A Message from the President – March 2015

Pagonis-2015-01“We, descendants of the wise and noble peoples of Hellas, we who are the contemporaries of the enlightened and civilised nations of Europe, we who behold the advantages which they enjoy under the protection of the impenetrable aegis of the law, find it no longer possible to suffer without cowardice and self-contempt the cruel yoke of the Ottoman power which has weighed upon us for more than four centuries,- a power which does not listen to reason and knows no other law than its own will, which orders and disposes everything despotically and according to its caprice. After this prolonged slavery we have determined to take arms to avenge ourselves and our country against a frightful tyranny, iniquitous in its very essence, – an unexampled despotism to which no other rule can be compared.”

-Greek Declaration of Independence, Epidavros 1822

Dear friends,

Every year at this time, we are given the opportunity to remind the world of the virtues of our nation; to show them what heroism, selflessness, sacrifice and faith in freedom is.  Greece and Hellenes of the Diaspora celebrate our national independence; the day when a handful of heroes – in a united front – liberated the country from the Ottoman rule.  The HCGM honours our Greek Independence Day with a series of events, including the spectacular Greek Parade on Jean-Talon Street.  Our students along with participants from local Greek associations and other ethnic communities march proudly in celebration of our national holiday.  It is, for us, an honour and a privilege to be there.

For us, of Greek Orthodox faith, March 25th is a landmark of our religion.  It is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when we celebrate the announcement by Archangel Gabriel to Our Lady that she would conceive and become the Mother of Jesus.  Each and every year, our churches are filled with members of the Greek community at large, to celebrate this holy event.

During my trip in Greece, I had the opportunity to fly to Constantinople and visit His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.  The reception I received was very cordial.  I pointed out our commitment, our love and our dedication to the Patriarchate, and I praised His All Holiness personally for his charitable work and his initiatives for a sustainable global environment.

The discussion on the issue of the HCGM and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto – Canada was had in a hearty tone.  I presented our position on the matter, as did His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios from the Metropolis’ perspective.  His All Holiness expressed his understanding and his wish for a mutually-beneficial resolution to the matter.

With the blessings of His All Holiness, it is evident that we have opened a new chapter in our relationship with the Metropolis, in the hopes of an ideal outcome.

In closing, I wish to once again express our gratitude to the members of the Greek community at large, for their constant and unwavering support to our cause; our schools.  Between the “RBC Taste and Tradition” event, AHEPA’s “Valentine’s Ball”, and last week’s “Raffle 2015” (Λαχειοφόρος 2015), over $ 200,000 were raised to benefit our schools.  Thank you!

With so many reasons to be proud, I wish to all of you: «Χρόνια πολλά!», «Ζήτω η Ελλάδα!».


Nicholas T. Pagonis