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On Thursday, May 16, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chicago, and the Hellenic Society of Constantinople hosted their 43nd Annual Commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople at Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Des Plaines, Illinois. 

Rev. Fr. John Rallis, protopresbyter of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, welcomed attendees and opened the event with a prayer before introducing the Ascension of Our Lord Girls Byzantine Chanting Group, led by Presvytera Stephania Malamis. 

Hellena Chrones, president of the Hellenic Society of Constantinople, then provided opening remarks and introduced this year’s guest speaker, Archon Dr. John Fotopoulos. Dr. Fotopoulos is Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. 

His presentation, titled “The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople: Past, Present and Future Responsibilities,” delved into the history and initiatives of the Mother Church and the issues facing the Ecumenical Patriarchate today. Dr. Fotopoulos emphasized that all Orthodox Christians are responsible for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its continued existence. 

In addition, Dr. Fotopoulos highlighted the inaugural Pilgrimage of Discovery, a seven-day, all-expense paid, religious and cultural annual summer journey to Constantinople awarded to young adults from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The POD is designed to connect young adults to their ancestral religious roots and further bind them with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The lecture included a short video presentation from the Pilgrimage of Discovery 2023 documentary, and included a Q&A session at the end.

Closing Remarks were provided by Gus M. Pablecas, Archon Ostiarios, National Secretary and Regional Commander for the Archons in the Metropolis of Chicago. Closing remarks and memorial prayer were provided by Rev. Fr. Tilemahos Alikakos, Protopresbyter of Holy Taxiarhai and Saint Haralabos Greek Orthodox Church in Niles, Illinois.

Esteemed guests included Rev. Fr. John Rallis, protopresbyter of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, Rev. Fr. Tilemahos Alikakos of Holy Taxiarhai and Saint Haralambos Greek Orthodox, and Rev. Fr. Sotirios Malamis of Ascension of Our Lord Greek Orthodox Church in Lincolnshire, Illinois. 

A special thank you to Rev. Fr. John Rallis and Rev. Fr. Demetrios Tobias, the members of the Saint John the Baptist Parish Council and the St. John the Baptist Philoptochos Society for hosting this year’s annual event. We thank them for their generosity and hospitality.

The annual Commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople remembers and raises awareness on the conquest of Constantinople, which occurred on May 29, 1453. This event marked the end of the Byzantine Empire, which had lasted for 1500 years, and was also the day that Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was converted from a Christian Orthodox Church into a mosque.