I feel so very blessed and honored to interview Diakonissa Toni Mihalopoulos, the coordinator of Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me. This wonderful ministry brings together amazing families and children for worship, fellowship, learning, and fun. It is a part of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, and is lovingly overseen by His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos. It is also supported and guided by our awesome Youth Director Chris Avramopoulos and so many wonderful and amazing volunteers.
Dka. Toni is such a beautiful person, and we are SO blessed that she shares her talents and love with our youth and families. I am so thankful for all that she does and look forward to watching this ministry grow!
My patron saint is St. Anthony the Great
My favorite children’s books are The Berenstain Bears Series
The ministries I am involved in are: I am the coordinator of Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me: a program for people with special needs and their families. I have been involved with Fanari Camp since 2005 as a counselor and staff member. I have served on the Metropolis Board for Young Adults League.
Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me is a ministry offered through the metropolis of Chicago for people with special needs and their families.
Inclusion Liturgies are: one program that Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me offers. Inclusion Liturgies are a great way for those with special needs and their families to attend liturgy and worship in a more relaxed environment. Different clergy from all around the metropolis have volunteered to celebrate in a liturgy at St. John’s the Baptist Church in Des Plaines, Illinois in their all accessible Guardian Angel Chapel one Saturday a month.
I love that this ministry also has other events specifically geared toward those who have special needs and can bring them into the church. We offer Special Day Camps for our families along with Inclusion events throughout the year.
Pictures from Liturgy Through Your Senses at St. Iakovos Retreat Center (taken by Dina Sampras)
Ways to be inclusive at your parish is to educate your parish to be welcoming and nonjudgmental for those who have different abilities. Make the parents and care takers feel welcome and support them. Feel free to contact me to advertise a current program at your church that will welcome Pick Up Your Cross Families.
For more information to participate or volunteer for Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me, please contact myself at: email@example.com or contact Chris Avramopoulos at the Youth Ministry Office at: 312. 337.4130