Join us for the Thyranoixia of the Panagia Chapel Conference Center at the DRC. Please RSVP to your church office by October 2, 2017!
Join us for the Thyranoixia of the Panagia Chapel Conference Center at the DRC. Please RSVP to your church office by October 2, 2017!
Dear Sisters in Christ,
As we all know, Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to form in the Atlantic Ocean, cut a path of destruction from the Caribbean to Florida, and has caused catastrophic damage, destroying homes and critical infrastructure. As Orthodox Christians, we are called to be stewards of God’s creation and care for all of God’s children.
While we realize that many of your parishes and even some of your local chapters may have already chosen to support IOCC or other relief agencies, I am writing this letter in hope that you can continue fundraising efforts in order to support the Metropolis of Atlanta Hurricane Irma Relief Fund. This fund has been established to exclusively support any necessary relief and recovery efforts to the individuals, families and parishes that were affected by Hurricane Irma in our Holy Metropolis of Atlanta.
The response to our initial appeal was very limited. I ask that you help encourage your parishioners and also consider making a donation from whatever emergency or discretionary fund you have in your local chapter. Every dollar can help directly impact someone in need through temporary housing, food, clothing, or home repairs.
We have a proven record of the positive impact your donations made to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Once again, we plan to follow the success of that initiative and provide the necessary relief to the victims of Irma that are attempting to rebuild their lives and dreams. Let us continue the legacy that Philoptochos has in aiding the faithful in our Metropolis. There is unmet need amongst our Orthodox faithful and together, we can change that.
With God’s help we can find the strength, understanding and resources to assist our suffering parishioners, not only in the beginning with material resources, but also, spiritually and emotionally.
To contribute to this worthwhile cause, please make your check payable to the Metropolis of Atlanta earmarked for Hurricane Irma Relief.
Checks are being collected directly with me so the funds can immediately be dispersed to those in our Metropolis in need. Please mail your check to:
Dee Nicolaou, Emergency Relief Chair | 27242 Breakers Drive| Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
Your Sister in Christ,
Metropolis of Atlanta Emergency Relief Chair
Who I am and who God wants me to be. Encouraging each other to be the best version of ourselves.
When: March 17-19, 2017
Cost: $165 Per Person (Make checks payable to the Metropolis of Atlanta Philoptochos)
Price Includes: 2 nights lodging, 5 meals (Friday Dinner-Sunday Brunch), around-the-clock beverage and snack station and all program materials.
Recommended To Bring: Soap, shampoo, shower shoes, hat, gloves, pillow, towels, sturdy shoes, umbrella, flashlight and bible.
Retreat Check-In: From 4pm-6pm on Friday, March 17, 2017.
Registration: Want to register? Registration Deadline is March 1, 2017. Please print, fill out and return our 11th Annual Spiritual Retreat Registration Form and the Retreat Waiver Form. We look forward to seeing you all there!
Our Official Flyer: Want to share the details of our 2017 Spiritual Retreat with your chapter members? Feel free to print off our 11th Annual Philoptochos Spiritual Retreat Flyer to share with others!
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” Henry David Thoreau
I chose the above quote because as we Orthodox Christians move towards the beginning of the Lenten period, it becomes increasingly important for us to appreciate and participate in the beauty of our Lord’s created world. In our fast-paced and technological world, it is easy to slip into a habit of checking our phones, emails, and agendas while remaining ignorant to the simplicity of nature and the peace it can bring to the soul.
…He went out and departed to a solitary place, and there He Prayed. Mark 1:35
St. Seraphim of Sarov spent forty days and forty nights praying on a rock in the forests of Russia without the need for drink or food. While many of us are no where near that level of piety or spiritual strength, there is something to be said of his devotion to nature and the example he sets for Orthodox Christians.
Henry David Thoreau was not an Orthodox Christian. However, the quote I pulled from his Walden reveals a piece of the Orthodox experience that is too often neglected. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” For our use as Orthodox Christians, let us view going “to the woods” as being more than simply spending time in nature. Rather, let us see it as an intentional effort to spend time with God in his natural and simple world. Too often do we run about our busy lives without thought for the complexity and depth that our relationship with God can take. While God can of course permeate every aspect of our lives our communion with Christ, like any relationship, requires intentional upkeep and time to simply be with the other. This is reflected in Job 12:7-10, “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” What better way is there to experience God in the world than to see His love reflected in every natural and created thing?
With spring fast approaching and the season of Lent upon us, I have developed a habit of sitting on my balcony to read for class while enjoying a cup of Earl Grey tea. I find that the fresh air, morning sun, and songs of the neighborhood birds refreshes my spirit in the midst of my busy student schedule. I encourage every reader of this article to find their own sacred space to be alone with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; to go into your version of “the woods” and live deliberately through His eternal love. Amen.
Hellenic College Senior
Reading: Psalm 96
Prayer: Make me worthy, O Lord, to know and love Thee, not with knowledge from the exercise of a scattered nous; but make me worthy of that knowledge whereby, beholding Thee, the nous glorifies Thy nature, in divine vision which robs the mind of awareness of the world. ~St. Issac the Syrian
Our guest author is Sarah Livick Moses a senior at Hellenic College in the Literature and History program. She plans to attend Holy Cross in the coming fall to begin her Masters in Theological Studies. She is from Sts. Markella and Demetrios parish in Mary Esther, FL. She has been married to husband, John Thomas Livick-Moses for 6 months.
Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son in who I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11
On January 6th, we celebrate the Theophany of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On this day we commemorate the baptism of our Lord and the revealing of the Holy Trinity. On the day of Theophany, we see that God the Father prepares Christ for His 3 years of ministry, and in the 30th year of His earthly life led Him to the River Jordan to be baptized by Saint John the Baptist. On this glorious day, God sent the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Descending upon this act in this form consecrated the baptism by the Holy Spirit. To complete the revelation of the Holy Trinity on this feast, God the Father speaks these words, “You are my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11) Therefore, all of the wonders of the Trinity were brought to us on this day.
Lord, when You were baptized in the Jordan, the veneration of the Trinity was revealed. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved, and the Spirit, in the guise of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words.
(Excerpt of the Apolytikion of the Holy Epiphany of our Lord)
January being the first month of the worldly calendar, people use the opportunity to seek renewal and set goals for the upcoming years, often for ways in which to improve. I implore you to think of how often these goals correspond with our life in Christ. All things can be seen in the light of Christ, so we can connect him to all that we do in life; living our lives according to Him. The Church in Her wisdom offers us the blessing of the great feast of Theophany. On this feast, we are given the enlightenment of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So let us all look to renew ourselves through the waters of the Jordan, and make new strides to glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Reading: Mark 1:9-11, Mathew 3:13-17
Prayer: Christ our God, in this New Year we pray for strength, discernment, honesty, humility and above all else, love. May each of our days be filled with eagerness and glory to You, so that we may be partakers of Your eternal light. Amen.
Our guest author is Alexander Kamilaris a first year seminarian at Holy Cross. He is a member of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Raleigh, NC. Alex has a strong love and passion for youth work and outreach ministry.
Dee Nicolaou, Metropolis Board President
St. John the Baptist- Tampa, FL
Retired from Honeywell International, Inc., an American multinational conglomerate company that produces commercial and consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers, from private consumers to major corporations and governments.
Philoptochos member for 35 years since 1981 at Saint John the Baptist, Tampa, FL Annunciation Chapter and 6 year at Saint George, New Port Richey, FL.
Make a difference in other people lives.
Feeding children a Thanksgiving Day Meal at the Rainbow Program of the Child Abuse Council of Tampa, Florida every Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
Develop new programs and projects that will encourage younger members to join.
Jeannie Demas – 1st Vice-President
Holy Trinity – Clearwater, FL
Retired restaurateur; Philoptochos member since 1974 at Holy Trinity, Clearwater, FL
When I first came to Clearwater, an acquaintance asked me for $10. I asked her why, and she said, “I am signing you up for Philoptochos.” That was it. I joined and helped when I could and am a “member” to this day.
During our Christmas/Membership Event, we collect underwear & socks which we distribute to local charities. At Easter, we put together bags of shampoo, soap, etc. during our March meeting and then distribute them to Woman’s shelters as “go bags.”
Everyone will agree that the message “Philoptochos isn’t just for old ladies” needs to be spread. Younger women have to join us and help with our philanthropic work. A push for younger members is essential!
Rose Marie Connell, 2nd Vice-President
Holy Trinity – Raleigh, NC
President, Connell Realty & Mortgage Co., Inc.; Philoptochos member for 40 years at Holy Trinity, Raleigh, NC and St. Barbara, Durham, NC
My Grandmother and my two aunts were charter members of the Philoptochos chapter of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Raleigh, and my mother joined as a bride when she moved to Raleigh in 1936. I attended some meetings with my mother as a young girl, and I was impressed by all of the good works this organization was accomplishing.
I initiated the Bereavement committee and was gratified to chair for approximately 30 years.
The recruitment of younger women into our organization.
Betty A. Lantz – Corresponding Secretary
St. Sophia Cathedral – Miami, FL
Retired, office supervisor, Vice Mayor of City of South Miami; Philoptochos member 43 years at Annunciation, St. Sophia, Miami, FL.
I joined because of the love shown to me by the then President Presbytera Toula Mekras. She made me secretary at my first meeting and guided me.
I worked on many activities: fund-raisers, luncheons, fashion shows, dinners, and many more.
The area I would like to see strengthened is membership.
Linda F. Cepeda – Recording Secretary
St. George Greek Orthodox Church – Knoxville, TN
Retired: Worked in biological and cancer research (Ph.D. in Biological Sciences) for many years and later taught middle school, high school and college science courses. Been a Philoptochos member for six years in Knoxville, TN.
I joined Philoptochos because we had just moved to Knoxville and I wanted to get involved with the Greek orthodox community to meet people and make friends.
A chapter activity I am involved with is a project we have with the Wesley House – a non-profit organization serving Knoxville’s disadvantaged children and seniors. We have organized “Christmas in July” to provide school clothes and shoes for the kids and we sponsor a Christmas program to provide the seniors with personal/household items.
An area that I would like to see strengthened is bringing our women parishioners from countries other than Greece into the organization. I feel that they have important perspectives and a lot to offer.
Margaret McBrayer Sarafoglu, Treasurer
St. Sophia Cathedral – Miami, FL
Retired R.N.; Philoptochos member for 43 years in St. Andrew and St. Sophia, Miami, FL.
“Presbytera Toula Mekras asked me to join and put me to work. She partnered all of us younger women with an older member.”
“I spent the summer helping Evan Mekras Scurtis collect and deliver clothing to the International Refugee Center for Middle East refugees coming the United States for re-location.”
“Membership, but not just numbers, younger women and women of color. We are not just Greek women but Orthodox women from all nationalities.”
Cynthia (Cindy) Xenick, Assistant Treasurer
St. John the Baptist- Tampa, FL
Occupation: elementary education teacher, also, worked for the child abuse council as a puppeteer, educating 3rd and 4th graders in our Hillsborough County Schools about abuse and bullying. Taught religious studies at our St. John Day School for 7 years.
The main reason i joined was because my mother was a faithful member and she encouraged me to join. Don’t really remember my first meeting, however, I was always so impressed on how Philoptochos always helped those in need of, food, clothing and prayers.
Our “Annunciation” chapter, has a Christmas Luncheon where we raised enough money to buy shoes for many of the students of a local elementary school. It’s a poor community and many of the kids come from migrant families. They need at least one pair of shoes as many go to school with old or worn-out ones. We contact Payless Shoe Company and we get gift cards and then assistant principal gives the cards to the needy families.
Establish meetings at all Philoptochos levels: Chapter, Metropolis and National, to address women’s issues, to help women who need assistance and spiritual guidance when in trouble.
Presbytera Camelia Bitere
Holy Trinity – Augusta, GA
Office Administrator; Philoptochos member for 15 years.
Philoptochos made a difference in my life in a time of need. I promised myself that I would be involved, so that I can help others like I was helped.
Thanksgiving baskets, Vasilopita, and all activities to raise the money that the Metropolis Philoptochos needs
I think Philoptochos is strong in all areas.
Presbytera Evi S. Kaplanis
Annunciation Cathedral – Atlanta, GA
School Counselor, Visiting Lecturer for Modern Greek Language; Philoptochos member for 31 years at St. Nicholas Church, St. Louis, MO; Holy Trinity, Raleigh, NC; Annunciation Cathedral, Atlanta, GA.
As a Presbytera, I joined Philoptochos soon after my husband’s, Fr. Paul Kaplanis, ordination in our first assigned community, the St. Nicholas Church in St. Louis, Missouri. My membership gave me the honor and privilege of getting to know the wonderful women of the parish and to be part of their Philanthropic activities.
It is really hard to pick just one activity of my local chapter in which I am involved because I try to get involved in all activities, either fundraisers, bake sales, luncheons or whatever it needs to be done. As a member I feel that I have to be an active participant and a true supporter of our Philoptochos Mission Statement.
The area of Philoptochos that I would like to see improved in the future is MEMBERSHIP. I would love to see young women of our parishes be willing to join our organization, embrace our mission, and find a fulfilling purpose in their lives.
Teacher for several years in the public schools and one year at St. Basil Academy; Philoptochos member for 22 years in Mobile, AL.
All of my family grew up in Philoptochos. All the ladies of my church growing up in Grand Rapids Michigan were active members of Philoptochos. We had a very dynamic community growing up.
I was the director for the Autism Camp at the Diakonia Retreat Center in May, 2015. We had nine families with children of Special Needs.
Membership – Every woman has a role with Philoptochos.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church – Winston-Salem, NC
Corporate Storage & Handling Specialist; Philoptochos member for 20 years at Annunciation, Winston-Salem, NC.
Being part of Philoptochos enabled me to be a better steward of our church and our community. I wanted to be part of the rich traditions that bind us together as a group of strong ladies with many talents that we use to help others.
I am the chair for H.O.P.E (Help our People Eat) it is a program that serves over 700 lunches to children in the food deserts of Winston-Salem, along with handing out of 900 lbs of produce. I also serve on their board as Vice President.
The area I think we need the most improvement in is having the younger women become more involved.
Marty Sikaras Driscoll
Holy Transfiguration – Marietta, GA
Retired teacher/tutor; first joined Philoptochos at Annunciation Cathedral, Atlanta, GA and then member for 26 years at Holy Transfiguration, Marietta, GA.
When I moved to Atlanta, it was obvious. The Philoptochos Mission was not to be denied, and the enthusiastic welcome of the Annunciation Cathedral women made it easy to join. I wanted to be part of Philoptochos!
I have helped with our chapter’s support of a local school program “Threads of Kindness,” which provides clothing and other personal items to school children who are in need and who are at risk due to family circumstances.
Philoptochos chapters have unlimited opportunities to expand outreach on the local, metropolis and national levels. The challenge is to offer those hands-on “connections” that will commit a greater percentage of chapter members to be active in Philoptochos outreach.
Dormition of the Theotokos – Greensboro, NC
Homemaker/Former teacher; Philoptochos member for 25 years at Dormition of the Theotokos, Greensboro, NC.
A wonderful lady of our church asked me to join. I told her I had small children and just wouldn’t be able to come often. She said for me just to come whenever it worked for me and to please not feel I had to be at everything. She made me feel so comfortable, and today I say the same words to others who feel they do not have enough time!
Our chapter has taken on a Newcomer’s School in our city. It is a school that helps children of refugees learn English and prepares them to move on to other schools in the system. We collect and deliver food on a regular basis for this school and their families, and we also hold a school supply drive over the summer. At Christmas, we involve the church community in helping to give Christmas to three families from that school. When we deliver the gifts, we are all so moved by the families’ enormous appreciation!
Like many of us, I would like to see membership improve. It is important to make everyone feel that even if they have one hour to give, that hour is great. No one should feel they have to be at everything all the time. We all have so much going on in our lives, and we all have different amounts of time to give. Everyone’s time is appreciated!
St. Barbara – Durham, NC
Retired elementary school teacher; Philoptochos member for 18 years in Durham, NC and a charter member of the St. Barbara chapter.
I have always been impressed with the work that the Philoptochos does on the local, metropolis and national level.
I am involved in our local Medical Ministry that services families of patients in Duke Medical Center Pediatric Blood and Bone Marrow Unit. The Medical Ministry assists patient’s families with housing, food, and funeral expenses.
I would like to see our chapters attract more younger members in our church communities.
Effie Cacavias Moraitakis
Annunciation Cathedral – Atlanta, GA
Homemaker; Philoptochos member for 36 years at The Annunciation Cathedral.
My good friend Valine Georgeson and I walked into a meeting, and we were elected to serve on the Board! We learned a lot from our many devoted Philoptochos sisters through the years.
Valine and I took over our Zamimi Apron Project many, many years ago, and we have handled orders from many Philoptochos parishes all over the Archdiocese.
I strongly believe that we need to focus on our membership to include our young women today. Philoptochos is a great organization that is a very vital part of our church. We need all our women and even men in our parishes to help with our many philanthropic needs.
Holy Trinity – Raleigh, NC
Accountant; Philoptochos member for 10 years at Holy Trinity, Raleigh, NC.
I joined because I have always known about Philoptochos since my mother (who is now 88) was a past president, and being an active member of the Church, I was aware of all the things Philoptochos does to help those less fortunate. I wanted to join the other women of the Church and become involved in the wonderful things that our chapter does.
I have been involved in MANY projects of our chapter but a couple of my favorites has been 1) the Health Fair that we initiated several years ago and which opened up to the parish and the community at large a place where people could come and receive free of charge health services such as spinal screenings, blood pressure checks, dental services, just to name a few, 2) collecting school supplies for children of domestic violence, etc. that are housed in a local women/children facility, 3) the annual Bake Sale we have in December which provides most of our funds for the year and also a portion of which is given to a locally named charity. This year we will be supporting the children who end up in Hospice Care.
In our chapter, I would like to see Philoptochos doing more work out in the community rather than just donating money.
St. Mark – Boca Raton, FL
Retired Elementary School Principal; Philoptochos member for 10 years in Boca Raton, FL and 15 years in Ontario, Canada.
I joined Philoptochos because I wanted to give back to the community. At the first meeting I attended I was so impressed by the outreach campaign that the women were doing. I also remember my mother and aunt being very involved in our home chapter in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
I love being involved in our Chapter challenge, and the Caring Kitchen in Delray Beach. We have been preparing and serving meals at the Caring Kitchen for years, so it was only natural that we choose it for our Chapter Challenge. We are sprucing up their current facility and look forward to helping them move into a larger and more appropriate building in the near future.
I would like to see Philoptochos take the lead and involve other ministries in our philanthropic work. For example, we work with the GOYA and Greek School on many of our campaigns. The youth learn the importance of helping others and understand what it is that Philoptochos does. Hopefully that will translate into future membership!
Holy Mother of God – Tallahassee, FL
Homemaker/Tailor; a charter Philoptochos member at Holy Mother of God, Tallahassee, FL and Philoptochos member for over 26 years.
I love to help people. I learned from my Grandmother in Greece to help others. She always put something aside to give to others because she cared and wanted to help people.
I always try to help families in need. After Hurricane Katrina, I helped a family of four settle in my neighborhood. For over a year, I was closely involved in helping them establish and rebuild their life in a new community. I still continue to help other families whenever there is a need.
I believe that Philoptochos should be 100 per cent for donating and helping people in need. That’s the reason for the name “Philoptochos, friend of the poor.”
Holy Cross Holy Trinity Cathedral – Birmingham, AL
Retired, worked at University of Alabama; Philoptochos member for 40 years in Birmingham, AL.
All of my friends were members, and I wanted to participate.
I have been chair of the Vasilopita. We usually make 0ver $20,000.
Membership – More young members.
St. Demetrios – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Retired teacher; Philoptochos member for 50 years at St. Demetrios, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
While in the choir, a couple of the older ladies invited me to come to a Philoptochos meeting. I went reluctantly not wanting to hurt their feelings. Once there I was hooked. The ladies were fun, creative and energetic. Philoptochos filled two passions of mine which were helping those in need and organizing fundraising projects with a splash.
Working with the social service group has been one of the most fulfilling positions that I have done.
I would like to strengthen the Philoptochos image. We desperately need younger members. Young women want to be involved, but they shy away when we older women step in their way. They want to be recognized as doers in their own way.
My dear sisters in Christ,
My beloved ones, the ladies of the Philoptochos in the Metropolis of Atlanta, Greetings in the Name of our Incarnate Lord and Blessed Savior Jesus Christ! At this joyous and blessed time of year when we receive the Divine Gift of our Savior, I send you greetings and best wishes with all of my heart.
I believe that the Mother of all Greek Orthodox Christians is our Church. In the Church, there are many events that take place in the course of the year, all because of the birth of our Lord and Savior. St. John Chrysostom said that if we do not celebrate Christmas, there would be no Easter to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, nor Epiphany to celebrate His baptism. For this reason, Christmas is a very important celebration for us as human beings. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I would like to share the true meaning of life that God has created for us, and the spirit we should focus on having this Christmas.
In today’s society it seems like we are doing things so fast, that we are not taking the time to understand the precious gifts that God has given us. Because we are running in the society in which we are living, we are missing the beauty of nature, relationships, and the understanding of what life is all about. As a wonderful figure used to say, “We have lost the light of the world, and we have found ourselves in the deepest darkness.”
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
As we approach the magnificent celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, we should think about God’s Gift of our Savior. According to Saint Paul, He gave His only and Begotten Son out of love for mankind so that we can enjoy the beauty in the world He created. And eventually, His Only and Begotten Son gave his own life out of love and for our salvation. God has built us a palace, and we have to appreciate its beauty. We have to find this light in the world again in order to maintain the beauty God has created for us human beings in the universe in which we are living.
Jesus said of Himself that He was the Light of the World. In the Holy Scriptures, in Isaiah, we see many references to Christ as light. We have been called by Him out of the darkness and into the light of His Holy Nativity, so that the light of Christ may shine out of our own hearts and lives.
The wonderful ladies of the Philoptochos Society of our Metropolis, I share these thoughts with you because, you the ladies, have given your life to the Church and have shown constant understanding of God’s gifts and this important message. You have shown understanding through your selfless acts, your kindness, and doing all that is possible to bring peace and harmony to the people who face society’s hardships. I pray that you ladies always find the strength to be lifted from the light that is coming from the star that guides the wise people to the life of Jesus Christ; His birth and the Christian way.
As we approach the Nativity, once again, I wanted to send you my Christmas greetings and best wishes. Praying that God will bless you and your loved ones with the gift of His grace, the peace of His presence, and the joy of His love, I remain,
Paternally yours with love in our Incarnate Lord,
+ Metropolitan Alexios
+ ALEXIOS Metropolitan of Atlanta
A “living” legend in the Atlanta Metropolis Philoptochos Society is Tarpon Springs, Florida native Duchess Arfaras. Eighty-six-year-old Duchess simply “loves doing the work of Philoptochos,” and her devotion to help those in need inspired her journey to ultimately organize, fund and sustain the only Philoptochos social service “office” in the Metropolis of Atlanta.
The journey started in 1977 when Duchess became the first president of the charter chapter at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpon Springs. Her challenge was to persuade the established group of 300 women who raised money for the church to now become philanthropic workers for Philoptochos. With “please, thank you, and a smile” she invited them to meetings. Once “they came and saw” what the chapter was doing for those in need, the membership grew into “one large family, and they started raising money” for Philoptochos.
Duchess continued her leadership in both chapter and Metropolis roles, and she actively supported many fundraising events. Philoptochos fundraising for Duchess chimed a Greek saying: “Half the shame is mine for asking; half the shame is yours for telling me “no!” When the local chapter generated $25,000-$30,000, a combined food pantry and social service “office” was launched. Duchess is credited for her initial support and her ongoing efforts to support the project.
Located in a small space at the back of St. Nicholas Cathedral, the Philoptochos social service “office” is open three days a week to help the needy of the greater Tarpon Springs community. Two Philoptochos workers welcome, interview, and offer food and assistance (medical costs, living expenses, and other needs) to those who qualify.
“In January 1999, Archbishop Spyridon awarded the prestigious Medal of St. Paul to Duchess for her faithful and tireless efforts of serving those in need.”
Duchess continues to support chapter fundraisers to raise money for the poor. She serves as the Advisory Chair for the annual “Heart of Gold” fashion show, a fundraising event Duchess named “because if you are Philoptochos, you have a heart of gold.” She supports the chapter’s scholarship program and the Thanksgiving and Christmas gift certificates drive where admission to the Christmas party is a $25 or more gift certificate earmarked to help battered women and their children, many of whom attend the party.
Duchess’ legend also recognizes her efforts to help several families who were victims of a Florida hurricane. Because important records were lost, the stricken families did not qualify for aid, so Duchess made a direct plea to Archbishop Iakovos for help. He met with Duchess and agreed to grant $5,000 assistance to each family.
In January 1999, Archbishop Spyridon awarded the prestigious Medal of St. Paul to Duchess for her faithful and tireless efforts of serving those in need. Duchess is a true Philoptochos legend indeed!
Duchess lives in Tarpon Springs. She has a daughter Irene Steffas, daughter in law Anna and son Damian and four grandsons – Nicholas Steffas, Michael Steffas, Michael Arfaras and Steven Arfaras Arfaras.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christmas is a holiday, we as Orthodox Christians look forward to. A time to thank God for our blessings and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time of the year that we not only have good times, food and fellowship with our families but with our beloved Church family as well.
Let us enter this special time of the year with love and commitment to Christ. Traditions that bring our family, our community, and our Society together, making us feel a part of our past and even more importantly, our future.
The Christmas season is a time for love, peace and joy. It’s a time for remembering your own traditions and a time for creating new traditions.”
Enrichment and a deep sense of pride and loyalty to our Philoptochos is what I believe tradition is. For over the past 80 years Philoptochos has given each of us gifts of which money cannot buy; passion to be committed, dedicated, and trained volunteers; numerous opportunities to improve our communities and the lives of those less fortunate; special friendships and the satisfaction which comes with helping others in need. Traditions are abundant in the Philoptochos and we continue to build our future on the strong traditions of our past
The Christmas season is a time of love, peace and Joy. It’s a time for remembering your own traditions and a time for creating new traditions. I hope that your traditions will enrich your relationships and strengthen you personally. Thank you for the traditions you continue to embrace in the Philoptochos that make us a strong society. May your holidays be special!
Now, let us begin 2016 with thoughts of a brighter tomorrow, filled with health, happiness and love for each other.
Your Sister in Christ,
Dee Nicolaou, President
Metropolis of Atlanta Philoptochos
Let us look at perfection by reading Hebrews 7:27; “He (Christ) does not need to offer sacrifices every day for His own sins and for the sins of people.” Of course the Lord did not need to offer sacrifices for His own sins! He had none, for He is the only perfect one, “Who offered one sacrifice, once for all, when He offered Himself.” And He did all that for you and for me.
Jesus was not in need of perfection but we most certainly are. And ours must be a never-ending road to perfection. There is no such thing as instant perfection or salvation. The mentality of instant perfection and salvation has always been foreign to the Orthodox way of life. That is why I feel that it is highly regrettable that the words of Jesus, “You shall be perfect,” were translated as “You must be (or be ye) perfect.” The Greek verb “eseste” used in the original is a verb in the future tense. It is an unshakable promise which, in no unclear terms, says that perfection is to be granted in the future by grace. The incorrect translation of the future into a present tense and in the imperative mood implies that man is expected, downright ordered, to reach perfection now.
“Jesus was not in need of perfection but we most certainly are. And ours must be a never-ending road to perfection.”
There was a very holy monk on Mt. Athos, highly revered by all the monks on the holy mountain who tried to imitate is holiness. When a novice asked monk replied, “I have only just begun my son, I have only just begun.” Perfection in this life according to Orthodox Theology is not the state of “I have arrived. I have made it. I am saved.” It is rather a state of “I am on the way. I am moving. I am growing. I am ascending.” Our life is never complete. We shall always be “on the way.” Our very perfection is to always grow more perfect, more like Christ and that is a never-ending process.
To be perfect, as our God is impossible, but to keep moving toward perfection is always within our possibility with the help of God. In the Orthodox Christian spirituality, salvation and perfection is not a state of being. It is the movement towards THEOSIS, toward becoming Christ-like, which can never be fully achieved. It is growing towards perfection. It is a movement without ceasing from sin to salvation, from slavery to freedom, from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth, from despair to hope and from death to life. And when we reach those stages, salvation and perfection is moving: from truth to greater truth, from wisdom to greater wisdom, from joy to deeper joy, from understanding to deeper understanding and from an all-embracing love to more of it. This process must http://atlantametropolisphiloptochos.org/go on eternally. We can never reach the stage where we can say: “Well, now I have made it. All that remains for me to do is to sit around and enjoy being perfect.” So my message to us is to stay on the route to perfection and salvation at all costs.
† Rev. Fr. Soterios Rousakis Protopresbyter
Saint Stefanos, St. Petersburg FL
Fr. Soterios Rousakis, Protopresbyter, is the eldest son of Rev. Fr. James and Presvytera Vasiliki Rousakis and was born on August 11, 1972, in Atlanta, GA. Father Soterios has three children, Vasiliki, 13; Christina, 11 and Demetri, 9 and enjoys spending time with his children, playing golf and basketball. Father believes that the Orthodox Church has a great treasury that needs to be continuously shared with the faithful, and with hard work and dedication, he will continue to strive in sharing that treasury.