A twenty-one-year-old theology student walked in the mid-1970s as part of my JHS 10-night Greek bilingual program. He had a contagious smile. “I wrote religious books,” he said. I asked him to give me copies of these two books with his autograph. I was impressed. A young Greek immigrant to this country wrote books and he was in my class? I told him: “Vikentios, you will become a great man. » He later became a priest, Bishop Vikentios of Apamea, builder of the Church of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, of Astoria and of the Saints. Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church, Greenport, New York. He had ecclesiastical political problems. Vikentios has rebuilt his life as an international radio personality on HellasFM. He always retained the love of the people. Vikentios’ roots came from Western Anatolia, like mine. He told me his family’s story of Aivali, an ancient Greek city located opposite Mytilene, an island in the Aegean Sea.
While I was listening to Dimitri Filippidis’ HellasFM show, I heard the latest news. “We have lost Vikentios,” he said with few words and pathos. Vikentios was around 67 years old. We have lost a person who remembers the forgotten Greek immigrant of all ages. His evening program was a highlight for many. “He told the truth,” said one listener. “He said facts. We have lost a major voice. I remember moments from his public life that I covered in newspapers and online.
In 2003, Vikentios, as Bishop of Apamea, awarded Katerina Verouhis and Elena Chresomalis the St. Nektarios Philoptohos Scholarships while I was teaching modern Greek language at a local university when Professor Gaetano Cipolla and Dean Salvatore Spizzirri were my administrators and mentors. The scholarships are not passed through a third party. Students received the financial grants directly, without administrative fees. Vikentios came in person as His Grace, Bishop Vikentios of Apamea, to present the awards. His presence inspired scholarship recipients and donors. He made this event unforgettable.
Greenport was a village in dire economic straits in the 1970s. In 1981, Apamea Bishop Vikentios of St. Irene Chrysovalantou Greek Orthodox Church in Astoria was instrumental in purchasing a church Protestant. “The city was planning to demolish the church and build apartments,” Bishop Vikentios explained. “We came at night to see the church with a flashlight. No lights! We have made a decision. We bought the church. Our decision contributed to the rebirth of Greenport. We created the Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church.
A parade was created that led to the port, where the religious ritual of blessing the waters took place. This unique custom gave birth to the Greenport Maritime Festival.
The 2006 Greenport, Long Island Maritime Festival was celebrated September 23-24 in the shopping area. Spectators came from the area, Astoria, Brooklyn, Flushing and Whitestone. Parade participants included prominent Suffolk County political figures, ROTC, churches, civic organizations, a vintage car contingent and others. ROTC was the largest contingent of protesters. Patriotism for one’s country is strong in America’s villages. Seeing our young men and women parade with self-confidence touched the viewer emotionally. Our security in this period of war is in the hands of our young soldiers.
“Our Church is under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” said Archbishop Vikentios. “In these turbulent times, monks and nuns are giving their lives for their beliefs. I am a good soldier, proud to be part of the Patriarchate. Bishop Vikentios’ main church is St. Irene Chrysovalantou at 36-07 23rd Avenue, Astoria. Saint-Nectaire and Saint-Nicolas of Brooklyn are under its jurisdiction. St. Irene is located in the heart of Astoria’s Greek-American community. Saint Irene is legendary for helping the poor, the helpless, the orphans and those forgotten by government bureaucracy. Visit www.stirene.org.
The February 4, 2018 rally in Athens against the SYRIZA government’s policy of allowing FYROM (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) to be called Macedonia is causing a rewriting of history in Greece . Mr. Dimitris Filippidis, on Hellas FM on February 13, reported that Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris wants to rename the city’s airport, currently called Macedonia Airport. State media say 140,000 people attended the rally in Athens. The journalist Filippidis, present on the spot, declared that it was a million and a half people. The Mytilene Society of America in Astoria presented the awards to Mr. Filippidis and Vikentios Malamatenios for their courage and heroism in mobilizing Greek and Greek-American opposition to the renaming of FYROM to Macedonia with consent of the current Greek government of SYRIZA, on Sunday February 11, 2018.
On March 17, 2018, Vikentios broadcast an all-night HellasFM broadcast, urging listeners to attend the March 18, 2018 rally scheduled for 2 p.m. in front of the United Nations to protest FYROM’s naming of Macedonia. He explained: “Alexander the Great was Greek because: he spoke Greek; his teachers were the greatest thinkers of the Greek world, notably Aristotle; he worshiped the Greek gods and read the Odyssey; he participated in the Olympics which were only open to Greeks and Macedonia only spoke Greek, not the Slavic language.
A unique funeral farewell on Facebook, was written by Khaled Hassan who was with Athina Giannouli Markesinis and Ioannis Rampage Markesinis. “My dear Bishop Vikentios, today I say goodbye to you. Today I had tears in my eyes because I wish life was different. Yet God had a different plan for you today at your funeral (Monday, May 23, at Saints Catherine and Saint George Church, Astoria). My head turned to the wonderful memories I had with you. You lived alone and in the end you died alone. You have given to the Church beyond its expectations. They may bury you as a monk, but to me you will always be Bishop Vikentios. I want you to know that I have always loved you. We have lost our way and separated over the past 8 years. But I know you saw me.
Mr. Hassan went on to say: “I will never forget my visit to you on May 12. You shook my hand at least four times. Your Grace, you are home. Jesus holds you in his arms. You are at peace. No more suffering. No pain. Joy. Smile, my dear bishop. For 40 years you gave more than you took. Forever in my heart, until we meet again. Kalo Paradiso. Mr. Hasan and his friends are average Americans from Astoria, New York, neither famous nor rich, whose lives have been touched by the ministry of Vikentios Malamatenios.
He shaped the Greek-American community of New York and Long Island. He helped many. His radio show enlightened everyone, presenting a point of view that was not that of the mainstream media. His show remembered the elderly, the unknown Greek immigrants who heard their names greeted with love at night. He died without wealth. A poor man at Bellevue Hospital. His impact on his generation was greater than that of wealthy benefactors: he influenced generations to take pride in the Greek Orthodox language, culture and faith. The best way to describe its influence is through the words of the Athenian Pericles Pericles: “The whole earth is the tomb of heroic men, and their story is not only told in stone on their clay but remains everywhere without visible symbol woven into the fabric. of the lives of other men. »