2006 News Archives

Archbishop Demetrios Enthusiastically Endorses Greek American Campers Following First Visit to Ionian Village

They have become the finest ambassadors of Greece and her heritage

New York, NY- Archbishop Demetrios of America returned from his first-ever visit to Ionian Village, the travel abroad camp program of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, expressing. “great joy and enthusiasm from this rich, albeit brief, experience,” from August 7-9, 2006.

Since 1970, over 15,000 teens and young adults have enjoyed the Ionian Village experience, which provides campers with the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the saints, the Apostles, and their ancestors, travel Greece and broaden their appreciation of Orthodox Christianity and Hellenic Culture, while making new, lifetime friends from across the United States.

Archbishop Demetrios arrived at Ionian Village, located on the northwest coast of the Peloponnese some 45 miles from Patras at Bartholomio, on the evening of August 7th and was officially welcomed by Metropolitan Germanos of Elia, local authorities and a large crowd at the entrance of the Church of the Dormition where a doxology was celebrated. Metropolitan Germanos in his warm welcome said, “ Your presence in Elia today your Eminence, honors and elevates our heroic and historic land to new international heights…for which we are grateful and offer you our honor and respect.”

Later, Archbishop Demetrios dined with the campers and enjoyed a beautiful program in the amphitheater of Ionian Village.

The following morning, His Eminence breakfasted with the campers and toured the campsite. During his tour he joined in discussions being held by two groups of campers discussing issues relating to their Orthodox faith and life. His Eminence listened intently to the opinions expressed by the young people, participated in their conversation and emphasized the importance of prayer as the means of being in constant communication with God.

In the evening, Archbishop Demetrios welcomed several official dignitaries, and following a tour of the campsite hosted a reception and dinner in the courtyard of the Center named for its donor, Alexander Onassis.

Following the singing of the American and Greek national anthems by the campers, Father Constantine Lazarakis, Ionian Village director welcomed Archbishop Demetrios who in turn welcomed the guests including the Mayor of Bartholomio Stephanos Adaos and the Prefect of Elia, Takis Dimitroulopoulos. Also present were the Undersecretary of the Foreign Office for Greeks Abroad Theodoros Kassimis, and President and Vice President of the Bipartisan Committee of Parliament, Mrs. Eugene Haitidis and Gregorios Niotis, respectively, all of whom expressed their positive impression of their visit and promised to continue their support of the goals and operation of Ionian Village.

The evening concluded with a program by the Greek American campers of traditional Greek folk dances and Greek hymns and folk songs enthusiastically applauded by all in attendance, including local and national government leaders, clergy and invited guests.

In his closing comments Metropolitan Germanos emphasized the unique role Ionian Village plays in the strengthening of the bonds between Greece and the Greek Orthodox Omogenia of America. In his response,and in conclusion of his visit, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios said: “My words and thoughts this evening are reserved for the beautiful and lively presence of these young people whom you have all had the opportunity to admire and applaud. The Ionian Village campers have become the finest ambassadors of Greece and her heritage.”

Nikki Stephanopoulos

Orthodox Observer Online