Department of Religious Education (DRE) Announces the 2024 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival National Finalists

With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Department of Religious Education (DRE) of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is overjoyed to announce the 40th Annual St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival National Finalists.

The participants competed on June 8th, 2024, at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Buffalo, New York. Congratulations to the 1st Place National Finalists from the Junior Division, Lambros Christopoulos, and the Senior Division, Johnny Cumbelich! (see complete list below)

AWARDS, SCHOLARSHIPS & GIFTS

For the third year in a row, the awards and scholarships presented increased in value. Participants at the National Finals received awards and scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $7,500. This was made possible by FAITH: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism, which generously donated $25,000 for the third consecutive year; the Oratorical Festival Award Fund of the DRE, which donated $15,000 for the third consecutive year; the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, who donated $10,000; and Mr. Nicholas and Mrs. Priscilla Candiliotis, who donated $500 to the 1st Place Senior Division recipient.

Finalists from all four competition levels are also eligible to apply for the Hellenic College Chrysostom Scholarship to receive a credit for the pursuit of one undergraduate degree.

All National Finals participants received an official plaque and certificate recognizing them for following the calling of the Church, sharing the Greek Orthodox Faith, and demonstrating the courage to confess their faith.

CONGRATULATIONS, NATIONAL FINALISTS — WAY TO GO!

JUNIOR DIVISION (grades 7-9)

  • 1st place recipient Lambros Christopoulos from the Metropolis of Atlanta, Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, was awarded $7,000.
  • 2nd place recipient Sophia Nichols from the Metropolis of Boston, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Cranston, Rhode Island, was awarded $5,000.
  • 3rd place recipient Nektarios Delis from the Metropolis of San Francisco, Church of the Holy Cross Belmont, California, was awarded $4,000.

Honorable Mention recipients were each awarded $1,500, and the six were:

  • Arianne Fadrowski from the Metropolis of Denver, Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Irene Maria Zografos from the Direct Archdiocesan District, Church of Holy Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church in Brookville, New York.
  • Maria Zouras from the Metropolis of Chicago, Ascension of Our Lord Greek Orthodox Church in Lincolnshire, Illinois.
  • Sophia Belcher from the Metropolis of New Jersey, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Norfolk, Virginia.
  • Stavros Fekaris from the Metropolis of Detroit, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
  • Theophany Goudas Ksenyak from the Metropolis of Pittsburgh, Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

SENIOR DIVISION (grades 10-12)

  • 1st Place recipient Johnny Cumbelich from the Metropolis of San Francisco, Ascension Cathedral in Oakland, California, was awarded $7,500.
  • 2nd Place recipient Irene Petrutiu from the Metropolis of Detroit, Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Westland, Michigan, was awarded $5,000.
  • 3rd place recipient Markella Nacopoulos from the Metropolis of Pittsburgh, Koimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church in Erie, Pennsylvania, was awarded $4,000.

Honorable Mention recipients were each awarded $1,500, and the six were:

  • Eleni Lafond from the Metropolis of Boston, Saint Gregory the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church in Mansfield, Massachusetts.
  • Mia Tzafolias from the Metropolis of New Jersey, Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Falls Church, Virginia.
  • Grace Demacopoulos from the Direct Archdiocesan District, Saint Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Church in Greenlawn, New York.
  • Ezekiel Harper from the Metropolis of Atlanta, Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene in Cumming, Georgia.
  • Noelia Spentzos from the Metropolis of Denver, Saints Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • Leo Paul Petropoulos from the Metropolis of Chicago, Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Elgin, Illinois.

VIDEOS & PHOTOS OF THE COMPETITIONS

If you missed the Oratorical Festival National Finals or are missing them already, the DRE has you covered. Watch it now: www.goarch.org/oratorical. Follow @goarchORATORICAL on Instagram and Facebook to check out what happened throughout the weekend of faith, education, fellowship — and fun!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

A huge thanks to the countless hierarchs, clergy, presvyteres, chairs, hosts, committees, volunteers, donors, sponsors, staff, participants, and supporters across America who made the 40th Annual St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival possible, from the launch in the fall of 2023, all the way to the National Finals this past weekend!

  • Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America National Committee, overseen by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America; led by, for the third year in a row, DRE Director His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos and his DRE Team; and for the seventh year in a row, including National Chair Katherine Orfanakos Demacopoulos, who took the reins from her beloved parents of blessed memory who served from 1986 to 2018; and all the Metropolis Teams across America.
  • Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit National Finals Hosts, overseen by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit and led by Youth Director Michael Hostetler.
  • National Finals Host Committee of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church: overseen by the Rev. Fr. Christos Christakis & Presvytera Lisa Christakis and led by Chair Lea Cervi.
  • Awards & Scholarships Donors (see above for list and details).
  • National Oratorical Festival Sponsors, who donated money, services, and products to make the National Finals weekend possible.
  • Judges of the Junior and Senior competitions.
  • Alumni speakers and supporters.
  • Last but not least, the participants, the National Finalists — and their biggest cheerleaders, their parents, families, and friends.

Congratulations to the National Finalists and everyone who participated from across America!

ABOUT THE ORATORICAL FESTIVAL

The St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival is a nationwide Department of Religious Education (DRE) ministry of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that centers around faith, education, and fellowship. Greek Orthodox youth participants present speeches discussing the faith and the Church, exploring and deepening their faith while honing their speech writing and public speaking skills. National finalists earn sizeable monetary awards, and finalists at all four levels earn scholarships. Established in 1983 under Archbishop Iakovos of North & South America of blessed memory.

St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival

Department of Religious Education (DRE)

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Email: [email protected].

Instagram & Facebook: @goarchORATORICAL religioused.goarch.org.

Photos courtesy of Department of Religious Education.

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