BOSTON – According to all indications, the Hellenic Afternoon School of Boston’s Annunciation Cathedral has been “closed,” and its classrooms have been rented to a kindergarten affiliated with a Protestant church, from which the Community derives financial benefit. The building where the school operated is on the ground floor of the community center, which is located at 162 Goddard Avenue in Brookline, MA, right next to the office building of the Metropolis of Boston.
The presiding priest of the Cathedral, Protopresbyter Dimitrios Tonias, in his statements to The National Herald attributed the closure of the School to the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the city of Brookline. All his statements are published below.
In a telephone conversation with His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, he told TNH, “I do not know anything. I am just hearing it from you now. I will contact the director immediately.”
The principal of the School, Anastasia Moragianni, the president of the parish council, Bob Bandavas, and the vice-president Mary Klironomou (Cleary) did not respond to messages from TNH.
Last year, 2020, the school did not open due to the coronavirus pandemic, as was the case with other schools in the Boston area, while some that remained open, such as St. Constantine and Helen of Cambridge, experience success and student attendance exceeded expectations.
This year, however, while several schools have already started or are expected to start in person classes in the next few days, the Cathedral’s school will not operate. It is emphasized that not long ago this school was in full bloom with a large number of students and was staffed with new and young teachers. In fact, many Greek-American doctors, university professors, and researchers enrolled their children in the Hellenic School of the Cathedral, and they were among the most enthusiastic participants in educational and ethnic celebrations such as the Feast of the Three Hierarchs and Greek Letters events, and the Greek national holidays of October 28 and March 25.
TNH has been informed that in recent years the School was in decline, which is said to have been mainly due to the leaders of the Cathedral Community, who manifested a lack of interest and did not promote the school, with the result that it gradually declined and eventually ceased to function.
The priest Athanasios Nenes, from the Taxiarche parish in Watertown, Massachusetts, has been appointed by the Metropolis to be in charge of Greek Education.
The number of families that make up the community of the Cathedral today is around 300.
It is emphasized that the Sunday School has been open and has operated normally since Sunday, September 26, with lessons taking place in the classrooms of the Cathedral.
In recent years, under the pastorship of Archimandrite Cleopas Strongylis, the current Metropolitan of Sweden and all Scandinavia, restoration works have been carried out on the Cathedral, including offices, halls, a community hall, and the establishment of a museum, which have cost a considerable amount of money. The Cathedral is located at 514 Parker Street, Boston, next to Boston Northeastern University and within walking distance of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Speaking to TNH, the presiding priest of The Cathedral protopresbyter the Demitrios Tonias, when asked why the Greek School of the Cathedral School was closed, said it was “due to the restrictions pertaining to the coronavirus and also the measures of the city of Brookline. We tried to suggest to the parents to continue remotely but it did not work. Before we do anything, we must first get out of the coronavirus environment.”
Asked about the fact that they have rented the building to a kindergarten in Brookline, he said, “you have to see the requirements we have to comply with; it is very expensive, it is forbidden for us to have the school.” He added that, “restrictions are imposed, then lifted, now we have the imposition of the mask again.”
When asked if they would reopen the School when the coronavirus pandemic was over, Fr. Tonia replied “of course, of course”.
When asked how many members the Cathedral has, he said “normally we have three hundred families and since last Sunday we have two hundred and fifty families who have either paid their contribution or have promised – pledged.”
Meanwhile, longtime members of the Cathedral who spoke to TNH on the condition of anonymity referred to a “crisis” that the Cathedral is going through in recent months due to disagreement over a series of issues. One of the most controversial issues is the replacement of sacred icons, which have existed in the church since its founding. The cost of replacing the icons is more than half a million dollars. Due to the tension that was caused, the issue is ‘frozen’ at the moment, while it is believed that at some point it will return to the fore. They also mentioned that Archbishop Elpidophoros was informed in a detailed letter.