Archdiocesan Vice Chairman George Tsandikos Speaks Exclusively to TNH
BOSTON – Recently appointed by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios as Archdiocesan Council Vice Chairman, economist and attorney George Tsandikos expressed his thoughts and ideas to TNH about the Archdiocese. The interview follows:
TNH: How do you feel about your appointment to the vice presidency of the Archdiocesan Council?
GT: I am both honored and humbled by the confidence of His Eminence has in me to serve in such an important position. I am also excited and look forward to working with His Eminence and the metropolitans and the various members of the Executive Committee and Council to further the good work of the Church.
TNH: How do you feel in being successor to the late Michael Jaharis?
GT: Mr. Jaharis cannot be replaced; he was a giant in many respects and certainly it is humbling to think that I will follow in his footsteps. But I think Mr. Jaharis would want the Church to continue and my hope is that in a small way I can make a small contribution for the further good of the Archdiocese and the Church as a whole then I think Mr. Jaharis would approve as well.
TNH: Was your appointment somehow expected or a complete surprise?
GT: His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios and I talk frequently about my role as Chairman of Leadership 100, so for a few months we talked about the future of the Church and I knew that he was at the point of making decisions. Of course, it was at the Council meeting that he announced his decision as we had talked about the various options, so I cannot say that it was a total surprise, it was up to His Eminence to make the final decision.
TNH: Would you share with us a bit of your discussion about the Church?
GT: Well, our discussions were very general and very positive and looking forward to the continuation of the work that has already started. In truth, I have not yet had a chance to sit with His Eminence and prioritize the needs for both the immediate future and the long term, but we will do that very soon.
TNH: Do you have some priorities in mind that you would like to discuss with Archbishop Demetrios?
GT: Once I have the opportunity to meet with His Eminence, then I will be able to formulate our priorities because, of course, I need to understand what his priorities are and work together with the other members of the Archdiocese to really formulate what is reasonably actionable for both the near and the longer term. We are going to meet and talk and list the priorities.
TNH: May we assume that you will ask to be informed about the finances of the Archdiocese, specifically, how its system works, who makes the decisions, and who is the person or the persons dealing with the finances?
GT: Absolutely, and I think in my role as vice-chairman it is imperative that I be informed of that and certainly that is one aspect that we will be talking about.”
TNH: Would you insist on an examination of the books, an extensive audit to see where the Archdiocese is at the present time financially? How much the Archdiocese spends? If the parishes can afford to contribute what they have been asked to contribute?
GT: Again, it is early to talk about insistence but given the relationship I have with His Eminence and the others at the Archdiocese it is not a question of insistence, but obviously we will do what we have to do to work together to help people understand, similar to what we have at The Leadership 100- transparency, accountability and we have that too at the Archdiocese. Every organization has to have transparency, accountability, and good practice.
TNH: Mr. Jaharis was asking constantly for accountability from the Monasteries established by Fr. Ephraim. Mr. Jaharis died and accountability was not given. Would you continue on his path about the Monasteries to find out what is going on with their finances, the ordinations at the Monasteries?
GT: Yes, I will indeed.
TNH: Are you concerned about what is going to happen after Archbishop Demetrios?
GT: No because I am amazed at his boundless energy, I really believe that His Eminence has many years ahead of health, so at this point I am honestly praying for his strength and I am looking forward to working with him the next two years.
TNH: What is your vision for the Archdiocese for the next few years?
GT: I think for the near term my vision will be focusing on the youth, on Greek Education. I believe that the Church is critical to the continuation of our identity as Greek Orthodox in this country. I am looking forward to the completion of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine.
TNH: Is Greek Education important to you?
GT: Absolutely, because I believe that the beauty of the Greek language has to be preserved.
TNH: Are you willing to reexamine the entire Greek Education program? Five schools have closed the last few years in New York.
GT: People with the proper skills will evaluate the Greek Education. I am not qualified to do that. We need to take experienced people to look at the Future of the schools.