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Archbishop’s Farewell Letter

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September 1996

To the Reverend Clergy, the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Parishes, the Philoptochos Societies and the Youth of the Holy Archdiocese of North and South America

My Beloved:

This very moment, you are all in front of my eyes. Not only those of you whom I visited, met and ministered in our parishes during the past 37 years of my archpastoral ministry, but all those, as well, whom I met as a deacon and a priest, when I first arrived in America in 1939.

To this day, you continue to be my pride and joy. You are indeed God's people, protected by His grace during the times when you were a minor and insignificant force lost among the multitude of citizens, and later on when you came of age and asserted yourselves with your toil and dignity.

You set off from your villages or cities and with the slow transportation of the times you arrived in this foreign country, unknown amongst unknown, and with God's help and your arduous labor you have now become an integral part of her.

Most of you did not have the good fortune to receive your education in the Mother Country; you obtained your education here either by attending schools or through your daily labors, and filled America with educated offspring, with schools and churches, professors and scientists, more than any other immigrant group who had the same aspirations as you.

Although with difficulty, you ascended the social strata and proved yourselves to be significant and honorable citizens. Your children reached the highest levels in the field of education, politics, economics, science, business, civic life, athletics and arts in this country.

You learned about fellowship and solidarity and organized yourselves into local brotherhoods, federations, ecclesial communities and established a Hellenism that is religiously orthodox and nationally robust and regarded as a primary force both by the Church and the Country.

You also learned that conferences serve as a mode of renewal of relationships, a means of resolving differences, and an institution for decisions and resolutions. You instituted them in the life of your Church as diocesan conferences on the parish level and as clergy-laity congresses on the Archdiocesan level.

This year we held our 33rd Clergy-Laity Congress. The uniform parish regulations, the Synod of the Bishops, the Archdiocesan Council, and the National Philoptochos, they all work effectively, and all are an outcome of the work of these Congresses. You have established Orthodoxy as the fourth major faith in these United States. How can I refrain from being boastful and proud of you?

As I retire from active service, I am thankful to God that in His infinite mercy He has allowed me to serve you as your Archbishop for 37 years.
At the same time, I thank all of you who helped me with your understanding and cooperation in my most challenging endeavors. With your own hands and persistent labor you have achieved the growth of our Church.

I am withdrawing from the administration of Church affairs. Never spiritually and emotionally. I could not live without having you in my mind and heart. I love you very much. You are my family. I entrust you in the hands of Almighty God. Be always mindful of His providential care.

I personally, as well as the Mother Church of Constantinople, America and Greece want you all to be united and excel in unity, making us all proud and happy knowing that you thrive bonded with God's love.

To the Hierarch that will succeed me as your new Archbishop, offer him as much love and assistance as you have offered me. Do the same to your priests. They are yours; in some instances they are your own children; your spiritual leaders in everything. Do the same to your parish councils; they are yours; you have elected them. Help them to achieve in their task which is the peace, harmony and progress of our parishes.

Do not forget the mandate of our Clergy-Laity Congress: "Let us walk by the same rule." Do not ever allow yourselves to deviate from the road of progress which has brought us to the pinnacle of the present state of Church unity.

It is my fervent hope and prayer that the God of love and mercy will always fill your life and heart with love and spiritual glow.

Embracing all of you
with paternal love,

Archbishop Iakovos: Signature

Iakovos
Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese of N. and S. America

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