Archdiocese Finance Chairman Received 900K over 10 Years

Source: The National Herald

By Theodoros Kalmoukos

NEW YORK – Archdiocesan Finance Committee Chairman George Vourvoulias, although his position is a volunteer one, received $900,000 from the Archdiocese over the past ten years for travel expenses.

The National Herald has learned that this discovery was made by the newly appointed CFO, Fr. Soterios Baroody, who reported the finding to Archbishop Demetrios. In turn, Demetrios asked Vourvoulias for an explanation and directed the Finance Department to cut off money transfers to Vourvoulias.

The archbishop, Vourvoulias, Baroody, and recently ousted Executive Director of Administration Jerry Dimitriou, all did not respond to TNH’s request for comment.

Executive Committee Secretary Catherine Bouffides-Walsh, an attorney, directly asked Vourvoulias at the Committee’s September 19 emergency meeting if in fact he had received the $900,000. At first, Vourvoulias denied it, but Walsh then stated there was evidence, at which point Vourvoulias said the money was for travel expenses from Chicago to New York and other U.S. cities for Finance Committee meetings.

Vourvoulias also said that the money was authorized by then-Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council Michael Jaharis, and by then-General Legal Counsel Manny Demos. But both men are now deceased.

There is no apparent evidence to support Vourvoulias’ claims, and the archbishop claims not to know anything about it as well.

Walsh, Archdiocesan Chancellor Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Council Vice Chair George Tsandikos, and George Papadakos, who is in charge of finances, also did not respond to TNH’s request for comment.

A Finance Committee member proposed to Vourvoulias that he and the entire Committee ought to resign, while reading TNH’s articles about the Archdiocese’s dire state of impending bankruptcy due to an $8.5 million deficit, and about Dimitriou’s removal, staff layoffs, and reductions in departmental budgets.

TNH has obtained correspondence on September 14 between Committee members and Fr. Theodore Barbas, Chancellor of the Boston Metropolis, who discarded the notion of mass resignations and praised Vourvoulias and Dimitriou.

Among other things, he wrote: “ Thank you all for your beautiful comments and suggestions.I add my voice of thanksgiving and appreciation to our National Finance Committee Chairman, Mr. George Vourvoulias, and also to our past co-chair, Mr. George Matthews, as well as to Mr. Jerry Dimitriou, who served our Holy Archdiocese with distinction for decades.Under their loving and patient guidance, along with that of my former co-chair of the National Stewardship Committee, Mr. Ron Harb, I have learned a great deal especially during my formative years as a new, young chancellor.“ They mentored me, supported me and assisted me as I exercised the responsibilities of my diakonia to the Church.For that, and for their love and friendship, I express my heartfelt love, support, appreciation and gratitude.I pray that the Lord will guide these difficult days towards a stronger unity within our Archdiocese. ”Ii is reminded here that Fr. Barbas is chancellor and the closest confidant of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.” Also Fr. George Livanos from Pennsylvania also refused the idea of resignation and aligned with Fr. Barbas.

At the last Archdiocesan Council meeting in Chicago shortly before summer, George Matthews from Atlanta suddenly resigned as Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee without any explanation. It was at that meeting that the issue of the uniformed salary of the metropolitans was discussed and decided, not taking into consideration the years of service or ordination seniority.

At every Council meeting and Clergy-Laity Congress, Vourvoulias and Dimitriou painted rosy pictures of the Archdiocese’s finances, and about the progress of “national ministries,” while in reality the opposite was true.

Vourvoulias who is also an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was appointed to the chairmanship of the Finance Committee in 2006 by Demetrios, on Dimitriou’s recommendation.

The appointment was at the Clergy-Laity Congress that year, in Nashville, TN, where it was decided that the system of the annual “taxation” of the parishes would change. Until then, the parishes gave 15% of their annual income. Because many parishes were hiding their actual income, it was decided without any warning to the parishes or any preparation that they would be “taxed” on their expenses so that the Archdiocese gets the maximum.

Vourvoulias, from Chicago, is in the catering business.

Comments

  1. Greatly Saddened says:

    Today, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, released a public statement which has been posted on The National Herald. Surprisingly, in its entirety. Please see below.

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/177801/archdiocese-releases-information-financial-situation/

  2. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” – 1 Timothy 6:10

  3. Unfortunately, the aging Archbishop (nearly 90!) has been caught in the web of his own lack of administrative experience and utter dependence on a few super-rich Greeks (two of whom have passed on) and their families for his personal comforts. The best thing he could do at this point is to step down willingly and allow for a thorough house-cleaning of staff and a new admin to right the ship. If he remains recalcitrant and stubbornly refuses to accept responsibility for this debacle, the little good he accomplished in the past 18 years will be quickly forgotten and he will be remembered poorly, if at all.

  4. Greatly Saddened says:

    This situation is far from over. I cannot believe His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios fired George Vourvoulias, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, yet kept him on the Archdiocesan Council. First and foremost, the man should have had enough sense to resign on his own from both. But this is what happens to people with big egos that seem to have no shame. Not to mention he has been secretly pushing for His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, to be the new Metropolitan of Chicago. Who allegedly was one of the hierarchs responsible for the Father James Dokos cover up fiasco. Is this the best of the best? Meaning both hierarchy and laity!

    These lay people who hold important positions on the Archdiocesan Council, should finally be held responsible for their actions or lack there of. As should the hierarchy. Excuses will no longer suffice. Nor will passing the buck. The buck stops here. Both are entrusted with overseeing the operations of the Archdiocese. Not to be willing partners in its demise. It’s like the fox who is watching the hen house.

    Each and every time another scandal, cover up, mismagement occurs, we either hear nothing or some lies that we are supposed to swallow. Hoping we will forget about it and make believe all is well and move on.

    These people who are involved, both hierarchs and laity, must be made accountable, responsible, and if so, criminal action should be taken against them.

    Time has finally come to clean house and drain the swamp. So that, we the laity can have trust that our money is being put to proper use at the Archdiocese and the Metropolises.With full accountability and full transparency.

    Once again, I commend Theodoros Kalmoukos from The National Herald, for his reporting. He has been doing his job. Now it is time for us to start doing ours.

  5. Greatly Saddened says:

    I purposely looked back at the article and it stated the following. When questioned about the $900,000.00 dollars, George Vourvoulias, at first denied, until he was told there was evidence of him receiving payment. After hearing that, he stated it was authorized by Mr. Jaharis and Mr. Demos, who since have passed on. I ask you, is this the caliber of people who should be on the Archdiocesan Council? I think not. The man outright lied but is still there. We must be taken for total idiots by these hierarchs and the Archdiocesan Council. He should have been fired on the spot and have nothing to do with Church matters. At the Archdiocesan level, the Metropolis level and the local Parish level.

    • Unless the Archbishop or any Metropolitans are found and photographed drinking lemon drops in the type of bars that regularly serve such drinks, no one will lose their post. In this case I agree with this type of job security. The slander thrown at these bishops is usually just that, 90 percent of the time, or simply lack of understanding, jealousy, hate, or misdirection of ones own sins. To throw bishops under the bus, under false or ant hill into slanderous mountains, is not proper Christian behavior. These men are and will be flawed at times, but they are what we got and for the most part deserve. Transparency in financial matters is needed, just not permanent body cameras, and Tsar like life styles. For those who do not know. Lemon drops are cocktails enjoyed by the LGBT types according to Billy Jack Sunday or whatever name he goes by now.

  6. Greatly Saddened says:

    It is simply amazing that a person who was Chairman of the Finance Committee could stand up at the Clergy-Laity Congress, along with Jerry Dimitriou, and act as if all is well financially at the Archdiocese.

    Now George Vourvoulias, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, up until a few days ago, seems to know so little as to what happened and where the monies have gone. Amazing that this Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate seems to have unfortunately come down with a acute case of amnesia. How convenient. As we say in Greek … bravo and synharitiria!

  7. Greatly Saddened says:

    This just in from Theodoros Kalmoukos, of The National Herald. “Archbishop Demetrios Returning the $75,000 to Leadership 100.”

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/177914/archbishop-demetrios-returning-75000-leadership-100/

  8. Greatly Saddened says:

    Another interesting article appeared today from the Pappas Post, pertaining to Saint Athanasius the Great, in Arlington, Massachusetts. The parish which Father Nicholas Kastanas was recently fired from. “Massachusetts Church Turns Sacred Items into Garage Sale – Like Spectacle”

    http://www.pappaspost.com/photos-massachusetts-church-turns-sacred-items-garage-sale-like-spectacle/

  9. Greatly Saddened says:

    Theodoros Kalmoukos, has always been there to report things as they are, and not how we would like them to be. Reporting the truth isn’t easy, but as a professional journalist, he does. May we like it or not. His analysis is spot on. I know he, as well as most of us, do not get satisfaction from reporting or reading these sad facts of our church, but someone needs to be responsible enough to inform the general public of what is happening. Unfortunately the truth has not been coming from either the Archdiocese (hierarchs and/or Archdiocesan Council), nor the Metropolises.

  10. Alitheia1875 says:

    It seems inevitable that Patriarch Bartholomew will ask for Archbishop Demetrios’ resignation, sooner rather than later, and that, if the Archbishop refuses he will be relieved of his position.

  11. Gail Sheppard says:

    So if Archbishop Demetrios were to step down, would it be possible for him to first request an auxiliary bishop? If so, to whom would that bishop be accountable? There is something about the timing of the cancellation of the election of Bishop Sevastianos of Zela and the following that makes me uncomfortable. – But then I’m Antiochian and I have seen how useful auxiliary bishops can be when you want to eliminate interference . . .
    https://www.goarch.org/-/regulations-regarding-the-auxiliary-bishops-of-the-greek-orthodox-archdiocese-of-america

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Gail, as usual, you may be on to something. Maybe by proliferating auxiliary bishops the EP is putting the Metropolitans on notice that if they step out of line that they could be replaced?

      That’s one possibility. Do you (any of you) have any ideas?

      • Is the GOA as corrupt as the Antiochians under Met Phillip? I was at Palm Desert and I will never forget that experience. The AAONA is yet to have an audit.
        I guess what they said during Watergate is still true ” Follow the money”

        • Gail Sheppard says:

          Those were interesting times, Stephen. It’s still going on, believe it or not. Missing money, vandalism, telling lies to the police . . . Metropolitan Philip’s “old friend from Chicago days” is alive and well and living in my hometown.

          I think the EP thinks he is on a mission from God to reunite us with the RC. He is getting older and could probably justify anything at this point.

          • George Michalopulos says:

            Gail, I think it’s all going to have to come out –a great “flood” as it were. That’s the only way that the Orthodox churches in America are going to be purified of the past Mafioso-like ethno/tribal way of doing things. (I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh.) And those who expose these crudities are going to be rewarded and held up as reformers among the subsequent generations.

            The bishops of course are going to have to answer for the greater share of the corruption but we should make sure that their layman-enablers are brought to account. If I had to guess, the vandalism, perjury and embezzlement which you describe was done by laymen for the most part.

            • Gail Sheppard says:

              To answer your question, George, it is *being* done, not *was* done and it is being done by a priest. He refused to say “until life everlasting” after he served the Eucharist to me. This was last fall, as I have been unable to show my face in Church without repercussions, e.g. trees torn down, wires cut to my irrigation system, Internet cables cut, water turned off at the street, then diverted altogether (lost a 60-year-old magnolia tree), power lines pulled down and cut. I have been too afraid to live in the house, my parent’s former home, so I continue to live in a hotel. A police report was filed and when questioned, this individual told them he hadn’t been in town for two years, when he was clearly serving at the Church and stole $10,000, per a committee member, that was intended to go to a Lebanese iconographer. Apparently, it’s being “handled internally,” according to the police, who interviewed the presiding priest.

              I could go to the other parish in my community, but two of my high school friends were married there and when one wanted to divorce the other, some men tried to kill him until he went to her godfather and explained the reason (I have no idea what it was; don’t want to know). The goons were called off and neither of my friends ever went back.

              The Church has some serious issues and it all gets back to the old guard and their old guard ways.

              • George Michalopulos says:

                Gail, the Church does have serious issues. The mafioso mentality of some of the ethnic parishes has got to go. In the meantime, I ask everybody on this blog to pray for you, that no further incidents happen.

              • Sad to hear Gail, but not surprised, except that this is usually what happens to priests, when the “community” in charge decides it time for the priest to go. Usually with character assassination, followed with threats. I have changed church twice, not threatened, or even harassed, but our priests were. I simply didn’t care shaking hands and trading fake smiles in the narthex, with the creeps handling candles.(parish council members) All the while pretending no ill will against our priest, nor their attempt to rid our spiritual father, of which they had no value with. Again so sorry, like all here, always in my prayers, but will light a candle for you as well.

  12. Greatly Saddened says:

    It had been circulated a while back, Patriarch Bartholomew, had interest in Metropolitan Emmauel of France, as a possible successor to Archbishop Demetrios. I don’t know if this is still the case.
    With the recent passing of Metropolitan Iakovos. It is said the Patriarch’s choice for successor for Chicago is Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanelles. This is supposedly why the Patriarch has requested the names of metropolitans from outside the Archdiocese be added to the new list of possible candidates. Only time will tell.

    • Again, Metropolitan Nikitas was also involved in the Milwaukee Annunciation financial trust fiasco, receiving a “gift” from Fr. Dokos. He, along with Bishop Demetrious, need to explain this “gift” and return the money to the now-struggling parish. Both should step forward and be men and explain.

  13. Michael Bauman says:

    The bishop thing is beginning to seem a lot like a Byzantine shell game. Way too complicated for this poor ol’ Kansas boy.

    Lord have mercy!

    • Ever read a letter from most Bishops, and not have your eye balls not roll back, and lose hair from scratching your head after reading it three times to catch the true message. Similar to D.C speak by our politians, unless you in the game their language is all foreign and coded. Usually they consist of ten paragraphs to convey one point, that most of us would state in one or two sentences.

  14. Maybe it is high time that the GOA sell all of its very lavish and expensive properties in New York as well as the seminary and move to more modest locations in the mid-West. Then they can use the profits generated to right the financial ship of state.

    Additionally, it is high time that the parishes of the GOA start having their services in the language of this country, American. As the churches struggle to gain members and more and more of its children marry those outside the Greek Orthodox faith the parishes are struggling to survive. This quest for survival is further complicated by the onerous “dues” imposed on the Parishes, many of whom have to hold food festivals and other fund raisers just to meet these obligations.

  15. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find the full article from The National Herald, by Theodoros Kalmoukos. The article also includes the e-mail of September 12th, which was sent to Chicago parishes by George Vourvoulias, backing His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, for Metropolitan of Chicago. It is posted on the “We Are Orthodox” website.

    vourvoulias-secretly-campaigns-for-bishop-demetrios-to-become-chicago-metropolitan.pdf

  16. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find the full article from The National Herald, by Theodoros Kalmoukos, of October 7th. It includes the e-mail from George Vourvoulias to Chicago parishes pertaining to backing His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, for Metropolitan of Chicago. It is posted on OCL’s website.

    http://ocl.org/vourvoulias-secretly-campaigns-bishop-demetrios-%CE%B2ecome-chicago-metropolitan/

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