Two distinguished gentlemen from the Chicago Metropolis were recently invested as Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Meet the new Archons.
Chicago Metropolis honored with two new Archons
Earlier this fall, 20 prominent Greek-Americans received the distinguished honor of Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. An Archon is an honoree by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who is a well-respected leader of the Orthodox Christian community. Archons are selected for their outstanding service to the Church. This honor extended by the Ecumenical Patriarchate carries with it grave responsibilities, deep commitments, and sincere dedication. On October 16, Archbishop Demetrios celebrated Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City, where the ceremony of investiture of the new Archons took place. Two prominent Greek-Americans from the Chicago Metropolis, John Koudounis and John Hilaris, were amongst the Archons. I recently caught up with the new archons to discuss this distinguished honor.
Meet John Koudounis
John is Chief Executive Officer of Calamos Investments. Prior to his appointment at Calamos, John was President and Chief Executive Officer of Mizuho Securities USA, (MSUSA) the U.S. investment banking subsidiary of Mizuho Securities Co., Ltd, and a member of the global Mizuho Financial Group. A native of Chicago, John received his Bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1988, where he studied International Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs and Economics. He’s a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, the Bretton Woods Committee, and the Japan Society.
Known as the highest honor bestowed on a layman by the Orthodox Church, John believes this honor stands out above the rest.
“I was extremely honored and humbled to become an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Throughout my life, the Greek Orthodox Church has always been extremely important to me and my faith is an important part of who I am. Most other honors and awards are based on past accomplishments, but becoming an Archon is a pledge to deepen my commitment to the Church and my faith.”
The Archon ceremony itself was extremely special to John, and left him with lasting impressions.
“The experience in the Church was amazing, even magical. I believe that we demonstrate who we are by the choices that we make every day. Becoming an Archon challenges me to live my faith in my every action and in all my dealings.”
Aside from being a tremendous honor, John understands that this is also regarded as a most important responsibility.
“Being an Archon is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. However, it’s not a burden. More than anything, I’m humbled and grateful.”
John has contributed his time and talent to various organizations and he’s especially committed to one important effort.
“I’ve been involved in the rebuilding efforts of Greek Orthodox churches, including St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero, which fell on 9/11. As it has for so many other Hellenes, St. Nicholas holds a special place for me. Bringing its light back to the world is extremely important for Hellenes of all generations, all around the world.”
John and his wife Joanne have 12-year-old twin daughters. Despite his high-powered career, family is a top priority.
“As a parent, I also believe that we have a responsibility to encourage our children to share their time and talents with those who may have less. My wife and I seek out opportunities to volunteer alongside our daughters. The work is valuable in and of itself, but it also inspires discussion around our Hellenic values.”
The family’s home parish is St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Lincoln Park. It’s a parish that John is proud to be a part of and has deep roots with his family.
“St. George has deep meaning for me. My paternal grandfather was married there. My father and his two brothers were christened there, as were my daughters.”
Seeing the parish as a place to build strong foundations for generations to come, he defines St. George.
“It’s a symbol of how our Greek Orthodox Faith unites generations together, providing continuity to our experience as Greek Americans as the world changes. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Father Chris Kerkeres and for the energy and passion he brings to the St. George community.”
He’s quick to point out that his ties to New York are strong as well.
“Although my parish is in Chicago, I also value the guidance I’ve received from Father Alex Karloutsos in New York, who has served as my spiritual advisor for several years.”
As for his new career in the Midwest, John is excited for the future.
“Chicago’s Greek community is vibrant and strong, and it’s great to be a part of it. Returning here to work as the CEO of Calamos Investments has made it a particularly special homecoming. For many years, John P. Calamos, Sr., a fellow Archon, has been a role model of mine. I’m looking forward to what the future holds as we work to take the firm to its next level.”
Meet John Hilaris
John Hilaris is founder, owner, and chairman of Ergoseal, Inc. Established in 1989, Ergoseal is involved in the engineering, design, and manufacture of high precision and high performance mechanical, lip and on contacting seals for aircraft, industrial, military, and marine applications. John has over 45 years’ experience in the manufacturing industry. His company has served a wide customer base that includes several Fortune 500 companies in the global marketplace. Among his many accomplishments, he once served as chief investigator on a significant project for NASA, the Department of Defense, and Department of Transportation.
Known as the highest honor bestowed on a layman by the Orthodox Church, John is grateful and humbled to receive this honor.
“It was a very emotional ceremony for me. I was truly honored beyond expectations. Throughout life it makes you happy to do good deeds and now, I feel extremely appreciative.”
Throughout his life, the Greek Orthodox Church has been a solid foundation for him and his family. Becoming an Archon has only deepened his faith.
He’s a firm believer in the cultural, moral and spiritual development of a person’s life.
“Being an Archon is a tremendous responsibility.”
A dedicated worker and passionate about the Orthodox faith, it’s easy to understand why he was chosen to become an Archon.
John has contributed over 20 years of service to his beloved parish of The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios in Elmhurst, IL. He’s served in many capacities including parish council president and executive vice-president, Greek schools president, and chairman of many social events. Among his proudest accomplishments is founding the Pythagoras Children’s Academy at St. Demetrios.
“PCA opened its doors in 1988 with 12 students. Now the school has over 100 students and is a full-time school from preschool to fifth grade.”
He’s also a member of the Metropolis of Chicago Greek Orthodox Church Education Committee.
John’s son Tom, who serves as Ergoseal’s president and CEO, is very proud of his father.
“My dad never did any of this for recognition. He’s a selfless and humble person who loves the church. My dad is extremely hardworking. I learned through my dad how to transform the world for the better. He taught by example.”
John and his wife Toula have two grown children. In addition to son Tom, their daughter Thomaie is a French teacher at Whitney Young High School in Chicago.
“My family is very special to me. We all reside in Elmhurst. I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.”
The closeness of their family is evident when he talks about the life he and Toula have built.
“I cherish the memories with my family.”
In fact, his family accompanied him to the Archon ceremony. A life changing experience, John is committed to increase the awareness of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
“We have to protect Orthodoxy and Hellenism.”
A reflection of John’s faith is found in his passion to let others around him excel in all areas of their life.
“The body, soul, and mind all have a delicate balance. It’s important to make sure the younger generation understands how important it is to cultivate all three of these elements.”
Chicago Metropolis Archons
There are now 72 Archons in the Chicago Metropolis. Regional Commanders for the Chicago Metropolis are Gus M. Pablecas and John G. Manos. They join other Archons around the country who have vowed to defend our Orthodox Faith.