THE GREEK ORTHODOX METROPOLIS OF CHICAGO’S
2010 HELLENIC LETTERS CELEBRATION

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Celebrating the contributions of Greek literature throughout the ages and its ongoing worldwide appeal, this year’s annual Hellenic Letters observances offered a series of spiritual and cultural programs.

The celebration began with the annual Aristeion literary competition for youth on the morning of Saturday January 9, held simultaneously in all parish Greek schools. The participants were challenged by a single topic on which to write and that was revealed on the day of the competition.

An “All-School Celebration” gathered students from the various Metropolis Greek Schools, on Saturday, January 23 at St. Nectarios Church in Palatine, IL. This unique program highlighted the importance of Hellenic education through various art forms, including poetry, music, dance and drama.

The following morning, the DePaul area church of St. George hosted a memorial service, offered by Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago for departed educators, broadcasters and journalists who tirelessly worked to preserve Greek fluency and literacy amid the waves of assimilation that often marginalized immigrant cultures and languages.

A highlight of the week was “A Special Presentation in Celebration of Hellenic Letters” hosted by the Saint John the Baptist Church, Des Plaines, Illinois, on Wednesday, January 27. Guest speakers, Reverend Elder Maximos, of the Holy Monastery of Iviron on Mt. Athos, and Professor Konstantinos Niarchos, Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Athens, enlightened attendees with their engaging presentations regarding the expression of Orthodoxy through Hellenic culture and ideals. Additionally the renowned vocalist Vasilios Gaitanos with his wife Demetra, delighted the audience with a selection of traditional Greek folk and popular songs that highlighted the Hellenic spirit.Liturgical celebrations for the Feast of the Three Hierarchs – all Christian transformers of Hellenistic culture in their early Byzantine world – began with great vespers (on Wednesday, January 27) at the Palos Hills church of Sts. Constantine and Helen, led by Metropolitan Iakovos. The following morning (Saturday, January 28), Chicago’s Metropolitan presided at the Feast’s Divine Liturgy at the northwest side parish of Holy Trinity. Both services were followed by programs presented by the parish’s respective Orthodox elementary schools.

Joined by The Reverend Elder Maximos, Metropolitan Iakovos along with Bishop Demetrios con-celebrated the Sunday Divine Liturgy on January 31 at the St. Demetrios church of Chicago. The week’s celebrations culminated in the annual Hellenic Letters luncheon that followed the liturgy, an event uniquely honoring pre-eminent educator Fotis Litsas, and awarding winners of the Aristeion. A distinguished feature of the afternoon included the singing of traditional Byzantine hymns offered by the children of the Metropolis of Chicago School of Byzantine Music under the direction of Reverend Fathers Tilemahos Alikakos and Sotirios Malamis.

Perhaps the highlight of this year’s celebration was the presence and participation, for the entire week, of its keynote speakers Reverend Elder Maximos, and Professor Konstantinos Niarchos. Their compelling presentations witnessed to the true universality of the Orthodox faith, and the classical consciousness that the ‘letters’ of the ancient Greeks are indeed a heritage and an inspiration for and belonging to all the world’s peoples.