- Local History
- National History
The Greek Orthodox Ladies' Philoptochos Society is the right hand of the church. The Society's main mission is philanthropy and communal outreach. All Orthodox Christian women over the age of 18 who are members of the parish are strongly encouraged to become Philoptochos members. Members in good standing meet a minimal annual stewardship obligation to the organization.
Local Chapter History
The Saint Barbara's Greek Ladies Society was formed in 1934 by a group of ladies (Catherine Efstration, Bess Melehes Manos, Eugina Manos, Starvoula Theodore, Marcia Kriakides, and Chrysanthia Theodore). They were chartered as St. Barbara's Greek Ladies Philoptochos chapter in 1942. This chapter was known as the Friend of the Poor, and has contributed to National, District, as well as locally to orphanages, campus ministries, the needy of local families as well as other Parishes. This was preceded by the Greek Ladies Church Circle which was founded in 1926 by Eugina Manos with the following Board: Bess Manos, Starvoula Theodore, Catherine Efstration, Febronia Raftakis, Marcia Kriakides, Evrikla Mitchikas.
The History of Philoptochos
With the arrival of Archbishop Athenagoras in February, 1931 to assume the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in North and South America, a new era began in the life and mission of the Greek Orthodox community.
The Thirties were turbulent times for the Greeks in America and Archbishop Athenagoras soon realized that there was an urgent need to provide philanthropic and relief services to the poor and suffering omogenia.
With the convening of the Fourth Archdiocesan General Assembly in New York City, in November, 1931, Archbishop Athenagoras urged the establishment of a national women's organization as the official philanthropic arm of the Church. The organization was to be known as Philoptochos. The Archbishop also asked that the Feastday of Saints Cosmas and Damianos, which is observed on November 1st, be designated as the Patron Saints of Philoptochos.
in 1937, established the Holy Cross Theological School in Pomfret,
CT and challenged the Philoptochos Chapters to offer financial and
moral support to the Seminary. To this day, Hellenic College/Holy
Cross Theological School continues to receive considerable financial
World War II brought many new challenges. Philoptochos played an important role in helping the Greek War Relief effort, sending food, clothing, medicine, blankets, hospital equipment and an ambulance to Greece. Philoptochos ladies also worked with the American Red Cross and sold United States War Bonds.
At the request of Archbishop Athenagoras Philoptochos purchased a 250 acre estate in Garrison, NY. in March, 1944. This became St. Basil Academy, where children from broken homes reside and receive an education through the 8th Grade. St. Basil Academy is a major National Philoptochos program.
Under the leadership of His Eminence
Archbishop lakovos, Philoptochos has developed many new programs
during the past thirty seven years. These include a Social Service
Office to assist the thousands of new Immigrants from Greece and
the establishment of the Sisterhood of St. Basil Academy.
In 1968, a major project was undertaken to bring cardiologists from Greece for special training in the techniques of heart surgery.
The invasion of Cyprus in 1974 resulted in the mobilization of the Greek Orthodox community to offer financial and moral assistance to 260,000 refugees. In addition, a Foster Parent Program was established to help Cypriot refugee children. This program raised an estimated 2.5 million dollars. Another 2.5 million was sent to the late Archbishop Makarios for refugee aid.
The Philoptochos Children's Cardiac Program began in 1974. Its purpose continues to be to bring Greek children to the United States for cardiac surgery, and/or medical treatment for heart disorders. The program extends the same care to Greek-American children throughout the United States.
The Social Services Office
was expanded in October, 1988 to include new committees on AIDS,
Aging, the Homeless, child abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, battered
women, etc. The general welfare assistance and Children's Cardiac
programs continue and a NEW Children's Medical Fund has been established
to assist children with life-threatening illnesses, including AIDS,
kidney and liver ailments, Juvenile Diabetes, as well as Cancer.
Social and moral issues are of primary concern and include information about fighting child pornography and teenage pregnancy.
Other current National Philoptochos programs include Archdiocesan Missions, St. Photios Shrine, and the Philanthropies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Philoptochos is represented at the United Nations on the Economic and Social Council and the NGO-Non Governmental Organization. Also, UNICEF which conducts impressive programs to help children throughout the world. An Emergency Fund offers assistance to victims of disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, refugees, hunger, etc. National Philoptochos is a member of the National Council on Aging, the National Religious Coalition Against Pornography and the General Federation of Women's Clubs. National Philoptochos is a major benefactor of the Restoration of Ellis Island.
In over 65 years of existence, we can proudly state that Philoptochos is the second largest women's philanthropic organization in the United States in terms of money donated to charitable causes. It is second only to the Sisterhood of Hadassah, the Jewish women's charitable group. Philoptochos functions at the local, diocesan, national, and international levels and is open to all women over 18 years old who are of the Greek Orthodox faith. It is your right and your privilege to be a member of Philoptochos.