Fr. Eugene Pappas wanted to do something special to commemorate the Bicentennial of Greek Independence Day at Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church in Brooklyn— one of the most multicultural communities in the nation. So he looked to the history books and came up with a fitting tribute— to recognize the nation of Haiti, while simultaneously showcasing the rich cultural diversity of New York and the city’s thriving Haitian community.
Of course, during planning for the event, nine out of ten people Fr. Eugene encountered all asked the same question. Why Haiti?
For Fr. Eugene, it was a natural choice, as the country held a special spot in Greece’s history, not only being the very first country in the world to recognize Greece as a new nation in 1822, but also for the innovative form of foreign assistance Haiti sent to the Greek revolutionaries to support their war efforts.
Out of money and supplies, Greek revolutionary leaders began seeking support from foreign nations. Not many countries were quick to respond to the request but the letter that reached Haiti’s president, Jean Pierre Boyer, asking him for military and monetary help, hit a sympathetic ear.
Haiti was in financial ruins after its own independence wars against the French empire but still found a way to help. The country had no money but in a lengthy letter on January 15, 1822, President Boyer explained to Adamantios Korais that due to Haiti’s financial situation he would not be able to send money nor men to Greece, but promised to do all that he could to help in their cause for freedom.
“Such a beautiful and just case and, most importantly, the first successes which have accompanied it, cannot leave Haitians indifferent, for we, like the Hellenes, were for a long time subjected to a dishonorable slavery and finally, with our own chains, broke the head of tyranny.”
Boyer agreed to send a cargo of 25 tons of coffee, one of the most important commodities of the time, to be sold on behalf of the Greek revolutionaries for the procurement of supplies.
Thus, on Sunday, March 28, 2021– almost two centuries after the generosity of the people of Haiti to the Greek cause, Fr. Eugene Pappas invited the Consul General of Haiti in New York, Mr. Lauture Jacques, to share his greetings on behalf of the Haitian people and the local community that is thriving in New York City.
The representative of Haiti’s government spoke of the common thread of the thirst for freedom that tied the two nations together at the time and presented Fr. Eugene with a handcrafted gift directly from Haiti.
In a truly Greek show of hospitality and appreciation, Fr. Eugene graciously thanked the Consul General and spoke enthusiastically of the history between the two nations.
He then presented his own gift to the Haitian delegation that filled Three Hierarchs Church to return not only the favor of their attendance at the event, but also of his countrymen two hundred years ago– a basket of Greek coffee.
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