Guest Viewpoints

Remembering Nick Karakas

February 25, 2021
By George Matsoukas

Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) mourns the falling asleep in the Lord of Nicholas Karakas, one of OCL's first supporters, board member for 34 years, and fourth president 1993-1996. His presidency stressed his total commitment to promoting transparency and accountability in matters of church administration in the archdioceses of all jurisdictions.   

"The project for Orthodox Renewal" was introduced at a Press Conference in New York City in 1994 and Nick made arrangements for select board members to present the book to His All Holiness at the Phanar.  In fact, Nick organized two visits to the Patriarchate with delegations of board members and supporters of OCL in 1994, 1995. At these meetings, with Nick's guidance, the future of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the USA and Orthodox Christian Unity in North America were topics of discussion.  Nick also led board members and OCL supporters on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and a meeting with Patriarch Diodoros I of blessed memory. In this meeting the role of the Arab Christians and their relationship to the Patriarchate were discussed. The delegation also suggested that it would be a wonderful opportunity for the Patriarchate and youth from America to come to the Holy Land like a Peace Corps experience and help the Patriarchate maintain the Holy Shrines. Under Nick’s stewardship, OCL developed two studies for consideration at the request of Archbishop Spyridon, after meeting with him during his short tenure as Archbishop. His Eminence requested OCL develop papers on the Challenge of Outreach and the Female Diaconate. Dr Nicholas Gvosdev conducted the first study and Timi Loomos Freshman conducted the study on the diaconate. Both studies were completed and presented to the Archbishop. 

Reflecting upon his tenure as President of OCL in 2012, during the 25th Anniversary of OCL, Nicholas wrote, “Our churches should be fully committed to work in openness and full administrative disclosure. The laity, who are the stewards of the church, and heirs of their grandparents who built most of the buildings, need to remain vigilant and demand openness on all levels of church administration. This is their duty if they are truly committed to Orthodoxy.” 

Nick and his gracious wife Sophia hosted the OCL board in their home on two occasions when the board met in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a caregiver to Sophia for many years along with his two daughters. He moved to Naples, Florida and was living in the home of his daughter Margaret and her husband these past three years. Nick remained an active churchman in his local parish in Naples, Florida. 

Nicholas Karakas lived a long and active life. In addition to his work with OCL he was a successful businessman, art collector, philanthropist. He loved the city of St Louis and was a participant in many community projects to revitalize the city. He was one of its greatest advocates and cheer leaders. He was active in AHEPA. He was a Phil-Hellene and established two chairs Hellenic Studies and Byzantine Studies at the University of Missouri-St Louis. His family supported Holy Cross Seminary. Nick contributed to the development of the publication The Art of Prophecy (2000). He was also a sponsor of an international sculptor project displayed at the new Athens Greece Airport during the 2004 Olympics. The two works were initiated and completed by artists involved in the local St Louis art community. 

It seems to me that Aristotle’s idea of Happiness: “Full use of one’s powers along lines of excellence” guided Nick Karakas in all his endeavors. He accomplished many things that make a difference in the quality of life for many with a sense of excellence and happiness. Now he rests in peace. His daughters have his blessing and we, at OCL, will keep him and his family in our prayers and memory.  

George Matsoukas is the Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Laity.


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