New York Life Donates $1,000,000 for the Study of Hellenism in Asia Minor

NEW YORK – New York Life Insurance Company presented Archbishop Demetrios with a one million dollars donation, last Friday Jan. 9, for the establishment of the New York Life Center for the Study of Hellenism in Pontus and Asia Minor at Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology, the Archdiocesan institution of higher learning and scholarship in Brookline, Mass. This donation is part of New York Life’s outreach program to the heirs of Greek policyholders in the Ottoman Empire.

Ted Mathas, CEO and President of New York Life made the presentation during a visit with Archbishop Demetrios and along with Dr. Thomas Lelon, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Hellenic College/Holy Cross signed the relevant
agreement. In addition, present at the meeting were Michael DeMicco and William Werfelman both officers of New York Life, Bishop Andonios of Phasiane who facilitated the relalization of the project, and Fr. Elias Villis, parish priest of Mr. Mathas.

“We are grateful to New York Life for this significant donation and it is our conviction that this Center will add a unique and dynamic dimension to the academic offering of our Hellenic College/Holy Cross,” stated His Eminence. “It is most appropriate and fitting that our Church which now embraces the children and grandchildren of those refuges from Pontus and Asia Minor, should do everything possible to keep alive the memory of these two once vibrant and prosperous communities. It is our sacred duty to educate everyone about the life of these people who comprised a very significant portion of the flock of our revered Ecumenical Patriarchate which to this day is suffering from their demise.”

“We are very pleased to be here today,” said Mr. Mathas, at the conclusion of the meeting. “New York Life has a long history of social responsibility and we work hard to fulfill all the commitments we have made in the past. This is an extraordinary example for us to be able to reach back in our history and in as much as we can to provide some good will for what was a great tragedy in Greek history. We had great cooperation from the Greek Orthodox Church and it is something we are very proud of.”

The focus of the New York Life Center for the Study of Hellenism in Pontus and Asia Minor at HC/HC will be to educate not only those studying at the School but also the greater community as to the rich history, culture and legacy of Hellenism in Pontus and Asia Minor. Greeks had settled in Asia Minor and then Pontus 1000 years before Christ and played a central and important role in the history of the area for three millennia producing successive waves of the highest quality cultures. The disastrous events with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the Twentieth century not only resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Hellenes in both Pontus and Asia Minor but ultimately the forcible uprooting of over 1,5 million people from their ancestral homelands and the end of this long and significant chapter in history.

(Posting date 16 February 2009)

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