PHOTO: District Chancellor, Fr. Villis, speaking to the Astoria parishioners yesterday. Photo Credit: Anamniseis.net.
By Nick Stamatakis
Our readers cannot claim that they are surprised by the admission of GOARCH in our title: we have been reporting about the numerous problems in the parish of St. Demetrios of Astoria for over four years and we have examined this most crucial community in every detail: Church, priest, school, teachers, etc.. How important is St.Demetrios? To put it simply in numbers, St.Demetrios has an annual budget of over $7 million, while GOARCH has a budget of about 25 million. Just this fact alone would justify special attention… But it is beyond numbers as this parish has produced more priests and cantors – and Metropolitans – than any other…
GOARCH treated this parish indifferently, not only during AB Elpidophoros’ tenure but for a long time. They treated their most important parish more like a Turkish “sanjak” (district): They knew the “sanjak” of St.Demetrios had a “Bey”, named Nick Andriotis, surrounded by the ALMA Realty “gang” – and they did not care for anything but receiving their annual dues… But for the last ten months, Saint Demetrios’ could not pay these dues to GOARCH. This reality finally magnetized the attention of the 79th Street Sultans… And they sent a team led by Elaine Allen, the Archdiocese Finance Director, TWICE in the last 2-3 months, trying to find out what was truly happening…
And so, last Sunday, the district Chancellor, Fr. Ilias Villis, appeared in Astoria to deliver specific “news” to the community. You can watch his speech by linking to the video provided by the website “Anamniseis.net.” In a few words, the district Chancellor announced the following:
- Saint Demetrios is in trouble, not only financial trouble but all kinds of trouble.
- GOARCH has already sent an “auditor” – costing $15-20,000 (paid by GOARCH) to the parish to find out where exactly the financial problems come from.
- Characteristically Fr. Villis asked for all those between the ages of 25-50 to stand up and only about ten people stood up.
- The parish council cannot achieve a quorum, Fr. Villis noted!!..
Why this late awakening, you may ask? Now, In March 2023, Fr. Villis, you ask for broader participation by the younger generation? For the past four years, this younger generation, led by a true leader, the former treasurer Mr.Gerassimos Asprogerakas, sincerely tried to right so many wrongs. And you, yes YOU AB Elpidophoros, you failed them!! You unlawfully removed Mr.Asprogerakas, who was elected by the broadest possible approval, TWICE!! Both times you projected very shaky explanations and you were based on false accusations by the Papazafiropoulos Brothers and their circle… Fr. Nektrarios Papazafiropoulos, the most inept and unworthy priest the parish has ever seen, was picked by you, the Archbishop, to be the new Chancellor!! During his ten years of tenure, he drove the faithful away with his lack of skills and totally vacuous and withdrawn personality. He failed the parish but was considered “worthy” for GOARCH Chancellor!!!
Did you, Fr. Villis, perhaps hear that the Archbishop plans to do the Christian thing and ask for forgiveness for his grave mistakes? No, you did not. Because the “Janissaries” of the “Patriarchate” do not believe in asking for forgiveness – when they ever do, it’s likely pretentious…
Characteristically, on September 30 of 2021, the executive board met with the Archbishop. In that fateful meeting, in front of everyone, Mr.Asprogerakas warned the Archbishop that “if this continues very soon, you (GOARCH) will have to pay money to Saint Demetrios!!” This day has arrived, as GOARCH will now pay for the auditor… Needless to say, the “wise” leader AB Elpidoktonos unlawfully removed Mr.Asprogerakas just ten days later!!!
Then last year, you AB Elpidoktonos you also removed an excellent priest, Fr. Vassilios Tsourlis, that you placed in Astoria begging him to come to NY because he would not give in to the demands of the “mafia,” and he wanted to hire an honest “bookkeeper”!…
But the real question not answered yesterday is: Did the auditor find anything since he has been in Astoria for a couple of weeks already? The answer is NO, he did not and will never find a thing. Why? Because the mafia-like organization that has controlled the parish for over 45 years has already destroyed all the books and all the evidence, giving various excuses. And, because of this lack of evidence, it was leaked yesterday that the auditor will do a “forensic audit”, the kind of audit done when records are missing or there are lots of cash involved – both are true for Astoria.
Yesterday, Fr. Villis, as you can see around the 4′ of the video above, was interrupted and confronted by the “theologian” Stathis Valiotis, owner of ALMA Realty and major shareholder of ALMA Bank. Valiotis, said that the problem was the lack of spiritual guidance by GOARCH that projects no Faith… “We lost the Faith”, Valiotis said… But his associate at Alma Realty, Fotis Papamichael, was present and declared to be very proud for his 47 years of “service” to the Parish… Papamichael was the most accurate picture of the Astoria problems: one person with “conflicting interests” and limited management skills serving for 47 straight years at various leading parish positions… He has been the School Board President for the past many years: last year alone, enrollment dropped from 600 to 480!!
Yes, Mr.Valiotis, the GOARCH leadership projects no faith. But look first in the mirror for your responsibility: Have you ever wondered why your organization, ALMA Realty, keeps violating GOARCH Regulations and NY State Law by having your employee/associates be part of the parish council?… Who are you kidding Mr. Valiotis? A few years ago, ALMA Bank and Atlantic Bank had their employees serve in the parish council – while the parish was doing business with both!!. P-lease!!.. If I did not write against it, they would still be in their positions!!! The former Chancellor, Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas, had sent the Parish specific questions regarding “Conflicts of Interest”. Why don’t you ask Fotis Papamichael to tell you what he did, if anything, to comply?
Why didn’t you, Mr.Valiotis, ask your partner at ALMA Realty for decades, Nick Andriotis, to tell you why he never solved all these conflicts of interest? Why didn’t you ask him why he did NOT ever demand from the infamous secretary/bookkeeper Evangelia Zinonos to keep proper records? Or, why didn’t he fire her, when she proved she could not do it? You Mr.Valiotis, speak as if you live on a different planet. Yet all the people responsible for the demise of the Parish and especially Andriotis and Papamichael, are your business associates. And as we speak, your Bank, the Bank where you are the primary stakeholder, ALMA Bank, gave a $4 million loan to the Parish! Did the Parish ever ask any other banks to offer? As far as we know – NO, they did not!!
Both GOARCH and the ALMA gang – aided by the ineptness of Fr. Nektarios, drove the parishioners away. As they accuse each other, hundreds of Greek-American children, who used to be at St. Demetrios, attend Saint John’s Prep and other Catholic Schools in Queens… This, of course, is not a problem for GOARCH, not a problem at all… By 2025 they will present it as an excellent opportunity for unity with the Catholic Church…
Martch 6, 2023, email@example.com www.helleniscope.com
DISCLAIMER: The views and statements expressed in this article constitute constitutionally protected opinions of this author.
Very sad state of affairs.
An internal audit raises a red flag connoting something is fishy or missing; that things don’t “add up”; an occurrence that needs addressing whether due to human error or other perhaps intentional finagling. Forensic auditing are the glaring signs with multiple red flag(s) waving, boldly flapping and furling in the wind with all signs pointing, indicating that something is seriously wrong, amiss or missing.
Unless the church has an independent Forensic Accounting firm comb through its cooked and missing books, nothing will ever come of the crimes committed, the monies stolen, the lives affected by leaving the church in order to bring unity, trust and peace back into St. Demetrios of Astoria. It seems obvious that Alma Realty must be a shell LLC entity for money collections by the “family” using the fake Alma Bank as its tool, mechanism, method for laundering and dispersant, distribution of money.
Mr. Stamatakis, it’s the way you said it. This archdiocese is very corrupt, not to mention inept, and sadly the majority who are part of it only care about how much money they are going to get or getting. This archbishop runs things in the manner a mafia don runs the mafia. He brings in all his buddies from the Phanar, puts them in various positions, and disregards the Greek-Americans born here. You could be talented, experienced, and the best man for the job, unfortunately though if you’re not his buddy or you don’t have a fat wallet, you’ll be kicked out the door. I know individuals that are in positions not based on merit but the former and I know many individuals -not only who are priests -who have been cast aside simply because they were friends with the “wrong” people so it’s out the door you go-but, who are they really hurting in the end? -unfortunately though, they do not realize it or care because of their selfishness. Personally I’m insulted by how they send Fr Villis to St Demetrios to lecture to the parishioners with a condescending tone as if they are the reason Saint Demetrios is in the trouble it is today? Shame on them! They think this young generation of Greek Americans are stupid and ignorant? They are not dealing with uneducated villagers. They are dealing with educated people who don’t come to church or get involved because they can smell corruption and dishonesty from a mile away. They think they are so clever that they are fooling everyone. It is YOU who are the fools and you are not fooling anyone. And your stupid “pep talks” and speeches aren’t going to motivate anyone to get involved. People will only get involved when they see genuine honesty like they saw in the former archbishop of Greece Christodoulos. Elpidoforos wants to be Iakovos 2.0 but Iakovos was who he was because of his actions-not because of stupid Instagram and Facebook pictures and staged photo ops. Elpidoforos who are you fooling? Not even a child is fooled by you. Here’s my prediction-nothing will change, it will only get worse, and Elpidoforos you will be forced into early retirement. Enjoy your time here as archbishop as much as you can because you’ll be shipped to back to Turkey very soon.
The young families are all on a suburban and exurban exodus… the Yiayes and Papoudes are are looking for assisted living, or if lucky, a room with their newly’ moved kids. Who’s left? The demographics have caught up to them.
The ghetto has ceased to exist for a long time. Greeks used to live in Spanish Harlem and Chelsea, before Astoria, and now they dominate new territories