Home Church & Religion Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Holds Virtual Greek Letters Celebration

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Holds Virtual Greek Letters Celebration

New York – By Catherine Tsounis

Greek Learning includes a culture and a language which has an unbroken oral tradition of more than 3500 years. A virtual celebration of The Feast of the Three Hierarchs & Greek Letters was held Saturday, January 29, 2022.  His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America invited all to this virtual celebration and cultural event, dedicated to the Ecumenical Teachers and Holy Fathers of Christianity and their Greek spirit and Greek letters. The Department of Greek Education Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America organized the program with Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis, Director of Greek Education, Mrs. Athena Tsokou Kromidas, President of the High Council for Greek Education in the U.S., Fr. Gregory Telemachos Stamkopoulos, Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne and St. Spyridon Church Washington Heights and associates. Natasha Vafeiadou was moderator of the panel discussion that followed.

            The Forum and Panelists included: His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Dr. Christoforos Charalambakis, Prof. Emeritus of Linguistics, University of Athens; Dr. Emmanuel Varvounis, Dean, School of Classics & Humanities, Democritus University of Thrace; Dr. Nicholas Alexiou, Dept. of Sociology and Hellenic American Project Queens College; and Dr. Zoe Gavriilidou, Linguistics, Vice Rector, Democritus University of Thrace.

            “The Three Hierarchs found in the libraries of Classical Greece a wealth of knowledge and instruction,” said His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.  “Let us celebrate their memory and honor their legacy. We must preserve our language, culture, and Hellenism. This is our inheritance that will be passed  to our children. The highest point of  Greek learning was combined with Christianity through the contribution of the Three Hierarchs. Let us hope this is the end of the pandemic”.  

“The Three Holy Hierarchs, Basil the Great of Caesarea, Gregory the Theologian of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, combined Greek philosophy and Christian faith,” said Dr. Christoforos Charalambakis. They believed in education. They used Greek to spread their messages and the Greek language”.

 “St. Basil encouraged the selective study of Greek texts,” explained Dr. Charalambakis. “In  ‘Address to young men on the right use of Greek literature‘, he  reassured his youthful readers that despite their pagan origin, poets, historians, and philosophers were compatible with Orthodox Christian thought. He tried to integrate the ancient Greek morals into the frame of the Christianity. Attention must be paid to those passages in which virtue is praised. All the famous philosophers praised the virtue. The work and remembered. St. Basil believed that too seems to be, when one is not, is the height of in justice. Young men should study the ethics of noble pagan literature which coincide with the teachings of the Scriptures”.  

            Greetings were delivered by Alexandros Ch. Polychronidis, Rector and Professor at the Department of Medicine, of the Democritus University of Thrace. “We will confer an honorary doctoral degree to His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros from the Democritus University of Thrace when His Eminence visits Komotini, during his Pilgrimage to Northern Greece and Turkey, in February- March 2022.”

            “Greek learning helps persons express their higher inspirations,” explained Dr. Emmanuel Varvounis adding that “Greek learning is a way of life based on the accomplishment of the ancient Greeks. The Greeks have given us the life of the mind. Christianity was founded and rooted in a world which had Greek learning. St. Paul expressed Christian messages in Greek. Greek learning, along with the life of the mind, gave us the life of the spirit and a new way”.

          “Massive Greek immigration to the United States did not occur until the twentieth century”, said Dr. Nicholas Alexiou. “The first massive wave took place between 1900 and 1924 and a second, smaller wave took place between 1965 and 1980. Very few persons know about the 1912 wave of immigration. The American-born Greek population is 66%, in comparison to 34% of foreign-born Greek Americans. This is an indication of a significant transformation of the group, since it supports that the post-1965 Greeks are beyond the immigrant generation. Greek Americans are no longer an immigrant group, but an American ethnic group. Greeks are now Americans of a certain ethnic background”.  For more information, visit https://hapsoc.org/

            “The Program entitled “Education and certification in the teaching of Greek as a heritage language for educators in the diaspora” was designed for Greek language teachers who wish to enhance their teaching knowledge in the teaching of Greek as a heritage language,”  said Dr. Zoe Gavriilidou,  The curriculum consists of Greek language and bilingualism, Greek as a heritage language, lesson planning and classroom management”.

            The panel discussion and chat room brought out some major points. This writer was impressed with the University of Thrace achievements. Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH) was established in July 1973, with its first students attending just the Department of Law and the Department of Civil Engineering in 1974. It was named after the ancient pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Democritus who was born in the city of Avdira. He is primarily remembered for his formulation of the atomic theory of matter. Its nucleus based in Komotini, Greece and two faculties and 20 departments in four Thracian cities – nine in Komotini, five in Xanthi, four in Alexandroupoli and two in Orestiada.1


The University of Thrace on the border, is perpetuating Greek language, learning and culture. They should be given a major 2022 award for trying to keep Hellenism alive in a volatile, political climate. Dr. Zoe Gavrilidou, Dr. Emmanuel Varvounis and staff must be commended for their extraordinary dedication.

            “The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is our center,” said President Mrs. Athena Tsokou Kromidas of the High Council for Greek Education in the U.S. “Hellenism began from churches in the United States.” President Kromidas and Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis, Director of Greek Education are accomplishing miracles. Father Stamkopoulos is shaping a positive perception to the community through his outreach work. I collaborated with Dr. Charalambakis as an Aristotle Onassis scholar in 2003. I had no idea of St. Basil’s writings as described by the professor.

This presentation was outstanding.

            From the 1990s to the present, this writer has collaborated with Dr. Nicholas Alexiou. His excellent presentation was from a man who shaped generations of Greek Americans at Queens College. Dr. Despina Siolas, parent and William Spyropoulos School graduate of St. Nicholas Church in Flushing,  commented in the chat box that “we need locations more accessible to people located all over New York City. Right now, it seems like it’s in pockets.”  

            This writer believes that Greek must be preserved in the Greek Orthodox Church: a language perpetuated  in Western civilization through the scientific, technical, education and all fields of life. Only the Greek Orthodox Church is capable, untainted by political correction and close to the original language of  the scriptures. This was a historic virtual presentation that showed the participant the upholding and continuation of Ancient Greek Learning in Christianity laid down by the work of “The Three Hierarchs”.


1.     https://duth.gr/en/University/Our-Institution