2023 Annual Impact Report


Pilgrimage of Discovery with Hellena Chrones 


One of the most bold and imaginative endeavors in the Archdiocese of America is the Pilgrimage of Discovery, which was first conceived, developed, and implemented in the Metropolis of Chicago. We asked co-chairs and faith leaders, Hellena and Jeff Chrones, to describe their work and its potential for young adults across the nation. 

What is the Pilgrimage of Discovery (POD)?

POD is a seven-day, all-expenses paid, religious and cultural journey to Constantinople awarded to Greek Orthodox young adults across the United States. We offer a highly curated experience that allows participants to explore religious sites; visit historic places; and learn more about their faith. The trip culminates in a once-in-a-lifetime, private audience with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

How did you come up with the idea for POD?

Originally, in 2019, POD began as an idea for a film about the Patriarchate. After much reflection and many discussions with Metropolis of Chicago Archon Regional Commanders Gus Pablecas and John Manos, we envisioned a program for Greek Orthodox Christian young adults modeled after Birthright Israel, the immensely successful 2-week heritage trip to Israel open to all Jewish young adults. After seeing the promise and potential, we excitedly got to work. In 2023, we were truly blessed to send our first 5 young adults from the Metropolis of Chicago to Constantinople. 

What impact do you see POD having today on our young adults? 

Our fundamental desire is to strengthen the faith of young adults, connect them with their religious ancestral roots, and bolster the Orthodox faith in the U.S. 

We hope to instill in participants a sense of religious “πατρικό σπίτι” so they experience Constantinople in the same way they do their own “family home” with all the love and meaning associated with it. We also hope to cultivate future leaders of the Church by offering this transformative experience. 

What are your long-term goals for POD? 

In the long-term, we envision a program that is seen as a kind of rite of passage for Greek Orthodox Christian young adults—one that they look forward to, experience fully, and is present in their decisions and relationships throughout life. 

  We also look forward to the day when as many young adults as possible are afforded this opportunity without the need to go through an application and selection process. 

As people of faith, what does POD mean to you? 

We feel truly blessed and humbled to know so many brothers and sisters in Christ across the Metropolis of Chicago share our hopes for the future and are willing to work hard to realize them. Additionally, we see POD as an opportunity to edify our young adults of their ancestral religious roots and inspire them to become the future leaders of the Church. If you feel as strongly as we do, please follow us on our Instagram and Facebook pages and visit and consider making a donation via our website pilgrimageofdiscovery.org >> 

“Unity in Christ cultivates relationships with family, friends, and neighbors—bearing fruit for vibrant communities and a flourishing Church” – Metropolis of Chicago Vision for Growth 

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