The Metropolis of Chicago St. Iakovos Retreat Center continues to get closer to breaking ground for its new 35 room Residence Hall which will hold 140 guests. It will be the future home for Fanari Camp and many other programs of the Metropolis, Parishes, Hellenic and other Groups.
Spearheaded by Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, a mid-west premier viewing of the movie “The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer” drew over 1,000 attendees at the Pickwick Theatre, the use of which was donated by the owners, Dino Vlahakis and David Loomos. Many viewers had the same reaction to the movie, referring to it as a “life changing” event. The movie filmmaker, Dr. Norris Chumley was present to answer questions after the movie, relating how this experience lead him to embrace Orthodoxy. The event raised over $25,000 for the Retreat Center.
Since the Metropolitans Dinner last fall, when seven $100K donors were honored, two more have stepped forward with a $100K gift towards the building of the Residence Hall. Harold Anagnos of the Ascension of our Lord parish in Lincolnshire, IL relates:
“Our Greek Orthodox community is in dire need of programs and facilities that will bring our people together across our Metropolis. The programs and opportunities to meet will explode once we have our own permanent facilities to go away for a day or a week and focus our time in true Orthodox fellowship and expand our spiritual awareness. It is another way to bring us closer to The Lord and to each other as a community. These relationships will last a lifetime.”
The second such $100K donor is the extraordinary AHEPA Chapter #78 in Merrillville, IN. Named AHEPA Chapter of the Year and recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives. In addition to financial assistance the members dedicate many volunteer hours. Year-round these Ahepans focus on volunteering and worked with food pantries, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, youth organizations and veterans’ services. Organizations they have partnered with, to name only a few are, Salvation Army, St. Jude House, Meals on Wheels the American Red Cross, Veterans Life Changing Services, Boys & Girls Club, and Rebuilding, South Lake County rehabbing homes for needy seniors and disabled. Nick Gianikos, the vice president in charge of philanthropy states:
“We hope that this donation will encourage others to join with us to accelerate the construction of the Metropolis Retreat Center for our Greek Orthodox Faith, our Hellenic Heritage and especially a wonderful facility for our youth. AXIOS”
In addition to these new $100K donors, the Novak Foundation which has already given the Retreat Center $130,000 has voted to give the Residence Hall project another $70,000 bringing their total commitment to $200,000. The Novak Foundation, founded by the Gus Novak (of Blessed Memory) of the SS. Constantine and Helen Parish in Merriville, IN continues to donate to worthy ministries.
The Board of Directors of the Retreat Center hopes to attract 35 $100K donors, one for each of the rooms. The donors will be given naming honors for the room. At present, 9 donors have stepped forward. These two new donors join the previous seven – an anonymous donor, the SS. Peter and Paul Foundation - Glenview, Arlene Siavelis, Dr. Jeff and Stella Winternheimer, Arthur Labros, the Novak Foundation and the Spell Family Foundation – Minneapolis.
The Retreat Center continues to serve many groups at present, hosting many activities. A wonderful addition will be realized very soon this summer… fifteen Proskynetaria will be placed throughout the wooded paths for the faithful to visit, and offer their prayers.
If you are interested in donating to the Retreat Center, please contact the Metropolis of Chicago at 312-337-4130 or Nick Kasemeotes, Development at 507-358-6521, firstname.lastname@example.org Learn more about the Retreat Center at www.metropolisretreat.org.