The largest gathering in the half century history of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America turned out to celebrate this year’s honorees of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award, Father Alexander and Presbytera Xanthi Karloutsos. About 1,300 attended the October 27 banquet held at The New York Hilton Midtown.
Archon National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D., described this year’s ceremony as an exceptional evening because the two honorees are so worthy to receive the Award, noting that “their love, their compassion, their devotion and their dedication have always inspired me and I think they have inspired all of us to do more, to give more, to love more, and to serve more.”
Dr. Limberakis also noted the Athenagoras Human Rights Award not only recognizes the impact that an individual or organization has had on the respect for human dignity and religious freedom in our world, but it also bears the name of a great Ecumenical Patriarch, and one who was as well, a great Archbishop of our Holy Archdiocese of America.
“There isn’t a person in this room who is unaware of the historic and monumental decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to heal schisms in Ukraine and once and for all bestow upon the long-suffering and noble Ukrainian people their independence and birthright of autocephaly,” Dr. Limberakis said. “We know what the Mother Church is up against and as Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Defenders of the Faith, we have, we are, and we will continue to stand at Her side in this battle for religious freedom.”
He emphasized in both of these struggles, “there are no greater partners and leaders that we could have than Father Alex and Presbytera Xanthi. Their service to the Archdiocese over the past forty years is unquestioningly exemplary to the highest degree. Father Alex and Presbytera Xanthi, we need you now more than ever.”
As the Archons engage on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in what Limberakis termed “this fight for the freedom and self-determination of Ukraine and, just as important, the canonical rights and prerogatives of the Ecumenical Throne granted by the seven Ecumenical Councils, there are no better comrades in arms than Father Alex and Presbytera Xanthi.
“They are more than devoted servants and children of the Mother Church, they are dear compatriots of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. They have been with him side by side, through thick and thin, not only the quarter century of his blessed Patriarchy, but long before, always close to the bosom of the Holy Mother Church of Constantinople,” Limberakis added.
Limberakis also emphasized the Karloutsos family accomplishments in administration and public affairs “where they have lead the way in ensuring that our Church and our issues are heard in the halls of secular power, it’s not just about their remarkable parish in the Hamptons dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God, a true love, or about the extraordinary labor of love that has enabled the Saint Nicholas Shrine to rise like a phoenix from the ashes at Ground Zero.”
And he assured the audience that the shrine will be completed and that Father Alex and Presbytera Xanthi will get this done.
Limberakis noting that Father Alex is not just a spiritual advisor to the Order of Saint Andrew but is a fellow “PK” – a priest’s kid and that he is not only the son of a priest but is the brother of a priest, the uncle of a priest and the father-in-law of a priest while Presbytera Xanthi is the sister, the aunt, and mother-in-law of priests. The invocation at the banquet was given by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America assisted by the honoree’s brother, Father Nicholas Karloutsos.
|Father Alex and Presbytera Xanthi offer remarks and gratitude upon receiving The Award. © J. Mindala|
In his response to receiving the Award with his wife, Father Alex replied, “Although we are not the most worthy recipients of this Award, we are immensely aware and humbled by its worth. For us, Patriarch Athenagoras was a visionary for our Church in America and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The infrastructure of our Archdiocese, which is the bedrock of all that we enjoy, was bequeathed to us by this prophetic Prelate.
“Even our political ties to the Oval Office began when then Archbishop Athenagoras was called in November 1948 to lead the Sacred See of Saint Andrew as part of the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan to keep the First Throne of Orthodoxy from being trapped behind the Iron Curtain and falling into the communist hands of Stalin’s Soviet Union.”
Father Alex emphasized the role his wife has played in his service to the Church:
“Together, my wife Xanthi and I have worked and served in the holy priesthood for over 48 years. While I was processing with Popes and Patriarchs, my unseen co-worker was sorting suitcases at airports; while I was in receiving lines with Presidents and First Ladies at the White House, Presbytera Xanthi was arranging chairs at the State Department; when I celebrate the Divine Liturgy and enjoy the first seat in our Church, my co-disciple takes the last pew to ensure proper discipline in the Narthex and Nave; while I’m the maître de superstar at our Hamptons Greek Festival, my privileged Presbytera is peeling onions, washing pans and baking baklava.
“Without Xanthi, there would be no Father Alex. Everything I have done, or became, I owe to the love my life. That is why, Presbytera, as the songwriter sang, ‘ love you more today than yesterday, less than tomorrow’.”
In her comments to the assembled guests, Presbytera Xanthi expressed her gratitude for the recognition they received, adding “as grand as this evening is, it is even more humbling, because whatever we have achieved together, we did it because it was what we truly believed,” noting that her and Father Alex have been given unique opportunities to serve the Church they love so much.
“Each act of service has been special because of our love for our Ecumenical Patriarchate, and especially His All-Holiness, receiving this honor is really special,” she said. “I remember hearing about the legendary Patriarch Athenagoras since I remember the time I was a little girl and received his blessing while visiting Corfu. He was so impressive and imposing, and to receive this Award with his name and image is so very meaningful to us.”
In his remarks to the audience, National Commander Limberakis thanked Archbishop Demetrios who he noted observed his Nameday the previous day. He also expressed his appreciation to His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, who represented His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as his personal emissary at the Award ceremony.
Dr. Limberakis also expressed his appreciation to “our esteemed Archon George E. Safiol who was honored the previous day with the Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship.
In addition, the National Commander also expressed his thanks to the generous benefactors of the banquet including the five underwriters, the late Archon Nicholas J. Bouras represented by Archon B. Theodore Bozonelis, Archon John A. Catsimatidis, Archon William P. Doucas, Archon Dean Poll, and Archon Michael G. Psaros, as well as those who contributed to sponsoring this year’s banquet.
“We are pleased to announce we have raised $1.4 million, which will be used exclusively and prudently for the worldwide ministries of the Ecumenical Patriarch,” he said. “We do anticipate establishing the St. Andrew Endowment Fund for our Mother Church of Constantinople with the blessings of the Exarch and the Metropolitans.”
|The Investiture of the Archon Class of 2018 took place at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. © D. Panagos|
Also announced at the banquet were the 27-member Class of 2018 of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The new Archons of the Order of Saint Andrew are:
Robert A. Buhler, Referendarios
Emanuel J. Cotronakis, Esq., Dikaiophylax
Harry G. Dimopoulos, PhD, Hartophylax
Fotios J. Frangakis, Skevophylax
Sam E. Galeotos, Depoutatos
John C. Harbilas, Eftaxias
Phillip M. Kafarakis, Depoutatos
George M. Koulianos, DVM, Ostiarios
Louis J. Laros, Protonotarios
George E. Loucas, Esq., Referendarios
John J. Louizos, Esq., Ekdikos
Angelo N. Mallas, Hartoularios
William Marusich, DDS, Hartoularios
John J. Mindala II, Notarios
Matthew Mirones, Aktouarios
Anthony F. Pantazopoulos, Orphanotrofos
George F. Pappas, Esq., Nomophylax
Steve J. Paragioudakis, MD, Ostiarios
John Patzakis, Esq., Protekdikos
Michael P. Psyllos, Esq., Kastrinsios
Dimitrios P. Rozanitis, Maestor
Nicholas Seketa, DPM, Ritor
Sarantos Vallas, Eftaxias
James D. Vavas, Maestor
Howard E. West, Jr., Notarios
Chris G. Yiantsou, MD, Aktouarios
Steve E. Zeis, Skevophylax