Address at the presentation of the book by Demetrios Panagos and Rebekka Papadopoulou, “Archbishop Demetrios of America, First Decade, 1999-2009”
By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
It is with great pleasure I am here tonight to speak about the book of my friend, and partner Dimitri Panagos and his wife and dear colleague Revekka Papadopoulou, about the first 10 years in America of our beloved Archbishop and leader, Archbishop Demetrios.
Knowing Dimitri for over 20 years and working very close with him on many big religious, political, national and community events, I can vouch about his love for what he is doing best. He is a news photographer, who knows the importance to be at the right place on the right time and send his photos out immediately, so the events he covers to be known to the public timely.
That’s of course the case for the news photos. The rest, take their time to surface……
But Dimitri is also a person who cares about our Greek Community, our Hellenic Heritage, our Greek Orthodox Church. He knows how important is to record our struggles, our achievements, our events and moments, everything that makes our history. He felt the pain for the loss of valuable photographic records from veteran Greek American photographers, like Costa Hayden and Dimitri Kesoglidis, who passed away and valuable data from the history of our Community vanished.
So, to be able to publish a book about certain important moments of our History as Greeks in America, and especially of our Church that Dimitris covers steadily for more that 25 years, was a lifetime dream of his.
I think this book is the first step towards the completion of his dream and a proof that if you really want something and you love something so much, at the end you will make it.
I think I was one of the first to receive the book, because Dititri was kind enough to bring it to me straight from the airport the same day that it arrived. Having working closely with him, in our newspaper GREEK NEWS and before that in Proini, I don’t think there is a single picture in this book that I haven’t seen before. So, when I had the book in my hands, I just went through the pages out of curiosity, to see the quality – that is superb – and maybe who and what are in.
After the first few minutes, I realized that this was not a regular photo album, or a regular book. That was a history book, a complete history I may say of the 10 years of our Archbishop, and the history of our Community’s last decade.
And I think a small miracle took place here, on the top of the hard work and the professionalism of the authors that made the publishing of this book possible, the way we all see it. And I tend to believe that without this small miracle, we wouldn’t be here tonight.
This book is a labor of love. A labor of the love Dimitris and Revekka have for what they do, but also love for their Church, our Archbishop and Hellenism.
It is also a labor of the love our two great Maecenas of the Hellenic Arts, Michael and Mary Jaharis have for our Church and Archbishop Demetrios.
I think the inspiration for Dimitris and Revekka to start working on the book and also the source of this small miracle that transformed a photographic album to a valuable history book, were the special spiritual, academic, leadership and humanitarian values and charismas of our Archbishop.
Dimitri with his photos and Revekka with texts were able to distinguish all these charismas of the Archbishop, who is already recognized as the peacemaker, for bringing peace in our ecclesiastical affaires.
PEACEMAKER …. We often say the word, but we often forget what it really means, not only for our Church, but for its individual members, Clergy and Laity. Men and women who for the love of our Church, our Community and Hellenism, served under the previous Archbishop, Archbishop Spyridon.
We forget that today we are able to call our leader a peacemaker, and some of us to be here at this gathering in his honor, because Archbishop Demetrios made the right choice, as a good shepherd; he embraced all members of our Church, using the criteria of merit and service. And he was proven right, not only because these people exceeded in service to the Church, but also because our Church enjoys peace and tranquility.
And for all that, we owe him many thanks and great gratitude.
Few more points about the book: For each and every one who looks at the pictures, the feeling is different. The pictures may catch the particular instant, but because they involve familiar and dear events and situations, the emotions they create are different, although in their epicenter we found the Archbishop and his charismas.
Let me give you a small example. The picture outside the State Department, after the meeting Secretary of State with Hillary Clinton. Most of the people will guess that Archbishop Demetrios successfully raised their the issues of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Much – much fewer also know that during this visit the visit of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was stopped. But for a handful of us, close friends of a journalist shown in the picture, the late Lambros Papandoniou, their minds will go a couple of months later, when the Archbishop paid a visit to Mr Lambros at his hospital just a couple of days before he passed away. A gesture showing that he is Ο ΚΑΛΟΣ ΠΟΙΜΗΝ, the Good Shephard.
With these, I congratulate Dimitri and Revekka and I wish them, now that they know the way, to continue their noble effort.
**** Apostolos Zoupaniotis is the Publisher and Editor of the Greek News. He made this address at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Hall in NYC, on December 17, 2009.