St. Augustine, FL – Archon, and major benefactor, Charles Masterpolis, from Tybee Island, GA. pledged One Million Dollars to the Saint Photios National Shrine’s Archbishop Iakovos Endowment/Enhancement Fund. In accepting his monumental gift, Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, representing His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, asked Mr. Masterpolis, “How does it make you feel to give such a generous gift?” Mr. Masterpolis replied, in his usual humility, “I only wish I had more to give.” This expression of generosity, and Christian humility, brought the over 150 attendees of the Annual Saint Photios Pilgrimage Luncheon to their feet in applause.
The Executive Director, Very Rev. Nicholas T. Graff, also took the occasion of the 24th Annual Pilgrimage Luncheon, which was held at the Casa Monica Hotel in historic Saint Augustine, Florida, to announce several other major donations to the Fund. A significant pledge was announced of $250,000.00 by Archon and Mrs. William Planes of Florida, major benefactor of the recent Patriarchal visit to Tarpon Springs. Tom and Carolyn Pappas, and Daniel and Charlotte Randopoulos, both of California, have collectively pledged over $80,000.00 to the fund. Over $1, 330,000.00 was announced.
Father Graff reminded everyone that the Saint Photios National Shrine is a self-supported institution of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and we are committed never to be a financial burden to our Archdiocese, or to our beloved Archbishop Demetrios. As mature fiduciaries of this sacred trust, the responsible route is to endow our Shrine with the means to sustain in perpetuity. Following the example of Mr. Masterpolis, Mr. Planes, and other stewards, we are well encouraged.
As the Shrine anticipates its 25 Anniversary in 2007, the Board of Trustees has moved to honor our three most significant sources of support and inspiration. In 2005, the Shrine honored the National Philoptochos Society, and this year, the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Throne was the special honoree. Commander Dr. Anthony Limberakis was our Keynote Speaker. Dr. Limberakis offered a most informative presentation on the plight and struggle of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in Constantinople. Commander Limberakis also presented the Shrine with a check for $10,000.00, completing the Archon’s pledge to the Enhancement Fund. The 25th Anniversary Pilgrimage Weekend 2007 has been set for February 4 and 5th, where the Shrine will honor the Honorable Order of AHEPA.
Other highlights of the weekend included a special presentation given to Archon Ted Johnson of Jacksonville, Florida, who was the Charter President of the Saint Photios Foundation. Magnificent musical presentations were given by the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Women’s Chorale, and by Seminarian Charalambos Pavlou. Visual Artist, Mactruque once again filled the room with his masterful fine art created especially for the occasion.
On the preceding day, Saturday, February 4th, the Annual Board of Trustees Meeting took place. The good and serious work of the Shrine was presided over by His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, who graciously represented His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman, His Eminence, Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, President, and the Holy Eparchial Synod. The business meeting was presided over by Archon Haralambos Cavalaris, First Vice President of the Shrine. The Very Rev. Nicholas Graff presented the new Associate Director, Mrs. Polly Maouris Hillier, who together with Fr. Graff, presented reports on the good progress of the Shrine. Archons Nicholas Furris, and Haralambos Cavalaris gave reports of the tremendous progress of the Enhancement/Endowment Funds. Archon and Mrs. Mannuel Tissura, of Tucker, GA., were chairmen of the entire weekend of events.
The Saint Photios National Shrine, which stands proudly in honor and memory of the first colony of Greek people who came to America in 1768, also stands as a vigil light before the icon of all our parents and grandparents who sacrificed so much for us all. It is a sacred institution of our Holy Archdiocese; it is our Plymouth Rock and our Ellis Island.