Posted: July 6th, 2012

We ♥ Philoptochos and AHEPA!

By, Fr. Mark Sietsema

A tribute to two equally great organizations in our parish

It’s a simple but timely message: there are two organizations that accomplish many good things in our community: the Ladies Philoptochos Society and the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, and we love them both. The first is for woman and the second is for men, but the two organizations are complementary to each other, not competitive.

The Lansing parish was founded in no small part through the efforts of the local AHEPA chapter, whose presence in our city preceded the formal existence of the church.  Without those early generations of AHEPAns, the history of the Orthodox community in mid-Michigan might have been a very different story.  And again, when the time came for the community to build its present facility, a significant donation by the AHEPA chapter once again made good things possible at a crucial time in the parish’s life.  How can we thank them enough?

All the while, quietly and competently, the Ladies of Philoptochos acted as Women with a Purpose.  Through countless bake sales and fundraisers, this group has raised many tens of thousands of dollars over the years in the cause of being “Friends of the Poor.”  Some of the treasured photographs in our archives show the women of the parish at work rolling out pastry dough, layering pans of spanakopita, and decorating the social hall for a gala function.  Many of the beloved women from those photos are no longer with us, but the good they have done remains with us to this day.  Our local chapter has not only done much philanthropic good, they have also been stalwart supporters of the parish in every way.   Many of the improvements in our kitchen and social areas are due to the Ladies of Philoptochos.  How can we thank them enough?

There is occasionally a misunderstanding that is voiced, one which I hasten now to dispel.  Some think that the scope and purpose of Philoptochos or AHEPA is limited to a single activity (“just alms” or “just education”).  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Both AHEPA and Philoptochos exist with multifaceted missions.  If I may be allowed to depart from the formal language of their charters, both groups exist to promote the values of the Church and to extend the work of Jesus Christ in raising up all of humankind to God.  The work of the National AHEPA in working toward a solution of the rebuilding of Saint Nicholas Church near Ground Zero, or the gift of an auspicious icon for our sanctuary here in Lansing—these are both examples of activities that are completely within the purview of these organizations.  How can we thank them enough?

Philoptochos and AHEPA are like the right and left hands of the parish. They are the muscle that gets things accomplished: dinners served, funds raised, children sent to Camp, human beings helped in every way.  Without these two organizations, operating with the freedom they have as independent groups, good things get done.  Once in a while I hear a complaint to the effect that “some people think that Philoptochos or AHEPA only exist to give away money.”  Well, those people are mostly right!  These two groups are the premier fundraisers in local parishes, and they collect that money in order to give it away for worthy causes.  I am so grateful to my Philoptochos and AHEPA for their can-do responses to my requests for help, whether in scholarships or liturgical items or some gesture of support for the ministry of the parish overall.  How can we thank them enough?

The best Thank You that we can give to our beloved local chapters is to support their good works.  Attend their picnics and luncheons and dinners.  Support their fundraisers.  And if they decide to pass the hat for a special cause, give as generously as you can.  Above all, if you are not a member, consider joining today!  These men and women love to do good, and the best Thank You is to keep them busy doing good for our parish and for mankind and above all, for the love of God.  May He bless our Philoptochos and AHEPA forever!


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