His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria with National Philoptochos President Arlene Siavelis Kehl, and Vice President Anita Kartalopoulos. (Photo: Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society)
NEW YORK – His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa was welcomed to New York by the Executive Board of the National Philoptochos Society, who hosted a private breakfast at the Harvard Club in Manhattan.
In a statement, the Philoptochos said it was “pleased to have the opportunity to receive His Beatitude for his historical visit, the first of any Patriarch of Alexandria to America.”
The Patriarch was accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, National Philoptochos Spiritual Advisor Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos, His Eminence Metropolitan George of Guinea, and His Eminence Metropolitan Nikodimos of Memphis. Rev. Sub-Deacon Moses Kariuki Maina, who traveled with His Beatitude from the historic Patriarchate of Alexandria, also attended the event.
The following members of the Philoptochos Executive Board were present: National Philoptochos President Arlene Siavelis Kehl, Vice Presidents Anita Kartalopoulos and Stella Pantelidis, Protocol Officer Aphrodite Skeadas, the President of the Direct Archdiocesan District, Jennifer Constantin, and New Jersey Metropolis President, Eleni Constantinidis. The National Philoptochos staff, other Presbyters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and guests were also in attendance.
The breakfast commenced with an invocation from Patriarch Theodoros II. National President Arlene Siavelis Kehl then addressed the Patriarch and guests, saying, “as Philoptochos has as our mission to help those in need and the less fortunate among us, we are inspired by Patriarch Theodoros II’s ministry activity, including the building of churches, schools, and hospitals, as well as helping many Africans and Hellenes.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros in his message noted that the “National Philoptochos, one the women’s largest auxiliaries in the United States, is committed to philanthropy, not only here in our nation, but around the Orthodox world as well.”
Vice President Anita Kartalopoulos shared a greeting from National Philoptochos in Greek and commented that love of the Christian faith, Hellenism, and his fellow man has been richly evidenced by His Beatitude’s work in Africa.
President Siavelis Kehl and Vice President Kartalopoulos presented a gift to His Beatitude commemorating Philoptochos’ 90th Anniversary.
His Beatitude responded by recognizing the philanthropic work of the Philoptochos, stating: “Madam president, how beautiful that the name of your organization is Philoptochos, a beautiful Greek word, meaning friends of the poor. Who else was a true friend of the poor but Jesus Christ.”
He continued, saying, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this program today, not only to be thankful for this nice breakfast and gathering, but that you know, I am always with you, the Patriarch of the poorest region in the world, Africa. As I make my journey, I will always live my ministry which is indeed to be a philanthropist, a friend of the poor.”
Patriarch Theodoros II is visiting the United States to receive the Athenagoras Human Rights Award from the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarch in America. His visit to America is scheduled to continue through October 12 and includes a trip to Washington, DC to meet with governmental officials as well as local clergy.
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