CHERRY HILL, NJ – [Story/ Photos by Steve Lambrou]
The Saint Thomas Hellenic Afternoon School celebrated the Feast Day of the Three Hierarchs, Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, with great dedication and appreciation to these great pillars of our Greek Orthodox Faith and the Greek Letters.
The celebration took place on January 29 following the Metropolis of New Jersey’s celebration the day before in Wilmington, DE., where Saint Thomas’s 5th and 6th grades students wowed the audience with poems and their angelic voices.
The entire Saint Thomas Hellenic Afternoon School student body of 125 presented poems, oratorical biographies, and songs to remind older and younger generations of the legacy and contributions of these great Church Fathers. This year’s program was held in the Danielle Kousoulis Cultural Center instead of the church proper as Saint Thomas Church is in the midst of a multimillion- dollar iconography project with iconographer George Giariskanis and his team from Greece actively working on beautifying the church.
Echoing the remarks of St. Thomas proistamenos, the Very Reverend Archimandrite Avgoustinos Psomas and that of the school principal, Margarita Vrettos, the students’ presentations emphasized the philanthropic, monastic, liturgical and theological inheritance from these great bishops, as well as their emphasis and dedication to the importance of education and the Greek language. As it was noted, “we live in times where the forces of society wave against maintaining our Hellenic identity and the preservation of our Hellenic language. Yet, it is these excellent programs and presentations from the students based on the lives and teachings of the Great Hierarchs that give us hope that our beloved Greek language, which served as the medium to share the Greek ideals of democracy, philosophy, medicine and law to all of the civilized world, will continue and flourish”.
On this annual Feast Day, the Saint Thomas Hellenic School PTO recognized and presented gifts of appreciation to all the Greek School Teachers. Additionally, the PTO offered Tyropites and Spanakopites as a fundraiser and treat for the students.
Finally, the Three Hierarchs celebration continues and coincides with the Greek School PTO’s main fundraising event, the annual Greek School Dance. On February 10th, the students along with their families and Greek School Alumni come together to proudly watch the students perform Greek folk dances from various regions of Greece, and then dance the evening away with live Greek Music like a traditional Greek Panigyri.