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Celebrating The Olympic Spirit

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Feb 11, 2004

St. Augustine, FL - The 22nd Annual St. Photios National Shrine Pilgrimage, celebrated by faithful throughout the Archdiocese in St. Augustine, FL from February 6-8, vividly recalled the journey, struggles, and the ultimately realized dream of freedom of the first Greek pioneers who arrived in America in 1768. The celebration began on February 6, the Feastday of Saint Photios the Great, with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy by St. Photios Foundation President Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, past Foundation president and Trustee Emeritus, Bishop John of Amorion, and Rev. Nikitas Theodosion, Shrine chaplain and pastor of Holy Trinity Church in St. Augustine, FL.

The St. Photios Foundation Board of Trustees met for its annual meeting on Saturday, February 7th. His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, representing the Holy Eparchial Synod, said, "On behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and the entire Archdiocese, we thank you for your efforts and extend gratitude for your time and talents." Shrine Executive Director, V. Rev. Nicholas Graff, shared recent accomplishments, including the hosting of the Leadership 100 Memorial Service at St. Photios Shrine the past year. Father Graff asked the Trustees to focus their efforts on "completing the St. Photios National Shrine Archbishop Iakovos Enhancement Project, so that we then may continue our efforts to meet the goal of the Endowment Fund, as a fitting tribute to our founding hierarch, Archbishop Iakovos." National Philoptochos Board President, Mrs. Georgia Skeadas commented, "All Philoptochos chapters are pleased to be benefactors of this sacred institution of our Archdiocese. I am truly impressed with the importance and significance the Shrine represents." Later that evening, His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios, presided at Great Vespers and the Artoclasia, offered by the Shrine Godparents, Archon Dr. George and Georgia Croffead of Charleston, SC.

His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas celebrated the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, February 8, National St. Photios Shrine Day in St. Photios Chapel. The Xynidis family, offered the Koliva for the Memorial Service commemorating the Founders, Benefactors, Trustees, and Charter Members of the National Shrine. Following the Liturgy, 170 guests gathered at the Casa Monica Hotel ballroom for the Annual St. Photios Shrine Pilgrimage Luncheon. The Honorable Mayor George Gardner of St. Augustine welcomed all the guests "to the nation's oldest city," and presented keynote speaker, Bruce Jenner, with an official lapel pin of the City of St. Augustine.

Bruce Jenner, Olympic Gold Medal Winner, was introduced by Toastmaster Nicholas Furris, who noted that Mr. Jenner was selected to speak on the occasion of the Olympic Games to be held in Athens this summer. "The Olympic Spirit", said Mr. Jenner, "was for him a positive experience that helped build his soul from within to become a champion." On his journey towards his decathlon Olympic gold medal in 1976, he learned that each person has the power within to become a champion.

Highlights of the luncheon included the presentation of The St. Photios Award to Mrs. Joyce Brown, who retired after sixteen years of service to the St. Photios Shrine. Trustee Emeritus, Archon Charles Masterpolis of Savannah, GA, presented Father Graff with a gift of $50,000 for the Archbishop Iakovos Enhancement Project and a gift of $10,000 to Holy Trinity Church in St. Augustine on the occasion of the recent groundbreaking for their new church.

Corporate sponsors of the 22nd Annual St. Photios Shrine Pilgrimage were Spectrum Films, Inc. of Jacksonville, FL, and Capital Partners, LLC of Jacksonville, FL. The Chairperson of the Pilgrimage was Archon Dr. Manuel Tissura, of Atlanta, GA, and Mrs. Elaine Tissura was the Luncheon chairperson. The St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine is a self-supported institution of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America thanks to the generosity of friends and benefactors. It is dedicated to the first colony of Greek people who came to America in 1768, and is a living memorial to those first Greek settlers, and to all the Greek Orthodox pioneers whose love of freedom and desire for a better life for themselves and their children brought them to this New World.

Contact: Andrew J. Lekos
Tel:(904) 829-8205
Fax:(904) 829-8707
E-Mail:AJLekos@stphotios.com

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