(L to R) Fr. Nicholas Triantafilou, Helen Nicozisis, Fr. Alexander Veronis and Fr. Luke A. Veronis
The Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity
was established last year at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology with an initial endowed gift of one million dollars from EFOM (the Endowment Fund for Orthodox Missions) presented to the Reverend Nicholas Triantafilou, President of HC/HC, by EFOM’s Board President, Helen Nicozisis, a long-time member of Leadership 100. Nicozisis noted that the gift came from not one major benefactor, but from many people who gave both small and large donations over many years. “All of these people,” Nicozisis emphasized, “believe in the essential importance of cultivating the spirit of missions especially among our seminarians and future clergy.”
EFOM, a charity connected with the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Lancaster, PA, was created in 1981 to honor the missions-minded ministry of the Reverend Alexander and Presbytera Pearl Veronis. Father Alexander, who addressed the entire HC/HC community at the time of the inauguration, called the inauguration of the Missions Institute the fulfillment of a 50 year old dream, dating to the establishment of a Missionary Society at Holy Cross when he was a student there.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios noted at the inaugural dinner: “Missions are not simply important. They are vital, an indispensable component of our existence as Orthodox Christians… As this new Missions Institute cultivates a deeper consciousness and awareness of the missionary dimension of the Church, it will provide something absolutely central to the life of the Church.”
The Reverend Dr. Chad Hatfield, the chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Seminary and a member of the new Missions Institute Board, also addressed the dinner. He said: “The first program of this new Institute will be to offer a 3 credit class and practicum for students from Holy Cross and SVS this summer, taking them to Albania to witness one of the most vibrant missions in the Orthodox world. What an exciting program!”
The Reverend Luke A. Veronis, a missionary with more than 12 years of experience in Albania and Africa, was named the Executive Director of the Institute. He recently published Go Forth: Stories of Mission and Resurrection in Albania, his third book related to Orthodox Christian missions, and teaches courses in world missions and evangelism at Holy Cross. He has also taught at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary.
Fr. Luke expressed the “hope that through the programs and courses this Missions Institute will offer, no students will graduate from our Orthodox seminaries without having some knowledge of a missions-minded ministry. Any form of parochialism, or of limiting our faith in any way, is a distortion of the Gospel, which is Good News for all people everywhere, locally, nationally and globally. Our future clergy and leaders of the Church need to capture this universal vision of God’s love.”
EFOM, in addition to endowing the Institute, sponsors an Annual Missions Lecture at Holy Cross, grants annual scholarships to mission-minded seminarians and financially underwrites noteworthy mission projects.