The Greek Ladies’ Philoptochos Society
As the name indicates the “Philoptochos” (Greek for Friends of the Poor) is a women’s organization that practises Christian charity by helping those who need the spirit of fellowship ano material assistance.
The “Philoptochos Society” was born about 45 years ago when small groups of women in several Greek communities throughout the United States joined together under the auspices of Athenagoras, Patriarch of North and South America. He was later to become His Holiness Athenagoras 1, Oecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and spiritual leader of world orthodoxy.
The Society’s main purpose is to aid the sick, the distressed, the aged, the orphaned and the destitute. Today there are more than 450 chapters throughout North America and membership is over 35 thousand. fifteen chapters are currently active in Canada.
Philoptochos chapters are part of every Greek Orthodox parish and each chapter structures its program to suit the needs of its particular community. However, although primarily concerned with church and community matters, many chapters extend their activities to works of local, national and international significance.
Among the many projects undertaken by “Philoptochos” is a program of support for St. Basil’s Academy, Garrison, New York. St. Basil’s was founded by Athenagoras in 1944 while Patriarch of North and South America. He recognized the need for an educational institution which would preserve the Greek language and culture.
The academy’s work is philanthropic as well as educational and it provides both home and education for homeless children of Greek ancestry. Four new dormitories are being built at a cost of $105,000 each. The Sisterhood, a branch of “Philoptochos” has pledged to endow one dormitory which will be dedicated to the Ladies’ Philoptochos Society.
Each January, “Philoptochos” chapters across the continent hold an annual fete, the “Vassilopata”. The proceeds from the fete are donated to St. Basil’s Academy, thereby giving community members the opportunity to support a worthwhile cause.
Acculturated, but not assimilated, “Phiioptochos”, despite a synthesis of customs, old and new, retains its Greek identity and nourishes its roots in the Greek Orthodox Church. It continually supports the use and teaching of the Greek language and endeavors to instil in the Diaspora a pride in its Hellenic heritage.
The Ottawa Chapter of the Greek Ladies’ Philoptochos was founded in 1936 and reorganized in 1952. Today it is an integral part of our community and, in cooperation with the parish priest, helps the troubled and needy. Functioning within an atmosphere of shared responsibility, fellowship and love, its members work to create meaningful lives for others.