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Archons Honor Father Alex and Presbytera Xanthi Karloutsos with Athenagoras Human Rights Award
The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Order of Saint Andrew, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America honored Father Alexander and Presbytera Xanthi Karloutsos with the Athenagoras Human Rights Award, before 1,300 attendees at their annual banquet, the largest gathering at the event in half a century.
The master of ceremonies was Fox News Chief Congressional and Senior Political Correspondent, Archon Mike Emanuel. “Being in Washington over the past seventeen years,” said Emanuel, “I’ve heard Presidents from both parties mention Father Alex – a recognition of his talent. And three Archbishops have depended heavily on him over the decades….His focus and determination are legendary.”
Father Alex’s brother James Karloutsos spoke movingly about their early life and said of his brother: “His accomplishments have been molded by his faith, love, and strong faith in God. That lifelong faith strengthened his commitment and devotion to better the lives of all who seek him out.”
Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, the Personal Representative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, affirmed: “They have never let us down, Father Alex and Presbytera Xanthi, not even once.” He praised “their spiritual care for every person they have encountered over their decades of service in ministry, from the least, to their parish, to the greatest, in the halls of secular power.”
In a video message recorded for this event, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed the Order, saying: “You have rightly chosen to recognize and honor the unwavering dedication and selfless service they have demonstrated the last five decades to Orthodoxy in the United States and throughout the entire world…Father Alex has deeply impacted and enriched many souls around the globe in search of spiritual refuge and guidance.”
Archon National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D., noted the Athenagoras Human Rights Award not only recognizes the impact that an individual or organization has had on the respect for human dignity and religious freedom in our world, but it also bears the name of a great Ecumenical Patriarch, and one who was as well, a great Archbishop of America.
In his response to receiving the Award with his wife, Father Alex replied, “Although we are not the worthiest recipients of this Award, we are immensely aware and humbled by its worth. For us, Patriarch Athenagoras was a visionary for our Church in America and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The infrastructure of our Archdiocese, which is the bedrock of all that we enjoy, was bequeathed to us by this prophetic Prelate.
“Even our political ties to the Oval Office began when then Archbishop Athenagoras was called in November 1948 to lead the Sacred See of Saint Andrew as part of the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan to keep the First Throne of Orthodoxy from being trapped behind the Iron Curtain and falling into the communist hands of Stalin’s Soviet Union.”
“Together, my wife Xanthi and I have worked and served in the holy priesthood for over 48 years,” Father Alex noted. “While I was processing with Popes and Patriarchs, my unseen co-worker was sorting suitcases at airports; while I was in receiving lines with Presidents and First Ladies at the White House, Presbytera Xanthi was arranging chairs at the State Department; when I celebrate the Divine Liturgy and enjoy the first seat in our Church, my co-disciple takes the last pew to ensure proper discipline in the Narthex and Nave; while I’m the maître de superstar at our Hamptons Greek Festival, my privileged Presbytera is peeling onions, washing pans and baking baklava.”
In her comments to the assembled guests, Presbytera Xanthi expressed her gratitude for the recognition they received, adding “as grand as this evening is, it is even more humbling, because whatever we have achieved together, we did because it was what we truly believed,” noting that she and Father Alex have been given unique opportunities to serve the Church they love so much. “Each act of service has been special because of our love for our Ecumenical Patriarchate, and especially His All-Holiness. Receiving this honor is really special.”
Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, noted that several of the speakers “spoke about joy,” and that “joy is something that characterizes” the Karloutsos family, even amid great hardships. A “genuine Christian,” he said, is “filled with the joy of Christ no matter what happens,” and Father Alex and his family epitomize this.
Archbishop Demetrios also praised Father Alex for facilitating access to Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. The Archbishop detailed more of Father Alex’s accomplishments and then noted: “Here is Presbytera Xanthippe, doing superhuman work. To take care of the family and giving to Father Alexander the possibility to move…through different levels and kinds of activity. It’s one thing to deal with the Archons, it’s another thing to deal with political authorities, and it’s another thing to deal with extraordinary events like a unique, Holy and Great Synod in Crete.” He also recounted Father Alex’s tireless efforts to rebuild and restore St. Nicholas Church, destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, and make it a beacon of Orthodoxy in New York City and America as a whole.
In addition, the National Commander also expressed his thanks to the generous benefactors of the banquet including the five underwriters, the late Archon Nicholas J. Bouras represented by Archon B. Theodore Bozonelis, Archon John A. Catsimatidis, Archon William P. Doucas, Archon Dean Poll, and Archon Michael G. Psaros, as well as those who contributed to sponsoring this year’s banquet.
“We are pleased to announce we have raised $1.4 million, which will be used exclusively and prudently for the worldwide ministries of the Ecumenical Patriarch,” he said. “We do anticipate establishing the St. Andrew Endowment Fund for our Mother Church of Constantinople with the blessings of the Exarch and the Metropolitans.”