By His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi
On the Commencement of the Meetings of the 44th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Holy Archdiocese of America
(Boston, July 2, 2018)
Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America,
Your Eminence and Graces, dear brothers in Christ,
Esteemed Archons of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle,
It is with sincere and moving sentiments of joy that I and Metropolitan Maximos of Selyvria find ourselves amongst you, following the venerable Patriarchal directive to represent His All-Holiness and the venerable Apostolic and Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople, to which we all have the great blessing and honor to belong.
The venerable message of His All-Holiness expressed the voice of the Mother Church toward its much beloved children in America, and I am sure that it reached the depths of your hearts. I underscore this term much beloved, for it indeed describes how we all feel about you—from the Patriarch to every last member of the honorable Hierarchy of the Throne. We pray for all of you daily—the hierarchs, presbyters, deacons, monastics, community leaders, parishioners, parish council members, staff of Hellenic College/Holy Cross, schools, organizations and the philanthropic institutions of the Omogeneia. Our burning desire is that you all remain steadfast in the Orthodox Faith and our Tradition, actively participating in the sacramental life, uniting around your canonical shepherds, prospering in virtue and in every good deed, progressing daily within the great United States, and respecting both aspects of your Greek Orthodox and American hypostasis. Your nation is a large one, where hundreds of religious and national traditions coexist. It is truly a great human mosaic, one in which every tile has its own unique place and value. In and of itself, your own piece draws great significance from the invaluable contributions of Greek culture to the oikoumene—a history spanning from ancient times that was written by Greek pioneers. Their manifold success has greatly influenced American society, and is secured and strengthened by Faith—the theme that is emphasized by your Clergy-Laity Congress. This is the Faith that the Ecumenical Patriarchate guarantees, cultivates and expands in the depth and height of authenticity and truth. This Holy Institution stands vigilantly with compassion and a deep sense of responsibility for all of us. The martyric and venerable Church of Constantinople, aside from its self-governing Ecumenicity, is a Church of the Genos! It is your Mother and the Mother of us all! Our Patriarch is also known as Patriarch of the Genos! He is, according to the phrase of Makrigiannis, the result of ecclesiastical responsibility for all those who worship God “properly and rightly.” Therefore, the living connection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarch constitutes a guarantee of authenticity, unity and every relevant blessing. The pious flock of the Holy Archdiocese of America and its respective Metropolises are made up of faithful from every corner of Hellenic tradition, as well as by Orthodox of varying ethnic backgrounds. Of course, as everywhere, different ways of thinking, understanding, political ideas and cultural identifiers will exist. Centrifugal forces are never absent. Our Patriarchate, though, is a great centripetal force that—in connection with peace and love—strengthens, preserves and guarantees the unity of faith on the Rock of Truth, which is Christ Himself.
With these humble and personal thoughts of mine, I beseech and encourage you on the one hand, brotherly and paternally, to feel safe, blessed and proud that you belong to the great and sacred spiritual family of our Ecumenical Patriarchate; and on the other hand, to preciously keep and to reinforce daily with every devout way this connection and bond. May your heart beat in the humble Phanar, knowing that it continually radiates its light of compassion and beneficial care unto New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco, as well as unto every corner of this great country where a humble lantern of Orthodox piety remains lit, and where the relics of every last Greek Orthodox believer may find repose.
May God bless America! May God save His Church here! May God protect, preserve, enlighten and sanctify you all!