The Hellenic Letters Celebration of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago began this year, as every year, with the essay contest, entitled “The Agrafon” in honor and memory of Mr. Photios Litsas. Greek school students from throughout the many Greek schools of the Metropolis participated in the contest in early December. The 6th grade students and the 7th-9th students wrote an essay about Alexander the Great while the upper grade students wrote an essay about the environment. Those who were chosen as winners from their particular schools were honored at the Hellenic Letters Luncheon in January.
On January 23rd, a Metropolis wide Greek School celebration, the Panscholiki celebration, took place where students from various Greek schools of our Holy Metropolis presented wonderful programs with songs, poems, theatrical performances and Greek folk dances.
On January 24th, a Memorial Service was held following the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Chicago, IL in memory of Greek school teachers, journalists, Radio and TV announcers. A luncheon was held immediately following the memorial service and Divine Liturgy, where the Greek school of St. George presented a thoroughly enjoyable theatrical play.
On January 29th, during the service Great Vespers for the Feast of the Three Hierarchs held at SS. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Palos Hills, IL, the Rev. Fr. Andrew Georganas, proistamenos St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, in Elmhurst, IL in his inspiring words referred to the contribution of the Three Hierarchs to the Hellenic Letters and Orthodoxy.
Out of many, Fr. Andrew mentioned, that the thought, contemplation, and the goal of their life were dedicated to the Hellenic education, the family and the everlasting values with which the Christianity guides, encourages and elevates the human being and that Christianity and Hellenism are indivisible concepts.
He added that after many centuries since the time of the Three Hierarchs, and although innumerable events and inconceivable scientific and technological evolutions have happened, they remain as teachers with ecumenical and incomparable potential and their teachings enlighten and invigorate Hellenism and Christianity.
He also stressed the fact that we must become participants and be receptive of the message of their teachings, especially today that deceptive signals of corruption and social decay prevail. He said that we have to make every effort to render our youth worthy of the Christian-Hellenic tradition and capable to survive and offer a positive element to our community.
Following the Great Vespers, the Koraes Greek school students presented a wonderful program about the Hellenic Letters and Greek tradition, in the community center of the church.
On the Feast Day of the Three Hierarchs, following the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, the Greek school students of the Guardian Angels and the Pythagoras school presented a short program. The Rev. Fr. Athanasios Papagiannis offered the homily, with again a very inspiring message of renewal and dedication to our liturgical life in the Church. One that is not overcome by so many other activities our children are involved in and keep them away from the salvific message and life of Christ and His Church.
The keynote speaker for this year’s Hellenic Letters Celebration Luncheon, following the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago, was the Rev. Fr. Mark Munoz, proistamenos of the SS. Cosmas & Damianos Greek Orthodox Church in Rochester, MN.
Rev. Fr. Mark, presented the majority of his remarks in perfect Greek. The uniqueness of Fr. Mark and his presentation is the fact that he is a convert to Orthodoxy and was raised in a Latin American family. As a non-Greek, Orthodox priest in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, he said, he made it a priority from the very beginning of his study, to experience and implement the humanistic virtues and ideologies of ancient Greece precisely because they encompass the same comprehensive transformation of the total human person… an anthropological concept perfected and fully realized within a salvific relationship with the God-man Jesus Christ Himself.
The Celebration of the Hellenic Letters Week concluded with the “Agrafon” awards. The thirty seven students who wrote the best essay at the three grade levels of their Greek school were awarded with a certificate and an icon of the Three Hierarchs bestowed by His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago.