IOCC Names Fr. Thomas Paris to Receive Good Samaritan Award
In recognition of outstanding service supporting IOCC’s worldwide humanitarian work
Baltimore, MD (October 27, 2017) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the official humanitarian agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, will honor Father Thomas Paris, a retired priest of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, with the Good Samaritan Award on November 5, 2017, during the 25th Annual Remembering Home Banquet.
The Good Samaritan Award is offered in appreciation for helping to realize the vision of IOCC to respond, without discrimination, to those who are suffering and in need, to enable them to continue to improve their own lives and communities, and to have means to live with dignity, respect, and hope. Father Thomas Paris, or Father Tom, as he is known, is the 13th recipient of the award, which has recognized the service of parishes and groups, as well as individuals.
Father Tom was instrumental in establishing the IOCC San Francisco Metropolitan Committee, an Orthodox group of volunteers from various local parishes who joined forces in October 1992 to support the nascent organization with grassroots-level fundraising and awareness efforts. At the time, he was priest of Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland, and it was Father Tom’s initiative that brought together area clergy and lay leaders to form the committee—one of just a handful of IOCC Metropolitan Committees across the nation to celebrate their 25 anniversary in 2017, along with IOCC itself.
“When I was asked by IOCC co-founder Charles Ajalat and Alex Rondos, who was the Executive Director at the time, to help start a committee in San Francisco, the first person I went to was Fr. Tom—he was the one who could make this happen,” recalled long-time San Francisco committee chair Stephen Kreta. “I don’t know how we could have done it without his effort, or without the help of his parish council and staff.” When the newly formed committee decided to organize an annual fundraising dinner for IOCC, Father Tom Paris and the Ascension community hosted the inaugural San Francisco–area IOCC event in 1993.
A proponent of interjurisdictional Orthodox efforts in his area, Father Tom had for years hosted a Vespers service at Ascension on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, marking the beginning of Great Lent. After the IOCC Metropolitan Committee was established, he dedicated this annual gathering to IOCC. In addition, Father Tom served as the committee’s spiritual advisor for a number of years and, although he is now retired from the priesthood, has remained active in local efforts supporting IOCC’s worldwide efforts.
“We’re so grateful for Father Tom’s service; he has been absolutely crucial to the growth of IOCC as an organization, from the very beginning. We wouldn’t be where we are today, 25 years later, without Father Tom,” remarked IOCC Executive Director and CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou. “It’s an honor to recognize him as a Good Samaritan; this award is a symbol of how faithfully he has given of himself to help others, near and far.” Volunteer-led events like those held every year by the San Francisco committee and others across the country have played a key role building IOCC’s presence as an agency of the Orthodox Church in the United States.
IOCC, in the spirit of Christ’s love, offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination, and strengthens the capacity of the Orthodox Church to so respond. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has provided more than $625 million in humanitarian relief, sustainable development, and self-help programs to people in need in over 60 countries. All assistance is provided solely on the basis of need and benefits families, refugees and displaced persons, the elderly, school children, orphans, and people with disabilities. The year 2017 marks IOCC’s 25th anniversary.