Monday, 4 May 2020

The ‘Marianna V. Vardinoyannis’ Foundation and the ‘ELPIDA Association of Friends of Children with Cancer’ continue to offer hope and consolation to our fellow human beings suffering hardship throughout Greece due to the pandemic.

This time, the solidarity and love travelled to the Holy Metropolis of Gortynos and Megalopolis in Arcadia, where, on Monday, 4 May 2020, on the initiative of Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, food and necessities were delivered to cover the needs of the Metropolis’s meal programme, in the context of its humanitarian work.

With warm, heartfelt words, Mrs. Vardinoyannis conversed at length, via Skype, with His Eminence Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos and Megalopolis, promising him her wholehearted support for the Holy Metropolis in its efforts to care for our more vulnerable citizens, and she referred to her strong ties with Arcadia, whence her mother hailed.  His Eminence Metropolitan Jeremiah thanked Mrs. Vardinoyannis for her invaluable support and the wonderful work she does.

Their conversation went as follows:

Metropolitan Jeremiah:  You are very kind and noble, and you do great and wonderful work, bringing people relief from their suffering.  We have a great deal of suffering right now, especially in my parish.  It is the poorest Metropolis.  We have many derelict villages, and we are doing what we can in these villages: We offer daily meals to ensure that these people are fed, and I want to express my profound and heartfelt gratitude for the donation you made, because you made us richer.  Not us, the poor.  We thank you very much for that, and I hope you live many years to do your work.  Some people live long lives, but those years have no purpose, while your time here, even just one day, has purpose and content.  You offer love.  And if I were to express the Gospel’s message in a single word, its message is love for people. And we cannot say we love God if we do not love people, our fellow human beings.  Your contribution is the best sermon, with the work you do everywhere.  Your name is heard everywhere, in every Metropolis, the Archdiocese of Athens, the Archbishop – everyone speaks of you.  We found the courage to timidly knock on your door, and you opened it wide.  We thank you for your generosity.

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis:  Thank you, Your Eminence.  I’m very moved.  Your area of Greece is in my heart.  The heart of Arcadia gave birth to the greatest heroes.  But Arcadia is special to me, because my mother originated from Valtetsi.  My bonds with Arcadia and your parishes are unbreakable.  My mother told me so many stories of her experiences during the war.  I have an unbreakable bond with you and your region, and I promise that I will be here whenever you need me.  Anything for people who are in hardship.  I have dedicated my life to this purpose.  God gave me a beautiful family, my children, my grandchildren, and I think we have to give back to those who were less fortunate in life.  Please inform me of any problem you have regarding children, young people and people in need.  I am here for you.  I promise.  Because these difficult hours for our land and for humanity as a whole are staggering, and they teach each of us how important health and support for our fellow human beings really are.  Compassion is the most precious thing a person can offer to civilization. And I think that right now our country, through our Prime Minister, who made these decisions to put humanitarian consideration above the rest, proved once again that it is united and loving, and that Greeks care for their fellow human beings in need. We care about every human being near us who is suffering, and the Church carries out this wonderful work, Your Eminence, and I am humbled by you.  You have so many people to console, giving them courage and strength.  But don’t forget that you will always have my support.  Whatever you need, let me know.  Anything at all.  I promise you from the bottom of my heart that I’ll do everything I can.

Metropolitan Jeremiah:  What you said was a powerful sermon with God’s messages. That’s why we call it a sermon.  It is a horn that trumpets the beautiful message of philanthropy, of love – a message you spread in word and deed.  And you have been doing this through the Church for years now, so I hope and pray the Lord keep your family safe.

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis:  The only thing I asked for from the Lord – and received – was a beautiful family.  I have asked for nothing else, and I always follow Apostle Paul’s words on love.  I have a deep faith in God and I believe that with God’s help I have managed to achieve some things in this life.

Metropolitan Jeremiah:  Your deep faith is clear. You clearly have a spiritual life.  Like us, you got this from your mother.  You have a wonderful gift from you mother, because from what little you told me about your mother and her stories of the war – about the human pain and suffering …  This history is written in tears, and when those who lived through it tell the story, we believe it more deeply and guard it as an amulet.

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis:  I had an exceptional mother, and I keep her every word in my heart.  Without her, I would not have been able to do everything I’ve done in my life.  This is why I feel that what I do for Arcadia commemorates my mother, who loved Arcadia so much and constantly told me about her forebears, about the history …  Arcadia is etched in my mind, as if I were there right now.  My mother was an angel.  I hope I will be able to come and visit you when this hardship is over.  I wish you strength in your work.

Metropolitan Jeremiah:  May you live 100 years to do the work you do.  We thank you for your contribution.

The donation from the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation was made with funds that had been earmarked for the Foundation’s actions for the ‘Thermopylae – Salamis 2020’ Anniversary Year’, which will be used in full to support vulnerable groups, as announced recently.

ELPIDA’s contribution is being funded by the Association’s Social Solidarity Fund for 2020, in support of vulnerable groups impacted by the pandemic crisis.