San Francisco Event Commemorates Centennial of Asia Minor Catastrophe
On Saturday, November 12, 2022, Holy Trinity San Francisco and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco hosted a commemorative event honoring the centennial of the Asia Minor Catastrophe. His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, His Grace Bishop Ioannis of Phocaea, and the Honorable Socrates Sourvinos, Consul General of the Hellenic Republic in San Francisco were in attendance along with 150 guests from across the Bay Area. The evening was especially memorable for the many guests whose parents or grandparents were refugees from Smyrna and Asia Minor.
This immersive event featured a delicious dinner of traditional foods from Smyrna and Asia Minor and a lecture from Professor Maria Mavroudi (UC Berkeley). Attendees were reminded of the cultural and spiritual legacy of this region as embodied by modern saints including St. Paisios the Athonite and St. Iakovos of Evia. Beyond a remembrance of the tragedy of the burning of Smyrna, the evening was a nostalgic journey that encouraged the attendees to reflect on how the lessons of the past could be applied to our present day as our society becomes more divided.
Professor Mavroudi’s powerful presentation focused on the positive impact of the refugees, who entered Greece through the Exchange of Populations, in the areas of art and culture. She also encouraged attendees to think more critically about the role that history plays in the formation of collective identity and how that collective identity changes over time. She reminded everyone that, “As a collectivity, we Greeks are made up of equal parts of both our triumphs and our traumas. We can and should embrace both because otherwise we would not be who we are.”
Following dessert, a concert of songs from Smyrna and Asia Minor, as well as songs influenced by the refugee influx to Greece was presented. The concert was prepared by a group of local musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area. This was surely a highlight of the evening as attendees reminisced on tunes of their childhood or of their parent’s generation. The concert was uploaded to YouTube and can be viewed here.
In his concluding remarks, His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos reminded the attendees that the evening was, “a call to action, for all of us, to heal the wounds of humanity. We are broken but in Christ’s eyes, and in His love for us, we are healed. Tonight, is a base for us to move forward to heal humanity.” All the proceeds from the evening’s event will be donated to Refugee and Immigrant Transitions, a local non-profit supporting refugees coming to California transition into their new home.