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Ecumenical Patriarch honors National Commander with Athenagoras Award; Twenty-Seven New Archons Invested

New York, NY
11/18/2009

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Demetrios present the 2009 Athenagoras Human Rights Award to National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, MD "in recognition of his unceasing advocacy and continuous labors on behalf of the religious liberty of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the most basic human rights, so that we may fulfill our spiritual mission to the Church and to the world."
During his Apostolic visit to the United States, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew described the moment as a "Patriarchal Privilege" and surprised the nearly 1,200 guests by honoring Anthony J. Limberakis, MD, National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew, with the Athenagoras Human Rights Award. Dr. Limberakis became the 24th recipient of the Award and was honored for his leadership role to the Order and for his untiring devotion, love, and support to the Mother Church of Constantinople.

The award was presented Oct. 31 during the grand banquet of the Order's annual three-day assembly at the New York Waldorf Astoria. The Award is presented annually to a person or organization, which has consistently exemplified by action, purpose and dedication, concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people.

His All Holiness speaks with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg prior to the Archon Grand Banquet. (Photo by N. Manginas)
Established in 1986, the award honors Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who served as Archbishop of the Americas for 18 years before being elected Ecumenical Patriarch in 1948. He was universally acknowledged as a visionary leader of the world's more than 300 million Orthodox Christians. Patriarch Athenagoras worked for peace among churches and people throughout his life.

Previous recipients have included President Jimmy Carter, President George H.W. Bush, Former Soviet President Mikhael Gorbachev, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel, Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and last year's recipient, Rabbi Arthur Schneier.

This evening's festivities, however, centered on honoring the achievements of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians. The Order is deeply grateful for the philanthropic efforts of Archon Nicholas J. Bouras, National Vice Commander, who underwrote the Archon Grand Banquet for the 11th time.

His Excellency Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York offers words to His All Holiness during the Archon Grand Banquet.

His All Holiness, escorted by Archbishop Demetrios and National Commander Limberakis, was enthusiastically received as he entered a packed ballroom composed of visiting hierarchs and clergy from interfaith jurisdictions, Archons, dignitaries and guests. Honored dignitaries included the Honorable Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City; His Excellency Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York; and newly-invested Archon Mike Emanuel, White House Correspondent for Fox News. Archon Ernie Anastos, Emmy Award anchor for New York City's Fox 5 News, served as master of ceremonies for the evening.

In tribute to His All Holiness, Limberakis said, "The environmental accomplishments of His All Holiness are without parallel. His All Holiness Bartholomew time and again, has called upon humankind to respect God's creation, especially the great waters of the earth; whether on the ice caps of the Arctic Glaciers or on the Amazon River deep within South America's rainforest or most recently from the banks of the mighty Mississippi. His work in this regard is legendary and has earned him worldwide accolades and recognition as the leading environmentalist among the great religious leaders of all time.

National Council Executive Committee members present His All Holiness with a hand cross. (Photo by D. Panagos)
"Yet as much as His All Holiness has devoted his energies to conserving God's environmental creations, his ultimate benevolence has been toward the peaceful coexistence of God's greatest creation, whom He made in His own image, the human being. He has brought together Jews, Christians and Muslims, the children of Abraham to seek common bonds and mutual understanding. He has worked tirelessly with our Roman Catholic brothers seeking reconciliation and Christian unity throughout his nearly 20 years of Patriarchal stewardship continuing the dialogue of love and truth. He has been indefatigable in his efforts to strengthen Orthodox unity in a manner first utilized by the greatest Apostle Paul, through the conciliar process of the Synod and the Synaxis.

"He has called for tolerance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms with courage and vision in his own country where religious freedom does not exist. His voice can be heard in the capitals of the free world, as well as in regions where the inalienable rights of humankind are not respected.

"Your All Holiness I want you to know, to keep in your heart, that the Archons of America will continue the Agonas, the struggle, to seek religious freedom for the Mother Church until our goal someday becomes a reality."

Limberakis then introduced a video tribute on the accomplishments of His All Holiness. At the conclusion of the video, members of the National Council's Executive Committee through the hands of the Exarch, Archbishop Demetrios, presented His All Holiness with a hand cross which was created by Pamela James, beloved niece of Archon Bouras. The cross was crafted in silver and gold and replicated to the crosses Archons are bestowed at their investiture.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addresses the nearly 1,200 guests in attendance at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

His All Holiness expressed his thanks to the Archons, saying, "You have always been at the forefront of the sacred campaign of awareness and support for the Mother Church in her struggle to stand up for the religious rights of minorities as well as for the human rights of all people throughout the world. Your tireless efforts to encourage legislators across this nation -- both in individual States, where you have disseminated information to your local representatives, but also in Washington DC, where you inspired support for a number of resolutions for the Ecumenical Patriarchate -- have resulted in a remarkable change of attitude throughout the world, as evidenced by the bold statements by President Barack Obama in the Turkish Great National Assembly, where the re-opening of the historic Theological School of Halki was explicitly mentioned. Moreover, we have been deeply moved and remain profoundly grateful for your consistent and persistent labors to raise the same sacred issues at the highest level before the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. For this and many other labors, we extend to you our abiding gratitude and fervent prayers."

Archons, Archon-elects, and their spouses offer introductions during the Orientation Dinner held at Fordham University's Lincoln Center Campus.

The Ecumenical Patriarch later presented the National Commander with the Athenagoras Award to conclude the evening saying, "As your Ecumenical Patriarch and spiritual father, we take this moment of personal and indeed Patriarchal privilege, to reinstate the normal tradition this evening. And we call the National Commander, Dr. Anthony Limberakis -- Archon Aktouarios of the Holy and Great Church of Christ, to receive from our hands the Athenagoras Human Rights Award, in recognition of his unceasing advocacy and continuous labors on behalf of the religious liberty of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the most basic human rights, so that we may fulfill our spiritual mission to the Church and to the world."

Bishop Savas together with the National Council, presents a special commemorative plaque to Archon Christo Daphnides on his retirement.
Earlier in the weekend, the Annual Archon Weekend commenced with an orientation dinner held on Friday, Oct. 30, at Fordham University's Lincoln Center Campus. Members of the National Council and Regional Commanders of the Order of Saint Andrew joined Archons-elect and their spouses for an evening of fellowship and introductions.

Limberakis extended a warm welcome to all of the Archons and Archon-elect members and offered a visual presentation on the history of The Order, its role as advocate for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the 'humbling recognition and awesome responsibility' the Archon-elect members will now face.

His Grace Bishop Savas of Troas, together with the National Council made a special presentation to retiring Historian Christo Daphnides, Archon Kastrinsios.

Archon James Fountas, Treasurer, offers the Financial Report during the Annual Assembly.
The following day, Archons, Archon-elects, and their spouses, gathered for their annual assembly where various reports were heard throughout the afternoon. The meeting concluded with prayers for those Archons departed this past year.

On Sunday, Nov. 1, His All Holiness presided, assisted by Archbishop Demetrios, at the Investiture of twenty-seven new Archons from throughout the United States, following the Divine Liturgy at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

During the solemn Archon Investiture service, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presented each Archon with the Cross of St. Andrew along with the official Patriarchal Certificate specifying the offikion designated for each Archon.

Archon Theofanis Economidis reports on his presentation on religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate on behalf of the Order of St. Andrew, at Europe's largest human rights conference, The Human Dimension Meetings of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
His All Holiness addressed the newly-invested Archons saying, "In order to relate the sense of noticing and the sin of ignorance to this service of investiture, we could claim that the predicament of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the trampling of our human and religious rights as a Church, would be largely unknown to the world -- certainly to the political world -- without the supportive and successful campaigns of the Order of St. Andrew. The Archons have brought to light the injustices with regard to our freedom of religion, while at the same time supporting in diverse ways the extensive ministry of the Mother Church.

"...You are distinguished supporters of the historical, spiritual, theological, and cultural treasures of the Church of Constantinople, which you defend so firmly, which you endorse so eloquently, which you sustain so generously, and which you embrace so warmly. It is precisely for this reason that a distinct and proper title has been personally bestowed upon each of you by us as the Ecumenical Patriarch. It is an honor that you richly deserve."

Concelebrating hierarchs included His Eminence Geron Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon; His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France; His Eminence Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea; and all the members of the Holy Eparchial Synod.

Archons invested:

Archon-elects bear candles in the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity during the Investiture.
Theodore James Athanasakes, Archon Notarios / Ocean Ridge, FL
Hon. Gus Bilirakis, Esq., Archon Referendarios / Palm Harbor, FL
Daniel Alex Breno, Archon Depoutatos / Mt. Airy, MD
Patrick Roy Crosson, Archon Hartoularios / Livonia, MI
Steven Doulaveris, Archon Maestros / Florence, SC
Constantine Economides, Esq., Archon Dikaiophylax / Wayne, PA
Michael Savas Emanuel, Archon Hypomnematografos / McLean, VA
James Basil Gabriel, Jr., Archon Ostiarios / Centerport, NY
Ike Gulas, Esq., Archon Ekdikos / Birmingham, AL
Nicholas Kapnison, Archon Depoutatos / Albuquerque, NM
Nicholas A. Karacostas, Esq., Archon Nomophylax / Bayside, NY
Nick H. Katapodis, Archon Hartophylax / Atlanta, GA
Theodore P. Klingos, Archon Referendarios / New York, NY
Mihail Koulakis, Archon Hieromnimon / Porter Ranch, CA
Nikolaos P. Koutsomitis, Archon Depoutatos / New York, NY
Steven M. Laduzinsky, Esq., Archon Nomophylax / Chicago, IL

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided at the Archon Investiture. (Photos by J. Mindala unless otherwise noted.)
Evangelos Lazarakis, Archon Maestros / Haverhill, MA
Nikiforos Mathews, Esq., Archon Ekdikos / Stamford, CT
George D. Mihaltses, Esq., Archon Nomophylax / Bayside, NY
Gregory George Papadeas, DO, Archon Aktouarios / Greenwood Village, CO
Lewis J. Patsavos, Dr. Theol., Archon Proto Ekdikos / Cambridge, MA
Harry Steven Poulos, Archon Ostiarios / Canton, OH
Steven N. Sellas, Archon Hieromnimon / Bridgeport, WV
Demetrios Seremetis, Archon Hympmimniskontos / Canton, MA
Christos Spyropoulos, Archon Proto Notarios / Old Brookville, NY
Theodore Vlahos, Archon Hartoularios / Kewanee, IL
Constantinos Modestos Zografopoulos, Archon Eftaxias / Chicago, IL

View additional photos of the 2009 Archon Weekend

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