Cleopas Strongylis, Cultural Studies
Cleopas Strongylis, Cultural Studies
Guest Lecturer in Greek Studies & Culture
School of Theology of the University of Athens
M.A. - University of Durham, England
Th.M. - Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
Ph.D. - University of Thessaloniki
BiosketchV. Rev. Dr. Cleopas Strongylis was born in Nea Smyrni, Athens in 1966. He completed his junior high school studies in the Evangelical School of Nea Smyrni, and following this, was admitted on scholorship to the Rizareios Seminary after passing the entrance examination. Between 1984-88, he studied at the Theological School of Athens, under the academic supervision of the current archbishop of Albania, His Beatitude Anastasios Giannoulatos. During the second year of his university studies, he placed first, receiving a scholarship from the Institution of State Endowments. As a licentiate in Theology, he attended the university's two-year graduate program in the field of canon law.
In 1989, he was ordained a Deacon by Metropolitan Cleopas of Thessaliotis and was sent on scholarship to Durham University, in England, the following year, by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, under the supervision of the Rev. Dr. George Dragas. Having received a Master of Arts degree in Patristic Theology, he returned to Athens where he was ordained a presbyter/priest in August 1992, by Metropolitan Cleopas, while also being bestowed the office of Archimandrite.
That summer, upon the invitation of the Rizareios Seminary, he undertook the arrangement of the seminary’s 150-year-old historical archive. In September 1992, he went to the United States to continue his studies at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA., with a full scholarship granted to him by His Eminence Archbishop Elder Iakovos, former primate of North and South America, under the academic supervision of the current Archbishop of America, Mgr. Demetrios. Along with his studies, Fr. Cleopas worked at the above Theological School as the personal theological secretary of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, then President of the school. He graduated summa cum laude, with a Master’s degree in Sacred Theology.
Immediately afterward, he was appointed Director of the Department of Registry and Adjunct Professor of Patristics, teaching at the Seminary’s graduate program for three years, including courses on patristic interpretation of the Bible, the Book of Psalms, Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis, etc.
In 1994, completing ten-year research and study, he received his doctorate from the Theological School of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, following examinations, with highest honors, writing on the subject, St. Nectarios and the Patriarchate of Alexandria, under the guidance of the Rev. Dr. Theodore Zesis and His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Tyroloa.
At the suggestion of His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, Dr. Strongylis began doctoral studies at Boston University, in the field of interpretation of the Old Testament, under the direction of Professor Bernard Anderson, and at Harvard Divinity School, in the field of patristic and modern interpretation of the New Testament, under the direction of the Swiss Professor Francois Bovon.
In December 1996, he was appointed as the Presiding Priest of the parish of Transfiguration, assuming the duty of spiritual advisor at the Day and Afternoon Schools of the community, where he taught religion, as well as at Queens College, where he has taught a course in Byzantine History. During his tenure at the Greek Orthodox Community of Corona, Dr. Strongylis instituted several new programs and has undertaken a number of renovation and expansion projects within the community. Through his initiative, fundraising was undertaken for the establishment of two chapels within the community, the Chapel of St. Nectarios and the Chapel of Sts. Matrona and Gerasimos. Fr. Cleopas also cataloged and arranged all the holy vessels, vestments, icons and church heirlooms within the historic 76-year-old community, and created a museum of Greek heritage with the funds he raised. He also oversaw the renovation of the Church of Transfiguration, the cafeteria of the School of Transfiguration, and the complete renovation of the church hall. In the wake of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Fr. Cleopas established one of the first monuments in the United States dedicated to the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks, in the form of a memorial byzantine patriarchal Cross, placed in the church’s garden for the entire neighborhood to see.
In addition to his initiative in the expansion of the community’s physical structures, Fr. Cleopas has contributed to the enrichment of its programs. His parish was the first Greek Orthodox church in Queens to offer a special mass and program for children with special abilities, serving all the Orthodox faithful in the borough. Through his service in this program, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America appointed him as liaison between the Church and the organization Y.A.S.A. (Young Adults with Special Abilities). He has dedicated his literary and editorial work as one more contribution toward the community’s service. Fr. Cleopas donated the proceeds of his newly published doctoral thesis to benefit the educational programs of the Day School of Transfiguration. Over the years, he also issued several journals to raise funds for the Greek Afternoon School of Transfiguration. A concise history of the 77-year-old community of Transfiguration and all of its institutions, written and edited by Fr. Cleopas, was released, with the proceeds benefiting the renovation works taking place within the community.
From August 2004 through February 2009, Dr. Strongylis served as the Presiding Priest at the Greek Orthodox Community of Holy Trinity, in Lowell, Mass, assuming the duty of spiritual advisor at the Hellenic American Academy of Lowell, where he taught religion, contributing to the establishment of the 7th and 8th grades.
Since September 2007, he serves as an adjunct Faculty member of UMass Lowell, teaching a course on the Greek language and culture. Since March 2009 Dr. Cleopas Strongylis is the Dean of the Annunciation Cathedral in Boston, MA, and also serves as Director of Greek Education for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston. His lengthy list of publications also includes the works, Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis and the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis and Aegina, The Community of Transfiguration of Christ, in the Suburb of Corona, NY: 1926-2003, Archbishop Iakovos of N. & S. America and the Holy Trinity Community of Lowell, Mass., etc.
V. Rev. Dr. Cleopas Strongylis was honored by the Academy of Athens on Tuesday, March, 24, 2009 for his latest book Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis and the Rizareios Seminary (1894-1908). The ceremony took place during the Academy of Athens' annual awards gala, which was held in the Academy's Ceremony Hall, in observation of the national holiday of March 25, 1821. At the event, Dr. Strongylis received the Panhellenic Sacred Institution of Evangelistria in Tinos Award for best theological book of the last five years. This award-winning book is a product of the widest and most extensive systematic study of the Rizareios Seminary's archives. Based entirely on never-before-published sources, which have been made public for the first time ever, the author examines Saint Nectarios' ministry as Director of the Rizareios Seminary, and provides insight on his ministry at Rizareios and outside of the seminary during this period. This book was published in 2008 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Saint Nectarios' retirement as Director of the Rizareios Seminary of Athens. The work was published by the Rizareios Foundation, following the generous donation of the finished product by the author Dr. Strongylis; a Rizareios graduate himself - who has spent his entire career researching the life and ministry of Saint Nectarios.