NEW YORK – The National Philoptochos Society of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has a new president, attorney Maria (Logothetis) Logus; her grandfather abbreviated the surname in 1903.
Logus has been involved in the Philoptochos since age 18, following the steps of her mother who was president of their local parish Philoptochos in Brooklyn, and later the district president.
Logus has provided valuable services to the Philoptochos and to the Archdiocese all these years and she is ready and eager to offer even more in her new capacity. She spoke with TNH about her vision for Philoptochos, which is the Archdiocese’s philanthropic arm.
“I am overwhelmingly humbled,” Logus said, of the appointment. “I am eager and challenged, but concerned there will not be enough time to do as much as I love to do and as much as the team would like to do. But I am optimistic to continue the Philoptochos’ extraordinary work.”
With all the work Logus has done for Philoptochos, should the presidency have come sooner? Not necessarily, she responds. “I think whatever gratification I received for all these years of service far awaited any expectation I had, and I welcome this invitation to continue in that service.”
“The ability to give back,” is what attracted Logus to join Philoptochos in the first place. “I am a lucky person, I was given a wonderful childhood, I was embraced by the community of my church. I grew up in Kimisis tis Theotokou and I learned early on from my childhood priest Fr. Titus Tseligardakis that service to the church and to the community is a gift that we give. It was a natural progression for me.” In addition to her mother’s Philoptochos service, “my father was parish council president and chairman of the school board,” Logus said. “Our lives circulated around the church.”
As for her vision as president, Logus says “Philoptochos doesn’t have the luxury of any single priority. We live in an increasingly complex world and we have to be prepared to respond to multiple challenges both anticipated and unexpected in vibrant meaningful ways, but we also have to combine with the readiness to answer the unknown with an unwavering commitment to the institutions of the Archdiocese.
“The first goal is to increase and to expand membership.” Today Philoptochos has 27,000 members. Could it have more? “I believe we can, there are certainly untapped segments of our population and we want to welcome them into Philoptochos so they can experience the same joy we feel when we give. I like to see Philoptochos as a reflection, as hope of Orthodox women in the United States. We need to bring in young adult, working women, mothers with small children, retired women. We need to inclusive, excited, eager, and prepare for the future.”
The literal meaning of “philoptochos” is friend of the poor. Why, then, does Philoptochos support Archdiocesan institutions, which are not poor? Because “our mission is not solely to assist the poor, but also to assist the preservation and the perpetuation of the faith.”
Logus is particularly well-educated and with good social and professional standing, but that secular world does not keep her far from the church. “I am unable to separate myself from who I am. Just because I am professional woman doesn’t mean that I am not also a part of this community. It’s in my soul and therefore it is part of me.” But not everyone thinks that way, apparently, and Logus can only speak for herself specifically, “but I think that American life today is complex and we are pulled in many different directions. We are certainly more assimilated into the American fiber that we were in generations past, and our challenge today is to try to intergrade both that assimilation and to nevertheless with a commitment to our heritage and to our community. I think we have to work harder.
Regarding St. Basil’s Academy, Logus says that “the Philoptochos and the Academy have a special relationship. It is clearly the institution which is most closely associated with Philoptochos. We purchased the property many, many years ago. Today there is an independent board of trustees that has the administrative authority of the functioning of the Academy. We have members who serve on that board and I would like to see us work in collaboration with Fr. [Constantine] Sitaras to make sure that the effectiveness of this extraordinary resource cab be maximized. Today, it is a different institution than it was I when was president there 20 years ago, and we would all love to see it restored to a time when there were hundreds of children attending. Today, we see a different type of mission that is still supportive of children in need.” There are less than 20 students there now, she said.
Logus told TNH that through its annual Vasilopita, Philoptochos donates about $350,000 every year to the Academy, though “there are probably many-many more dollars are provided to the Academy through the individual donations.” The Archdiocese, she says, does not provide financial support, only spiritual support. “That is a decision the Archdiocese made. I was not privy to that.”
As for the Greek-American community as a whole, Logus says “we have extraordinary resources. We can do much more, and I am confident that we will.”
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