Rosemary Nikas - Moving Mountains

Philoptochos will always be a part of my life. 
    -Metropolis of Pittsburgh Philoptochos President Rosemary Nikas
Rosemary Nikas has a kind, gentle voice, a voice that can soothe even the most troubled souls. She is slender and nimble but don’t let that fool you, she has the strength and will to move mountains. 

Rosemary Nikas is the Metropolis of Pittsburgh Philoptochos President and she is at the helm of this year’s Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon to be held on Saturday, October 12th in Pittsburgh, PA. It is a grand undertaking but with a mission that involves helping children and their families through tough times during a child’s illness to giving grants to programs that are innovating to help children, it is a very worthy one. With eight children and seventeen grandchildren, the topic of children’s health is one that Rosemary can sympathize with.

Rosemary grew up as an only child in the very small town of Bishop, PA, located 26 miles away from Pittsburgh. It had a population of less than 500 people. Rosemary was an active child, playing 3rd base in softball and playing volleyball. She continues to be an avid skier. As an adult she has coached both softball and basketball. The last volunteer coaching position she held was as a coach to her granddaughter’s softball team, two years ago. 

Rosemary on vacation with her children and grandchildren.
 Rosemary met her husband at a softball game. They have been together for over 40 years. He introduced her to the Orthodox faith and she converted from Catholicism. She remembers feeling welcome from the very beginning, especially after speaking to Reverend Father Michael Varvarelis who was kind and patient, taking the time to teach her all about Orthodoxy. This is when she had the epiphany, this is where I belong. She lives in Canonsburg, PA with her husband and attends All Saints Greek Orthodox Church where she sings in her church’s choir, has been on the parish council, and volunteers every year at the week-long Greek festival in which preparations start as early as January.

Rosemary joined the Daughters of Penelope first (of which she is still a member) and after several gentle pushes to join Philoptochos by her friend and mentor Harriet Matthews, she did, realizing that the mission of Philoptochos was really tailored to her beliefs and what she wanted to do. Harriet was the Metropolis President at the time and offered both love and support. Rosemary joined the Metropolis Board in the 1990s and has served in various positions ever since.

In 2009 she became the Metropolis President. She credits her husband’s encouragement and support for her ability to accept the presidency; it is a large time commitment and as she worked full-time, his understanding and backing is what kept her going. When she took office she realized that there was something lacking, cohesiveness between Chapters, the Metropolis and National and her first order of business was to solve this. With the support and blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh, who Rosemary says is absolutely amazing, she began her new challenge.  His Eminence laughs when Rosemary comes to him with a problem, as she always has a solution ready. She tells him that with eight children, you never leave anything to chance; you always have to be quick with an answer so chaos doesn’t erupt. His Eminence has been very supportive of the CMFL and its presence in Pittsburgh and has been a confident pillar by which Rosemary knows she can lean, if needed. She also stated that she feels very fortunate to have really great co-chairs and a committee that is very dedicated to the event.

When it comes to Philoptochos, she is most passionate about the outreach, helping people one on one. As Metropolis President she says it is the small victories that excite her the most. For instance, when she works diligently to bring a disenfranchised Chapter back into the fold, to make them feel welcome and part of something bigger and little by little they become more involved and they see how important their philanthropic work is to the whole. We are all working towards the same objective, to help those most in need.

Rosemary’s most memorable moment as Metropolis President came a month after she was appointed. In October of 2009 she met His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew when he was visiting New York. She remembers it being one of the most touching experiences she has ever had. His eyes were filled with kindness she says and he seemed to have an aura of goodness surrounding him. “I was so proud to have been a representative of Philoptochos on that day,” she says of the experience. 

Rosemary has gained many great friends through Philoptochos and now it becomes an important part of her life.

-Vivian Siempos