The Establishment of the Foundation
A Watershed Event in the History of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Established by the Order of St. Andrew
Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America
January 28, 2019
Anthony J. Limberakis, MD
National Commander, Order of St. Andrew and
Chair Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation
A Patriarchal Foundation exclusively dedicated to fortify the financial underpinnings of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Spiritual Center of World Orthodoxy has been the desire of many individuals for decades: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew himself, Archbishop Elpidophoros even as a deacon, Fr. Alex Karloutsos and many Archons. In fact, it has been my dream to launch this initiative ever since my appointment as National Commander in 1998 because unlike every other major faith, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has never had a reliable and consistent charitable foundation or endowment to fund its worldwide ministries. However, over the years the Order of St. Andrew prioritized addressing the existential threat of the egregious Religious Freedom deficit in Turkey asphyxiating the Mother Church and our efforts were concentrated in that threatening realm. Nevertheless, in May 2018 I established a formal committee of the National Council of the Order of St. Andrew chaired by Archon George E. Safiol and co-chaired by Archon John A. Catsimatidis and Michael G. Psaros to seek the ways and means to establish a formal Patriarchal Foundation. The original committee was comprised of the Officers of the Order (National Vice Commander John Halecky, Jr., National Secretary Hon. B. Theodore Bozonelis and National Treasurer Peter J. Skeadas) and Archons Tom Constance, Esq. Peter Kakoyiannis, Esq. and Chris Stratakis, Esq. who all had expertise in various fields: legal, financial and business. Our spiritual guidance was offered by Fr. Alex, the Order’s Spiritual Advisor who actively participated in all the committee meetings, many of which were held in the Board Room of Archon John A. Catsimatidis, the Order’s Chair of the Religious Freedom Committee. These monthly committee meetings were detailed, substantive and comprehensive.
When Fr. Alex and Presbytera Xanthi were selected to receive the 2018 Athenagoras Human Rights Award, the National Council of the Order voted to earmark all donations that would be raised from that event, for the exclusive use of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This event which raised a record $1.4 million and it was these monies which in essence established the initial funding of the Foundation. This milestone Athenagoras Human Rights Award Banquet was attended by individuals from around the world, including His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France and now Geron of Chalcedon and former Vice President and now President Joe Biden. By January 28, 2019 the Foundation was formally incorporated as a charitable entity in the State of New York with our subsequent application to the IRS as a 501c3 application approved on August 26, 2020.
The subsequent election of His Eminence Elpidophoros of America on May 11, 2019 and his enthronement in New York City on June 22, 2019 assured the success of the Foundation. His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros is the official representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch and as such is a full voting member of the Board of Trustees.
The initial name of the Foundation was originally the St. Andrew Ecumenical Patriarchal Fund but was later changed by the Board of Trustees to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation, For the Sacred Sea of St. Andrew, as a lasting tribute to His All-Holiness BARTHOLOMEW, the longest serving Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome in history. In fact, the central element of the Foundation’s logo is the official ecclesiastical logo of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; so in 50 or 100 years, when the Foundation has 100s of millions of dollars, the oikoumene will always be reminded of the extraordinary and historic legacy of BARTHOLOMEW, in perpetuity.
When the organizing committee was deliberating on the various details of the Foundation, the members all felt strongly that the Foundation’s Board of Trustees must include women and two outstanding Orthodox women now serve in that capacity: Maria Allwin and Aphrodite Skeadas.
The establishment of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation by the Order of St. Andrew truly is a watershed response to a deep and longstanding need to establish a solid financial foundation for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Indeed, the time has finally come for Orthodox Christians around the world to join together and ensure that the voice of the Apostolic Throne of Andrew never goes silent and the Spiritual Center of our Faith is able to lead Christ’s Holy Church for generations to come. The Bartholomew Foundation has a global initiative to:
• Establish a reliable, substantial charitable foundation to fund the worldwide salvific ministries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate;
• Increase the Orthodox Christian presence on the global stage;
• Foster increased inter-Orthodox dialogue; and
• Expand charitable and humanitarian aid.
As of this writing, $18 MILLION has been raised for the Foundation by 157 FOUNDERS who have each pledged $100,000, as well as a $1 MILLION Matching Grant from the Nicholas J. and Anna K. Bouras Foundation.
“Glory to God for all things,” in the words of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (398-404).