Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis, Director of the Department of Greek Education, will publish a series of articles focusing on Greek education, with particular emphasis on several day schools.
Established in 1922, the community of the Three Hierarchs occupies a prominent place in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. A melting pot of immigrants from Greece, Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and Armenia, this community is deeply rooted in its commitment to preserving the Orthodox Christian faith, Hellenic culture and the Greek language.
The community traced its origins to Coney Island, Brooklyn, where three visionary businessmen – Vasilios, Ioannis and Gregorios – embarked on a mission to establish a sanctuary for worship and religious teachings. In keeping with their aspirations, the church was rightly named Three Hierarchs, symbolizing the trio’s dedication to preserving their cherished faith. With a sincere desire to retain the language, customs, and culture of their ancestors, the community Greek Afternoon Schools were established to ensure the Greek heritage flourished.
As time passed and the community flourished, it became apparent that expansion was needed. In 1943 a new church was acquired, becoming the cornerstone of the current location. Building on this success, the community decided to take another monumental step: the creation of its own school and youth center. In 1975, Three Hierarchs opened the doors of their own day school, with the aim of blending the Greek Orthodox faith, culture and principles of the Greek way of life from ancient times to contemporary times.
The Three Hierarchs Day School was a way to train students firmly rooted in both the Greek Orthodox faith and the diversity of the American landscape. The aim of the school was not only to impart knowledge, but also to nurture a generation that could smoothly meet life’s challenges while maintaining its distinct Greek Orthodox identity.
Within the parish, three schools flourished: the Parish School, the Afternoon Greek School, and the Catechetical School. The catechetical school, although relatively modest in size, hosted a diverse student body comprising 85% Russian, Ukrainian and Georgian Orthodox students. To meet the needs of these bilingual students, the Church has introduced distinct liturgies in their native languages, a testament to its dedication to inclusion and cultural preservation.
Throughout its existence, the Three Hierarchs Community has been dedicated to supporting the larger Greek communities of Brooklyn. But like many others, it bears witness to the departure of Greek families from the district. The day school, although a symbol of educational excellence and cultural preservation, faced financial challenges that ultimately led to its closure in 2011.
Even in the face of adversity, the community of the Three Hierarchs remained resilient. In a last ditch effort to save the school, a partnership with the University of Saint John’s was forged, but with limited success. Despite the closure of the school, the community of the Three Hierarchs persists in its commitment to perpetuating Greek-American Christian values. It continues to offer Greek language programs in the afternoons, ensuring that the flame of Hellenic heritage burns brightly for generations to come.
In the tapestry of Brooklyn’s Greek-American history, the Three Hierarchs’ Greek-American Day School remains a poignant chapter – a testament to the enduring spirit of faith, culture and community.