Unsung heroes are the builders of societies. The average person, unknown to many of us, creates centers of civilization and religion. Their story is greater than the leaders. They were and are part of something bigger: doing something for their children so they can hold onto their religion and culture. Sacrifices of many built and are still building St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Flushing, New York.
“Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Flushing, New York” is a collection of newspaper articles written by journalist/photographer Catherine Tsounis from 1987-2014. Her writings are eyewitness accounts, the raw material for future studies.
In her book introduction, she states “Memory is the mother of all wisdom. – Aeschylus. All classes united to create a magnificent religious and education center. Their dedicated effort contributed in the greatness of Hellenism in New York City and the United States of America. This book reflects the growth from 1987 through 2014 from my viewpoint with primary sources. Many of these newspapers are not digital media. The information will be lost in time. I am attempting to pass the truth on to the next generation.”
The book is in chronological order. It narrates: parishioners and educators’ successes; the ministries of Very Rev. George Passias, Very Rev. Paul Palesty and the late Very Rev. Anastasios Diakovasilis; the work of principals, Mrs. Athena Kromidas, Mrs. Chris Arlis, the late Mrs. Catherine Zangas and Mr. George Kanellopoulos; efforts and petition in 1990 to secure a federal grant; involvement of local Greek organizations; Education and PTA Social events of William Spyropoulos School and Stephen and Arete Cherpelis Afternoon Greek School; school expansion; political leaders and the NYPD involvement; Festivals; and the historic visit of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, the spiritual leader of the 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.
The book shows the church’s emergence from isolationism to integration in the global community of New York City. The recurrent theme is building for the future based on the foundation of forefathers. Many believe their church donations are a gift for their children by expanding the church center. The firsthand accounts by the author prove what Pericles said over two thousand years ago: “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven in the lives of others.”
Tsounis was born in Astoria, New York. She was educated at St. Demetrios Greek-American Parochial School and Bryant High School in Astoria, New York. She acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College. She has a Master of Arts degree in Byzantine History from the Queens College Graduate School of CUNY. The author is a veteran educator from elementary school to university levels in the New York City Metropolitan area, with an emphasis on Bilingual-Greek language studies. Tsounis is a photo/journalist on the national and international scene from 1974, in the internet, magazine and newspaper mediums. She was inducted into “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” in 2002 and 2005. She was the first third generation Greek-American to be awarded the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, USA scholarship in category B in 2002-2003 for advanced teacher training. In 2005, she was awarded the New York City Council Proclamation in commemoration of the 184th Anniversary of Greek Independence for her outstanding contribution to New York City and the Greek-American community and at the 19th Hermes International Expo in Atlantic City in 2010.
Her books include: Greek-American Experience; Greek-American Experience II; Greek-American Experience III; Greek American Experience IV; Greek-American Anthology 2005-06; 2005 Anthology of Greek-America; Greek-American Anthology 2005; Transfiguration of Christ Church Mattituck, 1978-2005 and Transfiguration of Christ Church, Mattituck, New York, 1969-2013.
East Flushing Library at 196-36 Northern Blvd. will host a book workshop on Tuesday afternoon, March 10, at 2 p.m. in their recreation room. The book is at the Greek literature section, available to the public. For more information, email Community Library Manager Florence Leung or call 718 357-6643. A similar book presentation focusing on music, culture and Greek cuisine will be held on Saturday, March 21, at 12:30 p.m. at the Key Luck Club in the CCNS Bayside Senior Center located at 221-15 Horace Harding Expressway, Bayside. For more information, email President Irene Cheung or call 646-752-1302. All persons interested in the publication can email author Catherine Tsounis.
Never Far from Hellenism
Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Flushing, New York 1987-2014
By Catherine Tsounis
326 pp. $20