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NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is recipient of Athenagoras Human Rights Award

View photos of the Grand Banquet

Watch video of Governor Cuomo’s speech

Watch video of Athenagoras Human Rights Award Banquet

Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate together with Archon National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis presented the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo at the New York Marriott Marquis, Oct. 15, 2016. Governor Cuomo has been a strong advocate for religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and was the instrumental person in the process of securing an agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey regarding the rebuilding and resurrection of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center–the only house of worship destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In recognizing the Governor’s long history and connection to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the National Commander said, “[In 1990] Governor Mario Cuomo and his beloved wife Matilda, hosted Patriarch Dimitrios, Metropolitan Bartholomew of Chalcedon, and the entire Patriarchal retinue at the World Trade Center. It was a quintessential New York moment, and in the midst of that fellowship and fraternity high atop the Twin Towers, who could have ever imagined that those Towers would come crashing down in the most horrific attack on United States soil in our history, ripping away three thousand lives… and one small church.”

Dr. Limberakis praised Governor Cuomo, saying, “And then decades later, after the terror of those days, the continuous healing for the bereft families, and the long struggle to rebuild Ground Zero back into the World Trade Center, it was you, Governor Cuomo, in the same position as your ever-memorable father, who led the way to a solution for the little Church that ultimately comes under the Ecumenical Patriarch. You provided the Solomon-like wisdom that we needed to bring the Church and the Port Authority to the very happy conclusion that Saint Nicholas would be rebuilt at Ground Zero. You brought full circle the hospitality of your father at the World Trade Center… by finding a just and equitable solution for the World Trade Center. You merit our thanks and our praise for your central role in providing fairness and justice to the decision process surrounding Saint Nicholas. Perhaps in this we see a small consequence of the fact that your name is “Andrew,” the first-called Disciple who founded the Church of Constantinople, and that your birthday is December 6th, the Feastday of Saint Nicholas whose Shrine is now rising in Liberty Park, casting its light over all who come to pay their respects and tributes at the 9/11 Memorial.”

In his response, Governor Cuomo said, “When Archbishop Demetrios spoke about St. Nicholas, I heard Archbishop Iakovos’ voice, I heard my father’s voice. I heard them saying what better place than 9-11 to have a monument, a sanctuary that says we are all one people and all are invited to one, holy place. St. Nicholas is going to be the only Church on Ground Zero with a beautiful history, there since 1916, one of the first places that the Greek immigrants would visit. The first touch stone, they would land on Ellis Island and they would take a ferry over and St. Nicholas was right there downtown so they could get off that boat and they could step into a Church where they felt comfortable and they felt reassured with the peace of home. A beautiful history, but also a beautiful future.”

The Governor continued, “Because the new St. Nicholas is going to be bigger and better than ever. Saying on the side of 9-11, the side of the greatest hate, I offer you love. That’s what St. Nicholas is going to say, because love is better than hate. I offer you inclusion, because inclusion is better than exclusion. I offer you good, because good defeats evil. And I give you a place of holiness and beauty to say, ‘we are one and let us come together and focus on our similarities and let’s disregard our differences’. That is St. Nicholas. That’s why Archbishop Demetrios stayed on this project with his quiet persistence year after year, after year. That’s why the State of New York made a terrible mistake for all those years where they didn’t honor their original agreement to build St. Nicholas. And that’s why as Governor of the State of New York, one of a handful of beautiful accomplishments that I’ll have for the rest of my life, is being able to visit that new St. Nicholas. Knowing what it stands for. Knowing who built it. Knowing what it means to the Greeks. Knowing what it means to the world. I ask for one thing: In one corner, a little picture of two great friends, two great men who always believed we could be better than we are–Archbishop Iakovos and Mario Cuomo.”

Archon Michael Psaros, Banquet Chair, introduced the dais guests at the beginning of the program, the national anthems were sung by Eva Agathis. Archon Ernie Anastos, Emmy Award Winner, Fox 5 News, served as the Master of Ceremonies.


Archon Theofanis V. Economidis is joined by his daughter, Roberta, along with Archbishop Demetrios, Archon John Metaxas, National Commander Limberakis, Metropolitan Gerasimos and George Marcus, as he is honored with the Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship. (Photo by D. Panagos)

View photos of The Bouras Award Banquet

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America joined the Order of Saint Andrew in honoring Theofanis V. Economidis by bestowing upon him the “Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship.” The Award was presented during a special celebratory dinner dance held at the New York Marriott Marquis, which launched the Annual Archon Weekend on Friday, October 14, 2016.

Archon Theofanis was joined by his daughter, Roberta, as he received the prestigious Award.

Mr. Economidis has been an active member of the Greek American Community including: Past President of the United Hellenic Societies Federation of Northern California; Founding member and Chairman of the Board of the Elios Society since its inception for sixteen years ; President of the Board of Hellenic Journal, the only Greek American newspaper west of Chicago; Member of the Metropolis Council of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco for over thirty years where he has been serving as Vice President since 1996; and Member of the Board and Managing Director of St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center.

In 1996, he was bestowed the title of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He is a member of Leadership 100, member of the Executive Committee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Regional Commander of the Archons of the Metropolis of San Francisco, and since 2006 he is also a member of the National Council of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In November of 2006 with the blessing of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, he served as one of the two main ushers during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey. In December of 2006 he was elected to serve as the General Chairman of the “International Convention of Hellenes Abroad (SAE)” in Thessaloniki, Greece and in the same year he received the highest honor by the Organization of the Retired Greek Artillery General Officers in Athens, Greece. From 2008 – 2013, he was assigned by the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle to represent the Ecumenical Patriarchate and defend its Religious and Human Rights at the annual meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) comprised of 54 European nations, the US, Canada and 15 other nations around the world in Warsaw, Poland. In November of 2009 he presented the problems facing the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the annual meeting of the European Parliament in Venice, Italy.

In 1968 Fanis married Cynthia (Efstathia) Bagles from Sheboygan, Wisconsin and they enjoyed 46 years of marriage until her passing in 2014. Cynthia had a prestigious 34-year tenure of service at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee where she was a professor in The Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. They have one daughter, Roberta (Hariklia), who is a prominent attorney in San Francisco.


The Archon Class of 2016. (Photo by D. Panagos)

View photos of the Investiture

On Sunday morning, Oct. 16, Archbishop Demetrios presided at the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City. Following the Divine Liturgy the ceremony of investiture of the new Archons took place.

The new archons are:

Peter G. Chiopelas

Archon Ostiarios

Elmhurst, Illinois

Zenon Christodoulou

Archon Skevophylax

North Branch, New Jersey

Frank N. Demeris

Archon Orphanotrofos

Houston, Texas

John A. Hilaris

Archon Asekretes

Elmhurst, Illinois

Michael Gene Kavourias

Archon Nomophylax

Manhasset, New York

John Spiro Koudounis

Archon Eftaxias

Chicago, Illinois

Nicholas George Latousakis

Archon Ieromnimon

Weirton, West Virginia

William George Lianos

Archon Exarchos

Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Richard Kelly McGee

Archon Referendarios

Houston, Texas

Peter Mesologites

Archon Depoutatos

Kings Point, New York

Ted Moudis

Archon Maestor

Manhasset, New York

Tom Nixon

Archon Dikaiophylax

Charlotte, North Carolina

Christopher George Rongos

Archon Primikirios

Huntertown, Indiana

Byron Alexander Scordelis

Archon Hypomnematografos

Saratoga, California

Franklin Gay Sisson, Jr.

Archon Prepositos

Paradise Valley, Arizona

George Alexander Stamboulidis

Archon Ekdikos

Rockville Centre, New York

George Svokos

Archon Aktouarios

Franklin Lakes, New Jersey

Andrew Veniopoulos

Archon Hartoularios

New York, New York

Andrew Chris Zachariades

Archon Kastrinsios

Brick, New Jersey

Steve Zervoudis

Archon Hartophylax

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

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