Stateʼs three Greek churches come together to host reception for Greek Ambassador to US on his first official visit to Rhode Island
Cranston, RI.- More than 125 guests turned out on December 2nd to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox to welcome Greeceʼs Ambassador to the United States Alexandros P. Mallias on his first official visit to Rhode Island. The event was sponsored by parishioners of the stateʼs three Greek Orthodox Churches—the Annunciation Church, the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church of Pawtucket and St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church of Newport.
Emmanuel Mihailides service as the Master of Ceremonies and Father George Economou, pastor of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, delivered the invocation. Father Andrew George of the Annunciation Church offered the benediction.
Ambassador Mallias was invited to Rhode Island by State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, who invited members of the stateʼs Congressional delegation. Congressmen Patrick Kennedy and Jim Langevin spoke of the strong bonds between Greece and the United States, while representatives from the offices of United States Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse delivered greetings. Robert Carothers, President of the University of Rhode Island (URI), discussed efforts to expand the partnership with the University of the Aegean on Rhodes as well as the Greek communityʼs efforts to construct the Rodos Hellenic Cultural Center at URI.
As part of the event, former State Representative George Panichas, the first Greek-American elected official in Rhode Island, was recognized on his 85th birthday.
Raptakis introduced Mallias and praised his commitment to reach out to Hellenic communities.
“Like many people, I have been struck by the Ambassadorʼs commitment to direct diplomacy, not being content to simply work connections in Washington, but making an effort to meet with our Hellenic communities all over the country,” said Raptakis. “That is the work of a dedicated and thoughtful public servant, someone who understands the breadth and depth of the Greek-American community and who is serious about building meaningful relationships.”
Raptakis lauded Ambassador Mallias for his work as an energetic advocate of human rights and for his efforts to combat the global problem of human trafficking.
Also speaking at the event were Rhode Island State Senator Hannah Gallo, Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, Consul General Constantinos Orphanides, and Cranston Mayor Michael Napolitano. President of the Annunciation Church Parish Council Theofanis Markos, Assumption Church Council President Stacy Susset, and Ahepa President Basil Panoutsopoulos of Newport presented the Ambassador with a book on Rhode Island.
“Rhode Island is fortunate to have a strong Congressional delegation which is well versed on the issues which matter to the Greek community,” said Raptakis. “That is because our Greek-American community is constantly interacting, working to communicate our concerns and build support on the issues we care about.”
Ambassador Mallias thanked the attendees for their warm outpouring of support and applauded the solidarity of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and Rhode Islandʼs Greek-American community in establishing a Hellenic Fire Relief fund within 72 hours of the fires in Greece last summer. He expressed his appreciation for the outstanding work of so many members of the Greek-American community to strengthen cooperation between the United States and the Hellenic Republic and for their active involvement in promoting issues of common concern.
Raptakis presented Ambassador Mallias with a crystal image of the Rhode Island State House as a gift from the State Senate.
The eveningʼs program included dancers from the Assumption Church of Pawtucket under the direction of Panagiota Vastis, as well as a performance by the Odyssey Dance Troupe of the Annunciation Church under the direction of Koula and Sava Rougas, also assisted by Eleni Trikoulis.
The Host Committee for the event included George Coclin, Sotiris Mioni, Mary Samaras, Stacy Susset, Arthur Pappas, Emmanuel Mihailides, Koula and Sava Rougas, George Paniches, Pauline Vastis, and State Senator Leonidas Raptakis.