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Hundreds of School Children Welcome Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to St. Nicholas Church in Flushing

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Mar 18, 2004

New York, NY - Hundreds of children from several greater New York Greek Orthodox Parochial schools warmly and enthusiastically welcomed His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of over 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, to St. Nicholas Church in Flushing, NY on Wednesday, March 17.

His All Holiness, who is making his fifth visit to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, responded with words of faith, love and hope. "Your gathering today constitutes a community of hope, for you are indeed children of hope. You are the children of heroic immigrants who came to this country with their faith and with the will to live a free, bountiful and prosperous life...Because of their struggles and achievements, they have made it possible for you to grow amidst happy families, in happy homes. And, they made it possible for you to receive perhaps the greatest gift that a parent could ever give: the gift of an extraordinary and excellent education. The education that you are receiving at your parochial Schools is an extraordinary education because it is rooted in the inexhaustible wealth of our magnificent Orthodox faith and the invaluable riches of the classical Hellenic tradition."

Immediately following, His All Holiness attended a luncheon in his honor hosted by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation commemorating, "The Tenth Anniversary of the Bosphorous Declaration", at the Minskoff Cultural Center.

In the evening the Archons of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle hosted a dinner in honor of the Ecumenical Patriarch at the Council of Foreign Relations. Commenting on recent terrorist events, His All Holiness said, "Two recent events have completely shattered our hearts: the terrorists attacking Madrid, which resulted in the death of hundreds of innocent people and the injury of hundreds of others; and the fire on Mount Athos, which destroyed a large part of our historic Patriarchal Monastery of Hiliandari. We mourn for the loss of innocent victims in Spain, and also for the victims in United States of two years ago. Terrorism is blind. It hit Madrid yesterday, Constantinople a little while ago; before that it hit Moscow, and before that it attacked New York. When will people finally realize that problems are not solved through blind, murderous attacks against innocent and unsuspecting people, but, rather, through dialogue and diplomacy" May God illumine those whose hearts have been darkened by hatred, religious bigotry, and senseless nationalism."

This morning, March 18, the Ambassador of Greece to the United Nations Adamantios Vassilakis, hosted a breakfast at his residence, in honor of His All Holiness. Twenty- two ambassadors and several other United Nations diplomats attended and heard His All Holiness applaud their efforts. "You have the high responsibility to represent the honorable interests of your countries to the United Nations. Your work, especially under the present conditions of increased turmoil and terrorism observed throughout the globe, is hardly easy. You are well equipped, though, and you bring your diplomatic experience, which is very significant, along with the confidence that your countries have place in you. Keeping your high mission in mind, we extend our warm prayers and blessings those of the sacred Center of Orthodoxy. Your accomplishments are a source of joy and satisfaction for the entire world."

His All Holiness will continue his visit to New York today with a lecture this afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled, Byzantine Icons: A Legacy of Humanism. This evening, he will attend a Reception and Dinner for the Library Conservation project of St. Catherine's Monastery (Mt. Sinai) on the occasion of the Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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