The Pan Arcadian Federation of America is a nationwide non-profit fraternal Greek-American organization whose members descend from the region of Arcadia in the Peloponnese, southern Greece. It is dedicated to the promotion of the ideals of Hellenism and the principles of Democracy, the preservation of the Greek language and cultural heritage, as well as the Greek Orthodox Church and the support of Arcadian and Arcadian-American philanthropic, cultural and educational institutions.
The Arcadians of America: A Historical Journey By John G. Siolas, Ph.D.
Greece is a global society with diverse nationalities and languages. The Pan Arcadian Federation of America (PFA) continues to hold the beacon of Hellenism alive. The Arcadians have an inner drive to immigrate for economic advancement. They never forget their roots, striving to return to Arcadia. The first Arcadian societies were formed in urban center to aid new immigrants. In 1931, The Pan Arcadian Federation of America was formed to promote Hellenism among the first generation born to Arcadian immigrants. The “Geros Tou Morea” chapter, New York, was first chapter and dominant force in the PFA. Athanasios Angelopoulos, Nick Bakopoulos and Alexander Sioris were the founders.
The “Geros Tou Morea” chapter held socials, created journal books, held meetings, dinners and picnics as part of its network. Prominent persons have attended. Constantine Karamanlis, former Prime Minister and President of the Greek Democracy, attended a dinner at the Astor Hotel on August 17th, 1946. The Pan Arcadian Federation was the largest Greek-American organization after AHEPA in its first twenty-thirty years of existence. The Pan Arcadian Federation of America realized the necessity of forming a hospital in Arcadia, Greece. The building of the Pan Arcadian Hospital in Tripolis began in the spring of 1947. The Hospital was completed in May 1950. The building project cost was about 3 and a half million dollars with two hundred and fifty-six beds. It was considered to be the foremost and largest hospital of the Balkans in this time period. The Pan Arcadian Hospital has rendered medical care to all for six decades.
The central offices of the Pan Arcadian Federation were established in 1960 at Chicago, Illinois, buying a building to serve as its central headquarters. In 1962, PFA provided funding for building the Gymnasium of St. Basil’s Academy in Garrison, New York. The project was finished in 1963. The Pan Arcadian Federation endured a critical period of crisis and turmoil. Chapters across the USA felt isolated from the Federation at its main headquarters in Chicago. The chapters underwent a metamorphosis taking a different form, creating a chasm that could not be mended with the Federation. In September 1980, Arcadians believing in Unity, decided to organize the first Pan Arcadian Convention. It was held on September 27th, 1981 at the Grand Plaza in Chicago. Thirty chapters attended in two days, giving new life to the Federation. The 43rd Convention of PFA was held in Tripolis, Arcadia in august of 1982. Ten kidney dialysis machines were proposed for the Pan Arcadian Hospital of Tripolis. In just two years, Dr. Kostas Sarantopoulos of Ohio, President of PFA, donated the ten kidney dialysis machines amounting to two hundred thousand dollars, to the Pan Arcadian Hospital in 1984. In the same year, PFA honored George Christopher, former Mayor of San Francisco and immigrant from Saint Petro, Kynourias, and Arcadia. Nine hundred persons attended from the US.
The autobiography of Theodore Kolokotronis was published in English by Hellenic College in Boston through the support of PFA. Five thousand copies were distributed throughout the USA. Theodore Kolokotronis has two families of descendants in America: Alexander A. Kolokotronis of Tujunka, California and Patricia Bapakis of Clements, Michigan.
PFA has progressed and expanded in the past decades. The “Geros Tou Morea” chapter in Astoria, New York established a culture center. Chapters in the West and California have progressed, mainstreaming Arcadian culture in the American consciousness. The Arcadian Village is a settlement of homes near the seashore of Astros Kynouria Arcadia Greece., formed by the Pan Arcadian Federation of America and Canada. Our Village is a model copied by other Greek Federations in America.
The Pan Arcadian Federation of America takes pride in its role as a contributor in the Greek American Rehabilitation and Nursing Center that was built in Wheeling, Illinois in 2002 to serve people in need throughout the Chicago area. The Federation is committed to helping the Center continue its mission in the areas of memory loss, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, recuperation and recovery.
In 2001, Beaver College in Glendale, Pennsylvania changed its name to Arcadia University, after the picturesque ancient Arcadian land known for its peacefulness, simplicity and strong academic and intellectual contributions throughout history. The association of Arcadian University was initiated in the Midwest District by George L. Chiagouris, P.E. PFA established the Arcadia University Committee to aid the growth of undergraduate and doctorate exchange programs. The Committee reflects the Federation’s goal of continuing academic excellence that existed in ancient Arcadia.
Dr. John P. Anton’s 2009 book “Arcadika: Speeches and Studies” states “the first generation of Arcadians in this country is but a handful of old timers. There are the second, third, fourth and fifth generations who must be told what being an Arcadian means and what is behind the ‘Et in arcadia Ego’. The Arcadian Pan guided the generations that came later on how to find the rich tradition of ritual and fertility. Diotima, the priestess from Mantinea taught Socrates of Athens, as Plato explains in his dialogue ‘The Symposium’. Diotima turned the Arcadian myths into wisdom about nature and knowledge of what is the best cause to pursue all walks of life. We are asking the same question that the priestess Diotima of Mantineia posed 2,500 years ago. Where do we go from here?’ We must have education and the best form of civilized life.”
Dr. Anton believes the dynamic Pan Arcadian Federation must establish a building to preserve the documents of the Arcadians in America, through a collection of family records, establishing family trees. The history of every village and town in Arcadia must be collected and made available. The Pan Arcadian Federation must mainstream in American society by establishing professorships, scholarships and research funds to Universities. The survival of culture depends on the expansion of the study of Modern Greek language and literature across the country. Significant issues will be discussed at the 2010 Pan Arcadian Federation meeting in New York City.