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DECEMBER 2005 • Vol. 70 • No. 1220

www.observer.goarch.org • e-mail: observer@goarch.org

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The Nativity of Christ To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, On this glorious celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, I greet you with love in the joy of the Good News that was received on that blessed and holy night by the shepherds of Bethlehem. After announcing the birth of the Son of God, the heavenly hosts filled the dark sky with light, rejoicing and proclaiming, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will among men (Luke 2:14). On that night in Bethlehem when our Savior entered this world as a human infant born of the Virgin Mary, the favor of God was upon all humankind and upon all of creation. Through the Incarnation, Jesus Christ became like us in every respect, except sin, so that He might know our condition, share in our sufferings, and redeem us from our sins (Hebrews 2:17). Into the darkness and the shadow of death that plagued all of humanity, the radiant sunrise from on high (Luke 1:78) broke through and both illuminated and became the path of peace, the way to salvation and eternal life. As we commemorate the birth of our Lord on this day, we can be assured of the universal significance and relevance of this miraculous event. This is certainly true in terms of our redemption through the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ. But it is also true in terms of the conditions of our world, in times past, present, and future. Into a world that groans under the burden of sin, a world that is filled with the darkness of uncertainty and the shadow of terror and death, our Lord has brought us the peace of God. This coming of this peace was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah who announced that the Prince of Peace would establish His rule and an endless peace (Isaiah 9:6-7). St. Luke the Evangelist makes reference to the same idea when he speaks about Him who would come in order to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79). It was also this peace that Christ Himself gave to His disciples and to those that would follow in their sacred Apostolic work. It is this peace of God through Jesus Christ that is needed in our contemporary world. As we witness and experience the devastating effects of violence and suffering, so many people are searching for that peace which transcends the shadow of death and lifts their souls into the light of truth and understanding. So many people are searching for that peace that renews their spirit, gives them hope, and guides them toward greater fulfillment in life. This is why we must be living carriers of the peace of Christ, who through our faith and our love for God and one another, dwells in us. When we are the image of the Prince of Peace, our thoughts, words, deeds, and aspirations will be imbued with His true and enduring peace. Our security and freedom will not be dependent upon or diminished by the violent events and persistent threats that trouble our world; for we will live in the light and peace of the presence of our Incarnate Lord, offering to others His tender mercy and a secure and eternal relationship with Him. As we gather on this holy Feast and pray to our Lord “for the peace from above” and “for the peace of the whole world,” I invite you to open your hearts to His divine presence and allow Him to bring solace to our hearts and minds. We can be assured that the Prince of Peace has entered this world and our human condition, that He is in our midst, and that He is guiding us on a most sure and certain path of eternal peace and life. May His blessings be upon you and your families during this beautiful season, and may your worship and fellowship be filled with His joy throughout the New Year. With paternal love in Christ,

† Archbishop DEMEtrioS of America

Late11th or early 12th-century triptych from the Monastery of hagia Aikaterine, Sinai, with incidents related to the Nativity. (above) the Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi. (below) The Flight into Egypt and the Slaughter of the Innocents.


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A RCHDIOCESE N E WS

DECEMBER 2005

St. Basil Academy Holds Festive Christmas Program GARRISON, N.Y. – A “dinner theater” setting characterized this year’s St. Basil Academy’s Christmas Program that featured a brief skit described as a “Living Nativity” Icon, a poetry reading, piano duet and Christmas carols sung by some of the children. The festively decorated gym included round tables festooned with a Christmas theme. Following a welcome from the Academy’s Executive Director Fr. Constantine Sitaras and a brief doxology by Archbishop Demetrios, several children of St. Basil’s performed “The Living Nativity Icon,” which consisted of a brief skit on the events leading to the birth of Jesus. There followed the recitation of a poem, “The Love of Christ,” by student Nancy Morano. For the first time ever, the stage was decorated with a scene reminiscent of a Byzantine icon that depicts the Nativity often seen on Christmas cards. Student Nickolas Clemente along with piano teacher Martha Braden performed the piano duet that followed the skit. Next, several children carolers sang

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Published bi-monthly except single issue in September and December by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Editorial and Business Office: 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021. TEL.: (212) 570-3555, 774-0235. FAX (212) 774-0239.

A MuSICAL gathering around the piano at the Academy. (below) Archbishop Demetrios with youths of St. Basil Academy and Fr. Constantine Sitaras.

Christmas songs in English and Greek. In brief comments after the program, Archbishop Demetrios remarked that the program offered pleasant surprises, including the stage set and other festive decorations and the quality of the program. “It was a nice peaceful, joyful program,” he said. “I don’t recall anything as amazing and a performance so short that is so rich.” He reminded the audience about the “millions of children in the world without food, without parents and with diseases” and that a place like the Academy offers “opportunities that are unique in our world.” His Eminence also reminded the St. Basil children to “be mindful of the happy and unhappy children” of the world during the Christmas season, “those blessed with gifts, and those with no gifts at all.” Following the program and luncheon,

the children and visitors retreated to the Main, the administration building and visitor center, where Archbishop Demetrios distributed Christmas gifts to each of the 31 children that reside at the Academy. Members of the Metropolitan Philoptochos Board and chapters in New York and New Jersey provided many of the donations and Christmas gifts for the event. Also providing donations for the event was St. George Greek School in Bethesda, Md., St. Spyridon Church in Manhattan, Fantis Foods, Tony and Vera Giordano, Mr. and Mrs. Rountous, and Dr. Elena DaFaras of St. Athanasius Church in Paramus, N.J., and St. John Russian Orthodox Church PTO of Perth Amboy, N.J. Among the special guests in attendance was Martha Mavrommatis, consul general of the Republic of Cyprus and Dr. Steven Gounardes, St. Basil Board of Trustees president.

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THE HISTORICAL ORIGIN OF THE CHRISTMAS DATE The joyous season of Christmas is upon us to enrich our lives with the nearness of God and to strengthen our faith and conviction in the message of the Redemption and Salvation of all men and women. by Bishop John of Amorion

The theme of joy attributed to Christmas lies in the realization that Christ, born in a cave in Bethlehem, entered our life, once and for all, never to leave it, not to forsake us. His is with us always, as the word “Emmanuel” designates. This Mystery of Mysteries, the Incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which Christians throughout the world observe has undergone a process of change I think we should stop to consider from a historical point of view. To begin with, Christmas, the Nativity of Christ was not observed by the early Christians as a separate holy day. Epiphany and Easter (Pascha), especially the latter, were great feasts observed by the first Christians. Even when the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, in the 4th century, established Christianity as the state religion of the empire, thereby ending the imperial persecutions of Christians. There was no observance of Christ’s birth as a distinct and separate holy day. Our sources regarding the origin of the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ are among the writings of St. John Chrysostom, who as the 37th archbishop of Constantinople (398-404) informs us that St. Cyril, archbishop of Jerusalem, requested Pope Julius I of Rome to investigate the question regarding the date of Christ’s most probable date of birth. As a consequence, the Feast of the Nativity of Christ was first observed in Rome, on Dec. 25, 353, and from there the observance of Christmas on Dec. 25 spread eastward. In the east, from 376 A.D., Christians began to observe Christmas as a separate religious holy day in the church calendar, except for the Armenians, who still observe Christmas on Jan. 6, along with the observance of Epiphany Day – the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus Christ. Some sources suggest that Dec. 25 was chosen to counter the observance of that date as the birthday of the pagan sun god. It is interesting to note that in spite of the fact that today’s Christian’s of the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions emphasize Christmas as opposed to Easter, which is the case of Orthodox Christians.


A RCHDIOCESE N E WS

DECEMBER 2005

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Archdiocesan District Schools Celebrate Christmas Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King!

The Archdiocesan Metropolitan outh Choir performed its Annual Christmas Concert at the kimisis of Theotokos Church, in Brooklyn, NY, Dec. 18. his Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America was the guest of honor and following the performace praised the children and the choir director Maria kolevas.

ETA PRESS

PHOTOS D. PANAGOS

M. ANDREATOS

IN ThE MANgER OF BEThLEhEM presented by the children of the holy Trinity greek Orthodox Community of hicksville, NY

A MEMORABLE ChRISTMAS performance presented by the children of the “Areti and Stephen Cherpelis greek Orthodox Afternoon School” of St. Nicholas in Flushing, NY

LITTLE ANgELS and the Drummer Boy were featured at the Christmas play of the Plato greek American School, in Brooklyn, NY

ThE NATIVITY SCENE performed flawlesly by young children of the St. Demetrios School in Jamaica, NY.




DECEMBER 2005

Metropolis of New Jersey Hosts Annual Christmas Tree Lighting KENILWORTH, N.J. – The Metropolis of New Jersey held its 3rd annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Celebration on Dec. 18 at the Metropolis headquarters. Metropolitan Evangelos and the Metropolis Philoptochos Board, hosted the celebration that was attended by many Orthodox faithful from throughout the Metropolis. Joining the Metropolitan were Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana, abbot of the Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropeghial Monastery of St. Irene of Chrysovalantou in

Astoria, N.Y., Bishop Philotheos of Meloa and Bishop Vikentios of Apameia, deputy abbot of the Monastery, several priests, Nicholas Bouras, vice commander of the Order of Archons of the Venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Archons of the Order of St. Andrew, Catherine Bouras, consul general of Greece in New York, and members of the Metropolitan Council, the Metropolis Philoptochos Society, Leadership 100, various youth organizations and other faithful. The highlight of the event was the lighting of the tree by the Metropolitan,

METROPOLITAN Evangelos offers small token gifts to the children who came to sing Christmas carols and hymns.

which was followed by liturgical hymns led by the newly formed Metropolis Byzantine Choir. Greek and Sunday school students and children from area parishes led the singing of traditional Christmas Carols. Metropolitan Evangelos distributed gift bags and an Icon of the Nativity to the children and all present, bestowing upon all his paternal blessings and wishing upon them the blessings of God, a most blessed and beautiful Christmas, and a healthy and happy New Year. The evening concluded with a lenten reception prepared by the Metropolis Philoptochos.

M

ay the joy that flooded the earth on the day of His birth overflow in our hearts, in our homes, and in our communities during this holy season and every day of the year. To the one God, in whom we live and move and have our being, be glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to All,

Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund Incorporated

Serving Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America




DECEMBER 2005

We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year A long-held tradition at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese headquarters is the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony marking the beginning of the festive Christmas season. Staff members of the Archdiocese gathered around the tree late in the afternoon on Dec. 7, joining Archbishop Demetrios and Chancellor Bishop Savas of Troas, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, Ecumenical Office director, and Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Department of Philanthropy director.

Tree-Lighting, Carol Singing Event Held at Archdiocese Archbishop Demetrios welcomed everyone to the event, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and then placed a cross ornament on one of the branches before lighting the tree. The staff of Leadership 100 –which recently moved ORTHODOX OBSERVER to new offices– attended the celebration and included Fr. ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS inaugurated celebrations for the 2005 Christmas season together with the staff of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and with the Demetrios Antokas, Paulette traditional tree lighting ceremony. The young children of deacons Panteleimon and John, (l to r) Steli-Styliani, Eleftheria and Nikiforos are in the front. Poulos, and others. Also present was Fr. The entire group next sang several the traditional Kalanda. During the Christ- placed on all first-floor windows of the Alex Karloutsos, spiritual advisor to the Hymns and Christmas Carols in Greek mas season, the entire Archdiocese is fes- Archdiocese, and smaller trees, wreaths Archons-Order of St. Andrew. and English, including Silent Night, and tooned in the holiday spirit, with wreaths and poinsettia plants in other locations.

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PALOS HILLS, Ill. – Sts. Constantine and Helen parish held its 22nd annual Orthodox Charities Weekend Sept.24-25, which included a bike/run/walk-a-thon and a blood drive that drew many participants. Proceeds went to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Also held were bake sales and fundraisers that preceded the weekend events. The bike/run/walk-a-thon had 137 participants who spent their Saturday in a spirit of Christian fellowship. The blood drive on Sunday attracted more than 40 participants and more than 40 volunteers assisted at these events. Orthodox Charities Weekend

succeeded through support from donors, participants and stewards (volunteers). An estimated $10,000 has been raised and submitted to the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Hurricane Relief Fund. This will be in addition to the $13,000 already contributed earlier in September for the Archdiocese Hurricane Relief Fund. Over the 22 years of this program’s existence, $120,000 has been donated and distributed to various charities. This program is part of “Project Diakonia,” a ministry that brings together all the community’s philanthropic programs.

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Philoptochos Offers $98G for Hurricane Relief National Philoptochos Society President Georgia Skeadas recently presented Archbishop Demetrios with a donation of $98,000 for the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund. The funds will be used to address temporary housing expenses and for the purchase of major appliances for Orthodox families affected by the hurricane. In her letter to the Archbishop, Mrs. Skeadas noted, in part, “The women of

the Philoptochos Society, as the philanthropic heart of our Archdiocese, always strive to give solace to people in need. The Philoptochos chapters throughout the United States, in response to our letter of appeal, have shown their deep concern for the victims of the hurricanes by offering their generous support, which will provide some comfort and aid to the many suffering from the effects of this devastation of enormous magnitude.

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SOUTH BOUND BROOK, N.J.–The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) fall session convened here Nov. 15 the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (UOC) headquarters. Archbishop Demetrios, chairman of SCOBA, chaired the session. Metropolitan Constantine of the UOC was the host and welcomed all to the Ukrainian Orthodox Consistory. Other hierarchs present were Metropolitan Herman of the Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese, Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Bishop Antoun of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese (representing Metropolitan Philip), Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, general secretary of SCOBA. Also present were members of the SCOBA Study and Planning Commission and the directors of four SCOBA Agencies. Actions taken at this session included the final approval of documents submitted to formally establish Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) as the seventh Agency of SCOBA. Upon appointment of its board, the election of officers and the hiring of staff, this new Agency will begin to function early in 2006. An extensive report was offered by Dean Triantafilou, executive director of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), especially in reference to the response of IOCC to the hurricane Katrina and hurricane Rita disasters. It was reported that IOCC has provided over $4 million in assistance, while continuing its ongoing long term development projects on the West Bank and Gaza, in Lebanon, Ethiopia, Romania, Serbia and elsewhere. It is also offering significant aid in Asia to meet needs resulting from the disastrous tsunami and the earthquakes in Pakistan. The hierarchs expressed deep gratitude to the staff, board, volunteers and

donors who make the work of IOCC possible. Another action involved final approval of an agenda for the October 2006 Conference scheduled in Chicago for all canonical Orthodox Bishops of the nine jurisdictions belonging to SCOBA. The Study and Planning Commission was charged with selecting persons to prepare papers on the topics scheduled during the four day conference. Before breaking for lunch, the Hierarchs heard a report from Fr. Mark Leondis on behalf of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship ministry of SCOBA. This rapidly expanding campus ministry program now has chapters on more than 200 campuses in North America. The significant efforts of OCF were received with joy and praise by the hierarchs. Following lunch, a report from the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) ministry was given by Fr. Christopher Metropoulos, executive director. The hierarchs were updated on the efforts to expand this radio ministry and reaffirmed their support of the Jan. 15 Share the Light Sunday observance in all Orthodox parishes of the SCOBA jurisdictions. The final SCOBA Agency report was that given by Fr. Paul Kucynda, executive director of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC). Fr. Kucynda spoke of the publications of the OCEC and the teacher training seminars offered throughout the country for all the teachers in the religious education programs of Orthodox parishes. A final project approved at this session was the convening of a clergy seminar early in 2006, in the Dallas area, on Christian/Muslim Relations. Based on this model, to be coordinated by Fr. Nektarios Morrow, seminars will then be offered in other regions to assist clergy in dealing in the concerns resulting from the rapid growth of Islam in America. The session concluded with the sharing of news from the life of the Church and the scheduling of the spring session in May at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in New York City. This session started with prayer in the Memorial Chapel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Consistory.

HC/HC Receives $1.1 Million from Sale of Masterpolis Land BROOKLINE, Mass. – The recent sale of 388.67 acres in Dripping Springs, Texas, a major gift to Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology in August 2004 by Georgia philanthropist Charles Masterpolis, has resulted in one of the largest cash gifts in the School’s history. The $1.1 million gift from Mr. Masterpolis comes on the heels of major giving campaigns by the National AHEPA and St. George’s parish in Lynn, Mass. Upon finalization of the sale, HC-HC President Fr. Nicholas C. Triantafilou stated, “Mr. Charles Masterpolis is a Christian pilgrim of humility, dedication and firm resolve. He has been a faithful worshipper and student of God’s word in his personal Christian life. His dedication to our Church has been marked by his assuming positions as Parish Council president for many years and as a member of the Metropolis of Atlanta Council. His firm resolve is expressed in the enormous financial stewardship he offers to every level of our Church, inclusive of

our Archdiocese, Metropolis of Atlanta, St. Photios Shrine and our beloved Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology. This recent gift of $1.1 million to our School is another expression of his selflessness.� A longtime friend of Archbishop Iakovos and HC/HC from its beginnings, Mr. Masterpolis of Tybee Island, Ga., was one of eight children whose mother came to America from Kalamata, Greece at the turn of the century with nothing but a dream of a better life. Mr. Masterpolis and his siblings eventually made their fortune both in real estate and in founding one of Georgia’s most famous family-owned department stores, Christy’s. “I’ve been single all my life, and my financial success has enabled me to put my energies and resources into supporting our Faith. I guess you could say I’m married to the Church,� said a humble Masterpolis. “I’ll do all I can for our Church as long as I’m able,� he added.


RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

DECEMBER 2005

Christ Is Coming . . . Are We Ready to Receive Him? “Let us receive Him who dwells in the souls of the meek!” (Ode 6 of the Nativity)

T

he liturgical cycle of the Holy Nativity commemorates the Birth of Jesus - the “Coming of God in the Flesh.” Apart from other theological interests, the hymns of the Nativity invite the faithful to respond to Christ’s coming by properly receiving Him – welcoming Him into our souls. by Fr. Frank Marangos

This invitation is naturally juxtaposed against the scriptural testimony that tragically describes the degree to which the Holy family was un-welcomed by the town of Bethlehem. Unlike the circumstances of His initial advent, the liturgical commemoration of the Holy Nativity provides the contemporary Orthodox Christian an opportunity to properly receiving Christ by offering Him lodging in the manger of our hearts! The Old Testament account of a woman’s welcome of the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4: 8-38) provides a wonderful model for receiving Christ into our respective lives. Elisha was a prophet who traveled from town to town in the northern part of the Kingdom of Israel communicating the message of God. As an itinerant preacher he relied on the generosity and hospitality of others to provide for his basic needs. In the fourth chapter of the second Book of Kings Elisha travels to a small town called Shunem were a woman graciously receives him into her home. While the actual name of the Shunammite woman is not recorded in scripture, the manner through which she received God’s messenger is described in minute detail as it provides a four-step process for receiving Christ into our respective lives. She made the man of God welcome, she made room for him, she received God’s blessing, and finally she held on to that promise during the most difficult of circumstances. In fact, St. Paul is referring to the woman when he celebrates the great faith of certain women “who received back their dead through resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35). Consequently, as we celebrate the coming of Christ through His Holy Nativity it would be beneficial for us to both study and emulate her welcoming spirit. The first step of receiving Christ into our lives is to make Him welcome. Like the Shunammite woman we can welcome Christ by first cultivating a hunger for God’s Word. When she learned that Elisha was passing through her town, the woman immediately invited him into her house. In fact we are told that she urged him to enter her house. She was desperate to hear the word of God that Elisha

obliged and came for a meal. The woman looked after him so well that he repeatedly visited her whenever he was passing through her town. If we desire to truly receive God then we must develop a hunger for His Word! In so doing we, like the Shunammite woman, will begin to make our hearts somewhere the Holy Spirit wants to return to again and again. If this woman’s house had been filthy and full of vermin, the chances are Elisha would never have wanted to return. Many might ask for God’s Grace but can we expect Him to come and rest in filthy hearts? The woman made her home so welcoming that Elisha returned repeatedly. If our hearts are to become an appropriate manger for Christ then we, too, should earnestly seek and adequately prepare a suitable place for His divine visitation. The second step of the four-fold process of receiving Christ during the celebration of the Holy Nativity involves enhancing our relationship with Christ from that of periodic visitor to full-time resident. Since Elisha had become a regular guest, the woman approached her husband and proposed they build an extra room for him in their house. As her husband was also a godly man, we may correctly assume that he agreed with her request. Consequently, their house was expanded to ensure the man of God could not only drop by but dwell with them. We are told the room was fitted with everything that Elisha would need. As a result of the woman’s desire to serve the man of God as a resident in her house, her entire household was blessed. The Shunammite’s desire to have the power of God continually dwelling in their house entailed time, money and effort. The woman’s house was made bigger to accommodate the needs of the man of God. If we want God’s power to be permanently dwelling in our lives, then we need to be stretched in like manner. If we truly desire God’s blessings in our lives we need to be spiritually stretched. The celebration of the Holy Nativity is our annual spiritual stretching. The Church invites us to expand our mind, hearts and strength in order to receive the providence of Christ. If we are so inclined, God can stretch us in so many ways. We may learn to seek Him more diligently in prayer and study. We may even develop the strength to share the gospel with others. Unless we allow ourselves to be spiritually stretched the residing Grace of our Lord will tragically remain merely a casual visitor in our lives. The third step of suitably receiving Christ into our lives entails servant-hood.

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DECEMBER 2005

Historic Pilgrimage to Ancestral Homeland

S

ome 60 people recently made the pilgrimage of a lifetime when they journeyed to the land of their ancestors to connect with their roots. They were mostly children and grandchildren of Pontians who immigrated to the U.S. between 1915 and 1923 following the horrific persecution of the Christian minorities of Asia Minor and Pontus. These travelers, mostly American born, grew up hearing nostalgic stories of their parents’ and grandparents’ homeland, and of the masacre endured by the Greeks and Armenians there. by Bishop Andonios of Phasiane

Survivors of this first genocide of the 20th century carried with them a miraculous story of survival and their lives testified to the power of the human spirit. Pontus encompasses the northeast corner of present-day Turkey. It borders the Black Sea (hence its name “Pontus” from the ancient Greek word for “sea”). Settled by Ionian Greeks in the 8th century B.C., it had evolved into the Kingdom of Pontus but, in 63 B.C. was conquered by the Roman General Pompey and became a province of the Roman and later Byzantine empires. With the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the end of Byzantium, it became part of the Ottoman Empire and its Christian minorities lived as second-class citizens in their own homelands. But with the decline of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the Greeks of Pontus Photos courtesy: BISHOP ANDONIOS OF PHASIANE

MONASTERY of Panagia Soumela on the historic mountain Mela in Pontus.

FRESCOES inside the cave chapel of the monastery of Panagia Soumela.

experienced a renaissance witnessed by their prosperity and by the construction of new churches and schools. Following the massacre of the Armenians in 1915, life dramatically changed for the Greeks and they became the victims of severe persecutions. Between 300,000 and 350,000 Pontians of the 700,000 recorded in a 1913 census may have perished. In 1922-1923, the survivors, savagely uprooted, were forced to abandoned their homes and for the rest of their lives bore not only the scars of their persecution but also an abiding sadness and nostalgia for their lost homeland, which burns deep in the Pontic soul to this day. The words of Psalm 137 echo in every Pontic soul: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth If I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.” Like the Jews of old who were uprooted and forced to live in a foreign land, there resounds in their inner most being a sense of loss and separation. They weep silently within their hearts whenever they remember Pontus, which has been plundered from them. Even during times of joy and festivity when dancing their traditional Pontic dances, their happiness is tinged with a sense of sadness not only for what they have suffered because of their Pontic

identity but, more importantly, because they are no longer in their beloved homeland. It was in this spirit that we left New York and embarked upon our pilgrimage –not as tourists on some pleasure trip but rather as pilgrims on a sacred journey. We traveled to places we heard so much about while growing up: Samsounda, Kerasounda, Trapezounda, Panagia Soumela…all magical sounding places where our ancestors had lived happily for centuries. We had come to walk the same lands as Jason and the Argonauts in Greek mythology, Diogenes and Strabo, St. Andrew, who according to tradition had brought Christianity to this part of the world; Sts. Basil and Gregory two of the greatest fathers of the Orthodox faith, as the great Byzantine dynasty Comneni, the great patriots of the Ypsilanti family who were originally from a small village outside of Trapezounda, and as our mothers and fathers, our yiayias and papous. During the 12 days of this pilgrimage we renewed old friendships with people on the trip with whom we had grown up with, but perhaps had not seen in years, to make new friends amongst fellow travelers, to laugh together, to cry together, to dance together and, yes, to share with each other the stories and travails of our loved ones. Most of us had heard countless tales of this from parents and grandparents, while others had recently read of it in

Thea Halo’s book Not Even My Name. We were to return to the United States greatly changed. We were to have a deeper love for this land which our forefathers had watered with their sweat and their tears and which they had sanctified with their blood and with their unburied bones scattered throughout the ravines and mountains where they had been killed or died of starvation or exposure…their only crime being that they were Greek Orthodox Christians. According to the aforementioned census, the Greek Orthodox population of Pontus in 1913 was almost 700,000 with 1,459 clergy, 1,131 churches, 1,647 chapels, 22 monasteries, a hospital and 37 philanthropic associations. Moreover, there was a lyceum (equivalent to a junior college), three senior high schools, seven junior high schools, 1,047 grammar schools with 1,236 teachers and professors serving 75,953 students. By the time of the exchange of populations in 1922, about half of the populace had died as a result of the deliberate genocide by the Turkish government. While many were either put to the sword or burned alive in churches, most Pontians died of starvation and exposure as a result of forced marches into the wilderness for months without provisions. Throughout our travels we were impressed by the prosperity Greek Pontians had achieved by the beginning of the 20th century as witnessed by their impressive homes, many of which still eerily stand abandoned, the countless schools and the magnificent churches that dot the landscape. Living among Turks and Armenians, they held a place of prominence though technically second-class citizens. In cities, towns and villages, we witnessed our ancestors’ devotion to their Orthodox faith and education.

Faith and education

Regardless of where we went whether it was a metropolitan city along the Black Sea coast or a hamlet in the Pontic Alps, two buildings that stood out were the former churches and the schools. Because of their importance to the Pontians, they had in most cases been built of stone even in the poorest of areas and thus survived the upheaval of 1922 and the travails of time. While churches are now being used

for other purposes, most schools continue to function as such. It was truly amazing to enter a high school in Kerazounda today and to see it in pretty much the same condition as when the Greeks, who built it, left in 1922, as was the case with the Psomiades School in Ordu, the Frontesterion of Trapezounda and so many other educational structures. Our pilgrimage began in Ankara and included a visit to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. It was curious how many ancient Greek artifacts were not acknowledged. It was apparent the authorities deliberately refrained from mentioning the Hellenistic presence in Anatolia. Following a tour of Hattusa, the ancient capital of Hittites, we traveled by bus to Pontus and our first stop was Amasya. This town is located on the Yesilirmak (Iris) River. Above it, carved into sheer rock cliffs, are the tombs of the Mithridates, kings of Pontus from 302 B.C. until the 1st century B.C. This most picturesque of places has a river meandering through the center of town, restored stucco and wood buildings and mountains in the background. It was hard to imagine it was in the town square that 1,500 young innocent Pontic men from the nearby city of Ordu had been slaughtered at the start of the persecutions. Nearby had been an infamous prison where Pontian community leaders had been imprisoned and many perished from the tortures. We continued our journey towards Samsounda and, shortly before sunset, we beheld the Black Sea on the horizon. The next morning we toured the city on foot. We made our way to the location where Holy Trinity Church had once stood surrounded by four schools of the community. The site is now a parking lot and only one of the original school buildings, the Tsinekio High School, remains and was being renovated as an office building. Returning to our buses through an old Greek neighborhood, an elderly gentleman, hearing some in our group speaking Greek, approached us. He addressed us in “Pontiaka.” Greeks of Pontus have their own distinct dialect primarily comprised of Greek, with many ancient Greek, Persian and Turkish words. Of all dialects it is most closely related to ancient Greek in vocabulary and grammar.






DECEMBER 2005

Season’s Greetings!

THE TOWN of Amasya was the first stop during the pilgrimage to historic and ancestral Pontus.

 He explained that his family had stayed behind when the exchange of populations had taken place in 1922 and was so glad to see us visiting Pontus. He continued with some trepidation that, while things were better, he was still somewhat afraid of being seen speaking to us and revealing his ancestry. One can only imagine the excitement among the members of the pilgrimage in meeting this “patrioti” (compatriot) after almost 83 years! During our trip we were to meet two other individuals, a young man who ran a shop near our hotel in Trapezounda and a boy outside the former Church of St. Eugenios, who both spoke Pontiaka and acknowledged they were Pontians. It is believed a sizable number of Greeks did not leave Pontus during the exchange of populations but rather stayed behind perhaps thinking the “exchange” was temporary. While many converted to Islam to avoid persecution and deportation, there is conjecture that many more are CryptoChristians i.e., people with Moslem names and purportedly practice Islam but secretly are Orthodox Christians. Returning to our buses we passed some buildings formerly used as tobacco warehouses and where the father of one group member had been imprisoned during the persecutions. She was filled with great emotion. This was to be the case time-aftertime during our journey when a member of the group would recount a personal connection with a particular place on our itinerary. At our next stop, the city of Ordu, we climbed some old stone steps and beheld the magnificent Cathedral of Ypapanti that overlooked the harbor. As we entered the church, which after 1922 had been converted into a prison and now serves as a cultural center, we were taken aback by the ceiling to floor picture of Moustafa Kemal (the protagonist of the Pontian Genocide and the slaying of thousands of Greeks in Asia Minor) that dominated the church interior to the right of what once was the altar. After we overcame this disconcerting sight we admired the beauty of the structure though it was void of any religious decoration. After a few silent prayers we explored the adjoining old Greek neighborhood with many stately old homes, still adorned with Greek columns. One group member had brought along a hand-sketched map based on a description her mother had given before her death showing where the family home had been. Along with her husband and a few members of the group, she set out and found the old ancestral home.

We made our way to the Church of St. George that now serves as the entrance space to a concert hall, passing the famous Psomiadis School and the old Polycarpos Parthenagogeio (girls’ school).

Kerasounda

Departing Ordu we went to our next destination, Kerasounda. Along the way we stopped at Yason Burnu (Cape Jason – according to legend Jason and the Argonauts had landed at this point during their expedition to find the Golden Fleece) to visit St. Nicholas Church. In antiquity a pagan temple had stood on this small, uninhabited peninsula that juts into the Black Sea and had been replaced with the Christian church. Abandoned since 1922, the building has stood empty for decades, not being used for any other purpose. To promote tourism, local officials promote the connection to Jason. A large bronze depiction of Jason and his ship stands near the entrance of the former church. Though no longer an active church, for us it was sacred space. With great emotion we chanted the hymn of St. Nicholas as we stood in the center of this church stripped of all its religious appointments. We continued to Kerasounda and, as the highway wound its way along the Black Sea, we marveled at the majesty of the shimmering waters and mountains. Because of frequent rains and abundance of water in the area, Pontus is a lush and fertile area of Turkey, producing amongst other commodities, tea, tobacco and hazelnuts. After a short time we beheld Aretias Island, the only island off the Black Sea coast. It was here that Greek mythology recounts the encounter of Jason and his Argonauts with the flock of birds that hurled their feathers at them like murderous darts. On this rocky crag just offshore, the early ancient Greek colonists had built a temple to the god Aris. It was later had been converted into the small church of Agios Phokas. A monastery had existed on the island that, according to tradition, Sts. Basil and Gregory both visited. Towards sunset we beheld Kerasounda, known as the “birthplace” of the cherry, or “kerasia” in Greek. The Roman general Lucullus reportedly had his first cherries here and sent the fruit to Rome. Today, Kerasounda is also known for its abundant hazelnuts and clings to the slopes of mountains that spill down to the sea. There was a heightened sense of anticipation among many of the travelers since the next day we were to embark upon a special day trip inland to Nikopolis, located high in the Pontic Alps.

 page 24

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10

DECEMBER 2005

EDITORIAL

I

It’s Still a Merry Christmas

t’s the Christmas season and we are once again seeing an assault against the faith, though it has taken some different turns from the usual approach in the secular media of trying to undercut who Jesus Christ really is, attempting instead to present him as merely another Jewish political activist of that era. This year there is more of an attack against the celebration of Christmas, and a concerted effort to eliminate the word “Christmas” from the public’s consciousness. “Happy Holidays” has replaced Merry Christmas as the greeting in stores and offices throughout the nation. Christmas trees are now referred to ridiculously as “Holiday” trees. While a Christmas tree itself is not a “religious” symbol directly associated with Christ’s birth, it has been adopted as a symbol of the holiday as the use of “evergreen” trees signifies eternal life, which belief in Jesus offers. With regard to actual religious symbols, radical secularists, atheists and others file lawsuits at the drop of a hat at the first site of a Nativity scene within public view, either on government property or other sites. A noted atheist recently announced he is expanding his legal campaign to strip symbols of faith from our public lives and is filing suit to remove the words “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency. He has already filed suit to have the phrase “One Nation Under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. But a number of Christians, and even some non-Christians fearful of assaults on their own faiths, have said “ENOUGH!” to all this. There is a large public outcry to the use of greetings like Happy Holidays and the term Holiday Tree. Under tremendous public pres-

sure, major retailers including WalMart, Lowe’s, Macy’s and Walgreens have reversed marketing decisions and specifically referenced “Christmas” rather than “holiday” products. With so many important issues and problems facing our society, this may all seem quite trivial. But the real issue is the presence of Christ as a visible witness through the use of the word Christmas, or through Nativity scenes and verbal greetings. Those wanting to abolish these longstanding Christmas practices and traditions really are after the complete obliteration of the name “Christ” from society. We hear the word “tolerance” bandied about a lot in recent years. These opponents of Christ demonstrate how intolerant they are. But despite this assault on our Christian faith, there is no need to despair. This is all part of the ongoing spiritual warfare that we must fight to overcome the world, as Jesus has exhorted us to do in pursuit of our salvation. Our Orthodox Christian faith gives us the solid foundation to overcome this tribulation. As Jesus states in Luke 12:8-9: … “whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God, and in Mark 8:38: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. During this holy season when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, what better way to confess Him than with the simple greeting of “Merry Christmas.”

Archpastoral Reflections

Faithful and Wise Stewards

As we enter the New Year 2006, we reflect upon the gracious generosity of God to us over the course of this past year. In so doing, it is fitting to reflect upon our own response to God’s love through our important exercise of stewardship as Orthodox Christians in parishes throughout our country. Stewardship is based on the understanding of the Greek word “oikonomia,” or eco­nomy, which means the management of the house or household. This understanding of stewardship means that a person’s management of his or her whole life is based in re-

by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America sponse to the love of God to him or her. In the New Testament, Jesus raised the question of stewardship when he asked an important question to Peter, Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household? (Luke 12:42). This question continues to have substantive relevance to each of us today as Orthodox Christians. How can we structure our lives to become that faithful and wise steward about whom Jesus speaks? How can we respond to God’s love to each and to all of us? One such way is carried out through our witness of His love to others. Another means of responding to God’s love to us is through our acts of service to others in His holy Name. An additional and indeed indispensable means by which we respond to God’s love is through the offering of material and financial support to our parishes. Another manner by which we respond to God’s love must also be considered under the framework of our serving as “stewards of the Earth,” that is, as caretakers of the natural environment which God has bestowed to us out of His love for us. Our world and its natural resources are more than commodities of worth in a strict financial sense; rather, they are intrinsically imbued with the sanctity of God, being elements of His creation which He has given to us generously out of His love. As human beings, we in turn have an obligation to protect these resources, to use them wisely, and to apportion them fairly with due regard to the needs of our neighbors. The manner by which we manage our natural resources is also a form of demonstrating our love to God in response to His love toward us. It is an indispensable element of our Orthodox Christian faith and heritage that I invite you to reflect upon this year as we consider the theme of stewardship. This particular form of stewardship has been consistently voiced by His All Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who will be visiting us this forthcoming month of January in Tarpon Springs, Florida, for the blessing of the waters on the Feast of Epiphany. This feast itself is replete with liturgical elements and prayers that underscore and emphasize our joyful duty to serve as stewards of the Earth. Through the efforts of our Ecumenical Patriarch, and the efforts of like-minded others, scientists and persons of all faiths, communities on global and local scales are beginning to recognize the sacred quality and the love that embody this particular form of stewardship. I invite you to reflect upon the meaning of stewardship, in all its manners and forms, as we enter the New Year 2006. May the infinite love of God be with you throughout this New Year, and may you grow in your offerings of love toward Him and toward others.

viewpoint Merry Chrismahanukwanzakkah

A

little boy walking through the mall observes a sign that reads “X-mas Sale.” He says to his mom, “Look mom, that sign is spelled wrong.” His mother replies, “You’re right son, it is spelled wrong.” The boy responds, “I know, it should be X-box.” by Fr. Angelo Artemas

Here come the holiday wars again. Is it Christmas or Xmas? Is it a Christmas Tree or a Holiday Tree? Is it a Christian Feast Day or a Winter Holiday? What greeting is appropriate? The celebration of Hanukkah, which commemorates the reclaiming and rededication of the Temple by the Jewish Maccabees in 165 B.C. after defeating the Syrian Ruler Antiochus IV, is a minor feast in the Jewish year. In the United States, however, it has attracted more attention since the 1950s because of its calendar closeness to Christmas. Christmas popularized Hanukkah. Kwanzaa, which literally means “first

fruits,” is an African harvest celebration. Although harvest celebrations have been taking place in Africa for centuries at various times, Kwanzaa was created in the Unites States in 1966 by a California university professor with the intention of being specifically celebrated from December 26 to January 1. Kwanzaa rides the Christmas coattails. Christmas itself was set for December 25th by the 4th Century Christian Church (Jesus was most likely born in the Spring) in order to encourage and instruct the faithful not to participate in pagan winter solstice festivals, but to celebrate the true Light of the World.

Winter holidays are by no means equal. Why is this the year 2005 and not the year 5767 (Jewish) or 1426 (Muslim) or 4703 (Chinese)? It is the year 2005 exclusively because of Jesus Christ. If we acknowledge the current calendar used throughout the wo r l d , w e likewise ought to acknowledge that Jesus is the reason for the season. In 500 A.D. a humble but inspired monk named Dionysius the Insignificant went to the Roman emperor and proposed a new calendar based on the life of Jesus Christ. His formula called for the calendar to begin with Jesus Christ’s conception in March of the year 1 A.D.

The Emperor accepted the formula, which was later astronomically corrected by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, at which time the beginning of the year was returned to January. Prior to 1582 the calendar ran from March to February, thereby explaining why February only needed 28 days to complete the year, and why September, October, November and December literally meant 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th month respectively. In this so-called post-Christian or even anti-Christian era, the calendar blatantly reminds us that Jesus Christ changed the world. The word “holiday” is the evolution of the expression “holy day.” During the Winter Season, there is really only one time-tested and world-changing Holy Day – the Nativity of Christ. Americans can celebrate and greet each other as they wish, but if an “insignificant” monk can bring Christ to the world, we must also. The calendar binds the modern world to the historical Jesus. We ought to Glorify Him, and remember that the greatest feast is not His birth, but His Resurrection.


11

DECEMBER 2005

Archiepiscopal Encyclical Feast of Saint Basil and the New Year My Beloved Christians,

T

he commencement of the New Year is always an opportune time to consider the abiding presence of Christ and His love in our midst. As we look forward to the hopes and challenges of the New Year, this time is certainly an opportunity to renew our minds with a spirit of Christian hope and positive thinking, to take care of our bodily health through sound exercise and nutrition, to become more conscious of our duties to protect our natural environment, and to grow in our Orthodox Christian faith through our acts of love, worship, and service to others. This time accords us the opportunity to work toward the achievement of our full potential as human beings created in the image and likeness of God, and being stewards of the earth. January 1 is also significant because on this day we commemorate the life and legacy of Saint Basil the Great, a foremost distinguished ecumenical Hierarch and Teacher of our Church. In his lifetime during the fourth century, Saint Basil was revered not only for his theological acumen, but also for his acts of kindness and goodwill to the sick, the downtrodden, and the marginalized. Saint Basil was equally renowned for his vigorous pursuits and tangible successes in establishing charitable institutions, orphanages, and hospitals outside the ancient city of Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he faithfully and dutifully served as bishop. Appropriately, the complex of these institutions bore his name, “the Basileias.� Today, the legacy of Saint Basil lives on through the good work of philanthropic agencies and charitable institutions that strive to advance human health on all levels: mind, body, and soul. One of these institutions that actually bears his name is our own Saint Basil Academy in Garrison, New York. For over fifty years, Saint Basil Academy has worked to provide a home of healing, care and peace to children and young people from across America who are in special need of a place of serenity, a place where they can know the love of the Lord. This work has been made possible by the grace of God, by the diligent and noble work of the directors and the staff of the Academy, and by the contributions of faithful who support its noble aims and endeavors. Each year on this day, as a fitting way to begin the New Year, we are led by our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and the many local Philoptochos chapters in parishes throughout our nation in collecting funds for this vital ministry of love. This effort continues to be a tremendous source of support for the Academy. Thus, as we begin the New Year, and as we distribute pieces of the traditional Vasilopeta in honor of Saint Basil to the members of our communities and homes, I ask that you kindly consider making a special contribution to the Saint Basil Academy. Through your prayers and your contributions, you will truly be supporting the aims of this important ministry, and will be bringing the peace of Christ into the hearts of many who are in need of His tender care and mercy. It is my heartfelt prayer that the New Year 2006 may be a year of peace and prosperity for you all, and that the infinite love and healing of Christ may permeate your minds, bodies, and souls. May the abundant blessings of God be with you all. With paternal love in Christ,

† Archbishop Demetrios of America

ď ľ Remember Jesus on His birthdayď ´ Editor, Can you imagine if on your birthday, everyone got presents except you? So why does everyone get presents on Jesus birthday, except Jesus? As a child I remember going to our church on Christmas in order to celebrate the birthday of Jesus and to pray to Jesus. I remember that almost everyone knew that Christmas was the birthday of Jesus. One could see this by the choice of Christmas carols, movies, and programs that referred to Jesus, our God, on TV, radio, at malls, homes, and in Christian churches. We did have Christmas presents, but that was minor. However, today, presents and parties have become primary and Jesus, if we remember, secondary. Christmas has become a day for Santa Claus, reindeer, snowman, and a day that people see how much money they will receive and who will buy or receive the most or biggest presents. The “Material lifeâ€? has replaced the “Christian lifeâ€? throughout the year, espe-

cially during the Christmas holidays. Ask people what is Christmas and most shall respond that it is time to buy presents and have parties. Ask about Jesus and many will say: Jesus who? We see throughout our country that the word “Christmas� has been replaced by “holidays.� Some people do not want to upset our non-Christian neighbors. However, do we want to upset “Jesus�? There were many good people then, and there are many good people today. However, we allow ourselves to change just a little bit at a time, because it is a nice thing to do. Then, all of a sudden, we are on the wrong road. Be careful, Jesus is watching to see if you are good or bad, not Santa Claus. If you do believe in Jesus, remember Jesus on His birthday and throughout the year. Pray and follow Christ’s teachings. That will be your greatest present to Jesus. God bless you all and Merry Christmas Spyros A. Sipsas Moorpark, Calif.

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12

May Man Prevail?

DECEMBER 2005

A Look at Family and Personal Values During the last few decades, a current of cultural evolution has been sweeping across the globe, causing significant changes in our attitudes, values and lifestyles. by Nicholas D. Kokonis Ph.D.

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Are we remaking our society, and with it reinventing the most important, character-building institution in it: the family itself? Do you know what the most defining characteristic of family is today? The fact that its very nature is in transition, that it is gradually disintegrating! The family, as we knew it, no longer exists. Families are getting more and more unlike. We have fathers and mothers working away from home. We have single parents. We have second marriages bringing children together from unrelated ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. We have childless couples and unmarried couples with or without children, gay and lesbian parents and babies having babies. What can be done? We must discipline ourselves well enough in our family life to reverse six cultural trends that are making victims of all of us: • Competitiveness and cut-throating: This is by far the most disturbing of the trends. It encourages us to downgrade others and values like honesty, affiliation, and closeness. Competitiveness keeps our children obsessed with their personal achievements, often at the expense of effective interpersonal relationships. • Excessive materialism: Do we prize our Porsches, Hummers and BMWs more than we value our own children? Do we value others by their possessions? Yet, in the final analysis, what is important is not that we have our wedding in a palm-tree lined estate, celebrating with 1,000 bottles of champagne. That we have a house that has 5,000 square feet, with a big backyard, and maybe a swimming pool. That ours is a kitchen newly remodeled right out of Architectural Digest, with a state-of-the-art computer system with Internet access. What actually matters is whether we make no time to be together as a family, to communicate effectively and affectionately with our children? • Ruthlessness: Modern man is becoming more ruthless. We seem to be stuck on fast-forward, going places—fast. At a Panera Bread restaurant in an affluent suburb, where I indulge in writing on my laptop in early mornings, I often see mothers rush in with their children, preschoolers among them, feed them on a quick bagel with cream cheese and remind them not to be late for school before the storm out to catch the train to their offices downtown. Where are we going as a society? What has happened to the things of the past, to family closeness, to family worship, dinner at grandpa’s or grandma’s, watching Lassie together, taking long walks, and having longer dinner talks? • Convenience: Convenience has become a way of life. We have become accustomed to instant gratification. We can withdraw money from ATM machines in seconds, pop a frozen pizza in the microwave in seconds and program our VCR to tape a show in seconds. Everything has to be done in seconds. And it can be done in seconds. But, do such conveniences bring families closer together? • Conformity and style: Children are conditioned to believe that if they conform

in custom, dress or ideas to the pattern of a group, they are saved. Saved from what? From the frightening experience of aloneness? Children need to feel secure in being separate, individualist, and unique. They don’t have to become Madison Avenue-oriented. As parents and teachers we must teach ourselves and our children to see through the veneer of false, hedonistic, ephemeral values. There is no need to sell ourselves and our children like liquid soap and toothpaste. • Alienation: Alienation threatens the fabric of family. Increasingly parents become alienated from their children. Young people cannot figure out first or second-cousin relationships easily. They have no idea of who God is. They don’t know how to share with others, even their own siblings. Do you wonder why children become antisocial, depressed, commit suicide, have babies at thirteen, abuse alcohol and drugs or turn delinquent? If you want to raise a delinquent child, here is my prescription: 1. Begin in infancy to give a child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living. 2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he is cute. 3. Avoid using the word “wrong.” It may cause him a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted. 4. Pick up everything he leaves around—books, shoes and clothing. Do everything for him so he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others. 5. Let him see or watch anything he can get his hands on. Be careful that the drinking glasses and silverware are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage. 6. Quarrel frequently in his presence. In this way he will not be shocked when the home is broken up later. 7. Give him all the spending money he wants. Why should he have things as tough as you had them. 8. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. Denial may lead to harmful frustration. 9. Take his side against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced against him. 10. Prepare for a life of grief. You will be apt to find it. May man prevail? Yes, but we must shore up the family institution and serve as good role models to our children. We must protect them and teach them to fight the sterility and danger of the quantitative anonymous mass pop culture that enshrouds them. We cannot expect them to develop these cherished values from cheap television shows, Fifty Cent lyrics or violent video games. We must take the time and teach them. We must teach them that people, not products, bring lasting satisfaction and happiness. As we look to the advent of yet another year, it is my ardent hope that each one of us, parents or not, may perceive our blessings, seize the opportunity of our time and place and realize the best of our life’s dreams. Nicholas D. Kokonis is a child and adult psychologist. He is the author of Arcadia, My Arcadia from St. Basil’s Publishers, P.O. Box, 1155, Deerfield, IL 60015. www.myarcadiabook.com


DECEMBER 2005

Praise Be to God I thought that you and others may like to see this. One detail that is not mentioned in Washington, DC, is that there can never be a building of greater height than the Washington Monument. With all the uproar about removing the Ten Commandments, etc., this is worth a moment or two of your time. I was not aware of this historical information. by Fr. Milton Efthimiou

On the aluminum cap, atop the Washington Monument in Washington are displayed two words: Laus Deo. No one can see these words. In fact, most visitors to the monument are totally unaware they are even there and for that matter, probably couldn’t care less. Once you know Laus Deo’s history, you will want to share this with everyone you know. But these words have been there for many years; they are 555 feet, 5.125 inches high, perched atop the monument, facing skyward to the Father of our nation, overlooking the 69 square miles which comprise the District of Columbia, capital of the United States of America. Laus Deo! Two seemingly insignificant, unnoticed words. Out of sight and, one might think, out of mind, but very meaningfully placed at the highest point over what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world. So, what do those two words, in Latin, composed of just four syllables and only seven letters, possibly mean? Very simply, they say “Praise be to God!” Though construction of this giant obelisk began in 1848, when James Polk was president of the United States, it was not until 1888 that the monument was inaugurated and opened to the public. It took 25 years to finally cap the memorial with a tribute to the Father of our nation, Laus Deo .......... “Praise be to God!” From atop this magnificent granite and marble structure, visitors may take in the beautiful panoramic view of the city with its division into four major segments. From that vantage point, one can also easily see the original plan of the designer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant...a perfect cross imposed upon the landscape, with the White House to the north. The Jefferson Memorial is to the south, the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west. A cross you ask? Why a cross? What about separation of church and state? Yes, a cross; separation of church and state was not, is not, in the Constitution. So, read on. How interesting and, no doubt,

intended to carry a profound meaning for those who bother to notice. Praise be to God! Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message. On the 12th Landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore; on the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians; on the 24th a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7, Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6. Praise be to God! When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848 deposited within it were many items, including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society. Praise be to God! Such was the discipline, the moral direction, and the spiritual mood given by the founder and first President of our unique democracy “One Nation, Under God.” I am awed by Washington’s prayer for America. Have you never read it? Well, now is your unique opportunity, so read on! “Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United states at large.” And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Laus Deo! When one stops to observe the inscriptions found in public places all over our nation’s capitol, he or she will easily find the signature of God, as it is unmistakably inscribed everywhere you look. You may forget the width and height of “Laus Deo,” it’s location, or the architects but no one who reads this will be able to forget it’s meaning, or these words: “Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (Psalm 127: 1) Fr. Efthimiou, a retired priest, is former director of the Department of Church and Society under Archbishop Iakovos.

The Washington Monument in the Nation’ s Capital

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1

DECEMBER 2005

Christmas 2005

To His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, our Beloved Reverend Clergy, our School Teachers and Principals, our Omogeneia and All Orthodox Faithful

May the Peace of our newborn Lord fulfill our hearts and reign all over the World

Ευλογηµένα Χριστούγεννα Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year Stephanos Cherpelis and Family Archon Dikaeophylax Leadership 100


∆ΕΚΕΜΒΡΙΟΣ 2005

ΕΤΟΣ 70 • ΑΡΙΘΜΟΣ 1220

Χριστός γεννάται, δοξάσατε! Πρός τούς Σεβασμιωτάτους καί Θε­ οφιλεστάτους Ἀρχιερεῖς, τούς Εὐλαβε­ στάτους Ἱερεῖς καί Διακόνους, τούς Μο­ ναχούς καί Μοναχές, τούς Προέδρους καί Μέλη τῶν Κοινοτικῶν Συμβουλίων, τά Ἡμερήσια καί Ἀπογευματινά Σχολεῖα, τίς Φιλοπτώχους Ἀδελφότητες, τήν Νεο­ λαία, τίς Ἑλληνορθόδοξες Ὀργανώσεις καί ὁλόκληρο τό Χριστεπώνυμον πλήρω­ μα τῆς Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς Ἀμερικῆς.

Χριστούγεννα 2005

Ἀγαπητοί ἀδελφοί καί ἀδελφές ἐν Χριστῷ, Σᾶς χαιρετίζω μέ ἀγάπη μέσα στήν χαρά τῆς ὑπέροχης ἑορτῆς τῆς Γεννήσε­ ως τοῦ Κυρίου μας ἐπαναλαμβάνοντας τόν ὑπέρλαμπρο ὕμνο τῶν ἀγγέλων πού ἀπευθύνθηκε τήν εὐλογημένη καί ἅγια ἐκείνη νύχτα στούς βοσκούς τῆς Βηθλε­ έμ. Μετά τήν ἀναγγελία τῆς γεννήσεως τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, οἱ ἐπουράνιες στρα­ τιές τῶν ἀγγέλων πλημμύρισαν μέ φῶς τόν σκοτεινό οὐρανό ψάλλοντας μέ ἀγαλλίαση, δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ καί ἐπί γῆς εἰρήνη, ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία (Λουκᾶ 2:14). Αὐτή τήν νύχτα στή Βηθλεέμ, ὅταν ὁ Σωτήρας μας εἰσῆλθε στόν κόσμο μας ὡς βρέφος, γεννημένος ἀπό τήν Παρθένο Μαρία, ἡ χάρη τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐκάλυψε τήν ἀνθρωπότητα καί ὅλη τήν κτίση. Διά τῆς Σαρκώσεώς Του, ὁ Ἰησοῦς Χριστός ἔγινε ὅμοιος μέ μᾶς καθ’ ὅλα πλήν τῆς ἁμαρτίας, οὕτως ὥστε νά γνωρίσῃ τήν κατάστασή μας, νά μοιρασθῇ τόν πόνο μας, καί τελι­ κά νά μᾶς λυτρώσῃ ἀπό τήν ἁμαρτία(Ἑβρ. 2:17). Μέσα στό σκοτάδι καί τήν σκιά τοῦ θανάτου πού ἐμάστιζε ὅλη τήν ἀνθρωπό­ τητα, ἐπεσκέψατο ἡμᾶς ἀνατολή ἐξ ὕψους (Λουκᾶ 1:18) πού φώτισε καί ταυτόχρονα κατέστη ἡ ὁδός τῆς εἰρήνης, ἡ ὁδός τῆς σωτηρίας καί τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς. Καθώς ἑορτάζουμε τήν γέννηση τοῦ Κυρίου μας μποροῦμε νά εἴμεθα βέβαιοι γιά τήν παγκόσμια σπουδαιότητα καί ἀμεσότητα αὐτοῦ τοῦ θαυμαστοῦ γεγονό­ τος. Αὐτό βεβαίως ἰσχύει ἐν σχέσει πρός τήν σωτηρία μας μέσῳ τῆς Σαρκώσεως, τῶν Παθῶν καί τῆς Ἀναστάσεως τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ἰσχύει, ὅμως, καί ἐν σχέσει πρός τίς συνθῆκες τοῦ κόσμου μας σέ ἐποχές τοῦ παρελθόντος, τοῦ παρόντος καί τοῦ μέλλοντος. Μέσα σέ ἕναν κόσμο πού στενάζει ὑπό τό βάρος τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ἕναν κόσμο πού εἶναι γεμᾶτος ἀπό τό σκοτάδι τῆς ἀβεβαιότητος καί τή σκιά τοῦ τρόμου καί τοῦ θανάτου, ὁ Κύριός μας ἔφερε σέ μᾶς τήν εἰρήνη τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ὁ ἐρχομός αὐτῆς τῆς εἰρήνης εἶχε ἤδη προφητευθῆ ἀπό τόν Προφήτη Ἠσαΐα ὁ ὁποῖος ἀνήγγειλε ὅτι τοῦ Ἄρχοντος τῆς Εἰρήνης μεγάλη ἡ ἀρχή αὐτοῦ, καί τῆς εἰρήνης αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ὅριον (Ἠσαΐας 9:6­7). Ὁ Εὐαγγελιστής Λουκᾶς ἐπίσης ἀναφέρεται στό ἴδιο θέμα ὅταν ὁμιλεῖ

∆ιά σπλάγχνα ἐλέους θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ἐν οἵς ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς ἀνατολή ἐξ ὕψους, ἐπιφᾶναι τοῖς ἐν σκότει καί σκιᾷ θανάτου καθημένοις του κατευθῦναι τούς πόδας ἡμῶν εἰς ὁδόν εἰρήνης. (Λουκᾶ 1 : 78 –79)

περί Ἐκείνου ὁ Ὁποῖος θά ἤρχετο γιά νά κατευθύνῃ τούς πόδας ἡμῶν εἰς ὁδόν εἰρήνης (Λουκᾶ 1:79). Ἐπρόκειτο γιά τήν ἴδια εἰρήνη τήν ὁποία ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐχάρισε στούς μαθητές Του καί σ’ἐκείνους πού θά τούς διαδεχόταν στό ἱερό τους ἀποστολικό ἔργο. Αὐτή τήν εἰρήνη τοῦ Θεοῦ μέσῳ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ χρειάζεται ὁ σύγχρονος κόσμος μας. Καθώς παρακολουθοῦν καί ζοῦν τά καταστροφικά ἀποτελέσματα τῆς βίας καί τοῦ πόνου, πολλοί ἄνθρωποι ἀναζητοῦν αὐτή τήν εἰρήνη ἡ ὁποία ὑπερβαίνει τήν σκιά τοῦ θανάτου καί ἀνυψώνει τίς ψυχές των στό φῶς τῆς ἀληθείας καί τῆς γνώσεως. Ἀναζητοῦν αὐτή τήν εἰρήνη ἡ ὁποία ἀνανεώνει τό πνεῦμ α των, καί χαρίζει ἐλπίδα καί ὁλοκλήρωση ζωῆς. Γι’ αὐτό τόν λόγο πρέπει νά ἀποτελοῦμε ζωντανούς φορεῖς τῆς εἰρήνης τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ Ὁποῖος κατοικεῖ ἐντός μας διά τῆς πίστεως καί τῆς ἀγάπης μας πρός τόν Θεό καί τόν συνάνθρωπό μας. Ὅταν ἀποτελοῦμε τήν εἰκόνα τοῦ Ἄρχοντος τῆς Εἰρήνης, οἱ σκέψεις, οἱ λόγοι, οἱ πράξεις καί οἱ ἐπιδιώξεις μας θά διαποτίζονται μέ τήν ἀληθινή κ αί αἰώνια εἰρήνη Του. Ἡ ἀσφάλεια καί ἡ ἐλευθερία μας δέν θά ἐλαττώνονται ἀπό τά γεγονότα βίας καί τίς ἀπειλές πού βασανίζουν τόν κόσμο μας, διότι θά ζοῦμε στό φῶς καί τήν εἰρήνη τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ Σαρκωθέντος Κυρίου, προσφέροντας στούς ἄλλους τήν τρυφερή εὐσπλ αγχνί α Του κ αί τήν ἀσφαλῆ καί αἰώνια σχέση μαζί Του. Καθώς εἴμεθα ὅλοι μαζί καί ἑορτά­ ζουμε αὐτή τήν ἁγία Ἑορτή καί προσευ­ χόμεθα στόν Κύριό μας «ὑπέρ τῆς ἄνωθεν εἰρήνης» καί « ὑπέρ τῆς εἰρήνης τοῦ σύμπαντος κόσμου», σᾶς προσκαλῶ νά ἀνοίξουμε τήν καρδιά μας στήν θεϊκή παρουσία Του καί νά Τοῦ ἐπιτρέψουμε νά χαρίσῃ γαλήνη στήν καρδιά καί τή διά­ νοιά μας. Μποροῦμε νά εἴμεθα βέβαιοι ὅτι ὁ Ἄρχων τῆς Εἰρήνης ἔχει εἰσέλθει στόν κόσμο μας καί στήν ἀνθρώπινη κατάστα­ σή μας, ὅτι εὑρίσκεται ἀνάμεσά μας, καί ὅτι μᾶς καθοδηγεῖ πρός τήν πιό ἀσφαλῆ καί βεβαία ὁδό τῆς αἰώνιας εἰρήνης καί ζωῆς. Εἴθε ἡ εὐλογία Του νά σκεπάζῃ ἐσᾶς καί τήν οἰκογένειά σας στήν ἱερή αὐτή περίοδο, καί εἴθε ἡ λατρεία τοῦ Θεοῦ καί ἡ ἀνθρώπινη συναναστροφή σας νά εἶναι γεμᾶτες μέ τήν χαρά Του στό χρόνο πού ἀνατέλλει.

Μέ πατρική ἐν Χριστῷ ἀγάπη,

ÿ ὁ Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀμερικῆς ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΣ


16

ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΣ ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΣ

ΔΕΚΕΜΒΡΙΟΣ 2005

ΕΙ∆ΗΣΕΙΣ - ΕΙ∆ΗΣΕΙΣ

Άµεσης συντήρησης χρήζει το Μωσαϊκό της Μεταµόρφωσης στην Αγ. Αικατερίνη του Σινά

Έκκληση για τη διάσωση του μοναδικού στον κόσμο για την ιστορία και την τεχνοτροπία ψηφιδωτού της Μεταμόρφωσης του Σωτήρος απηύθυνε ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Σινά κ. Δαμιανός, με την ευκαιρία των εκδηλώσεων για τον εορτασμό της Ιεράς Μονής της Αγίας Αικατερίνης του Σινά. Το περίφημο μωσαϊκό, που όμοιό του υπάρχει μόνο στην Αγία Σοφία της Κωνσταντινούπολης και τον Άγιο Βιτάλλιο της Ραβέννης, δίνει μάχη με τον χρόνο, καταφέρνοντας να αντισταθεί στις φθορές της 1.500 χρόνων ιστορίας του, φτάνοντας σήμερα να αναζητά εκείνους που θα του ξαναδώσουν την παλαιά του αλη-

θινή όψη, αναδεικνύοντας και την πραγματική του αίγλη. Αυτό ήταν, άλλωστε, και το θέμα της ημερίδας που πραγματοποιήθηκε την στο Σινά, προσελκύοντας το ενδιαφέρον τόσο του Πατριάρχη Αλεξανδρείας κ. Θεοδώρου Β΄, όσο και των πρεσβευτών της Ελλάδας στην Αίγυπτο Παναγιώτη Βλασσόπουλου και στο Ισραήλ Μιχάλη Πισπινή, της γενικής προξένου στο Κάιρο Αικατερίνης Γκίνη, εκπροσώπων του Πατριάρχου Ιεροσολύμων καθώς και της αιγυπτιακής κυβέρνησης. Εξηγώντας την τεράστια ιστορική, αρχιτεκτονική και θεολογική σημασία του ψηφιδωτού, που υπερίπταται του ιερού του καθολικού της μονής, ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Δαμιανός ανέφερε ότι ο Εμίρης του Κατάρ ήταν ο μόνος που μέχρι σήμερα προσέφερε το ιδιαίτερα σεβαστό ποσό των 500.000 δολαρίων ως δωρεά για τη συντήρηση του σημαντικού αυτού μνημείου της Χριστιανοσύνης. Με τα χρήματα αυτά ξεκίνησε στις 5 Νοεμβρίου η τεράστια εργασία της συντήρησης και στερέωσης του μωσαϊκού, αλλά υπολογίζεται ότι για την πλήρη αναπαλαίωσή του απαιτούνται ακόμη περίπου 2,5 εκατομμύρια ευρώ, για την εξεύρεση των οποίων πρόκειται να ζητήσει τη συνδρομή των παγκόσμιων πολιτιστικών φορέων. Όπως προειδοποίησαν οι ειδικοί επιστήμονες, το ψηφιδωτό χρήζει άμεσης συντήρησης, καθώς πολλές ψηφίδες του έχουν αποκολληθεί, άλλες έχουν μετατοπιστεί και απαιτείται να καθαριστούν με πολύ μεγάλη προσοχή για να ξαναβρούν το αληθινό τους χρώμα. «Είναι θαύμα που ακόμη το ψηφιδωτό βρίσκεται στην θέση του» είπε χαρακτηρι στικά ο Ιταλός συντηρητής Ρομπέρτο Νάρντι που έχει αναλάβει με την ομάδα του το τεράστιο έργο της συντήρησής του.

ΕΚΘΕΣΗ ΜΕΤΑΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΝΗΣ ΤΕΧΝΗΣ ΣΤΟ ΩΝΑΣΕΙΟ

ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΣ ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΣ

Ο νέος πρόεδρος του Ιδρύματος Ωνάση κ. Αντώνιος Παπαδημητρίου (2ος από αριστερά) επισκέφθηκε τον Αρχιεπίσκοπο ∆ημήτριο συνοδευόμενος από τον κ. Παύλο Ιωαννίδη, τον πρώην πρέσβη των ΗΠΑ στην Ελλάδα κ. Σωτήρχο και τον διευθυντή του Ωνασείου στην Αμερική πρέσβη κ. Λουκά Τσίλα.

ΝΕΑ ΥΟΡΚΗ – Με τίτλο «Από το Βυζάντιο στη Σύγχρονη Ελλάδα, η Ελληνική Τέχνη σε αντίξοες συνθήκες 1453-1830» εγκαινιάσθηκε στο Ωνάσειο Πολιτιστικό Κέντρο της Νέας Υόρκης στις 14 Δεκεμβρίου έκθεση που περιλαμβάνει αριστουργήματα της ελληνικής τέχνης των χρόνων της ξενοκρατίας από το Μουσείο Μπενάκη. Εικόνες, έργα ζωγραφικής , ξυλογλυπτικής και αργυροχοϊας, κεντήματα, ενδυμασίες, κοσμήματα, κεραμικά , λιθανάγλυφα, σπάνιες εκδόσεις, χάρτες, όπλα και κειμήλια, πάνω από 137 αντικείμενα των μεταβυζαντινών συλλογών του Μουσείου Μπενάκη ανασυνθέτουν το πανόραμα της ελληνικής τέχνης , από

την άλωση του 1453 μέχρι την ίδρυση του νέου Ελληνικού κράτους, το 1830. Τα αντικείμενα έχουν επιλεγεί με στόχο να γοητεύσουν τον επισκέπτη, αλλά και να αναδείξουν το υψηλό πολιτιστικό επίπεδο του ελληνικού κόσμου σε μια εποχή, μη ευνοϊκή για την άνθηση του πολιτισμού. Την έκθεση συνοδεύει πλούσια εικονογραφημένος κατάλογος για την συγγραφή του οποίου συνεργάστηκε μια πλειάδα επιστημόνων από το Μουσείο Μπενάκη, μόνιμο προσωπικό αλλά και εξωτερικοί συνεργάτες. Η έκθεση θα παρουσιάζεται στο Ωνάσειο Πολιτιστικό Κέντρο της Νέας Υόρκης μέχρι τις 6 Μαΐου 2006.

1η Ἰανουαρίου 2006: Ἑορτή Ἁγίου Βασιλείου καί Νέου Ἔτους Πρός τούς Σεβασμιωτάτους καί Θεοφιλεστάτους Ἀρχιερεῖς, τούς Εὐλαβεστάτους Ἱερεῖς καί ∆ιακόνους, τούς Μοναχούς καί Μοναχές, τούς Προέδρους καί Μέλη τῶν Κοινοτικῶν Συμβουλίων, τά Ἡμερήσια καί Ἀπογευματινά Σχολεῖα, τίς Φιλοπτώχους Ἀδελφότητες, τήν Νεολαία, τίς Ἑλληνορθόδοξες Ὀργανώσεις καί ὁλόκληρο τό Χριστεπώνυμον πλήρωμα τῆς Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς Ἀμερικῆς. Ἀγαπητοί μου Χριστιανοί, Ἡ ἀρχή τοῦ Νέου Ἔτους εἶναι πάντοτε μιά καλή εὐκαιρία γιά νά σκεφθοῦμε τήν διαρκῆ παρουσία τοῦ Χριστοῦ καί τῆς ἀγάπης Του ἀνάμεσά μας. Ἡ χρονική αὐτή στιγμή καθώς ἀναλογιζόμεθα τίς προσδοκίες καί τίς προκλήσεις τοῦ Νέου Ἔτους, μᾶς προσφέρει τή δυνατότητα νά ἀνανεώσουμε τό πνεῦμα μας μέ βάση τήν Χριστιανική ἐλπίδα καί τήν αἰσιόδοξη σκέψη, νά φροντίσουμε τή σωματική μας ὑγεία μέ σωστή ἄσκηση καί διατροφή, νά συνειδητοποιήσουμε περισσότερο τήν εὐθύνη μας ἔναντι τοῦ φυσικοῦ περιβάλλοντός μας, καί νά αὐξήσουμε τήν Ὀρθόδοξη Χριστιανική πίστη μας μέσῳ πράξεων ἀγάπης, λατρείας τοῦ Θεοῦ καί διακονίας πρός τούς συνανθρώπους μας. Αὐτή ἡ χρονική συγκυρία μᾶς χαρίζει τήν εὐκαιρία νά ἐργασθοῦμε γιά τήν ὁλοκλήρωση τοῦ ἀνθρώπινου δυναμικοῦ μας ἀφοῦ εἴμεθα ὄντα πλασμένα κατ’ εἰκόνα καί καθ’ ὁμοίωση τοῦ Θεοῦ, καί διαχειριστές καί φρο­ ντιστές τῆς Γῆς. Ἡ 1η Ἰανουαρίου εἶναι, ἐπίσης, σημαντική διότι τήν ἡμέρα αὐτή τιμοῦμε τήν ζωή καί τήν κληρονομιά τοῦ Μεγάλου Βασιλείου, ἑνός ἐξόχως διακεκριμένου οἰκουμενικοῦ Ἱεράρχου καί Διδασκάλου τῆς Ἐκκλησίας μας. Κατά τήν διάρκεια τῆς ζωῆς του τόν τέταρτο αἰῶνα, ὁ Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ἀναγνωρίσθηκε ὄχι μόνο γιά τήν θεολογική του ὀξύνοια, ἀλλά ἐπίσης καί γιά τίς πράξεις καλωσύνης καί μερί­ μνης πρός τούς ἀσθενεῖς, τούς καταπιεσμένους καί τούς περιθωριοποιημένους. Ὁ Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ὑπῆρξε ἐπίσης ὀνομαστός γιά τίς ἔντονες προσπάθειες καί τά ἁπτά ἀποτελέσματά του στήν ὀργάνωση φιλανθρωπικῶν ἱδρυμάτων, ὀρφανοτροφείων καί νοσοκομείων τά ὁποῖα ἵδρυσε ἔξω ἀπό τήν ἀρχαία πόλη τῆς Καισαρείας τῆς Καππαδοκίας, ὅπου μέ πιστότητα καί μέ αἴσθημα εὐθύνης διηκόνησε ὡς ἐπίσκοπος. Δικαιολογημένα τό συγκρότημα αὐτῶν τῶν ἱδρυμάτων ὀνομάσθηκε «Βασιλειάς.» Στίς ἡμέρες μας, ἡ κληρονομιά τοῦ Ἁγίου Βασιλείου ἐξακολουθεῖ νά ζῇ μέσα ἀπό τό καλό ἔργο φιλανθρωπικῶν φορέων καί ἱδρυμάτων τά ὁποῖα προσπαθοῦν

νά προαγάγουν τήν ἀνθρώπινη ὑγεία σέ ὅλα τά ἐπίπεδα: νοῦ, σῶμα καί ψυχή. Ἕνα ἀπ’ αὐτά τά ἱδρύματα, τό ὁποῖο μάλιστα φέρει καί τό ὄνομά του εἶναι ἡ δική μας Ἀκαδημία τοῦ Ἁγίου Βασιλείου στό Garrison τῆς Νέας Ὑόρκης. Γιά περισσότερα ἀπό πενήντα χρόνια, ἡ Ἀκαδημία Ἁγίου Βασιλείου ἐργάζεται γιά νά προσφέρῃ μία στέγη θεραπείας, φροντίδος καί εἰρήνης σέ παιδιά καί νέους ἀνθρώπους ἀπό ὅλη τήν Ἀμερική πού ἔχουν μεγάλη ἀνάγκη νά βρεθοῦν σέ ἕνα χῶρο γαλήνης ὅπου θά μπορέσουν νά γνωρίσουν τήν ἀγάπη τοῦ Κυρίου. Τό ἔργο αὐτό ἔχει πραγματοποιηθεῖ μέ τήν χάρη τοῦ Θεοῦ, μέ τό ἐπιμελές καί ἀξιόλογο ἔργο τῶν διευθυντῶν καί τοῦ προσωπικοῦ τῆς Ἀκαδημίας, καί μέ τίς χρηματικές εἰσφορές τῶν πιστῶν πού στηρίζουν τούς εὐγενεῖς στόχους καί τίς προσπάθειες τῆς Ἀκαδημίας. Κάθε χρόνο, αὐτή τήν ἡμέρα, ὅπως ταιριάζει στήν ἀρχή τοῦ Νέου Ἔτους, προσκαλούμεθα ἀπό τήν Φιλόπτωχο Ἀδελφότητα Κυριῶν τῆς Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς μας καί τά πολλά τοπικά παραρτήματά της στίς ἐνορίες μας σέ ὁλόκληρη τήν ἐθνική ἐπικράτεια νά συγκεντρώσουμε χρήματα γιά αὐτή τήν σημαντική διακονία ἀγάπης. Αὐτή ἡ προσπάθεια ἐξακολουθεῖ νά ἀποτελῇ τεράστια πηγή συμπαραστάσεως γιά τήν Ἀκαδημία. Ἔτσι, καθώς ξεκινοῦμε τό Νέο Ἔτος καί μοιράζουμε τά κομμάτια τῆς παραδοσιακῆς Βασιλόπιττας εἰς τιμήν καί μνήμην τοῦ Ἁγίου Βασιλείου στά μέλη τῶν κοινοτήτων καί οἰκογενειῶν μας, σᾶς προσκαλῶ νά σκεφθῆτε νά κάνε­ τε μιά εἰδική προσφορά στήν Ἀκαδημία Ἁγίου Βασιλείου. Μέ τίς προσευχές καί τήν οἰκονομική βοήθειά σας θά στηρίξετε πράγματι τούς στόχους αὐτῆς τῆς ζωτικῆς διακονίας, καί θά φέρετε τήν εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ στίς καρδιές πολλῶν ἀνθρώπων πού ἔχουν ἀνάγκη ἀπό τήν τρυφερή φροντίδα καί τό ἔλεός Του. Προσεύχομαι ὁλόθερμα τό Νέο Ἔτος 2006 νά εἶναι ἔτος εἰρήνης καί εὐημερίας γιά ὅλους σας, καί ἡ ἄπειρη καί θεραπευτική ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ νά διαποτίζῃ τή διάνοια, τό σῶμα καί τήν ψυχή σας. Εἴθε οἱ ἀπέραντες εὐλογίες τοῦ Θεοῦ νά εἶναι πάντα μαζί σας.

Μέ πατρική ἐν Χριστῷ ἀγάπη,

ÿ ὁ Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀμερικῆς Δημήτριος


ΔΕΚΕΜΒΡΙΟΣ 2005

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ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΣ ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΣ ORTHODOX OBSERVER

Εγκαίνια νέου υποκαταστήματος της Marathon Bank στη Νέα Ιερσέη FORT LEE, NJ – Τα εγκαίνια ��ου νέου περιφερειακού κέντρου της τράπεζας MARATHON που βρίσκεται στο Φόρτ Λι της Νέας Ιερσέης τέλεσε ο Σεβασμιώτατος Αρχιεπίσκοπος Αμερικής κ. Δημήτριος την Τρίτη 15 Νοεμβρίου. Μετά τον αγιασμό, ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Δημήτριος συνεχάρη την διοίκηση της “Μάραθον” και ευχήθηκε ευόδωση των στόχων της και στη συνέχεια μαζί με τα στελέχη της τράπεζας έκοψαν την κορδέλα των εγκαινίων. Παρόντες μεταξύ άλλων ο Μητροπολίτης Νέας Ιερσέης κ. Ευάγγελος, ο προέδρος της τράπεζας κ. Πόλ Σταθουλόπουλος, η γενικής πρόξενος της Ελλάδας στη Νέα Υόρκη κ. Αικατερίνη Μπούρα, ο Αντιπροέδρος της Τράπεζας Πειραιώς κ. Κολακίδης, ο συμβούλος διοίκησης της τράπεζας Πειραιώς, στον τομέα μάρκετινγκ και επικοινωνίας κ. Δημήτρης Κουνελάκης και στελέχη της τράπεζας από τα υποκαταστήματα της Νέας Υόρκης. Το υποκατάστημα του Φόρτ Λι βρίσκεται επί της λεωφόρου Lemoine και εξυπηρετεί την Ομογένεια της Νέας Ιερσέης παρέχοντας πλήρεις τραπεζικές υπηρεσίες και πάρα πολύ ανταγωνιστικά επιτόκια για καταθέσεις. Διευθυντής του νέου τραπεζικού κέντρου είναι ο κ. Γιώργος Κατσιαούνης. Στο προσωπικό του καταστήματος ανήκουν επίσης ο κ. Τζέιμς Σέρβος, βοηθός διευθυντής, η Αρχοντία Ντιλότ, η Τζασμίν Ραχίνι, η Τζόρτζια Κάλδη και η Φανή Σταθοπούλου. Στην δεξίωση που ακολούθησε το προσωπικό της τράπεζας υποδέχθηκε

Η Marathon National Bank of New York ανήκει στον όμιλο της Τράπεζας Πειραιώς, ενός ισχυρού τραπεζικού συγκροτήματος της Ελλάδας, με ενεργητικό 20 δισεκατομμυρίων δολαρίων και δίκτυο σε πολλές χώρες της νοτιοανατολικής Ευρώπης και στο Λονδίνο. Η Τράπεζα Μάραθον με στοιχεία ενεργητικού ύψους 700 εκατομμυρίων δολαρίων είναι μιά πλήρης εμπορική τράπεζα με έδρα την Αστόρια της Νέας Υόρκης. Έχει δίκτυο 10 υποκαταστημάτων στις κομητείες Κουίνς, Μπρούκλιν και Μανχάταν και στα άμεσα σχέδιά της είναι η επέκταση σε άλλες πολιτείες. To νέο υποκατάστημα της Marathon Bank βρίσκεται στη διεύθυνση 2400 Lemoine Avenue Fort Lee, NJ 07024, Τηλ. 201-944-1637

ΔΗΜ. ΠΑΝΑΓΟΣ

πολλούς φίλους και πελάτες και τους ενημέρωσε για την λειτουργία του νέου υποκαταστήματος που επιθυμεί να παίξει το ρόλο του περιφεριακού κέντρου εξυπηρέτησης των πελάτων στην πολιτεία της Νέας Ιερσέης. Σύμφωνα με τον κ. Γιάννη Κυριακόπουλο, επικεφαλής διεθνών δραστηριοτήτων της τράπεζας Πειραιώς στον όμιλο της οποίας ανήκει η “Μάραθον” στην στρατηγική του ομίλου εντάσσεται η ενίσχυση της θυγατρικής “Μάραθον”, μετά την αποχώρηση της Εθνικής από την ευρύτερη αγορά των ΗΠΑ.

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Αγιασμός στον Εθνικό Κήρυκα

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νης Παπαδημητρίου, οι Μητροπολίτες Νέας Ιερσέης κ. Ευάγγελος, Τυάνων κ. Παϊσιος, και οι Επίσκοποι Μελόης κ. Φιλόθεος και Απαμείας κ. Βικέντιος.

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ΔΗΜ. ΠΑΝΑΓΟΣ

ÐåôÜìå ìå ôá êáéíïýñãéá ôåôñáêéíçôÞñéá AIRBUS 340-300 Áíá÷ùñÞóåéò/áößîåéò óôï õðåñóýã÷ñïíï TERMINAL 1 ôïõ áåñïäñïìßïõ ÊÝíåíôé Åêðôþóåéò ãéá ðáéäéÜ Ýùò 12 åôþí

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© ORTHODOX OBSERVER

ΝΕΑ ΥΟΡΚΗ – Τα εγκαίνια των νέων γραφείων και τυπογραφικών εγκαταστάσεων του “Εθνικού Κήρυκα” στο Λόνγκ Άϊλαντ Σίτι της Νέας Υόρκης τέλεσε την Παρασκευή 16 Δεκεμβρίου ο Σεβασμιώτατος Αρχιεπίσκοπος Αμερικής κ. Δημήτριος, παρουσία πολ λών φίλων και αναγνωστών της ιστορικής ομογενειακής εφημερίδος. Ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Δημήτριος ευλόγησε τον εκδότη και διευθυντή κ. Αντώνη Διαματάρη, την οικογένειά του, το προσωπικό της εφημερίδος και του επέδωσε ως συμβολικό δώρο επάργυρη εικόνα του Χριστού. Στην τελετή του Αγιασμού παρέστησαν μεταξύ άλλων ο υφυπουργός Πολιτισμού της Ελλάδος κ. Πέτρος Τατούλης, ο πρόεδρος του Ιδρύματος Ωνάση κ. Αντώ-

Στελέχη της Τράπεζας Marathon με το Σεβασμιώτατο Αρχιεπίσκοπο Αμερικής ∆ημήτριο, το Μητροπολίτη Νέας Ιερσέης Ευάγγελο και τη γενική πρόξενο της Ελλάδος στη Νέα Υόρκη κ. Αικατερίνη Μπούρα.

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18

ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΣ ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΣ

ΔΕΚΕΜΒΡΙΟΣ 2005

ΒΑΡΘΟΛΟΜΑΙΟΣ ΕΛΕΩ ΘΕΟΥ ΑΡΧΙΕΠΙΣΚΟΠΟΣ ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΥΠΟΛΕΩΣ, ΝΕΑΣ ΡΩΜΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΟΙΚΟΥΜΕΝΙΚΟΣ ΠΑΤΡΙΑΡΧΗΣ ΠΑΝΤΙ ΤΩ ΠΛΗΡΩΜΑΤΙ ΤΗΣ ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑΣ ΧΑΡΙΝ, ΕΛΕΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΙΡΗΝΗΝ ΠΑΡΑ ΤΟΥ ΕΝ ΒΗΘΛΕΕΜ ΓΕΝΝΗΘΕΝΤΟΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ «Οὕτω γάρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεός τόν κόσμον, ὥστε τόν υἱόν αὐτοῦ τόν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτόν μή ἀπόληται, ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωήν αἰώνιον» (Ἰω. 3,16) Ἀδελφοί καί τέκνα ἐν Κυρίῳ ἀγαπητά, Ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη ψυχή αἰσθάνεται ἐντόνως τήν ἀνάγκην νά ἀγαπηθῇ. Ἡ εὐρύτατα διαδεδομένη, ἰδίως μεταξύ τῶν νέων, ἔλλειψις νοήματος εἰς τήν ζωήν ὀφείλεται εἰς τήν ἔλλειψιν τῆς ἀγάπης. Τό πλεῖστον τῶν συνανθρώπων μας εἶναι ἐγκλωβισμένον εἰς τάς ἀτομιστικάς ἐπιδιώξεις του καί ἀναζητεῖ τήν πλήρωσιν τοῦ κενοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης μέ τήν ἀπόκτησιν ὑλικῶν ἀγαθῶν, σαρκικῶν ἀπολαύσεων καί ἀνθρωπίνης δόξης. Ἀλλά μέ αὐτά δέν γεμίζει τό κενόν τῆς ψυχῆς, διότι αὐτή ζητεῖ τήν προ­ σωπικήν ἀναγνώρισιν, τήν αγάπην. Ἡ ἀγάπη ὅμως ὑπάρχει ἐν τῷ Θεῷ καί συνέχει τόν κόσμον, ἀναγνωρίζει τόν καθένα μέ τό ὄνομά του καί τοῦ προσφέρεται πλουσιοπαρόχως. Ὁ Θεός ἀπό ἀγάπην καί μόνον ἐδημιούργησε τό σύ­ μπαν διά τοῦ Λόγου Αὐτοῦ, ἵνα πάντες γίνω­ μεν μέτοχοι τῆς χαρᾶς ἡ ὁποία πηγάζει ἀπό τήν ἑνοποιόν προσωπικήν ἀγάπην. Ἐν τούτοις, ὁ πρωτόπλα­ στος ἄνθρωπος καί οἱ ἀπό­ γονοί του μέχρι σήμερον ἠρνήθησαν τήν ἀγάπην τοῦ Δημιουργοῦ πρός αὐτούς, ἐξε­δίωξαν τήν ἀγάπην ἀπό τάς καρ­ δίας των, ἐστρά­ φησαν εἰ ς τήν ἀπρόσωπον κτί­ σιν κ αί ανεζή­ τη σαν ἀνεπιτυ­ χῶς τήν ἀναγνώρισιν τῆς προσωπικῆς ὑπ­ άρξεώς των εἰς τήν ὑπε­ ροχήν καί τήν ἐγωκεντρικήν ἱκανοποίησιν αὐτῶν καί ὄχι εἰς τήν ἀποδοχήν τῆς προσφερομένης εἰς αὐτούς ἀγάπης καί τήν ἀντι­ προσφοράν αὐτῆς. Τό ἀποτέλεσμα εἶναι ἡ δημιουργία κοινωνιῶν ἀνταγωνισμοῦ, μίσους καί αἱμάτων, ὅπως ζῶμεν αὐτά καθημερινῶς. Ἡ ἀγάπη ὅμως τοῦ Θεοῦ οὐδέποτε ἐκ­ πίπτει, ἀκόμη καί ὅταν ἀπορρίπτεται ἀπό τούς ἀνθρώπους. Ὁ Θεός ἀπό ἀγάπην ἀπέστειλε τόν Υἱόν Αὐτοῦ τόν μονογενῆ ὡς ἄνθρωπον εἰς τόν κόσμον, ὄχι διά νά κρίνῃ τόν ἐν ἀποστασίᾳ κόσμον, ἀλλ’ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος δι’ Αὐτοῦ (πρβλ. Ἰω. 3,17). Ἐγεννήθη Οὗτος ἐν ταπεινῇ φάτνῃ ὑπό τῆς ἀειπαρθένου Μαρίας, διά νά καταδείξῃ ὅτι ἡ ἰσχύς καί ἡ προβολή καί ὁ ὑλικός πλοῦτος, εἰς τά ὁποῖα ὁ κόσμος ἀναζητεῖ τήν χαράν καί τήν σωτηρίαν, δέν εἶναι ἡ ἀληθινή πηγή ζωῆς καί εὐδαιμονίας. Ἦλθεν ὁ Χριστός εἰς τήν Βηθλεέμ κομί­ ζων εκ νέου τό μήνυμα τῆς ἀπροϋποθέτου ἀγάπης τοῦ Θεοῦ πρός τόν ἄνθρωπον. Ἐπί δύο χιλιάδας ἔτη εὐαγγελίζεται αὐτήν τήν ἀπέραντον ἀγάπην. Ἦλθεν ὡς βρέφος ἀδύναμον καί ἀκίνδυνον, πλῆρες ὅμως ἀγάπης, καί παρά ταῦτα ἀντιμετώπισε τήν πρόθεσιν σφαγῆς Αὐτοῦ ὑπό τοῦ Ἡρώδου, ἐκπροσώπου μιᾶς ἀνθρωπότητος μισού­ σης τήν ἀγάπην, ἀκόμη καί ὅταν προσφέρεται ἀπό τά ἀθῶα καί γαληνιαῖα παιδικά βλέμματα. Πολλοί τῶν σημερινῶν χριστιανῶν, ἐσφαλμένως δεδιδαγμένοι περί τοῦ Θεοῦ ὡς αὐστηροῦ κριτοῦ, ἀντί ὡς στοργικοῦ πατρός ἀναμένοντος μέ ἀγάπην καί συγχώ­ ρησιν τήν επιστροφήν τοῦ ἀσώτου, ἀπεμακρύνθησαν τοῦ ἐνσαρκωθέντος Θεοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, τοῦ Λόγου καί ἀπαυγάσματος τοῦ Θεοῦ Πατρός καί τοῦ ὁμοουσίου αὐτοῖς Ἁγίου Πνεύματος τῆς ζωοποιοῦ καί ἀγαπώσης Τριάδος, καί οὕτω κατέστησαν τήν κοινωνίαν αὐτῶν ἐκκοσμικευμένην, μή ἔχουσαν εἰς Θεόν ἐλπίδα καί γνησίαν ἀγάπην.

Καταφεύγουν εἰς ὑποκατάστατα τῆς θείας ἀγάπης, στηρίζοντες τάς ἐλπίδας αὐτῶν εἰς ἐγκοσμίους δυνάμεις, εἰς ἐπεκτάσεις ἐξουσιῶν, εἰς αὔξησιν πλούτου, εἰς ὑποδουλώσεις λαῶν, εἰς παγκοσμιοποίησιν τοῦ ἐμπορίου των, εἰς διάδοσιν ἀντιθέων ἰδεῶν, εἰς ἀγνόησιν καί ἀπώθησιν τοῦ θανάτου καί εἰς πάντα ἐν γένει ὅσα φαντάζονται ὡς λυ­ τρωτικά τοῦ ἄγχους αὐτῶν ἔναντι τοῦ ἀδιεξόδου μιᾶς ζωῆς χωρίς ἀγάπην. Μή εὑρίσκοντες δέ εἰς αὐτά λύτρωσιν πολλοί αὐτοκτονοῦν, ἀρνούμενοι τήν ζωήν, τό μέγα δῶρον τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰς τόν ἄνθρωπον. Ἐν τούτοις ἀδελφοί καί τέκνα ἠγαπημένα, ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι ἀναμφισβήτητος καί παροῦσα. Ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός ἀναμένει νά γεννηθῇ εἰς τήν καρδίαν ἑκάστου διά νά φέρῃ εἰς αὐτήν τό νόημα τῆς ζωῆς. Αὐτό εἶναι ὅτι εἴμεθα ἀγαπητοί τοῦ Θεοῦ, προωρισμένοι νά χαιρώμεθα τήν ζωήν ἐν ἀμοιβαία ἀγάπη καί νά αἰσθανώμεθα τήν πληρότητα τῆς ὑπάρξεώς μας εἰς τό γεγονός τῆς κοινωνίας μας ἐν ἀγάπῃ μέ τόν Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τόν σαρκωθέντα Θεόν, καί μέ ὅλους τούς ἀνθρώπους καί ὅλας τάς ἀγαθάς προσωπικάς ὑπάρξεις. «Εὐλογητός ὁ Θεός καί πατήρ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ…καθώς καί ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρό καταβολῆς κόσμου εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καί ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ, ἐν ἀγάπη». (Ἐφ. 1, 3-4). Τό θεμέλιον καί τό ἐπιστέγασμα, ἡ ἀρχή καί τό τέλος, τό Ἄλφα καί τό Ὠμέγα τῆς δημιουργίας εἶναι ἡ ἀγάπη. Τό μυστήριον τῆς φάτνης καί τοῦ σταυροῦ , τῆς γεννήσεως, τῆς ἀναστά­ σεως καί τῆς ἀναλήψεως καί πάσης ἐν γένει τῆς ἐπί γῆς παρουσίας τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἶναι ἡ ἀγάπη. Ὁ κατά τήν Γέννησιν ψαλλόμε­ νος ὕμνος τῶν ἀγγέλων, «Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ καί ἐπί γῆς εἰρήνη, ἐν ἀν­ θρώποι ς εὐδο��ί α» εἶναι ἀπόρροι α τοῦ θαυ μ α σμ οῦ αὐτῶν ἐμπρός εἰς τήν ἀσύλ­ ληπτον ἀγάπην τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἡ ἀνοχή τοῦ Χριστοῦ διά τήν σταύρωσίν Του ὑπό τῶν παρανόμων δέν εἶναι ἀποτέλεσμα ἀδυναμίας Αὐτοῦ, ἀπαραδέκτου διά τήν παντοδυναμίαν Αὐτοῦ, ἀλλά τῆς ἀπείρου ἀγάπης Του. Πᾶσαι αἱ ἐνέργειαι τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι πλήρεις ἀγάπης δι’ ἕκαστον προσωπικῶς ἄνθρωπον. Ἄς ἐγκαταλείψωμεν, λοιπόν, ἀγαπητοί ἀδελφοί καί τέκνα, τήν πορείαν πρός τήν ἐκκοσμίκευσιν καί ἄς ἐπιστρέψωμεν ἐν μετανοίᾳ εἰς τόν Πατέρα μας Θεόν καί τόν ἐν φάτνῃ γεννηθέντα ὡς ἀδελφόν μας Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τόν ἐλθόντα εἰς τήν γῆν ἐξ ἀγάπης πρός ἡμᾶς τούς πλανηθέντας καί ἀπομακρυθέντας Αὐτοῦ. Ἡ ἀγάπη Του πρός ἡμᾶς εἶναι βεβαία. Πλησίον Του δέν ὑπάρχει φόβος, ἀλλά συγχώ­ ρησις, εἰρήνη καί χαρά. Τούτου ἡ χάρις, ἡ εὐλογία καί τό πλούσιον ἔλεος είησαν μεθ’ ὑμῶν τάς ἁγίας αὐτάς ἑορτάς τοῦ Δωδεκαημέρου καί πάσας τάς ἡμέρας τῆς ζωῆς ὑμῶν εἰς τούς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Φανάριον, Χριστούγεννα 2005

ÿ Ὁ Κωνσταντινουπόλεως διάπυρος πρός Θεόν εὐχέτης πάντων ὑμῶν Εικόνα: Πόλος Αρχιερατικού Ωμοφορίου με κεντητή παράσταση της Γεννήσεως του Χριστού. Από τα κειμήλια του Πανσέπτου Πατριαρχικού Ναού.


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DECEMBER 2005

PEOPLE St. George Church Serves a Major Tourist Destination World Mayor Mayor of Athens, Greece, Dora Bakoyiannis has been elected World Mayor 2005. The World Mayor project was established in 2003 as an annual award to mayors who has best shown that they have the vision, the passion and the skills to make their cities amazing places to live in, to work in and to visit and who have contributed to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally. A total of 87,100 people from throughout the world took part in the project. Ms. Bakoyiannis and the other candidate mayors were interviewed through e-mail by an international audience. They included mayors of such far-flung cities as Kiev, Vienna, Rome, Rhodes, Melbourne, Karachi, Pakistan; Bel Horizonte, Brazil, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and others.

Ohio candidate

HYANNIS, Mass. – St. George Church is a community with an older membership, supplemented with tourists who come from throughout the nation during the summer. Most long-time parishioners are or have been in business for themselves, mostly restaurants and pizza parlors, with some professionals and other vocations. They are a mix of Greek immigrant and American born and some converts and about 95 percent of marriages Fr. Peter Giannakopoulos performs are interchurch. Fr. Peter said retirees comprise between 65 and 75 percent of the par-

P A R I S H Name: St. George Greek Orthodox Church

Illinois candidate

Web site: www.stgeorge-capecod.com

Ahepan honored The American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture recently honored Archon and former AHEPA Supreme President James S. Scofield of St. Petersburg, Fla., for his life contributions and leadership at an educational forum in Tampa. Mr. Scofield was a journalist with the St. Petersburg Times until his recent retirement, and also was a former Supreme President of the Sons of Pericles.

Award recipient St. Demetrios Church in Seattle recently honored parishioners G. John Doces with its first Lifetime Lay Leadership Award, for his many contributions to the parish.

Eagle scout George A. Kazakos, son of Anthony and Lucia Kazakos of Wethersfield, Conn., recently became an Eagle Scout in ceremonies held in Hartford. A member of Troop 105, George worked toward his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout with service projects, providing leadership to younger scouts, and organizing the painting of the lower social hall of his church, St. George Cathedral in Hartford. He is currently studying at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, Fla.

various private homes to administer sacraments or hold services. A Greek teacher, Nicholas Papageorge, was hired in 1928. He held classes until 1931, when (appropriately enough) Efthimios Grammaticas succeeded him and taught Greek until 1946. He also held religious classes on Sundays. The classes took place either in the home of Spiro Penesis or at the Sethares Barber Shop. In 1935, several members of the Greek community purchased land for a cemetery. It was the beginning of the effort to become an organized community.

p ro f i l e

Ohio state Rep. James P. Trakas recently announced his candidacy for the statewide office of Secretary of State. He has served in the state Legislature since 1999. He previously served in other elected positions in Cuyahoga County and the Independence City Council. He earned a degree from Ohio State University in 1987 and worked his way through college as a custodian for the public schools in his hometown and as a hot dog vendor at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. His grandparents are from the island of Mitylene.

Chicago business leader Jim Ascot (Askotiris) will seek the nomination in the state’s Democrat Party primary for the 7th Congressional District seat. He is president of Ascot Realty Group Inc. and has held many leadership positions in the real estate business. Born in Greece, he came to the United States with his family at the age of nine. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology and also is active in education, developing the Chicago Public Schools’ Ambassador Program, a multi-faceted series of activities linking Realtors and community schools. He is a member of Annunciation Cathedral and St. George Church in Chicago.

living on the offshore islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, but a lengthy ferry ride discourages frequent attendance. “I don’t see them as often,” the priest said. However, Fr. Peter occasionally visits the islands to perform sacraments. Transportation is a major issue for many parishioners trying to get to church from the many towns and villages of the Cape, especially in the summer when traffic may be backed up for miles and for hours because of beach-goers. “It prevents some youth and parents from coming to church,” he said. For many years, the most notable Greek Orthodox resident of Martha’s Vine-

Location: Hyannis-Centerville, Mass. Metropolis: Boston Size: about 400 members Founded: 1949 Clergy: Rev. Panayiotis (Peter) K. Giannakopoulos (Hellenic College, ’72; Holy Cross ’75; Andover-Newton Theological School ’79 D . Min.) E-mail: agios@stgeorge-capecod.com Noteworthy: Community has had only two priests in 56 years. ST. GEORGE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH

ish and much of his ministry involves yard was Archbishop Iakovos, who spent reaching out to this group part of every August there, even after his “Sometimes there is more empha- retirement in 1996. sis on hospital ministry or visiting the “Archbishop Iakovos would come on homebound,” he said. the 15th of August and he would love to A large senior citizens group of worship with us,” Fr. Peter said. “Many more than 150 meets regularly and has of our parishioners were members of the many activities. cathedral when he was the dean and he Fr. Peter said he plans to organize would remember them by their first name. a Parish Life Committee “to do a little It was really touching to see the love and more intense reaching out to home- the warmth. The amazing thing was the bound.” Some parishioners volunteer sharpness of his mind.” to bring the elderly who cannot drive He said that Archbishop Iakovos to church services. would ask him, “With your permission There also are many families in may I give the antidoron.” the area served Because of the distances by the church, involved youth involvethough Fr. ment fluctuates. Sunday Peter noted, School has an enrollment of “it’s more between 60 and 75 difficult for students. The Greek Cape Cod school has 15 to Hyiannis-centerville to be a family 20 children. There community” because of distances inis only one Greek volved and the cost of living because teacher for four of the high number of tourists and classes offered. others who have second homes on Parishioners of the Cape. Greek background “Prices and expenses are felt more represent several parts of Greece, there and housing is a big problem,” he said. was no predominant group among the “Families have to be able to afford to first immigrants. live here.” According to a parish history comMembers of the community live piled by Mary Vrountas and several conover a widespread part of this penin- tributors, Greeks settled in the area as sula in southeastern Massachusetts early as 1903, in the villages of Falmouth, (though the construction of the Cape Hyannis and Provincetown, where they Cod Canal in the 1940s technically established small businesses. makes it an island). Their relatives began to arrive by the They come from far as Provinc- 1920s. By 1927, about 40 families had etown to the east and north, about settled in Cape Cod. 45 miles away at the tip of Cape Cod, At the time, the closest church was St. and from Plymouth, some 30 miles George, in New Bedford, about 20 miles to the northwest, which has about 25 west of where the Cape begins. The priest families. from the parish would occasionally come There also are a few parishioners to the Odd Fellows Hall in Hyannis or to

This led to the founding of the founding in 1938 of the Greek American Citizens Club, with Michael R. Pazakis serving as the first president. They purchased the Grange hall in 1939 and the building eventually became the future home of St. George Church of Cape Cod, with the help of many volunteers. “Anyone who could drive a nail or use a paintbrush went to work,” the parish history noted. The first wedding took place in the Grange hall in April 1945 between LeRoy Long and Theokte Vagenas. Fr. Kassaris of the New Bedford Church officiated. In 1946, The Greek American Citizens Club became incorporated as the Greek Community of Cape Cod. The name was later changed to Greek Orthodox Church of Cape Cod. The first meeting to establish a church took place in March 1948, with James Pazakis serving as chairman. The community raised the $4,000 required by the Archdiocese by-laws in order to receive recognition. The interior of the hall was transformed into a church. On Dec. 7, 1948, a meeting took place with Bishop Athenagoras Kavadas of Boston that resulted in the appointment of the community’s first permanent priest, Fr. Spyros Mourikis who, like Archbishop Athenagoras who brought him to the United States, was a native of Corfu (Kerkyra). Over the next 42 years, Fr. Mourikis became the most familiar face of the church from one end of Cape Cod to the other as he labored to build up the parish. He was born in 1921 in Corfu,

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DECEMBER 2005

In Memoriam Fr. George E. Tsongranis Fr. George E. Tsongranis, a retired priest of the Archdiocese, died July 6. He was 77. Fr. Tsongranis was born Dec. 15, 1928 in Salamanca, N.Y. He completed primary school in Salamanca, the moved to Tarpon Springs where he completed high school. He studied at the University of Maryland and the University of Omaha, earning a degree in business administration. He then enrolled at Holy Cross School of Theology and earned a Masters of Divinity degree. He married Sophie Dianne Pavlos of Clairton, Pa., in 1972 and was ordained as a deacon in Tarpon Springs by Bishop Aimilianos on Jan. 6, 1973, and as a priest in Fond du Lac July 1 of that year by Bishop Iakovos of Apameia. He was assigned to Fond du Lac and served the parish until taking early retirement in June 1992.

He attended Holy Cross School of Theology and the Ecclesiastical School in Corinth, Greece, where he studied seven years and received a diploma. He married Eleni S. Gerozimatou of Gatouni, Eleias, Greece, in April 1963 and was ordained as a deacon Sept. 22, 1963 at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York by Bishop Germanos Polizoides, and as a priest on Sept. 29 at St. Luke Church in Broomall, Pa., also by Bishop Germanos. He was assigned to Evangelismos Church in Farrell, Pa.(1963-66), and subsequently served at Sheboygan, Wis. (1966-68), St. Demetrios in Chicago (1968-71), St. Vasilios, also in Chicago, (1971-75), St. Nektarios in Rolling Meadows, Ill. (1975), Annunciation Church in Montreal for a brief period; Three Hierarchs in Champaign, Ill, (October 1976-December 1985), Annunciation in Decatur, Ill. (1986-1994) and St. George in Hollywood, Fla., (June 1994 until his retirement in October 2004).

Fr. Harry P. Hatzopoulos

Fr. Nicholas J. Capilos

Fr. Harry P. Hatzopoulos, a retired priest, died Oct. 11. He was 92. Fr. Hatzopoulos was born June 1, 1913, in Constantinople. He earned a theology degree from the University of Bucharest (Romania) School of Theology in 1938, and a law degree from the university in 1945, and later received a Ph.D. in law from the University of Athens. He married Maria Kontouridou in 1935. They had one son, Michael. He was ordained a deacon on Dec. 24, 1938 and a priest on Aug. 17, 1947. He served as a priest in Atlanta, Ga., and at St. John the Baptist Church in Boston until his retirement.

Fr. Charles Goumenis Retired priest Fr. Charles Goumenis died Sept. 15. He was 84 and had been retired since October 1986. He was born Nov. 11, 1920 in Lowell, Mass. After completing high school in Lowell, he enrolled at Holy Cross Seminary at Pomfret, Conn., and graduated in 1944, in the first group of priests to graduate from Holy Cross. He also studied at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. ,for a year. He married Athena Eliadis of Smyrna, Turkey, on July 22, 1944 and was ordained as a deacon in October 1944 in Jersey City, N.J., by Bishop Germanos Polizoides, and as a priest in November 1944 in McKeesport, Pa., also by Bishop Germanos. He was first assigned to St. George Church in Oklahoma, City, where he served from 1944-48. He subsequently served the parishes of St. Demetrios Church in Jersey City, N.J. (1948-50), St. George Church in Greenville, S.C. (1950-1964) and Annunciation Church in Norfolk, Va. (1964-86). He is survived by his presbytera, and three sons, Ernie, Pete and Charles Alexander.

Fr. Nicholaos G. Voucanos Fr. Nicholaos G. Voucanos, a retired priest, died Sept. 25. He was 66. He was born Aug. 15, 1939, in Neohorion, Killinis, Eleias, Greece. He completed his public schooling in Greece and came to the United States in 1960.

Fr. Nicholas J. Capilos, 50, died Aug. 25 after a brief illness. He was born June 8, 1955, and came to the United States with his family in 1956, settling in Columbia, S.C. He completed public school in Columbia and attended the University of South Carolina, earning a degree in general studies. He enrolled at Holy Cross in Brookline, Mass., and earned a Masters in Divinity in 1982. He married Elizabeth Ann Avgerinos of Columbia, S.C., in June 1983 and was ordained as a deacon by Bishop John of Atlanta in Columbia, and as a priest in Birmingham, Ala., also by Bishop John. He was assigned to Holy Cross-Holy Trinity in Birmingham as assistant priest, serving from 1983-85). Fr. Capilos was assigned as a priest to St. Barbara’s Church in Durham, N.C. (1985-88), Holy Trinity in Nashville (1988-90), Holy Trinity in Augusta, Ga. (1990-95), St. Paul Church in Savannah, Ga. (1995-02), and Annunciation Church in Chattanooga, Tenn. (2003-05).

Fr. Nicholas Rafael Fr. Nicholas Rafael, 66, a retired priest, died Nov. 14. He was born Feb. 12, 1939 in Bronx, N.Y. He attended Catholic elementary and high school in Bronx and Staten Island and enrolled in Staten Island Community College where he earned an associate degree after two years, then entered Hunter College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then enrolled at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y. and earned a degree in Divinity. He married Clara Mastropasqula in 1963. They had four children. He was ordained as a deacon by Archbishop Iakovos in 1970, and as a priest by Bishop Silas in 1971. Fr. Rafael received a temporary assignment to Church of Our Savior in Rye, N.Y., in 1971, then served as a second priest at St. Demetrios in Jamaica, N.Y. from 1971-73. Fr. Rafael also served as priest at Holy Cross Church in Hunstville, Ala. (1973-75), St. Sophia in Syracuse, N.Y. (1975-77), St. Luke’s in East Longmeadow, Mass. (197778), and St. Nicholas in Jamestown (19782004) until his retirement.

PARISH PROFILE page 19 came to the U.S. in 1947 to attend Holy Cross Seminary, then in Pomfret, Conn. He married Maria Masteralexis of Somerville, Mass. in July of that year and they became parents of three daughters. Fr. Mourikis’ ordination to the priesthood took place Oct 5, 1947, at Holy Trinity Church in Lowell, Mass. The community’s first parish council was elected in October 1949 and, in December of that year, Sts. Constantine and Helen Church in Reading, Pa. offered its iconostasion, which it was replacing, as a gift to the new parish. A group of parishioners drove for 14 hours through a snowstorm to bring the iconostasion to Hyannis. The St. Katherine chapter of Philoptochos came into existence in March 1949 with the help of Presbytera Maria. One of their first projects was to renovate the downstairs hall. A fund-raising dinner took place in April 1950 where the late George Dedopoulos became the sponsor of the church, upon which was bestowed the name of St. George. Land was purchased in 1954 for a cemetery, but instead became the eventual site of the present church and community center along heavily traveled Route 28. A building fund committee was created in the mid-1960s to begin raising money for a new church on the site. Preliminary plans were drawn up in the mid-1970s and parishioners eventually approved the construction of a $1 million church complex. The door-opening service (Thyranoixia) took place June 20-21, 1981 and Archbishop Iakovos consecrated the church on Oct. 8, 1988. In his 43 years of ministry, Fr. Mourikis worked tirelessly to make the church an integral and visible part of the greater Cape Cod community. He succeeded greatly. Among the prominent neighbors of St. George Church is the Kennedy family and, in the 1950s its most prominent member, Sen. John F. Kennedy had closed ties to Fr. Mourikis and the parish. Shortly after his election to the presidency in 1960, President-elect Kennedy sent Fr. Mourikis and warm thank-you letter for his and the parish’s support. In 1991, when Fr. Mourikis retired, among those who attended his retirement

CLERGY

party was Sen. Edward Kennedy. The parish further expressed its appreciation to Fr. Mourikis by naming the new community center in his honor. Fr. Spyro and Presbytera Maria continue to live in the Hyannis area. Succeeding him was the current priest, Fr. Giannakopoulos, a native of Pireaus, Greece, who arrived in the United States in 1967. He enrolled at Hellenic College and was the valedictorian in 1972. Prior to coming to Hyannis, he had previously served as pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Fitchburg, Mass., Holy Trinity in Chicago as assistant priest and as the first full-time pastor of St. Sophia in Elgin, Ill He also as assistant to the Holy Cross dean of students and was director of student services. He and Presbytera Paula have two children. During his ministry, several renovation projects and programs have been implemented over the years. The youth group, with 10 to 15 children has been very active, Fr. Peter noted. There also is a dance troupe comprised of very young to high school and college age members that performs at the Greek festival, and at various community venues such as Cape Cod Community College and others. Fr. Peter also holds an Orthodox Discussion and Bible study group. Stewardship was introduced four years ago and Fr. Peter said “the concept is working very well. There is growth every year and, eventually, we hope stewardship will be the predominant factor. We have very generous people in the community who have always supported my ministry.”Greek festival the third weekend in July and it is a landmark event on Cape Card. “People arrange their vacations around the festival.” They come from as far as California and Canada. “People are becoming very familiar with it and enjoy it,” he said. Fr. Peter said there is a potential members of “another 300 families we know exist, that have summer homes here.” He added, “Many people on the Cape keep affiliations with their communities in Boston but have been living here 15 to 20 years. They come to the festival, but not to church.” — Compiled by Jim Golding

UPDATE

Ordination to the Diaconate Diamond, Michael J, by Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey at St. George, Clifton, N.J., 10/16/05 Tragus, Vasilios N., by Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, St. Katherine, Redondo Beach, Calif., 10/22/05 Gousios, Stephen, by Metropolitan Evangelos, Sts. Constantine & Helen, Annapolis, Md., 10/23/05 Ordination to the Priesthood Tragus, Dn. Vasilios N., by Metropolitan Gerasimos at St. Sophia Cathedral, Los Angeles, 10/23/05 Karathanos, Dn. Achilles, by Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago at St. Nicholas, St. Louis, 11/06/05 Georgiou, Rev. Dn. Gregory, by Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, St. Nektarios, Charlotte, N.C., 11/06/05 Gousios, Rev. Dn. Stephen, Metropolitan Evangelos, St. Demetrios, Baltimore, 11/13/05 Lambakis, Rev. Dn. Michael, Metropolitan Isaiah, St. George, Oklahoma City, 11/20/05 Assignments Fr. Vasilios Tragus, St. Sophia Cathedral, Los Angeles, (assistant), 10/23/05 Fr. Paul Schroeder, Holy Trinity,

Portland, Oregon. 12/01/05 Fr. Demetrios-Earl Cantos, Metropolis of San Francisco, chancellor, 12/01/05 Gousios, Fr. Stephen, St. Demetrios, Baltimore, (assistant), 11/13/05 Robinson, Fr. Timothy, Prophet Elias, Santa Cruz, Calif., 12/15/05 Ballas, Fr. Stavros, Annunciation, Chattanooga, Tenn., 12/30/05 Retired Priests Fr. Nicholas J. Magoulias 12/31/05 Fr. Alexander G. Leondis 12/31/05 Offikia Metropolitan Evangelos bestowed the office of Protopresbyter upon: Fr. Christ Kontos 10/18/05 Metropolitan Isaiah bestowed the office of Economos upon: Fr. John Tsaras 11/20/05 New Mission Parishes Metropolis of San Francisco Greek Orthodox Mission of Prescott, Ariz. 86302 Greek Orthodox Mission of South Orange County, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. 92693 Greek Orthodox Mission Church of Salem, Salem, Oregon 97302


DECEMBER 2005

The Voice of

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Philoptochos

Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon Exceeds Expectations DALLAS – The National Philoptochos and the Metropolis of Denver Philoptochos presented the Tenth National Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Westin Galleria Hotel that proved to be one of the most successful luncheons to date. More than 500 guests were moved by the inspiring words of Archbishop Demetrios; the compassionate message of National Philoptochos President Georgia Skeadas; the wonderful cultural program, and the charming guest speaker, Eleni Gage, who delighted the audience as she recalled her journey to rebuild her ancestral home. Program highlights included introductions by Fr. Nicholas Katinas, proistamenos of the Holy Trinity Church in Dallas of three parish children who received

miraculous care at Children’s Hospital of Dallas and the generous donations totaling $160,000 presented by President Skeadas to five children’s hospitals in the Metropolis of Denver and the establishment of a children’s medical clinic in Ambo, Ethiopia. The combination of the many unique elements of the luncheon program created a heartwarming and inspirational afternoon for the guests gathered to honor and “Bless the Children.” Maryann Mihalopoulos, master of ceremonies, aptly guided the attendees through each phase of the program that featured a musical interlude comprised of the Greek Orthodox hymn Litrosin, sung by Julia and Pam Cramer and the Andrew Lloyd Webber composition, Pie Jesu sung by Julia and Angela Cramer.

The musical climax was the spectacular performance of the world famous Texas Boys Choir whose voices filled the ballroom with warmth and joy.

Archbishop’s comments

Archbishop Demetrios enthralled the guests with his response to the entire luncheon program weaving theological tenets throughout his remarks. His Eminence praised the “absolutely beautiful organization of the artistic and cultural program” offering special recognition for the musical interlude and the Texas Boy’s Choir. His Eminence concluded his remarks by stating that “Philoptochos is an answer to tremendous crises” and referred to this as “The Age of Philoptochos, the Age of Philanthropy in coping with these phenomena, the problems facing our world

Christmas Message to Our Ambassadors of Philanthropy Today heaven and earth are united, or Christ is born. Today God has come to earth, and man ascends to heaven. Today God, who by nature cannot be seen, Is in the flesh for our sake. Let us glorify Him, crying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace! Your coming has brought peace to us; Glory to You, our Savior. Dear Ladies of the Philoptochos Society, Christmas is the most beautiful time, and the most highly cherished feast, of the Christian year, as we celebrate and remember the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The many wonderful qualities of Christmas, which include the miraculous birth of Christ, the spirit of the day, its effect, its glory, and its joy, are appreciated by all believers. To promote, to promulgate, and to pass these values on from generation to generation is, and should be, the goal of each of us as Orthodox Christians. The blessings of Christmas are many; in fact, they are many more than words can express, and they are enough to fill every longing heart with untold happiness. The greatest of all of these blessings of Christmas, however, is the revelation that Jesus Christ was born this day to bring salvation to the world. Through the birth of His only begotten Son, God makes us aware that, in His name, the holy Christ child humbly came to live on earth to leave behind new faith and hope for all humankind, and He further makes us aware that the Christmas story is everyone’s promise of eternal glory and everlasting life. Peace on earth means receiving peace from our Lord and living by it and through it, as both the content and guiding direction of our lives. It is this internal peace that translates into a spirit of redemption that will allow humankind first to attain, and then to keep, the world of peace and abundance, about which all people have dreamed. We are called to be the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), in order to draw others to Christ through the light of our peace, harmony and good will, through the brilliance of our faith, virtue and kindness, and through the warmth of our zeal, forgiveness and love.

This inner light is deep in our hearts, to be shared with all of the lives that we come in contact with, for the light of the world can only be lit by the hearts of the people who share the beauty of God’s love. Born in a manger at Christmas, as a gift to all of us from our Father above, an infant whose name was Jesus brought humankind the gift of God’s love; thus, the gifts that we give have no purpose, unless God is a part of the giving, and unless we make the true spirit of Christmas the spirit of our everyday living. Christmas is the season of giving, and giving is the essence of living a Christian life. Let us give of ourselves, not only at Christmas, but each and every day. Always remember a kind and thoughtful deed, a hand outstretched in time of need, for this caring gesture is the rarest gift of all, because it emanates from a loving heart, and those who give of themselves will find true joy and peace of mind. Always remember that the richest gifts are God’s to give, so may you possess them as long as you live, and may you walk with Him and dwell in His love, as He continues to send you good gifts from heaven above. Christmas is the most appropriate time of the year to express the love of Christ through special acts of giving and of compassion; remember that you are able to give, because you have first received. Your gifts of time, talent and treasure are an extension of His gift of love and grace to you.

Christmas is first about receiving God’s great love and then giving back in return. When our hearts deeply feel the suffering of the lonely and the helpless, and when another person’s happiness and peace become even more important to us than our own, we are fully immersed in the spirit of Christmas. When serving someone else brings us greater joy than being served, and when pleasing our heavenly Father becomes our greatest passion, we begin to approach the likeness of His image, as we forge the bonds of love, namely, love of God and our Lord and love of one another. We, the ladies of Philoptochos, are the ambassadors of philanthropy and the messengers of love, kindness and goodwill towards all humankind. It has been a wonderful joy and a great honor for me to visit many of the most devoted Philoptochos chapters of the parishes of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that comprise our Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society. I have been in the presence of an astounding number of our ambassadors of philanthropy. I have experienced their love, their support and their great desire to continually work for the glory of God, for philanthropy and for the ongoing growth, success and furtherance of Philoptochos as an even greater national entity. I look forward to visiting many more Philoptochos chapters across the country, as we enter the year 2006. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of you, the ladies of Philoptochos, for your tireless, devoted and unending efforts for philanthropy. Let us continue on our path together in harmony, peace and love. May the kind, gentle and loving spirit of Christmas spread its radiance far and wide, so that the world may feel the glow of this holy time, and then may every heart and home continue to feel the warmth and wonder of this season of good cheer, and may it bring us closer to God and to each other, until every stranger is a friend. On behalf of the National Philoptochos Board, I wish you, your families, and your loved ones a very blessed and joyous Christmas. May the spirit of our Lord guide you throughout the New Year, and always, to bring you renewed reconciliation and love. With love in Christ, Georgia Skeadas President, National Philoptochos Society

in a contemporary context.” Mrs. Skeadas extended special thanks to the luncheon Honorary Chairman Mary Jaharis of New York for her continued support and magnanimous generosity; the luncheon General Chairman Martha Stefanidakis of Houston, Metropolis of Denver Philoptochos president; the Luncheon Co-Chairmen Elaine Cladis of Denver, National Philoptochos Secretary and Cindy Demeris of Houston, a National Philoptochos Board member; the host Committee Co-Chairmen Helen Carnegis, Metropolis Board Member and Elaine Atalis, Dallas Philoptochos chapter president, and to the entire Luncheon Committee that includes committees and volunteers, locally and nationally, who worked unceasingly to ensure the Luncheon’s success. Special recognition and gratitude were offered to the entire Metropolis of Denver and especially the host parish of Holy Trinity in Dallas and Philoptochos for their outpouring of love, hospitality and support. A heartfelt thank you was expressed to all benefactors, underwriters and sponsors for their boundless generosity of time, talent and treasure. President Skeadas honored Maria Stavropoulos, 2003 Luncheon chairperson, presenting her an award for the successful luncheon held in the Metropolis of Detroit. She also acknowledged Dr. and Mrs. Michael Morykwas of Winston Salem, N.C., the great benefactors of the 2003 Children’s Medical Fund Luncheon, for their profound generosity once again, with a munificent donation to Saturday’s Luncheon. Dr. and Mrs. Morykwas are deeply committed philanthropists and most recently received an award as outstanding Philanthropists of 2005, presented by the North Carolina Triad Chapter of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals, whose mission is to advance philanthropy, volunteerism and stewardship. President Skeadas stressed that, “This particular undertaking provides critical support for ailing children and brings comfort and renewed hope for a healthy and happy future for so many families. The National Philoptochos Children’s Medical Fund serves as a manifestation of love and compassion by honoring the precious gift of children.” Eleni Gage, the internationally renowned author of North of Ithaka, transported the luncheon guests through her journey with the same humor and pathos depicted in her book that describes her experiences when she returned to her family’s village of Lia in Northern Greece to restore her grandmother’s house, which had been neglected for many years. President Skeadas then presented donations in the amount of $25,000 to each of the area hospitals: Children’s Medical Center (Dallas); Cook Children’s Hospital (Fort Worth); Children’s Hospital (Austin); Children’s Mercy Hospital (Kansas City, Mo.), and St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital (Boise, Idaho). A $35,000 donation was presented to the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) to establish a six-room medical clinic in Ambo, Ethiopia focusing on the provision of free medical care and free primary education for HIV and AIDSinfected orphans. For information contact: Christine Karavites, publicity chairman, at (508) 982-4276


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DECEMBER 2005


For the Orthodox Family...

DECEMBER 2005

What Makes an Orthodox Home?

I

the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia would disagree. In each case, those in political power planned to eradicate Christianity, and in each case, they failed. Today we are free to worship, our children can freely participate in youth activities and Church School, and we are free to express our orthodox faith in our homes. Some of the “Signposts” listed below kept the orthodox christian faith alive during those years of persecution. As we learn more about the orthodox christian church, we can add one or two of the “Signposts” to what we already do - periodically add one or two more. Talk to your parish priest or spiritual father for guidance. Each day we grow individually and as a family. The lives of our family are spiritually enriched. Then the rhythm of our home takes on more of the attributes of an orthodox home.

n our lives we have all had the opportunity to visit the homes of friends, family or even co-workers. Although every home reflects the unique culture and personality of the people living in it, there are common elements in all homes - a place to sleep, a place to eat and a place to wash up. by Phyllis Meshel Onest, M. Div.

Yet even these leave much room for individual expression. As Orthodox Christians, our homes are unique to our own family make up and culture, but whether we are single, married, widowed, divorced or empty nesters, there should be certain things we hold in common in our homes. St. Paul recognizes the “church of the home” or the “kat’oikon ekklesia” as being a critical piece in the life of a Christian. How do we make our home a central part of our Orthodox Christian living? What are the elements that make our homes Orthodox Homes? Where do we begin? It begins with a commitment to center our lives on Jesus Christ and His Church. If the commitment is being made now, then we will gradually begin to refocus our lives on Christ each and every day. What is important is our choice to know Christ. To know the eternal God, we need to worship, pray, and live a life that offers the fruit of our Christian commitment, regardless of our level of spiritual development. A key element is education, both personal and through group instruction. Our baptism was the beginning of our journey with Christ. On that day, we became members of the Body of Christ and were chrismated to ig-

F

signposts of an Orthodox Home

nite our Spiritual growth. Even the Saints experienced a spiritual journey and grew in faith and love. Thus the more we experience God, the more we learn about Him and His plan for our salvation. The more we seek to live a godly life, the more our Homes are transformed as well. It is critical that the rhythm of an Orthodox home be centered on the Liturgical Life of the Church. Everything else, even the extra-curricular activities, should revolve around this priority. Although this may seem like a radical concept by our society’s standards, the Martyrs of the 1st – 3rd centuries, the Neo-Martyrs during the Ottoman occupation, and the Orthodox Christians forbidden to worship for 70 years in

•Placing Icons in a prayer corner and throughout the house to remind us that God, the Theotokos and the Saints are always with us. •Placing Icons of the Theotokos at the doorways to remind us to ask for protection for all who leave and give thanks for their safe return. •Having a daily rule of prayer, both for individuals and the family, no matter how short. Using the Prayer Corner to help keep us focused On Christ. •Regularly attending the Liturgy and other services of the Church. •Owning and using prayer books and Service books for Liturgy, Holy Week, and other services. •Reading Scriptures on a regular basis, individually and as a family, even if for just 15 minutes a day. Begin with the weekly Sunday Epistle

Preparing for Our Lord’s Nativity

or the first four centuries of Christian history the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was not a separate Church feast. It was celebrated with Epiphany in one great feast of God’s appearance on earth in the form of the human Messiah of Israel. The celebration of the Nativity began to be celebrated on Dec. 25 to offset the pagan festival of the “Invincible Sun” that occurred on that specific day. The Church consciously established it in an attempt to defeat the false religion of the heathens. The Troparion of the Feast calls us to adore Christ, “the True Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2), who is Himself worshipped by all elements of nature, rather than worshipping the sun and stars. The three Wise Men or Magi (i.e. Sages) were astronomers, people who studied the stars. Even the Pagan World had a prophecy of the birth of a great king. Saints Gaspar, Melchoir and Balthazar followed the unusual star and became the first non-Jewish people to believe in Christ.

trOPariOn/aPOlytiKiOn (4th Tone)

Your nativity, O Christ our God, has caused the light of knowledge to rise upon the world. For therein the worshippers of the stars were by a star instructed to worship You, the very Sun of Righteousness, and to know You as Orient from on high. Glory to You, O Lord.

KOntaKiOn

by St Romanos the Melodist, 3rd tone On this day, the Virgin gives birth unto the super-essential. To the Unapproachable, earth is providing the grotto. Angels sing and with the shepherds offer up glory. Following a star the Magi are still proceeding. He was born for our salvation, a newborn Child, the pre-eternal God. Translation by Hieromonk Seraphim Dedes

things to Do as a Family

• Place an Icon of the Nativity of Christ in a special place in your home. Use it with your children to talk about the Nativity Story and each individual or important item in the icon. For information about the Nativity, go to www.goarch.org / Our Faith / Major Feasts. • Set up a Nativity scene with your children to keep in their room or the family room. Have a family member tell the Nativity story as the Scene is assembled. • Use the Troparion and Kontakion as part of your family’s mealtime and bedtime prayers on Christmas Day, and for the eight days following the feast (the Afterfeast). • Read the Nativity Gospel: Luke 2:1-20. Very young children may enjoy a children’s version of the Nativity story from a Bible storybook. With younger children, it is best to read the story several times during the week. Consider using the Nativity scene figures to retell the story.

• Attend the Vesper-Liturgy on Christmas Eve or the Liturgy on Christmas Day. This will keep the focus of this Holy Day on Christ’s birth and its importance in our life and salvation. Be proactive when making choices. • Visit a shut-in parishioner or friend. Plan ahead so you can bring Antidoron, the Blessed Bread from the Christmas Liturgy and a church bulletin, plus a homemade gift to share along with your Christmas greeting: Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

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and Gospel readings. • Reading the Lives of the Saints who are heroes, models, and guides for our Spiritual life. Go to www.goarch. org and www.abbbamoses.com to find specific saints. • Maintaining the Wednesday and Friday fasts throughout the year (Jesus was betrayed on Wednesday & died on Friday) and the 4 Lenten Fasts as best we can. • Celebrating the Major Feast & Saints Days by attending services whenever possible, and making the Feast Day a special day in our home. • Maintaining cultural foods and religious celebrations. In many ways culture assists in transmitting the faith. Regardless of what our family’s cultural background, aspects of it relate to how religious holidays are celebrated. • Having the home blessed each year. The blessings of the church come to our homes with the water of Theophany. • Incensing the home, at least on Saturdays, as part of the preparation for Sunday’s Liturgy. • Celebrating patron saint’s or name days. (See the October issue of the Orthodox Observer.) • Preparing koliva (boiled wheat) for memorials and Saturday of the soul liturgies. • Preparing prosphoro for the Liturgy. • Offering prosphoro, wine and oil to the church and to our monasteries. •Passing on “faith stories” and the “Stories of our forbearers.” Ask, “Where did we come from? How did our family get to America?” •Carefully choosing godparents who will offer their spiritual gifts and guidance to our children. •Supporting the church with our time, talent and treasure. •Supporting the parish’s education ministry for children and adults. •Generously giving to charities and those in need. •Making sure that the children regularly attend church school, parish youth events, and metropolis events. •Offering christian hospitality to new parishioners, visitors and college students. •Visiting our monasteries, our spiritual oases, and getting to know the monastics. •Living a balanced life, which changes at different stages of our lives. • Living within our means and being content with what God has given us. Meshel-Onest is one of the first women graduates of HC School of Theology.

HELP THE MAGI FIND THEIR WAY TO BETHLEHEM

Start with the Magi and then find the path through the maze that will end at the Cave with the Theotokos, St. Joseph and Jesus.


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DECEMBER 2005

Greek-Orthodox Faithful Visit Ancestral Pontus  page 9 Almost one third of our group were descendants of people from that town and its surrounding villages. As the buses wound their way up the road, we were amazed by the dramatic landscape, which greatly resembled a Norwegian fiord with its steep mountains, deep valleys, lush vegetations and streams cascading down towards the sea. As we neared the highest point of the mountain range, the terrain changed. We were no longer surrounded by trees but rather by wide, open hilly countryside with herds of sheep and cattle lazily grazing. Located at its base is the small city of Nikopolis (now called Shebin Kerahisar), built in 66 B.C. by the Roman General Pompey to celebrate his victory over Mithridates VI, the last king of Pontus. In the early years of the Byzantine Empire, a castle and watch tower stood on the peak of the hill and it was within that fortress in 1915 that more than 3,000 Armenians who took refuge were ultimately slaughtered by the Turks. We next boarded four dolmuses (vans) for our visit to four surrounding villages, Koratza, Balgana, Troumpsi and Spehemele, where the grandparents of many of us had lived. We visited a gristmill owned by the grandfather/great grandfather of one of our group. It was as if time had stood still and the family home, the adjoining mill and other buildings were just as they had been left in 1922. The homestead appeared to be out of a fairy tale with its picturesque setting in a secluded glen with the background sound of the rippling stream and chirping of birds and a gentle breeze caressing our faces.

A VIEW of the abandoned Panagia Theoskepasti Monastery overlooking the great city of Trapezounda and its harbor to the Black Sea.

Our next stop was “my village”, Koratza, where both grandfathers and my maternal grandmother had been born. It was from this grandmother that I was to learn about Pontus, its foods and traditions and the way of life of the Pontians. It was also from her that I was to hear of the persecutions, of the confiscation by the Turks of their livestock and food, of the forced marches, of the time the Lykos River which flowed past the village ran red for days with the blood of the Armenians being slaughtered in the surrounding mountains. Of the time when she returned from one of these flights from her village to find her father who was too weak to flee, dead from starvation and the dogs eating his body.

She recounted how she gathered what was left and wrapped it in a cloth and tucked it in a tree so that the dogs could no longer devour his remains. As one final humiliation, Topal Osman who was the one responsible for carrying out much of the genocide of the Pontians, had forbade the Christians the right to bury their dead. Driving into Koratza, we were greeted by an elderly Turkish woman who, through our guide/interpreter, said she was born in Thessaloniki and her family had been relocated here in the exchange of populations. As she looked around at the 50 or so people who had made the special trip to Nikopolis that day, she graciously informed us she would have cooked for us

if she knew we were coming! This, too, reminded me of one of my grandmother’s stories of how a Turkish neighbor had gone to her father and told him that the Turkish army was approaching and that my grandmother and her two sisters should go stay with him and his family as if they were his daughters so that they would not be “bothered” by the soldiers. The kind Turkish woman who had greeted us pointed out to me where a church had stood when she arrived in 1930 and where the cemetery had been. Standing in the midst of this sacred place one could not help but be moved to tears recalling what our forefathers had endured and looking at the trees which dotted the landscape, I could imagine my grandmother, a teen-age girl at that time, reaching up to place the remains of her father, my great grandfather, in a tree like those around me. With members of my family close by, I offered a trisagion for his soul, for the souls of my grandparents and other family members from this place. Finally, as others would do in other places during the pilgrimage, I gathered dirt from the site where the church had stood to sprinkle on the graves of my grandparents buried in the United States. Our subsequent visits to the three other villages were equally emotional and as we wandered the roads of each our minds wondered what this town and the others must have been like when they were inhabited by Greeks…by our parents and grandparents. In Balgana, I recalled the story told to us by one of our group about her mother who was from this place.

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DECEMBER 2005

 She tearfully recounted how her grandmother, her mother and her two uncles had departed this village during one of the forced exiles by the Turks. During their trek, her grandmother would send her mother, who was 12 years old at the time, to beg for food with open hands along the roadway. Of course, her mother who had never been reduced to such a humiliating state was embarrassed to do so, but for the survival of the family she hesitantly did as told. During this time, her uncles both died of starvation and when one of them succumbed, her grandmother, who was too weak from hunger to lift him, picked him up by his feet and, with great difficulty, dragged his body to the spot where she wished to bury him. As she did so, his head bounced along the rocky way. What an image this 12-year-old girl carried all the days of her life…an image reminiscent of so many other instances endured by the Greeks of this area. Or the emotional scars of yet another Pontian girl, the deceased mother-in-law of one of our fellow-travelers, who had watched in horror as the Turks killed her father before her very eyes and then was taken captive by them and repeatedly raped over the course of many days. She was to somehow miraculously survive this nightmare but her hellish experiences were to haunt her all the days of her life. It was sad to see the stone churches of two towns converted into mosques, while the stone school of one still functioned as such while the other was used as a storehouse. We were greeted with mixed emotions by the villagers who I am sure were perplexed by the presence of so many “outsiders.” The imam of Balgana was especially gracious and told us they try to protect the old village cemetery while the imam of Troumpsi cordially asked members of our group to sign the guest book of the mosque. In each place, I offered, along with their family members, a trisagion for the eternal repose of parents and grandparents who had lived in these villages. It was overwhelming to reflect that some 80 or so years later, prayers were finally being offered in the very spot where loved ones had lived and endured so much and more importantly, that prayers were also being offered for those who had gone to meet their Maker without a proper burial or a prayer offered by a clergyman. I am sure their souls rejoiced not only at this offering but also that their descendants were now walking these lands and had not forgotten their roots. As we descended the winding road and I was comfortably seated in one of our motor coaches, I recalled yet another story of my grandmother. It had been winter when she and her two younger sisters finally decided that there was no hope for them to remain and they left their village. For days as they made the journey on this same road by foot from their village to Kerasounda, at night they would dig a cave into the snow banks and climb in for protection from the cold and wind to sleep. The next day we visited the former St. Nicholas Church in Kerasounda that was converted into a museum and which, surprisingly, still retains some of its iconography including the Christ Pantocrator. Our next stop, Trapezounda, established in 756 B.C. by Greek settlers from Sinope, was the first Greek settlement in Pontus thus making Trapezounda older than most cities in the world including Rome and Constantinople.

The city took on special prominence in 1204 A.D. when the Crusaders conquered Constantinople and the royal Comnenoi family of Byzantium fled to it for safety. They subsequently established the Empire of Trapezounda, the last bastion of Byzantium to fall to the Ottoman Turks, in 1461. The 20th century was to find Trapezounda as the unofficial capital of the Greek Pontians and the center not only of commerce but also of intellectual learning with its renowned Frontisterion. Upon our arrival, we walked to the Church of St. Anne, built around the 7th century. It has remained shuttered since 1922. We also went to the Church of Panagia Chrisokefalou built in the 10th century and the Church of St. Eugenios, built in 1222. Both are now mosques. The imperial church of Trapezounda was Agia Sophia, named for its namesake in Constantinople, and built in 12381263. Overlooking the harbor, this church is now a museum and retains most of its iconography that is a mix of Byzantine and Georgian styles. After the fall of the city in 1461, it had served for a while as a mosque but was abandoned at some point in the 19th century and a restoration in the 1960’s revealed its spectacular series of 13th century frescoes with 55 biblical scenes in total. In the courtyard of the church, we beheld “proskinitaria” (little shrines) and tombstones which had evidently been gathered in this place from Greek cemeteries of the city and which now somberly witnessed the presence of a once prosperous Greek community.

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Panagia Soumela

The next day we set out on one of the highlights of our pilgrimage, a visit to the renowned “Panagia Soumela” monastery established in 386 A.D. Two monks, uncle and nephew, named Barnabas and Sophronios had been directed by the Theotokos in a dream to transport an icon of the Panagia and Christ-Child which according to tradition had been painted by St. Luke to the shores of the Black Sea. This icon had originally been in Athens where it was known as “Panagia the Athenian” and was later taken to Thebes by Ananias, the student of St. Luke. Setting out on foot, Sts. Barnabas and Sophronios began their arduous journey, through dangerous lands, exposed to the elements, until finally they reached Pontus where Panagia instructed them to place her icon in a cave high up on Mount Mela. By the time of Justinian’s reign in the 6th century the monastery was flourishing and it became the center of spiritual life for the surrounding Greek Orthodox faithful who in their Pontian idiom would say they were going to “Panagia tou Mela” which over the passage of time evolved into Panagia Soumela. Over the centuries the complex was expanded and in the 14th century grew to its present size, able to house over 100 monks and with a large guesthouse. The main church and chapels are covered in four layers of frescoes dating from the 14th century, the mid 18th century and 1860. Before their deportation in 1922 with the exchange of populations, the monks had buried for safekeeping the icon of the Panagia along with two other treasures, a 15th century carved wooden cross that was a gift to the monastery from the Emperor Emmanuel Comnenos and a 7th century manuscript of the gospel which had belonged to St. Christopher, at the nearby monastery Chapel of St. Barbara.

 page 26

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Historic Pilgrimage  page 25 In 1931, Eleftherios Venizelos, at the request of Metropolitan Chrysanthos, the last Metropolitan of Trapezounda, who later became Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, arranged with then Turkish Prime Minister Ismet Inonu to have the icon returned to Greece. It was kept for a period of time in the Byzantine Museum in Athens until 1951 when the Pontian refugees in Greece managed to erect a new monastery in the mountains of Veria, Greece where the icon is enshrined and is the center of great religious and ethnic celebrations for Pontians especially on Aug. 15. Our buses reached the base of the mountain and a number of us made the strenuous 45-minute climb to the monastery on a dirt and rocky path that zigzagged its way towards the peak. As we neared our destination, we felt relief but great excitement when we saw above us a stone stairway that we knew had to lead to the monastery. At the bottom of these steps we were met by the other older members of our group who took the small mini-buses to this point. Truly, the area is magnificent with a divine grandeur and it was painful to now find ourselves at a place that in other times had been the light and protection of Orthodox Christians and was now a place of ruins and destruction. How ironic that we were “welcomed” by a ticket booth and would have to pay an entrance fee to enter an important part of our heritage and one which had been built by those who these people so violently persecuted. We made our way up the stone steps leading to the gateway and upon reaching

museum learned in passing from our guides that I was a clergyman they began to ask me numerous questions about the various icons that adorned the ceiling and walls of the church. After spending some time wandering through the maze of the monastery compound, we gathered and anointed ourselves with some of the droplets of water which fell from the overhanging rocks into the former agiasma and began our descent from this most sacred of places. As we neared the bottom, we beheld Turkish families picnicking and camping out around their campfires in the surrounding woods. Before 1922, Greek Orthodox faithful would come to this place and in like manner rest before they began their ascent to the monastery. This was especially the case around Aug. 15, the feast day of the monastery, when thousands upon thousands of Pontians would gather to celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos, venerate the sacred icon of the Panagia and participate in the feast which followed, singing and dancing their traditional songs and dances. What had brought these modern day campers here…were they Crypto-Christians? How could one explain their presence at this very spot? As we made our way to our buses, we were greeted by tourist shops where souvenir dealers, as had been the case earlier at Agia Sophia, hawked amongst other things Orthodox icons. How ironic that in the monastery above, people sought to destroy icons, gashing out the eyes of Christ and the saints depicted in them, and here their compatriots were now trying to make money by selling us icons. Following our memorable and very moving visit to Panagia Soumela, we lunched at a local restaurant, where we

The sound of Pontian Greek being spoken in the streets of Samsounda attracted a native Pontian, longing for the language and the people of his ancestry. A warm and lively discussion ensued.

the top beheld below us the courtyard of the monastery surrounded by buildings that miraculously clung to the side of the mountain like the nest of some airy creature. Entering the main church where the icon of the Panagia had been housed, one could only be saddened to see the frescoes on the walls like others we had beheld in Agia Sophia in Trapezounda with their eyes gouged out and countless nicks in their surfaces where others had tried to hack them off the wall. We could only wonder what thoughts crossed the mind of the many Moslem tourists around us, the heads of their women covered with the veil...what had brought them to this most holy of Christian shrines?

Forbidden Prayers

We had been forewarned by our guides that offering any type of audible prayer such as chanting the hymn of the monastery or lighting a candle was strictly forbidden so we had to content ourselves with bowing our heads in silent prayer, offering from our hearts that which our lips were forbidden to speak. When the guards of the monastery/

partook of a traditional Pontian meal of wild greens soup, “havits” (ground corn meal cooked with melted cheese), “tourshi” (pickled vegetables) and of course, “rizogalo” (rice pudding). Upon our return to Trapezounda, a group of us set out to see a few other points of interest including the former women’s monastery of “Panagia Theoskepasti.” Located on the highest point overlooking the city, the monastery had once been in a bucolic area but was now surrounded by city sprawl. As we passed through the gateway of the monastery walls, we were greeted by the Turkish guardian of the site who was visibly embarrassed at the present state of the monastery. He apologetically explained that when the nuns had been forced to leave in 1922 the buildings had remained intact for a period of time but that at some point, the local authorities had housed people in the complex, allowing them even to light cooking fires in the former cave-church of the monastery which was built in the 14th century. Because of the smoke from these fires and the extreme humidity from moisture

THE GROUP of pilgrims pose for a photo in Trapezounta.

seeping through the stone of this church, many of the frescoes were in sad condition, crumbling before our eyes. Since the local and national authorities could not agree to whom the site belonged, no steps had been taken to preserve any of these artifacts and the place was overrun with weeds. Even though roped off, he allowed us to explore the upper parts of the monastery complex and pointed out the former graveyard. As we drew near to the spot, we noticed an open grave with a small brass nameplate “Metropolitan Konstantinos” and as we were wondering who this hierarch had been, we noticed bones scattered about on the ground. Not sure whether they were his or even human, we gathered whatever we saw and took them for safekeeping. Admiring the view of the city and harbor below, we bid farewell to the guard. As we made our way out the gate, I asked our guide to tip him in appreciation; not only for allowing us to visit without restrictions, but also because it was apparent that he cared about this once holy place of prayer. After insisting that he accept our gift, I asked that he do whatever he could to protect this spot from vandals, and touched by what we had just seen, we silently departed making our way back to our buses. That evening we had arranged to spend some time at the hotel with a group of Pontians from Athens we had met by chance at the Istanbul airport. We were joined by a few other individuals from another group from Kastoria (Greece) staying at a different hotel who had heard from the Athenian travelers that there was an “American” bishop at the hotel with a number of people from the States. The next morning, Sunday, we had arranged along with the group from Athens to chant the Paraklesis service in a meeting room of the hotel since there were no active Orthodox churches located in all of Pontus. Though prevented to openly pray there, we knew in our hearts that she now heard our voices and rejoiced that her children from so far away had come to pray, beseeching her intercessions. We offered a trisagion, for the eternal repose of deceased parents and grand-

THE DESCENDANTS of Yiannis Simeonides on the porch of their ancestral home.

parents and all the victims of the Pontian Genocide. Following our departure from the hotel, we visited the home of Konstantinos Kapagiannides a wealthy banker and leading citizen of the city before the exchange. There had been three very wealthy Greek families, Kapagiannides, Fosteropoulos and Theofilaktou, who had been the largest bankers and merchants in Trapezounda and in all of Pontus. The Kapagiannides family was the wealthiest and had been great patrons of the Pontian community contributing to many projects but especially during the onset of the persecutions provided funds to Metropolitan Chrysanthos so the Church could assist the many refugees. Our final stop was the “Frontistirion” – a four-storied stone and stucco building that overlooked the harbor of the city. The school had been established in 1682 by a Pontian who had returned to Trapezounda from Constantinople and for 240 years this educational institution had provided the young students of Pontus with a post-high school education. The present edifice, built on the site of the original school, had been erected in 1899-1902. It was referred to as the “Greek Light House” prior to 1922 since it was the center of learning and enlightenment for Pontian youth. Here they had studied religion, geometry, physics, geography as well as Greek, French, Turkish and other subjects needed to produce well-rounded and progressive members of the Pontian community. The building still operates as a trade school by the Turks. We drove through, making an occasion stop, at other cities which we had not visited on our way here and which had been the home of Pontian communities: Platana, Tripoli, Boulantzaki, Fadissani, Inoi, and Thermodon. As the hours elapsed and these scenes passed before our eyes, countless others from our experiences these past few days flashed through our memory and as we crossed the unofficial borders of Pontus and entered Anatolia we bid farewell to our homeland. When we returned to Constantinople we received the blessings of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and also saw the remnants of the once vibrant Greek community.


DECEMBER 2005

27

Challenge

YOUTH MINISTRY

What’s Up

WITH

I

n the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. by George P. Tatsis

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5) Centuries upon centuries later, we have seen the very same light and darkness, the Day and Night. Have you ever stopped to look up at the night sky? Have you looked at the moon or picked out a planet or two? Can you find a few constellations based on our human mythologies? All this can be seen with the naked eye. Have you ever peeked into a telescope to see the equatorial bands of Jupiter and follow the movement of its four major moons? How about the rings of Saturn? How about the Orion Nebula or a passing comet? If not, you are missing out! Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was one of the most influential scientists of all times. His accomplishments in mathematics, optics, and physics laid the foundations for modern science. He defined the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which he used to predict the motions of stars and planets around our Sun. He also believed in a Creator of the world: “When I observe the course of heavenly bodies through the telescope my knees bend and involuntarily kneel, in order to magnify the greatness of God, Who has thrown all these miracles into space.” Other scientists like Nicholas Copernicus and Johannes Kepler also made great contributions to science, and they were always aware of God’s presence. From the Genesis account, we can see that God created everything. Everything! Scientists around the world are working to discover the unknown secrets of Creation. Exciting and amazing things are out there to be uncovered. Take the challenge and look for yourself with a scientific eye, before you miss out! Has your science teacher ever had you look at a drop of pond water under a microscope? There is a whole, unseen world of life there – bacteria, amoebas, ciliates, rotifers, flagellated protozoa, diatoms, desmids, algae, worms, and crustaceans. Have you ever looked at the structures of an animal cell under a microscope? Have you considered the wonders of the nucleus, mitochondria, lysosomes, centrioles, Golgi apparatus, smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, and the plasmic membrane? This stuff is really cool! Have you ever looked at the structure of a flower in your garden, in the forest, or in the meadow? The stamen (the male part) is comprised of the anthers (which contain pollen) and the filaments. The carpel (the female part) is comprised of the stigma and ovary.

Faith & Science?

The petals attract insects, which aid in the transfer of pollen to the ovary. The result is the production of seeds and fruit. Have you ever seen the life cycle of a butterfly? It is fantastic! It starts its life as an egg. The larva (caterpillar) hatches from an egg and eats leaves or flowers almost non-stop. The caterpillar molts (loses its skin) many times as it grows. It then turns into a pupa (chrysalis). This is the resting stage. A beautiful flying adult emerges. The adult will continue the cycle, find a mate, and reproduce. New eggs are laid. Have you ever studied the structure of atoms? They are the building blocks of all matter--solid, liquid, and gas. Protons and neutrons are bundled together in the nucleus of the atom, and electrons move in their own orbits around the nucleus. This arrangement is similar to the orbits of the hundreds of discovered planets around their suns. Have you ever considered the marvelous way in which your life began? An egg of your mother’s was fertilized by the sperm from your father, combining DNA from both parents to make up your very own genetic code. Your unique life began at that instant, when you were conceived! Then, you grew through an astonishing process as a fetus, eventually developed into a baby in your mother’s womb, and you were born nine months later. You see, if used in a proper and responsible manner, all of this knowledge –this science– can be very useful to humanity. For example, it may help with finding cures of challenging diseases that threaten human life. The mass media are regularly announcing the appearance of new viruses, like the bird flu strain H5N1. It is threatening a worldwide pandemic that could cause millions of people around the world to lose their lives. Scientists are working as fast as they can to prevent this from happening, while others investigate new technologies, like nanotechnology (the science of extremely small materials) to revolutionize cancer diagnostics, imaging, and treatment. Study within any of the sciences (astronomy, biology, chemistry, genetics, geology, mathematics, medicine, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology, philosophy, physics, psychology, etc.) can be a very exciting and rewarding activity, or even career. Understanding how things are and how they work answers many questions that we humans have. Consider pursuing a career in science as you think about what you want to do with your life. Pursue it, however, with a sense of wonder and awe. Let God reveal to you the awesome mysteries of His Creation. From the beginning, the Church has had a close relationship with science and medicine. Many clergymen and lay leaders in the history of the Church studied and practiced medicine. St. Luke the Evangelist was a physician. In the early Church, two brothers, Sts. Kosmas and Damian pursued science and medicine. They believed that healing of all types came from God, which caused them to practice medicine without charging for

their services. Saints who do this are called unmercenaries. Interestingly, hundreds of years later, two more sets of brothers with the names Kosmas and Damian also served as physicians. St. Basil the Great established the first hospitals as part of his ministry. His example led many monastic communities to do the same. From these examples, we can see that the Church is accepting of the scientific field of medicine. Other theologians studied the sciences of physics, astronomy, mathematics, biology, and psychology. They believed that their findings were related to divine purpose and providence. In his writings, St. Basil the Great describes how the physical world was formed based on the understanding of science of his day. In the late 7th and early 8th centuries, St. John of Damascus wrote about earth science, astronomy, and various aspects of psychology. Orthodox Christianity respects the disciplined approach and integrity of science when it is used appropriately and grounded with faith in God. You may have heard about the current debate going on in the political-religiouseducational world concerning faith and science. Various camps have formed to defend their position and attack the opposing positions on Intelligent Design. It is the controversial assertion that certain features of the universe and of living things exhibit the characteristics of a product resulting from an intelligent cause or agent, as opposed to an unguided process such as natural selection (evolution). In other words, Intelligent Design leaves room for a creator. Opponents of this new theory say it is just another attempt by believers to teach the Creation story in schools. Creation Theory (in other words, the Genesis account) and the Theory of Evolution (Darwinism) have been on opposite sides of the debate and against each other for over 100 years. The biblical account of Creation has been around for thousands of years. Charles Darwin first proposed his Theory of Evolution as a way to explain the variations he found in animals while exploring the Galapagos Islands in the 19th century. Intelligent Design Theory has recently arrived on the scene. We will see where this debate takes us. In the mean time, don’t miss out! Explore science and remember that God created whatever you see. Praise His mighty works! After 20 years in cardiovascular research, George P. Tatsis returned to the classroom to complete a Master of Divinity at Holy Cross School of Theology. He is president of the Class of 2006 and co-coordinator of the Office of Student Life, while remaining a faithful steward of St. Nektarios Church in Charlotte, N.C. His effective leadership and life experience has brought much to the HC/HC campus, having served as Parish Council president and OCMC team member on two mission trips to Alaska.

e-mail: youthoffice@goarch.org

Media Review

ORTHODOX OBSERVER

If you want to see a great family movie about the wonders of God’s Creation, go see March of the Penguins. It is the story of how love finds a way to succeed in the harshest place on the earth. (To be furthered…)

Did You Know…

D

id you know that one of God’s most amazing creatures is the penguin? There are 17 species of penguins and all of them naturally live in the Southern Hemisphere. So if you see them in a commercial with Alaskan Eskimos or Santa Claus at the North Pole, you will know that something is wrong! Although they are birds, penguins cannot fly. Their wings have been modified into paddle-like flippers, so they walk (okay, waddle), toboggan on their bellies, and swim really well. Some species spend as much as 75 percent of their lives at sea. They eat krill, (a shrimp-like crustacean), squid, and fish. They do not migrate great distances, but stay near their breeding grounds. The Fairy Penguin is the smallest species, standing at just 16 inches tall and weighing about 2 pounds. The Emperor Penguin is the largest, standing at nearly 4 feet tall and weighing between 60-90 pounds. During their breeding season, the air temperature can reach 75 degrees below zero, and the wind speeds may reach 125mph. In such extreme conditions, they communicate with both vocal and physical displays. Somehow, these creatures survive the harsh conditions and produce offspring to keep their species going. Penguins are truly marvelous creatures and just one example of the creativity of God. Take a moment today to see them in action at http:// www.mbayaq.org/efc/efc_splash/ splash_cam.asp

Challenge is the Youth & Young Adult Ministries supplement to the Orthodox Observer. Articles reflect the opinion of the writers. Write to: Youth & Young Adult Ministries, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 83 St. Basil Rd., Garrison, New York 10524 or email: youthoffice@goarch.org


28

DECEMBER 2005

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DECEMBER 2005

Third Annual “Run for George” a Success ENGLEWOOD CLIFF, N.J. – The third annual “Run for George” was held Nov. 20 with many members participating from the Greek Orthodox communities of Tenafly and Fairview. More than 350 people attended the 5K run & family fun day. Nearly $50,000 was raised to benefit Johns Hopkins University, leaders in pancreatic cancer research. The event was sponsored by Marathon Bank of Fort Lee, among others. Also contributing to the success of the event were Thalassa Restaurant, Ionian Management, Soho Snacks, Greek to Me, and the Red Oak, Plaza and Royal Cliffs Diners. Run for George is organized by sisters Stacy, Sophia and Pauline Rubis in memory of their father George, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 62. George Rubis emigrated from Evia, Greece in the 1950¹s, graduated from NYU, and became an engineer and passionate marathon runner. He put up a valiant 15-month fight, undergoing experimental chemotherapy while continuing to train and run, and even vacationed in his beloved Greece with his family. It was a fight that could not be won as pancreatic cancer has the highest fatality rate of all cancers, 99 percent. He died Sept. 5, 1998. When George’s daughters began to recover from their great loss, they vowed to take action so that other families would not experience the same devastation and hopelessness theirs did. The idea for Run for George was born. The run has grown into a much-anticipated community event that has raised over $135,000 to benefit research at Johns Hopkins University.

St. Louis Golfers Raise Thousands for Church ST. LOUIS – Hellenic Spirit Foundation recently sponsored the 12th annual Invitational Greek Open Golf Classic that attracted 149 golfers who contributed more than $65,000 for charity, including $15,000 for the Church and its ministries. The Foundation has been a leading fund-raiser in the St. Louis area for 14 years. Co-chairmen of the event were Tony Karakas and Bill Togias.

HOLY SCRIPTURE READINGS JANUARY . . . . . . . .

1 S.......................Col. 2:8-12; Lk. 2:20-21, 40-52 2 M...............................Heb. 5:4-10, John 3:1-15 3T.................................Rom. 6:18-23, Mt. 8:5-13 4 W................Heb. 5:11-14, 6:1-8, Mk. 12:28-37 5 Th............................1 Cor. 9:19-27, Lk. 3:1-18 6 F....................Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7, Mt. 3:13-17 7 S...............................Acts 19:1-8, John 1:29-34 8 SUN...........................Eph. 4:7-13, Mt. 4:12-17 9 M..............................2 Tim. 2:1-10, Mk. 1:9-15 10 T...............................Heb. 4:1-13, Lk. 3:19-22 11 W...........................2 Tim. 2:1-10, Jn. 10:39-42 12 Th..............................Eph. 4:14-17; Lk. 9:7-11 13 F...............................Eph. 6:10-17, Lk. 20:1-8 14 S........................Heb. 10:32-38, Lk. 12:32-40 15 SUN.........................Col. 3:4-11, Jn. 21:15-25 16 M...........................Acts 12:1-11, Jn. 21:15-25 17 T...........................Heb. 13:17-21, Lk. 6:17-23 18 W...........................Heb. 13:7-16, Mt. 5:14-19 19 Th........................Gal. 5:22-6:2, Mt. 19:16-26 20 F.............................2 Cor. 4:6-15, Lk. 6:17-23 21 S..................Philippians 1:12:20, Lk. 12:8-12 22 SUN....................1 Tim. 1:15-17, Lk. 18:35-43 23 M........................Phil. 3:20-4:3, Mk. 2:23-3:5 24 T.........................Gal. 3:22-6:2, Mk. 11:11-23 25 W..........................Heb. 7:26-8:2, Jh. 10:9-16 26 Th..............James 4:7-17, 5:1-9, Mk. 11:27-33 27 F............................Heb. 7:26-8:2, Jn. 10:9-16 28 S.............................Gal. 5:22-6:2, Lk. 6:17-23 29 SUN......................1 Tim. 4:9-15, Lk. 19:1-10 30 M...........................Heb. 13:7-16, Mt. 5:14-19 31 T.....................1 Cor. 12:27-12:8, Mt. 10:1, 5-8

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RELIGIOUS EDUCATION  page 7 The scriptures inform us that God blessed the woman with a son. It was more than she could have ever dreamed or hoped for. Why did God bless her so greatly? It was because she had a desire to serve the man of God without expecting anything in return. Her primary motive was to serve. It was only while the man of God was resting in his room that he had the desire to bless the woman. However, even when asked, the woman insisted that she was content with what she had. How different is her attitude towards God when compared to ours own? We often forget that we are first called to serve others before considering our own needs. Like the woman, our primary motive for receiving Christ into our hearts should be to serve Him. While seeking to serve Him, He, like Elisha, will ensure that we are blessed. The woman sought to make the man of God welcome in her house, and so he blessed her with the birth of a son. In a similar fashion, it is in the mist of seeking to make Him welcome in our live and in our respective local parishes

– to unselfishly serve Him - that He truly blesses our households with joy of life! The Shunammite woman had made the man of God welcome. She had expanded her house to make it an appropriate place for him to dwell in. She served him, and because of that she had received divine blessing. Finally, she desired resurrection - a new birth. This is the fourth and ultimate step of receiving Christ during the celebration of the Holy Nativity! The Book of Kings informs us that years after its birth, the child that God had given the woman became gravely ill and died. The son that she cherished, and never thought she could have, had died in her arms. The blessing that she had been given, yet never asked for, had now been taken away. With great faith, she laid the child on Elisha’s bed and then ran straight to him. Significantly, it was only when the prophet returned to the room that the woman had constructed for him that her child was resurrected! This, in the end, is the essence of the Holy Nativity. The coming of God in the flesh is for the purpose of bestowing new

life to His creation! He came to do the miraculous by raising-up what appears to be hopelessly dead. All we need to do to experience the joy of such new life is to properly receive Him by emulating the four-fold welcoming process of the woman. The celebration of the Holy Nativity heralds the continual visitation of God. He came unto His own in Bethlehem, He continues to come today, and will one day come with judgment in the future. Are we ready to welcome Him? To what degree are our hearts and souls made ready as the Shunemmite’s house? Will we let him pass, contending that we do not have adequate room or, will we urge Him to come and reside? Are we willing to be stretched and to serve? Christ is coming . . . are we ready to receive Him? As the liturgical verse quoted at the onset of this essay exhorts: “Let us receive Him who dwells in the souls of the meek!” Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos is director of Archdiocese Department of Religious Education and adjunct assistant professor of religious education and homiletics at Holy Cross School of Theology.


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San Francisco Metropolis Holds Clergy Institute In the beautiful setting of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, at St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center, 57 Greek Orthodox Clergymen gathered for a spirit-filled retreat. by Fr. Gary Kyriacou

Under the guidance of their new Metropolitan, Gerasimos of San Francisco, the clergy assembled for it’s annual institute, Nov. 29-Dec. 1. The retreat was led by Rev. Dr. Vasilios Thermos of Athens, Greece. Theme was “Clergy and Family Wellness: Finding the Balance.” Fr. Thermos presentations included discussions on priestly life and identity and finding balance within the clergy family and ministry. Metropolitan Gerasimos opened the retreat with a keynote address. His Eminence spoke of the importance of the priesthood and his relationship with parish and family. His Eminence expressed the importance of a balanced lifestyle for his priests and encouraged them to take proper care of themselves. Following his inspiration filled address His Eminence introduced Paul Bodnar, the new director of St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center and Peter Sotiras, the newly assigned Youth and Family Ministry director of the Metropolis. Both men revealed a deep desire to serve the Metropolis to enhance its spiritual formation. Fr. Andrew Barakos of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Scottsdale, Ariz., officiated at the Divine liturgy for the Feast of St. Andrew, the First Called, with His Eminence seated at the throne and his brother priests in attendance. Fr. Thermos shared ways for the clergy to enhance their parish ministry without neglecting their role as fathers and husbands. Fr. Jim Pappas of St. George’s Church in Fresno, Calif. exclaimed, “It is helpful to gain guidance in understanding our parish and personal life. Both aspects of a clergyman’s life need to be kept in a healthy balance. This retreat was quite refreshing” Discussions revolved around real ways and techniques that our clergy can employ to improve themselves as individuals and pastors. One Priest asked Fr. Thermos, “What do you think of the modern technologies now used in our ministries, more specifically, cell phones. My cell phone keeps me engaged at all times of the day.” Fr. Thermos simply stated, with his pleasant Greek accent, “I think all cell phones have voice mail, right?” We love and respect the priests of our Archdiocese. They work hard to provide a healthy exchange of our faith and tradition, it is time that we realize how delicate the balance between parish life and family life is for these men. Fr. Kyriacou is pastor of St. Demetrios Church, Camarillo, Calif.

DECEMBER 2005

The Mission Monastery of the Brotherhood of St. George DENVER – In the fertile soil of Denver something unique and special has been planted. Tucked amid the growing affluence of suburban pop-tops, sits a small, unassuming little bungalow, at least on the outside. It is the Brotherhood of St. George, a missionary monastery, founded as a dependency of Moni Tharri, with the blessings of Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver and Geronda Amphilochios of Tharri, Rhodes. Open the little gate, follow the brick path around the back, and, enter a haven of warmth, prayer and peace. Vigil lamps glow, icons adorn brightly painted walls, a hand-made wood table with matching benches fills the center of the room. Pass through the tiny kitchen, and find yourself inside a beautiful chapel, with frescoes of saints on the walls, and a hand-carved altar screen adorned with beautiful icons of Christ, The Theotokos, St. John the Baptist and St. George. For first-time visitors or frequent guests, going to the monastery is like returning to the home of a beloved grandmother, a place where one is always welcome, leaving the bustle and stress of daily life far behind. The house, in fact, used to belong to the abbot, Archimandrite Fr. Christodoulos Papadeas’ grandmother. The-one-car garage was converted into the chapel. Various pilgrims, friends of the monastery, over a few short years, have added to the renovations, building bookshelves, painting the chapel, laying bricks in the courtyard, bringing food to

share, adding their voices as chanters, sweeping up, or making beds for overnight guests. As each one contributes, a bit of themselves, they help make this a place of fellowship, love, healing and spiritual growth for everyone, young or old, married or single, Orthodox or non-Orthodox, all those seeking to understand or grow in the faith. St. George retains the timeless, otherworldly quality of traditional ancient monasteries, yet, has a unique liveliness, spontaneity and openness. Fr. Christodoulos, through the Brotherhood offers 24-hour hospitality and frequent liturgical services, assists local

parishes, and travels as far as Canada, Greece, and, more recently, to New Zealand, as spiritual Father and confessor. The pioneering spirit present at this small outpost, continues to grow with the establishment of a beautiful outdoor chapel, Agia Anna, built in the mountains just outside Denver, and, dedicated not only to our most holy Panayia’s mother, St. Anna, but to all mothers. St. George Monastery, along with Agia Anna, is a precious gem of spiritual richness, upholding the ancient, pure, holy and unbroken thread of monasticism that has quietly weaved its way through centuries, taking root on the shores of America.

Los Angeles Cathedral Honors Its Dean

Illinois Hellenic Bar Association to Honor Metropolitan Iakovos, Dr. Constantine Mavroudis

FR. BAKAS, Fr. Efstathios V. Mylonas of St. Anthony Church in Pasadena, Metropolitan Gerasimos, and Metropolis Philoptochos President Valerie Roumeliotis.

LOS ANGELES – More than 550 members of St. Sophia Cathedral recently honored Fr. John S. Bakas for his 10 years of service to the parish. Among those attending were Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. Tony Thomopoulos served as master of ceremonies. Among Fr. Bakas’ accomplishments over the years has been the founding of the Byzantine-Latino Quarter Foundation, a cultural and redevelopment organization that raised $4 million from state and city grants to purchase and remodel a 24,000-square-foot building located near the church. He also was founding priest of the Kids ‘N Cancer Camp Agape Program of the Metropolis Philoptochos, founding priest of St. Basil Church in San Jose, Calif., and a co-founder of St. Nicholas Ranch. He also started Camp Axios, a camping program for Los Angeles inner city at-risk youth, and Project Nino in Mexico,

a program administered through Rotary International that offers free medical care for poor children. His lifelong interest in the arts resulted in the establishment of the Rotary Greek Amphitheater in Fresno. As a member of the California Civil War Re-enactors Society, he wears the uniform of a Civil War officer, taking the role of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Fr. John and his family immigrated to the United States in 1958 from Kalamata, Greece and settled in Albuquerque, N.M., where he served as an altar boy at St. George Church. He received a bachelor’s and masters from the University of New Mexico, where he served as assistant dean of admissions. He later undertook four years of training in the seminary-sponsored Archdiocesan Priest with Lay Profession Program. Fr. Bakas also has served parishes in Modesto, Bakersfield and Fresno, Calif, and Las Vegas.

CHICAGO -- The Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois and the Hellenic Bar Association Foundation honored Metropolitan Iakovos with its “Hellene of the Year Award and Dr. Constantine Mavroudis for his professional achievement at their 55th annual installation dinner dance and scholarship ball Nov. 6 at the Drake Hotel. Dr. Mavroudis, of Children’s Memorial Hospital, is an internationally renowned children’s cardiologist and surgeon and founder of The Hellenic Heart program that provides free heart surgeries and care to children here and in Greece. The Hellenic Bar Association is an association of lawyers of Greek descent that strives to foster social, networking and educational opportunities among lawyers of Greek descent and other backgrounds. The HBA was founded 55 years ago and currently has about 150 active members. Throughout the year, the association hosts several meetings, social/happy hours for the membership and provides educational events. Senior outreach programs have been established where members of HBA present to local churches on issues such as real estate, Greek inheritance law and other relevant issues. The HBA recently started a Career Corner for law students and an annual golf outing in conjunction with the Hellenic Dental Society. The organization is also a long-time co-sponsor of the Joint Professionals Society Annual Valentine’s Dance. In addition, the External Relations Committee fosters relationships with and assisting the Metropolis and the Consulate General with legal matters.


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DECEMBER 2005

FROM

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, Host His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey Patriarchal Centennial Visitation Committee Chairman William Planes Ecclesiastical Chairman Very Reverend Father Sebastian Skordallos, Archimandrite Emmanuel Gombos Kenny Henderson Paul Aiello George Kouskoutis Dr. Theodore Vlahos George Psetas Alex Veloudis Nick Katzarasy Father John Bociu of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral Father Joseph Samaan of St. Stefanos Greek Orthodox Church Father Stavros Akrotirianakis of St. John the Baptist Church Father James Rousakis of Holy Trinity Church Father Panayiotis Papageorgiou of St. George Greek Orthodox Church Father John Protopapas of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas & Irene Hellenic Orthodox Church Father Dean Photos of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church Father Frank Kirlangitis of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church Father Stanley S. Harakas of Christ the Savior Mission Church Council Presidents Nikitas Manias, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral John Mitchell, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church James Kordis, St. George Greek Orthodox Church George Koulianos, Sts. Raphael, Nicholas & Irene Hellenic Orthodox Mission Paul Aiello, St. Stefanos Greek Orthodox Church Deno Krillies, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Mary Emanoilidis, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church Paul Cosmadelis, Christ the Savior Orthodox Mission Denise Chimbos, St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church

We are honored that you will be joining us for the Centennial Epiphany Celebration on January 4-8, 2006 in Tarpon Springs, Florida www.patriarchalcentennialvisit.com


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DECEMBER 2005

PATRIARCHAL PROCLAMATION ON THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST BArtHoLoMEW

BY tHE GrACE oF GoD ArCHBiSHoP oF CoNStANtiNoPLE NEW roME AND ECUMENiCAL PAtriArCH, to tHE PLENitUDE oF tHE CHUrCH GrACE, PEACE AND MErCY FroM CHriSt tHE SAVioUr, BorN iN BEtHLEHEM “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16) Beloved Brothers and Sisters, Children in the Lord, The human soul feels deeply the need to be loved. The widespread sense that life has no meaning, which plagues in particular our young people, is to be blamed on the absence of love. Our fellow human beings are for the most part trapped within their individual pursuits and seek to fill the emptiness caused by the lack of love with the acquisition of material goods, carnal pleasures and fame. However, the soul is only satisfied with personal recognition and love, and not these other things. For love exists in the Lord and holds the world together, recognizes everyone by their name and is offered generously. God created the universe through His Logos out of love, so that we all may participate in the joy whose source is this unifying personal love. However, beginning with the first created human being and ending with today’s, humankind, throughout its entire history, has been rejecting the love Creator has offered to them and turned love away from their hearts; instead, they turned to the faceless world and sought unsuccessfully the recognition of their personal existence in the pursuit of superiority and self-absorbing satisfaction; they did not accept the love offered to them nor did they offer it back. As a result, a world of competition, hatred and bloodshed emerged, which we continue to experience as our daily reality. God’s love never diminishes, regardless of our rejection of it; God sent His only begotten Son to the world in human form out of love, not to judge people for having gone astray but to save the world through Him (John 3:17). He was born in a humble manger by the Virgin Mary in order to show that might, fame and material riches, in which humankind has sought joy and salvation, are not the true sources of life and happiness. Christ came to Bethlehem to bring again the message of the unconditional love of God for humankind. God has continued to offer this immense love for the two thousand years since Christ’s birth. He came to the world as a weak and innocent infant, filled with love, yet threatened with death by slaughter by Herod. Herod represents a humankind that loathes love even when it is offered through the innocent and peaceful eyes of a child. Many of today’s people, who erroneously think of God as an unyielding judge, rather than as an affectionate Father who awaits the return of His prodigal son with love and forgiveness, have distanced themselves from the Incarnate God Jesus Christ, the Logos and glory of God the Father, and the consubstantial Holy Spirit; they have broken away from the life-giving and loving Holy Trinity, and thus rendered their world secular, deprived of hope in God and genuine love. They turned to substitutions for divine love, and based their hopes on the expansion of their might in the secular world, on the amassing of more wealth, the subjugation of nations, the global expansion of trade, the promulgation of ideas against God. They disregard, even deny, the reality of death, and turn to anything to alleviate the stresses that come from living without love. Some, unable to find deliverance from despair in these pursuits, are driven to reject the greatest gift of God to humankind, life itself. Nevertheless, beloved children, the love of God is an undeniable reality. Our Lord Jesus Christ waits to be born in the heart of each of us in order to bring to everyone the meaning of life. This means that He has chosen us to enjoy life in mutual love and to experience the fulfillment of our existence in our relationship with Him, the Incarnate God, and with our fellow human beings and all creation. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him in love” (Eph. 1, 3:4). Love is the equivalent of the foundation and the roof of a building, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega of creation. The mysteries of the manger and the Birth, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension and the continuing presence of Christ on earth, in general, point to love.

The hymn of the angels that is chanted during the Nativity service, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will among men” (Luke 2: 14) is an expression of the admiration angels felt when they realized the inconceivable love of God. Christ tolerated his crucifixion among outlaws not out of weakness, which is a quality unbefitting an omnipotent God; He tolerated it out of His love. All God’s actions are filled with love for every single person. Let us, then, beloved children abandon the course that leads to secularism and let us return to our Father God in repentance; let us return to Jesus Christ who was born as our brother, who came to our world out of love for us who had been deceived and had distanced ourselves from Him. His love for us is a fact. In His presence there is no fear but forgiveness, peace and joy. May the grace, blessing and abundant mercy of God be with you all during the Nativity season and throughout your lives, unto the ages of ages.

Patriarch of Constantinople BARTHOLOMEW your fervent intercessor before God At the Phanar, Christmas 2005


Orthodox Observer - December 2005