On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Cypriot teachers from London, under the leadership of the head of the Cypriot Educational Mission, Mrs. Maria Papalouka. In his speech, he referred to the centuries-old close ties of cooperation between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Cyprus, as well as the multifaceted work of the Holy Great Church of Christ, which despite various difficulties and the shrinking of its flock in its historic seat, continues its ecumenical mission with the same dynamism and determination. He made particular mention of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s initiatives to promote inter-Christian and inter-faith dialogue, and asked the pilgrims to extend to their relatives, colleagues and students the affection and blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Immediately thereafter, the Ecumenical Patriarch welcomed the graduates of the Athonian Ecclesiastical Academy, accompanied by the Hieromonk Theophilos Pantokratorinos, a member of the Academy’s Ephorate, its Director Dimitrios Dimakis, as well as Archimandrite Professor Konstantinos Fountoukidis. His All-Holiness, as spiritual father and shepherd of Mount Athos, had the opportunity to converse with the teachers and students, to whom he gave paternal advice and his Patriarchal blessing for the continuation of their multilingual work and the success of their studies, and once again expressed the deep love and affection of the Mother Church for her important and historic jurisdiction, the one-thousand-year-old Monastic State of Athos.
Earlier, on January 20, 2019, His All-Holiness held a meeting with Greece’s Minister of Immigration Policy, Mr. Dimitrios Vitsas. Mr. Vitsas, accompanied by his Diplomatic Advisor, Mr. Spyros Voulgaris, had the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest with His All-Holiness in a cordial atmosphere. In a statement, the Minister immediately expressed his joy at his meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch, because “he is a wise man whose words always match his deeds.”
Immediately thereafter, His All-Holiness received the Director of the Great School of the Nation, Dimitrios Zotos, with the philologist Eleni Angelis and the students Ioanna Karantas, Olga Kiosker and Selina Dzardzar, who received the first prize in the competition entitled “The Greek language is a soul, the soul of civilization,” co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece and the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad, in collaboration with the Greek Department of IBBY – the Circle of Hellenic Children’s Book, on the occasion of the institutionalization by the Greek State, February 9, as International Greek Language Day. The contest involved over 42 short stories/fairy tales from more than 15 countries. The fairy tales were gathered in a volume, issued with the assistance of the Greek Parliament and the editing of the members of the Greek section of the IBBY, which they offered today to His All-Holiness. The three pupils of the Great School of the Nation, whose own fairy tale was entitled “The Lost Words,” were honored with the first prize.
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew heartily congratulated the students, the School Director and all of the teachers. He wished them even more successes and assured them that the Mother Church would always take care of the nourishment of the young shoots of Hellenism.