SAN DIEGO – The 41st Folk Dance and Choral Festival (FDF 2017) a four day celebration of Faith, Dance and Fellowship of the Metropolis of San Fransisco, culminated yesterday Feb. 19, 2017 with the Archieratical Divine Liturgy in the morning, the Finals of the Advance Senior Division and the Awards Ceremony, all taking place at Town and Country Resort Hotel here in San Diego.

Archbishop Demetrios presided over the Divine Liturgy Sunday morning, with more than 20 priests of the Metropolis of San Francisco concelebrating. Metropolitan Gerasimos and Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, the chancellor of the Metropolis, were attending in prayer. Also in attendance was the Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles, Gregory Karahalios.

The Archbishop noted the record number of 30 altar boys serving during the Liturgy, and recognized all of them by name at the end of the service. His Eminence asked the faithful to read carefully at home the Gospel reading of the day (Matthew chapter 25) which reads in part: Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me....Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. Following the Divine Liturgy a memorial service was chanted for Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory, departed clergy of the Metropolis and founders of FDF.

The Advanced Senior Finals took place in the afternoon. Seven finalist groups performed suites of dances around a theme, or a particular geographic region or village of Greece while singing simultaneously.  The performances are judged on execution, authenticity, costumes, choral and musical standards.

“FDF is a tapestry of all of you since the time it was created 41 years ago. It will be here through my time, your time and then some,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos to the 4,000 people attending the formal Awards Ceremony concluding the FDF weekend. The Metropolitan spoke to the youth participants on the meaning of “All for One” the theme of this year’s festival. “It is for one family, one body of Christ, one Greek Orthodox faith, it means one heritage as a most precious gift from all those who came before you,” he said and added that the weekend of FDF was “a display of unity, creativity and christian love.”

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in a video message to FDF conveyed his love and the care of the Mother Church of Constantinople for this important youth ministry of the Metropolis of San Francisco.

“This was an explosion of youth activity that combined beauty, faith, method and dedication in a way that produced excellence,” said Archbishop Demetrios, who attended all the events and competitions for three and a half days. “Nothing we have seen elsewhere, in terms of dancing of every kind, compares to what we experienced in FDF,” he added noting that Folk Dance Festival is “a unique event of vitality, art, comradery, fellowship, faith, order and great joy.”

During the evening Awards Ceremony the Metropolis of San Francisco bestowed the Metropolitan Anthony Humanitarian Award 2017 to Archon George and his wife Vickie Demos of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary in Long Beach, Calif. Also the 2017 Elios Award of Excellence was presented to Gary Vrionis of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in San Francisco.

The semi-final competitions in the two divisions and the various category levels were held on Friday and most final performances took place on Saturday. The organization of this annual event is exemplary, the participation is impressive in numbers and enthusiasm and the ethos of love and cooperation apparent. FDF, now in its 41st year has reached a new level of success under the guidance of His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco who guides a tireless team of volunteers and a management team led by FDF’s Board chairman Fr. Gary Kyriacou.

A total of 4,000 people were in attendance, 2,500 of which were participants in the various groups and approximately another 1,500 people comprised of family members, friends and spectators from the various parishes of the Metropolis. More than eighty groups participated from more than forty parishes of the Metropolis. It is the largest gathering of Greek-Orthodox young people in the United States and arguably the largest youth festival of traditional Greek dancing in the world.

The winners in the Advanced Senior Category as announced at the Awards Ceremony are: first place to Olympian Dancers of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Long Beach, Calif.; second place to Seismos of the Ascension Cathedral, Oakland, Calif.;  third place to Oi Antartes of St. John the Baptist, Las Vegas, Nev.; fourth place to Panegeri of St. Anthony, Pasadena, Calif.; Founders Special Achievement Award to Akrites of St. Demetrios, Seattle, Wash., the choral award in this category was awarded to Oikogeneia of Holy Trinity, San Francisco, Calif.; and the Costume Award to Olympian Dancers of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Long Beach, Calif.

The Sweepstakes awards (best overall) for Division I dance was awarded to Oikogeneia of Holy Trinity, San Francisco, Calif.; for Division II dance was awarded to Sinefakia (advanced junior category) of St. Sophia Cathedral, Los Angeles, Calif.; and finally for the Choral competition, the Sweepstakes award went to Helios of Sts. Constantine and Helen, Cardiff by the Sea, Calif. A complete listing of the winners can be found on the FDF website: www.yourfdf.org

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