The Holy Metropolis of Piraeus accepted the offer of the ‘Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation’ and the ‘Elpida – Association of Friends of Children with Cancer’, which provided care packages for families in need and the elderly.  The packages were delivered on Holy Wednesday, 15 April 2020, and contained food for a traditional Easter meal and necessities, which were supplied by fellow citizens through the Parish Benevolent Fund of the local Church.

The packages were received by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, who had a brief Skype call with Mrs Vardinoyannis, during which he expressed his gratitude and joy for this “spiritual relief and Blessing”, as he characteristically put it.  In fact, moved by the deep humanity of Mrs Vardinoyannis’ action, the Metropolitan of Piraeus offered her an icon of Mary Theotokos to bless and protect her and her husband, Mr Vardis I. Vardinoyannis, as well as their family and their work.

Below is the discussion between Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and Metropolitan Seraphim:

Metropolitan Seraphim: For us, it is a great pleasure, spiritual relief, and a great blessing to talk with you, because all us citizens of Piraeus feel great pride, great honour, because you are one of our people, a child that grew up here, in Piraeus, and has risen so high as to embrace the entire world with her love, her caring, her gentleness, her kindness; a person that has become an idol. Because you have truly become an idol Marianna and we all love you deeply; and it is this deep love of yours for the children, for those suffering, for those in need, that indicates the greatness of your soul.

We are truly grateful for all your caring, because that love is proof of our culture and our faith. Iakovos Adelfotheos (Brother of God) says that faith is proven through action, and you provide proof of Greek Orthodox faith and identity with all your works, all your caring. Already, with all this food you are offering to the Metropolis, and to the Metropolis of Nikaia two days ago, and everywhere else, you are providing relief to so many families, so many people, who are together in these trying times of the pandemic, while poverty continues to be such a major problem as the financial crisis is returning harsher than before. So, you have once again opened your arms and embraced all people. How can we thank you for this, too? You are a gift from God, you and Vardis, who are both the offspring of Piraeus, and for that reason we Piraeus locals thank God for sending this blessing from this area, with the morality, personality, and gentleness of its people, giving us such joy. This joy of having one of our own on the front lines of the struggle. Because you are more than a Good Will Ambassador to the whole World. You are a person who is, above all else, caring; an open embrace.

Our gratitude to you cannot be measured and we wish health to you and your family. And I must also tell you this: We are grateful here at Piraeus, at our Metropolis, for another important reason. Because in these trying times, you switched on your family’s television channels to transmit Christ’s Easter Holy Fire, Easter Service, the holy liturgy, these important moments of our faith which announce the voluntary passion, as well as the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord. And to allow it to enter every home and every family. Naturally, this has a cost, but it was all covered by your great love, your noble character.  May God keep you well, give you health and many more years; to you and dear Mr Vardinoyannis, our Vardis, and to all your children and grandchildren, and to the whole Group, the entire effort. Because it is an effort for Greece and Orthodoxy.

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Your Eminence, Your words have touched my heart. Your kind words, filled with humility, have moved me to the point of embarrassment. But I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Because I am indeed a child of Piraeus. And the Holy Trinity was my refuge. When I was a young child, I would pray as I left school. I received my lessons and teachings at school and from my mother, who was a pious person. During the holidays, Easter and Christmas, when I was young, I still remember her wearing a scarf around her head and rushing to help out in all the neighbourhoods of our small town. She taught me the lessons I learned and believing in God, who has truly given me everything I asked for, a proper family and good children, and I thought that since I have been one of the lucky ones, I should now share with other people. Because I asked for a loving family. God gave me that and I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Just as I would like to thank you for your kind words and to also wholeheartedly thank you for the opportunity you are giving me at this moment, through the avenues of love of the Metropolis, to help my friends, because that is how I feel towards everyone in Piraeus, Drapetsona, and Rentis, and in all the other parishes I worked with in the past few days. And it is not the first time, as we have been working together for several years.

This is how I truly feel in my life. The only thing that gives me joy… I want to give. The joy I feel when I can provide for my fellow people is greater than doing something to please myself or my family. And for that I thank you personally!

Metropolitan Seraphim: We are very glad, because our faith, our Church, our truth, is not an ideology, but rather a daily reality, and that is proven by our people. And it is exactly for that reason that I said, dearest Marianna, that you are an idol, an original. Because you could look only after yourself and your family, and yet you consider all people your family. You open your embrace, and that is an important fact that shows the amplitude of Christ. Exactly because you are following the example of Christ at this moment, I, as a bishop of the Church, would like to thank you and congratulate you, and tell you that you have written your own name and that of your family in the book of life. And always keep the Fire of the Resurrection in your life. You are valuable people, because just as God blessed you with material goods, you act as administrators and not usurpers.  And for that exact reason, you deserve all fortune and praise. I hope you have the strength of God in your life.

And know that here in Piraeus, we love you very much. That we have you in our heart, because we, too, consider ourselves an extension of your own. And we experience this, because your love is so great that it covers us all. We wish you every blessing, every strength, every joy, and to always be healthy and strong, so you can grace us with your character and this great love and affection. I am grateful and pray that Christ is always at your side!

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: Thank you for your kind words! You cannot imagine the strength and courage you have given me with your wonderful words, expressed through the words of Christ, to continue with my work. Indeed, I have been deeply religious since I was a child, because of my parents, who were also deeply religious. And believe me, everything I have achieved in my life was through the help of Christ. I never asked for anything. I always go and pray at church, and when I do ask for something, I apologize for asking and I thank Christ.  I was lucky in life, as I have a proper family, my children, my grandchildren, and for that reason I truly feel the need to help more people become happier in their own lives.

You cannot imagine what it means to me, speaking to you today. I pray and believe that we will have the opportunity, when things improve, to come and see you in person. Each and every word of yours touched my heart and I will keep them inside me, as I will keep you in my heart, to remind me of those words whenever I feel weak about something I cannot see through. Because, as you know, your Eminence, with our Hospital, I wake up every day, and when the moment comes to call and speak with the children, my heart pounds, because I don’t want it to be bad news.

And that is why today is a great day for us, too, because I decided that these heroes, our nurses and doctors, also need some recognition and a reward for what they are doing. And from the simple cleaning lady working day and night for the safety of a sick child and its parents who are there, to the doctors and psychologists supporting them, individually the are each searching for a moral reward from us. That is why we have a great ceremony at our hospital today, to reward the entire nursing staff and all employees, with a cheque so that they can enjoy a happy Easter; as happy as it can be, since we have to be shut in our homes, but as you said, Christ is in our heart. And He will be in our heart in the coming days, since we cannot attend the Holy Week at church.

Metropolitan Seraphim: I would like to say that Marianna Vardinoyannis deserves an epigram: “Marianna Vardinoyannis: love without limits”.

I pray you are always healthy and strong, always happy, and always blessed. And have the Grace of God in your family, our beloved Marianna. We are grateful to you from Piraeus, your land! And we will invite you to visit the School of the Metropolis, of which you have been a great benefactor. Is there truly no place that has not benefited from your caring? God bless you!

And now, allow me bestow upon you a small gift, the icon of Mary Theotokos, to bless you and our dear Mr Vardinoyannis, our Vardis, and your entire family, your children and grandchildren, and all your work and groups of companies, and your entire effort. May the Grace of Mary Theotokos always be present in your life. I am grateful for everything. And a very small token of gratitude.

May you be strong, continue your work, have a Happy Easter, and may the Light of Christ always be at your side! May it shine and give you health and strength!

Piraeus is happy to have such a person to call one of its own. It is a great wealth for us. Honour and glory to Piraeus for our Marianna! I wish you every blessing!

Marianna V. Vardinoyannis: I will be at your side no matter what you need!

Thank you, your Eminence. May the Virgin Mary embrace and protect us”.

The donation from the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation was made with funds that had been earmarked for the Foundation’s actions for the ‘Thermopylae – Salamis 2020’ Anniversary Year, which will be used in full to support vulnerable groups, as announced recently. 

ELPIDA’s contribution is being funded by the Association’s Social Solidarity Fund for 2020, in support of vulnerable groups impacted by the pandemic crisis.