Clergy-Laity 2014 News and Messages

Homily of His Eminence Metropolitan Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos

Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America,

Your Eminences, beloved brother hierarchs, shepherds of the Holy Metropolises of the one Holy Archdiocese of America,

Your Graces,

Reverend Clergy,

Honorable representatives of the Greek Orthodox Communities and members of the governing bodies, of the National Philoptochos Society and local Philoptochos chapter representatives of the Holy Archdiocese of America,

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head . . . running down on the collar of robes!" (Psalm 132)

Indeed, our participation in the proceedings of this spiritual synaxis of the Holy Archdiocese of America is pleasant and joyful both for myself and for my brother hierarch His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium inasmuch as it gives us the opportunity to hear and feel the pulse of the Greek Orthodox Diaspora of the United States of America. We have been given the opportunity to be here with you, your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, along with our brother hierarchs of the Holy Eparchial Synod in this large and active Holy Archdiocese of the Ecumenical Throne, as well as with the venerable bishops entrusted with ministering the various aspects of the life and witness of this Holy Archdiocese.

We are here to be together with you and to exchange perspectives on pastoral concerns and topics that concern the relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese with the other Orthodox church communities, as well as with members of other Christian confessions and religions, in order to address contemporary issues of society. We have the opportunity to feel the pulse of the youth, to share the concerns of the members of the National Philoptochos Society for the alleviation of human suffering, but also to witness the work of the members of the Archdiocesan Council and the representatives of the Parish Councils for the stability and cohesive functioning of the Archdiocese as a whole and of its local administrative infrastructures. Our presence is a special honor because we come as representatives of the Mother Church of Constantinople and our Ecumenical Patriarch in order to convey the prayers, love and interest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarch for your spiritual and worldly progress. We also convey the gratitude of His All-Holiness for your ongoing tangible concern for the wellbeing of the Mother Church as well as for your contributions to its manifold and multifaceted activity and witness.

We have the hope, but also the conviction that this Clergy-Laity Congress will prove to be fruitful and provide yet another opportunity for the strengthening of relationships and mutual exchange of opinions, but also a source of encouragement and spiritual inspiration for the witness of the Orthodox Church in this multicultural country.

We hope this Congress will contribute to the cultivation and further reinforcement of the unity of this Holy Archdiocese, both amongst its members and towards the Mother Church of Constantinople. The visible sign of this unity with the Mother Church is our common anointing with the Holy Myron that "runs down on the collar of our robes" and is prepared at the Holy Center of Orthodoxy. Indeed, we have all been anointed with this precious Myron that has been sanctified at the Phanar for centuries by the successors of the Apostle Andrew, St. John Chrysostom, St. Methodios, and so many other Saints who unite us spiritually and ecclesiastically into one family, so that we may all together constitute the very body of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, "persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed".

It is with these thoughts that I convey to all of you the prayers of the Ecumenical Patriarch for the success of the deliberations of this Congress as well as his personal greetings, which we paraphrase from the end of the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Philippians: "To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. All the saints greet you, especially those at the sacred Center of the Phanar. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

Clergy-Laity 2014