and administration, you were determined to complete your School Year, despite the pandemic.

“None of us should underestimate the accomplishment that this Commencement Ceremony represents. In the midst of the greatest and most wide-spread societal challenge in living memory, this campus soldiered on. And you, the Graduates of 2022, are the sign of our victory in Christ.

“My brief address today is traditionally called a ‘Paterexhortatory’, the affirming admonition of a father. But I have to tell you all, that seeing the accomplishments of our precious ‘Σχολή’ – how you have all pulled together to bring stability, steadfastness, and security to this vital Institution of our National Church – you fill me with encouragement.

“As your Archbishop and father in Christ, I stand here for the Eightieth Graduation of this School, in the Centennial Year of our Sacred Archdiocese, and I am filled with hope and excitement for the future of Orthodox Christianity here in the United States.”

Messages and greetings were also delivered by President HCHC George Cantonis, Fr. John Magoulias, Vice-Chairman Board of Trustees, Demetrios Logothetis, Chairman Leadership 100, Dianna Demetrulias, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Jeanne Rangles on behalf of the National Philoptochos.

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The establishment of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York City 1922, under the name Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, was a very important turning point in the history of Greek Orthodoxy in the New World.

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