Diana Jianas, Newport Beach, CA
Many members grew up in the church, with membership a natural progression, “like your mother”. For others, we became members for one reason only; someone approached us and personally asked us to join.I am a convert and Greek on my mother’s side. Growing up, with no Greek church close by we attended our local Episcopal church. When I started to date my future Greek husband Alex, I decided to join the Greek Church. I was not approached to join Philoptochos so I was content to stay away. The church we were attending began to experience some difficult challenges and we were moving out of the area so the timing was right for us to start going to a new church, which was not Greek Orthodox. We attended the church for a couple years but I always felt something was missing. During this break from Orthodoxy, I did have the extraordinary opportunity to go to the Patriarchate and meet His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew. After that meeting, I knew I had to make my way back to the Greek Church.
We began attending St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California. It is a beautiful church of a modern design and mosaic Byzantine-style iconography, which was quite a change from the traditional Greek Church we had been attending. Not only did the church look different, the services were conducted in English and the congregation was much younger and very friendly. I immediately felt like we had found a home.One Sunday at coffee hour, National Board member Kathy Gabriel personally asked me to join Philoptochos. Her motto, as National Membership chairman, was INVITE, EMBRACE, INVOLVE. Her invitation has had a lasting impact on my life and I can never thank her enough.
My cousin, Celeste Moschos, who is also on our National Board, told me while on that trip to the Patriarchate, that some of her dearest, closest friendships were a result of her involvement in Philoptochos. I now know what she meant as I cherish my friendships with fellow Chapter, Metropolis and National Philoptochos sisters.Reach out to someone who might just be waiting for that invitation. Perhaps you will find that they just wanted to feel included. As Philoptochos members we need to reach members through personal contact and by extending that invitation, it could change their life too.