Boston – The highest ever single gift to Hellenic College – Holy Cross School of Theology was made by Michael and Mary Jaharis, during the 66th Commencement ceremonies, held May 17 in Brookline, Mass.
Archbishop Demetrios, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, presided at the event and, deeply moved by the Jaharisʼ generosity, said it was a great and historical day in the life of the School, which is the premiere Archdiocesan institution of higher learning.
Mr. Michael Jaharis, who is the vice-chairman of the Archdiocesan Council and his wife Mary were this yearʼs honorees and Hellenic College-Holy Cross conferred upon them honorary Doctorates of Humanities.
The announcement of this great gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jaharis was a very moving and joyous surprise for everyone in attendance. Mrs. Mary Jaharis in accepting her honorary doctorate announced the gift of 5 million dollars to HC/HC “in appreciation for and recognition of the outstanding work that this School does in preserving and promoting Orthodoxy and Hellenism.” Mrs. Jaharis said that two million dollars will “endow the Chair for the Study of the New Testament,” which will be named in honor of Archbishop Demetrios and three million dollars will fund the Institute for Byzantine Arts and Culture which will focus on five key areas of interest and research: Byzantine Iconography, Byzantine Artifacts, Byzantine Architecture, Byzantine Literature and Byzantine Music.
“It is our hope that the institute will be a great resource for the school as well as a premier research center for national and international academic and intellectual exchanges and cultural programs related to the beautiful and interesting arts of the Byzantine era,” said Mrs. Jaharis.
Archbishop Demetrios on behalf of all expressed heartfelt gratitude for the gift and proposed that the Institute be named in honor of Mrs. Mary Jaharis. His proposal was accepted with enthusiastic applause by the audience and deep emotions by Mrs. Jaharis. The Archbishop called the donation “a catalyst for the future of the School,” a catalyst which opens wide avenues of progress for this key institution of higher learning of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
Mr. Michael Jaharis delivered the Commencement Address and in thanking HC/HC said he was “truly honored and touched for the tribute of an honorary doctorate.” Speaking of HC/HC, Mr. Jaharis said that “for over seventy years as a Seminary and over forty as a liberal arts college, it has been and still is a place of spiritual and academic enlightenment for talented young people wishing to dedicate their service to the Lord and His Church and to the members of our Orthodox Christian community.” In his address to the graduates Mr. Jaharis also spoke of the very important value he places on the priests of today and the future: “The progress – and very existence – of our community and culture rests on our clergy as we advance into the 21st century,” he said.
The valedictory addresses were delivered by valedictorians Lorena Vangjeli of Hellenic College and Nicholas March of Holy Cross. Sixty-three graduates in total received their degrees. Twenty-one graduated from Hellenic College and 42 from the School of Theology. From the 42 graduates of the Theological School, 25 received the degree of Master of Divinity, intended for those who wish to be ordained. Nineteen of them are eventually going to be clergymen of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (seven are already ordained). Another 11 graduates received the degree of Master of Theological Studies and six the degree of Master of Theology.
Fr. Nicholas Triantafilou, President of HC/HC, said that the concluding academic year was characterized by very high academic achievement both in the College and the School of Theology. He also said that a significant percentage of the Hellenic College graduates intend to continue their studies in Holy Cross.
Christine Karavites and Valerie Roumeliotes, representing the National Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, announced a gift of over 40 thousand dollars in support of the School and its ministry.
Present in the commencement ceremony were the Metropolitans Maximos of Pittsburgh, Methodios of Boston and Gerasimos of San Francisco, the Bishops Savas of Troas, Elias of Philomelion and Anthimos of Olympos, the vice-consul of the Greek Consulate of Boston Katherine Economou-Demeter, the vice-chair of the HC/HC Board of Trustees Dr. Thomas Lelon, the deans Lily Macrakis of Hellenic College and Fr. Thomas FitzGerald of Holy Cross, professors of the School and many friends and family of the graduates.