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Reflections on the Life and Ministry of Archbishop Iakovos

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Archbishop Iakovos_01Deeply respected by all religious leaders in the United States when he retired at the age of 85 on July 29,1996, Archbishop Iakovos offered 37 years of service which were distinguished by his leadership in furthering religious unity, revitalizing Christian worship and championing human and civil rights. He had the courage to walk hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, AL, a historic moment for America which was captured on the cover of LIFE Magazine on March 26, 1965. Friend to nine United States Presidents, Archbishop Iakovos was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by President Jimmy Carter on June 9, 1980.

What a brave soul he was to have marched with Dr. Martin Luther King at a time when few outsiders would; and at a time when many in his own Greek community chastised him for it. I'm proud to know that as a new convert to the Greek Orthodox Church and of Afro-American and European descent there was such a person who belonged to our faith back then who stood up for both civil and human rights when it was not in vogue in this country to do so.

May God Bless His Soul!
Karan W Bissias

We remember, with respect, dignity, and love, our beloved Archbishop Iakovos. Truly a man filled with "dynamis" throughout his life, he shared, with all, the unforgettable strength of a true Christian soldier in his episcopacy and in his life. Not only was he called to stand as a leader of Orthodox Christians, but he also knew how to stand side by side with the ordinary, making them feel extraordinary, by conveying the agape of Christ, with fervor in life, every step of the way. We feel so blessed to have Archbishop Iakovos as an ever-present on-going spiritual force in our life. His example will be remembered throughout the ages, and his legacy will live on through the lessons and fruitful ministry he shared so graciously with us all.
In loving memory of His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos,
With respect and love,
Fr. Peter Orfanakos, Presvytera Vangie Orfanakos, and Son John-Peter Iakovos Orfanakos

With deep sorrow we learned the departure to eternity of our beloved former Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America. His Eminence will always be remembered for his leadership virtues and his spontaneous Ethos that formed our attitude as seminarians and clergy. A charismatic Athonite Elder (+1996) observed that his Eminence Archbishop Iakovos will be irreplacable.
Father Cheroubim G. Apostolou
The Prior of the Great Skete of St. Anna
Holy Mountain Athos

His Eminence assumed the helm of our Church in America when I was but a toddler.Consequently he was, for most of my adult life, synonymous with the office of Archbishop of America. No matter how many other people were around, when I found myself in the same space with him I was acutely aware of how he towered over everyone else. Maybe it was that voice or the dignity with which he carried himself. It might have been those piercing eyes. Or his intellect. Possibly his faith or adherence to principle. But, whatever it was, there was never any question that you were truly in the presence of a singular "man amongst men." In the final analysis, maybe that is what being an "imitator of Christ" is all about -- the bringing out of that genuine humanity in us, that is attained only by uncovering that uncreated and blinding light of God in us and placing it on a lamp stand for all the world to see. Archbishop Iakovos was that light in our lives. He beamed that light into the darkest corners and recesses of an often benighted world and, by so doing, brought warmth, love, direction, hope, faith and joy to all whom he touched. The passing of both Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Iakovos within so short of a span of time leaves humanity groping for a new source of that light of Christ with which to guide our footsteps. There is no question in my mind that for as long as our Church in America continues to carry out Christ's Great Commission, that Archbishop Iakovos' memory will live eternally.
Fr. Anastasios Gounaris
Holy Trinity Church
Indianapolis, Indiana

Yet another great world religious leader has now passed away. I always respected him for his visionary leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. I finally had a chance to serve in the altar with him when he came to consecrate my church in 1989 (Assumption in St. Clair Shores, MI), and my respect turned to awe. I truly felt like I was in the presence of a great man. He had this incredible aura about him that you could almost feel when you were near him. I'll never forget the way he prayed the Liturgy, his booming voice, and the kind and loving way he interacted with his flock, particularly the children. May his memory be eternal.
Dean Niforos
Grosse Pointe, MI

I had the privilege of knowing His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos all of my life. He married my parents, buried my grandparents and father, married two of my siblings and baptized me. Each time I saw him he would take great delight in reminding me of my fondness for pulling his beard as a baby. Imagine someone as important as he was remembering that. As a child I thought everyone had the Archbishop over for dinner. To the church he was a devoted and unselfish leader. To me he was a family friend and an extraordinary man with the purest of hearts and great wisdom. His Eminence loved all humankind not just the Orthodox. He believed that no one person was better than another regardless of his or her religion or skin color. He taught all of us that we must help each other at all times and at all costs in order for this world to be a good place; and that we each have a responsibility to stand up for the downtrodden. He taught us this not just by mere words but by the way he lived his life. He fought hard for what he believed was right regardless of the popularity of his position. That takes tremendous courage and integrity. There will never be another man like His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos. We were very blessed to have him as our spiritual leader. I shall always feel very lucky to have known him and called him friend and though he is no longer here physically he shall stay in my heart forever.
Christos Anesti Archbishop Iakovos.
Dorothy Vance

It is with deep sadness that I learn of the passing of a great spiritual leader and humanitarian, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos. My involvement during the beginning of the GOYAL movement was deeply influenced by his commitment to our Greek Orthodox Church. His Eminence visited my home parish, St. Spyridon in New York City, many times, and each time, we knew it was a family member who was with us. His Eminence had a tremendous influence on my becoming the Greek Orthodox Christian I am today. He will be greatly missed.
Tom Hantzarides, CRSM, CRMC

I have directed and produced theatrical productions for Holy Trinity, New Rochelle for many years. Our first formal production was Bye Bye Birdie and His Eminence and Chancellor Bacopoulos attended the performance which was held at New Rochelle High School. When his then assistant and keeper of the Archbishop’s office, Felia Samios, walked on stage as the whiny, complaining mother of Albert, I thought His Eminence would fall out of his seat laughing. This was Felia's stage debut and His Eminence's reaction was priceless. He attended another of our productions, a dinner-theater, in which the students of St. Basil's Academy participated along with adults and children of our community. It was a musical and at the end, the cast, numbering about 75 circled the stage and sang We Are the World. When it was over, His Eminence came up to me and as I bent down to kiss his hand, he gave me a big bear-hug and told me how much he had enjoyed the production. I know he enjoyed watching the youngsters perform and his reaction was an inspiration to me to continue my involvement with them which continues to this day, and brings me great joy.
May his memory be eternal.
Georgeann Mavrovitis

I remember being in college in 1988. I was experiencing the normal re-evaluation of all of my social and philosophical foundations which the experience entails. I walked into a bookstore and the Archbishop’s book, Faith for a Lifetime: A Spiritual Journey practically called out to me. It could not have come at a better time. It was the spiritual vitamin that my soul needed at that time and I have always been thankful for it and for him. The loss of the Archbishop is not only the loss of a great Orthodox leader, or even a great leader, like the loss of Pope John Paul II, it is the loss of a great human being. Hay his memory be eternal.
Marc A. Zirogiannis
Levittown, NY

Archbishop Iakovos was the hierarch I remember most growing up in Washington, DC. As a young boy, I was in awe of him. I remember being very proud of him as he walked with Dr. Martin Luther King in Alabama. I think I was afraid for him at the same time.

Archbishop Iakovos tonsured me an Altar server, a reader, when I was a teenager. I remember his visits to Washington, DC, Saint Basil Academy, and I remember his visits to our Seminary during the years I was there. I remember him giving me my rasso, and later he gave me my school cross. He gave me his blessing on my namesday every year, and he ordained me to the Holy Priesthood.
I remember his emotional words when he presided over the funeral for Father Frangos and Father Germanos. I remember his indomitable spirit and his incredible memory. I remember hearing about his audience with Mayor Cuomo, and the opening of a position for a Greek Orthodox Christian Prison Chaplain as a result. I remember receiving his blessing often, and I remember him embracing me as a father.

Archbishop Iakovos was a very brave soul. He ordained many men to the Holy Priesthood, and our Archdiocese is replete with many men who have come and gone before him, who received the gift of the Holy Spirit through his hands.

I am still that little boy in awe of him and all that he has left behind. With our prayers as one, we commend the eternal soul of our beloved Geronta to the Good Shepherd and Great Hierarch, praying his memory eternal.
Thank you, Geronta, good and faithful servant. Thank you.
Fr. Emmanuel E. Mantzouris, and family

His Eminence became Archbishop when I graduated from high school and has been my Archbishop for most of my priesthood. Having been in His company many times, and hosting Him in the various parishes I have served, my most vivid memory was when I was a newly ordained priest, serving as the Assistant at the Annunciation Cathedral in Atlanta. His Eminence had visited for the 50th anniversary of the AHEPA and our first child was born. Unbeknown to me, His Eminence decided to visit Presvytera and bless our newborn in the hospital, displaying his concern and compassion. Presvytera recalls the nurse coming into her room stating that her "Cardinal" was coming. Did that blessing have anything to do with our son becoming a priest? His Eminence certainly will have a special place in our hearts and we will remember Him in pray always.
+Rev. Fr. James and Presvytera Vasiliki Rousakis

It is such a sad day to know that one of the most blessed people here on earth has passed, but yet has entered our Lord’s kingdom. Archbishop Iakovos was an inspiration to us all as well as a spiritual leader. He has left a footprint through history and a wonderful spirit to be remembered by all. I had first met His Eminence at St. Basil's Academy when I was five years of age. I remember him playing softball with us and even talking with us. To me, he was a part of my childhood, he would visit the academy, attend various functions and was like a grandfather to us (the children of St. Basil’s.) We love him and we shall miss him dearly. May his memory be eternal!!! WE LOVE YOU!

It is indeed with a spirit of joyful sorrow that I reflect upon the life and death His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos. As a young boy, I recall my relationship with this austere and dynamic hierarch of the Greek Orthodox faith. I remember a gathering with young adults, in the early 70's, at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan. I must have been only 7 or 8 years old. It was an open forum in which the Archbishop wanted to have a dialogue with his young flock. After initial opening comments, they opened the floor up for questions. For about five minutes, no one asked anything. The Archbishop remained quiet and patient allowing the opportunity for someone to ask him a question. Even though, I was "under age" at the time, I had admired him greatly. To the surprise of everyone in the Church, I got up and took the microphone and asked him what it was like to march next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama. I will never forget what happened next. Most people laughed and thought I was cute for asking the question. However, the Archbishop answered me and spoke about this experience in his life. He did not look down upon me because of my age and did not overlook my comments. Rather, with great sincerity He honored me with his kind and gentle response.

As I serve the Church as a priest, I often reflect upon His ministry. Indeed, I think there are three things that made Him so special. His vision, his courage and his voice.

In studying his early ministry as a priest and a hierarch he was dedicated to bringing Orthodoxy to the world. He was in every sense of the world a true shepherd. His foresight and drive set the foundation for not only the Church we have today, but ultimately for the Church that we will become. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip has said that "There were times that he sailed with the wind and times when he sailed against it. But, we admired him most when he had the courage to go against the wind." It is precisely that type of courage that made him a shining leader of our faith. He spoke boldly, when others wouldn't utter a word. He stood tall, when others would shy away in fear. He walked forward, when others had preferred to run. This must never be forgotten. Finally, all who knew him and shared in his ministry must be able to identify with his tremendous voice. I have studied Chrysostom, and read his writings, but I never heard his voice. Without question, Archbishop Iakovos was the "golden-mouthed" for our generation. His words and his deep voice will forever resonate within my heart. For me, the greatest gift that Archbishop Iakovos had was his ability to communicate the ideals of Orthodoxy and elevate both his flock and the Church from glory to glory.

The Catholic Church during these days mourn the loss of their Pope, we the Orthodox mourn the loss of our great Archbishop. When I was a child I would hear the faithful tell me stories of the legendary Archbishop and later Patriarch Athenagoras. They would speak of his presence and compassion. They would talk of his vision and their personal interaction with him. I thank our Heavenly Father for allowing not only myself, but the whole Church in America to have experienced in such a way the life of Archbishop Iakovos. It is up to us now to ensure that our children, and their children, never forget the impact Archbishop Iakovos had upon the Church in America and throughout the world.
May His Memory be eternal!
With Much Love and Deep Respect,
Father George Orfanakos
Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George
Clifton, New Jersey

Although there have been several archbishops during my life, His Eminence was my archbishop. As a young immigrant (barely a teenager) I first remember him always visiting my first parish (Sts. Constantine & Helen, Brooklyn, NY) during Holy Thursday. I can still remember the goose bumps and spirituality he evoked during his chanting of "Simeron kremate epi xylou...." when he carried the crucifix around the church. I have searched for that spiritual pathos throughout my life during this particular service but never found it quite the same without him!
I will always have the fondest memories of him and miss him terribly!
Jerry J. Kolaitis
Summit, NJ

Amazingly, as I was driving into work this morning, I began thinking about Archbishop Iakovos (not having known of his passing). I recalled being in Philadelphia for a business meeting about 1984 or so, and returning to my hotel. There in the lobby was the Archbishop, along with his aid. He apparently had just returned from an ecumenical prayer service in the city. I was not Orthodox at the time, but was nonetheless thrilled to see him. Not knowing any protocol, I just rushed up to him and said "Your Grace (obviously the wrong title), I am not Orthodox, but an evangelical Christian, but I just want to tell you how much I admire the Orthodox Church, and how much it has to offer the U.S." He immediately responded with "And you (evangelicals) have much to offer the Orthodox Church!" I was so impressed with the response. As he walked away, he asked his aid to give me his copy of the ecumenical service he had just attended. I still have that at home. (Those kind and profound little moments had a big effect in helping me to follow Father Tom's leadership and join the Orthodox Church!). Anyway, you can imagine my surprise as I clicked on the Archdiocese website later this morning to note that he just passed away yesterday. The Holy Spirit obviously brought this memory to mind, even before I knew he had passed to eternal life.
May his memory be eternal…
Jim Elliker
Reading, Pa

My first memory of Archbishop Iakovos dates back to 1966, when his Eminence came to consecrate our church in Toledo, Ohio. A terribly shy 6 year-old, I was given the honor of greeting him at the airport with a huge (at least for a 6 year-old) spray of red roses. It was pouring rain, and there were local news reporters and cameras all around us. Underneath a tent of big black umbrellas I waited there with our parish councilmen, wearing the special white dress my mother had sewn especially for this occasion. I was so nervous! Yet my strongest memory of that day is of the sheer presence of this special man - of the imposing figure he cut in his flowing black robes, and the warmth and sincerity expressed in his smile and embrace, as he knelt to accept the flowers I held out to him. My parents never failed to make sure I knew all of the wonderful things he stood for and accomplished during his tenure - from standing beside Martin Luther King, Jr. to his keen understanding of the unique greatness of our Church in America. For the past seven years my own family has been truly blessed by the grace and presence of Archbishop Iakovos in our parish, at Church of our Saviour here in Rye, New York. I hope I have instilled in my children the same fondness and reverence for his Eminence that I have felt all of my life. He will be greatly missed.
Elizabeth Dambriunas
Larchmont, New York

I have been blessed having known His Eminence not only as the Spiritual Leader of my faith but as a friend of my family’s, and of mine. Whether presiding over my wedding, holding my newborn son, at various church services, walking the ground of St Basil’s with my dad and me, laughing at my kitchen table, catching me coming in past curfew and hushing my mother not to admonish me, presiding over my father’s funeral, and coming to see my newborn daughter-the granddaughter my dad wished for but never saw, and so, so much more. He taught us by the way he lived. It is the quiet unspoken gifts that are his legacy-the way he lived. He fought hard for what he believed was right regardless of the popularity of his position, he was a man of God who not only spoke but believed that all men are created in the vision of God. This lesson above all others has had the deepest effect on me.

For many Orthodox in this country, His Eminence was a living icon of the Greek Orthodox Church here in the Americas. He was a man who not only preached the Gospel of Christ as a priest and hierarch, but lived out that Gospel as a man of principle and compassion. Though I never had the high privilege of meeting His Eminence personally, I greatly admired his commitment to ecumenism and to Orthodox unity in the Americas. May our Lord and High Priest, Jesus Christ our God, receive and grant repose to the soul of our beloved leader.
Steven W. Hunter
Portsmouth, OH

A giant of a man has just left us. We have been so blessed with his presence. May his memory be eternal. May his soul reside with the Saints in God's embrace.
Angeliki Sotus Christofield
Cincinnati, Ohio

As a student in the only Greek Orthodox high school at the time, St. Andrew Academy, I had the opportunity of a life time—I met and spoke with Archbishop Iakovos many times and in different settings. During Lent, the St. Andrew Academy Choir would travel to the Archdiocese chapel to sing the Salutations for the Archbishop. Being the only ones fluent in Greek, my friend and I would share in the recitation of the “Aspile” prayer. As one can imagine, we were quite nervous as we stood under the watchful, loving eyes of Archbishop Iakovos. Having finished the prayer, his words, uttered in a beautiful resonant voice, were always encouraging…and most important, he always remembered our names. Every Holy Saturday for several years, we served as the choir for Archbishop Iakovos when he celebrated Liturgy at St. Michael’s Home for the Aged. I was there, ready with a memorized speech in Greek, to present a gift to His Eminence. I will never forget the pure joy he expressed when one time the gift was a canary!

Many years later, (three years ago) Archbishop Iakovos came to the parish I’ve been a member of for more than 22 years—Holy Resurrection in Glen Cove—to herald the beginning of our new building project surrounded by our children. What a thrill it was to see him again, to hear him again.

Many of us do remember seeing the cover of Life Magazine—a photo of Archbishop Iakovos standing with Martin Luther King in the segregated south of the ‘60s. The words “courage,” “faith,” “love” and “commitment to justice” still come to mind whenever I see that photo. Archbishop Iakovos was a true spiritual leader who was mindful that the assimilation of Greek Orthodox into every aspect of American life is key to our continued, sustained success.
Eternal Be His Memory!
Zefy Christopoulos
Glen Cove, New York

It is difficult, if not impossible, to express in just a few words what Archbishop Iakovos meant to me personally and to us as his flock. It is amazing to me how he was able to touch so many of us on a deeply personal level while at the same time inspiring us with his leadership on the national and international stage.

I was fortunate to have been able to interact with him on a very limited basis when I was on the board at Saint Basil’s Academy. At each of our meetings, as well as during his visits to the Academy, his love for the children was impossible to miss. He endeared himself to the students (the youngest of whom would affectionately refer to him as “Your M and M’s”) by picking up a baseball bat and playing with them; he guided us as a board with his experience, wisdom and love. At a parish level, he provided inspiration with every visit. I don’t believe I shall ever forget his last visit to my parish, the Church of the Holy Resurrection in Glen Cove.

It was in October of 2001, shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center. While His Eminence was a feeling somewhat under the weather and unable to celebrate the liturgy, he impressed us all with two particular actions. Following liturgy, he sat in front of the altar and invited all of the children of the parish to gather at his feet. He spoke to them at length, asking them to think of him as a grandfather, and through his conversation filled the church with his love. Later in the day, following a luncheon in the church hall, he requested that we all join him in a prayer, at which point he began to sing God Bless America. Overcoming his physical frailties, his voice gathered strength as the song progressed and I don’t think anybody could find a dry eye in the house when we had finished. This tremendous leadership and ministry that had begun with his march with Dr. King and still lasted late into his retirement will not be forgotten.
May his memory be eternal.
Jim Gabriel, Jr.

From before I was one years old, my mother would bring me to the archbishop to bless me at each Epiphany while I was growing up. On one occasion, when I was still very young, he even gave my mother and I a ride to the festivities following the cross dive. And this tradition would last for many years. In the waning years of his service, I had the honor of later serving him as an altar boy during those very Epiphany celebrations in Tarpon Springs. It was always an honor, and all within his presence knew that they were in the company of a great man. He was just that, a great man. A spiritual man, who led all Greeks in America, and for that matter Americans as well. He had a hand in so much positive social change in America, and led us Greek Americans in that charge, offering an example to follow in serving our society in the way that the Lord would want us to serve. He had the impact on Greek America that Pope John Paul II had on the Catholic world. Archbishop Iakovos not only led Greek Americans into the light, but served as an example and led the entire Orthodox world into the light as well. He will not be forgotten, for his memory will be eternal.
George Palaidis
Tarpon Springs, FL

In 1998 the Community of St. George Cathedral in Manchester, N.H. held a dinner in honor of His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos' long and distinguished service as Archbishop. The date of the dinner was the 28th Anniversary of the consecration of St. George as a Cathedral. An overwhelming display of affection was shown by the hundreds of parishioners who attended this dinner in his honor. At the conclusion of the dinner Father Peter Chamberas, the Board of Directors, and the trustees of the St. George Endowment Fund and the St. George Maintenance Fund presented a check in the amount of $100,000.00 to His Eminence for the Archbishop Iakovos Library and I will never forget his very personal feelings of love for our community on that very special day. It was an honor that was well deserved and a memory of a date and place in time that will be with me always. May his memory be eternal.
George N. Copadis
President, Board of Directors
St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Manchester, N.H.

My spiritual papou! Eternal be your Memory and your Legacy!!!

When God brought my family here to America, you gave the blessing to my father to serve as a priest in a new parish, then in Dover, NJ. As a good Shepard, you visited and guided this parish, the community of Saint Andrew, throughout the years as this parish and simultaneously I grew from infancy to adulthood.

One of my favorite annual celebrations was when you invited all the clergy and their families from the New York Metropolitan area, once a year to celebrate the Vespers of Saint Basil’s feast day at the chapel of Saint Paul in the Archdiocese. You lead us in prayer, and then lead us in the kalanda. With a joyful and prayerful manner you cut the Basilopita as you personally gave each of us a piece. You connected with each and every one of us, young and old, as a person to a person.

Our spiritual bond grew even more when as a young adult in the 1980’s you appointed me as the First Greek Orthodox Young Adult League Coordinator of the then Archdiocese of North and South America. The day before the First Archdiocesan YAL Conference was to begin, all the Diocesan representatives met for the first time together with Rev. Angelo Gavalas, the Archdiocesan Youth Director and other Diocesan Youth Directors. We deliberated for hours struggling with how best to organize ourselves for ministry in the Church. You then invited us to meet with you. I remember clearly how when you spoke, tears of joy were shed by all of us in the room that day because your words were a confirmation of the Holy Spirit leading us. What we struggled to achieve during our many hours of deliberation, you clearly delineated as your vision as well, for the newly established Archdiocesan YAL Movement. You participated intimately with all of us in all four expressions of the YAL Movement: LYTURGIA, MARTYRIA, DIAKONIA and KOINONIA.

In the first five years, the Archdiocesan Conferences grew 400% in attendance and immeasurably in their spiritual growth in mind, heart and in actions. Diocesan Conferences and retreats also grew exponentially. The Opening Brunches and Grand Banquets were true celebrations. When you addressed us at these events, thousands of young adults were attentively listening to your every word. Not even a pin drop could be heard.

You challenge us to grow closer to Christ. You disciplined us as a loving teacher. You embraced us with the warmest arms and heart as only a spiritual papou can do. You prayed for us, you wrote us letters, you gave us scholarships, you challenged us to excel in thought, word and deed. You taught us to pray. You instilled a deep and profound love in us for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and for His Church. You showed us how and why it was important to know and protect our Hellenic Heritage.

You and your legacy have been a God given gift to us, your flock here in America. I pray that we Orthodox in America will continue to receive this gift and respond as a true community of believers. May your memory be eternal and may you continue to pray for us and we for you, so that one day we may eternally celebrate in and with our the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We love you! We love you! We love you!
Your spiritual grand-daughter in Christ,
Vasiliki Tsigas-Fotinis, Ph.D.
Archdiocesan YAL Coordinator 1981-1986
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education High School Curriculum Coordinator

It is with a great sense of pride and privilege that I feel blessed to have been acquainted with Archbishop Iakovos. As a psalti of the church, I chanted several vespers with him while he officiated from the Throne. He always seemed to remember who I was each time we met, and even in his advanced years he would greet me by name. My father, who continues to be an active priest in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, served under him for the entire duration of his archiepiscopacy. No doubt and without question, he was a legend, a shining beacon and a loving shepherd of the Greek Orthodox faithful in this country. He led the Church with dignity and pride, and he made sure to let the world know what the Orthodox Church was. Although this period surrounding his passing will be a time of sadness, it should also be a time of celebration, for truly to celebrate such a life is to acknowledge the profound impact this life had on ours. My wife, Chrystal, and I extend our deepest sympathies to his family and closest friends and advisors, and may each and every one of us whose lives he touched remember him with fondness, love and respect. May God rest his soul. AIONIA H MNHMH AYTOY.
Apostolos (Paul) Combitsis
Protopsaltis & Choirmaster
St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Philadelphia, PA

To all of us of the Greek Orthodox faith in America and all over the world. . . I express to all you my deepest sympathy to one of the greatest archbishops we have had serve us in the Name of the Lord. . . I had the privilege of meeting him many times. . . May his memory be always eternal. He will be sadly missed for all the good work he has done in the Name of our Orthodox faith. . .
Pamela Strikis

. . . I will never forget His love and caring and fatherly advice. Being in his presence made you feel as if you were in the presence of God. May his Memory be eternal and may his soul be in the habitation of the Just. I will offer a 7 Day Memorial Service for the repose of his soul this coming Sunday in my Parish, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Lowell, Ma.
Father Faris

As a seminarian, I had the rare opportunity to drive His Eminence whenever he was in Boston. One morning, just before graduation, I drove up to the hotel to pick him up. When he exited, I greeted him, "Good morning, Your Eminence." He stopped and looked at me and said in a kind yet powerful way, "Christ is Risen! Christ always comes first." I believe he lived his life this way, always putting Christ and His Church first in everything. Our Church has lost a great man but how thankful we should be, that we had him guiding our Church for so long. May his memory be eternal!
Fr. Chris Stamas

It is such a sad time for all of us who have known him our whole lives. He taught us to love our Church and our Faith. He always treated me like I was his little girl. He married my parents, baptized me, and—while still a priest at the Annunciation Cathedral in Boston—came over our house at least twice a month. My grandparents fed and cared for him while he was a student, and he adored them. I used to sit on his lap when he visited, and he would feed me the fruit from his drinks. When he first became an Archbishop, he was coming back to celebrate the Annunciation with us at the Cathedral, and we were drilled constantly on how to greet him.-"Kalosirthate Sevazmiotate". Well, I got one look at him and my 13 year-old brain became blank and the only person I saw was Fr. Coucouzis. I ran to him and hugged him, and typical of his great love for children, he just hugged me back and said he had missed his "Artemis"(me). My mother, Helen Barkas Simmons was the secretary at the Cathedral under him and when he came back to Boston for the Clergy-Laity after being elevated, he insisted my mother come and be his secretary for the duration of the Congress. Of course she agreed. I only hope everyone has as wonderful memories as I do.
Zoe se mas!
With Love in the Lord,
Diana Simmons Drugas

When I heard about the passing of Archbishop Iakovos I was greatly saddened, but then again glad that he is in a better place without suffering. When I remember Archbishop Iakovos, I remember a kind and generous man. I had the opportunity to know His Eminence personally. I remember being a Cub Scout and Archbishop Iakovos presenting me with the Chi Ro award. Archbishop Iakovos came from the same island as my family which is the Island of Imbros so we had a special connection.
May you rest in peace Your Eminence
We love you.
Nikolas Haymandos

With great sadness I join with all Orthodox Christians in remembering our beloved leader, Archbishop Iakovos. Growing up in New York City at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity I had the great honor and pleasure of serving the Church many times under his leadership as an Altar Boy, as an early leader of the Cathedral Fellowship, as a singer in Dino Anagnost's Choir, and as a member of the Cathedral's Board of Trustees.

Today God has brought me and my family to Princeton New Jersey where our current spiritual home is not a Greek Orthodox Parish but a small but energetic Orthodox Church in America Mission Church comprised not only of those raised in a variety of ethnic Orthodox jurisdictions, but also of many recent converts to Orthodoxy.
Although I sorely miss the Hellenic traditions with which I was raised, I believe I have been called to serve in my particular parish to help promote the Orthodox Faith to the next generation of Americans of all ethnic backgrounds. Given His Eminence's lifelong commitment to Ecumenism and deep desire for a Unity of the Faithful, I can think of no more fitting tribute to his life than to forward the remembrance that I sent via email to the members of my Mother of God Parish.

May his memory be Eternal,

In Christ,
Steven Georges
Princeton, New Jersey

Archbishop Iakovos was truly a friend...At one time he reminded me "to sail against the wind and if you believe in something do not let up." This is one of the reasons that I have been involved in the operation of the Greek Orthodox Community of Oregon's, Camp Angelos located 26 miles from Portland on the scenic sandy river waterway.
Gus Kriara

I am deeply saddened to learn that Archbishop Iakovos of The Americas, a beloved great leader of our people, has begun his last, ascending journey to Christ.

His tenure is unforgettable because of his uncommon visionary and dynamic shepherding of his flock. His ability to project his immense spirituality and personal charisma enabled him to touch every aspect of our existence at its very morrow. His was a spirituality that defined the Greek Orthodox Communities of the Americas at a time of their greatest transition and accelerated assimilation into the mainstream of Americana, while retaining a balanced blend of our ancient Greek Orthodox Church Tradition and Hellenism. Lay and ecclesiastic historians will note that this immensely committed leader's spirituality carried his people to the forefront of America's social, economic, and political fabric. He accomplished this while allowing us to stay close to our source of greatest strength as a People: the distinctly Greek nature of our spirituality, our Church and Ancestry. He projected his spiritual enlightenment beyond the Greek Orthodox Communities, and enabled every American to reach for the ancient common bonds of democratic ideals that graced and strengthened our Great Country. Through him I was able to see that there was a bit of Greek in every freedom-loving American regardless of the origins of his or her religious conviction.

As a young man I was deeply inspired by this leader. He was a source of strength during a difficult time in my life, as I sought to start the first Orthodox chapel services at West Point while attempting to become the first Greek immigrant to ever graduate from the United States Military Academy. He inspired me to accomplish both.

He was a leader worthy of veneration and emulation.

I am comforted by the thought that on his wings flew great eagles that will carry on his work and example. I rejoice that this Easter, our beloved Archbishop Iakovos will be blessing our Anastasis Celebrations from his seat, close to Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Constantine George Mourtos
Ano Hora, Greece

While we were growing up, how often did we sing with you "Simeron tis Soterias" in our beloved Cathedral of the Annunciation in Boston? Today is indeed "The Day of Your Salvation." May your memory be eternal and continue to inspire us all.
Sophia and John Paraskos
Dover, MA.

In the summer of 1977, my wife Helen and I along with approximately 90 other singers as part of the Metropolitan Chorale joined His Eminence in what became known as the St. Paul’s Pilgrimage. In essence it was a three week long singing tour covering the length and breath of Greece in which we followed in the steps of St. Paul and performed numerous services in conjunction with His Eminence and an entourage of other clerical leaders and national dignitaries. The Chorale was comprised of members from the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut areas and at that time was directed by Dino Anagnost. In addition to virtually daily performances at religious services at historic sites, the chorale gave concert performances at the Ionian Village, the Rotunda in Thessalonica, at the Vakeion in Piraeus including extemporaneous performance in a variety of places that come to mind such as the American Embassy in Athens, at Anatolia College, a sanatorium, no less and other locations. It was a special occasion in our lives. For many in our group, it was their first trip to Greece. For us it was a magical moment. My wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary during this trip.

Rehearsals were a daily event often with morning and evening practices in monasteries, hotel halls at ERT who covered some of the events at Anatolia College where some of us stayed when we were up north and wherever we could find room. Typical of the Greek way I suppose, our events were not publicized until one or two days before and yet we performed to standing room only concerts.

The Chorale was indeed the pride and joy of His Eminence and he took every occasion to give us exposure to our Greek hosts who gave us a formal evening in Athens along with government dignitaries. It was also founded by His Eminence, 12 years earlier as the Metropolitan Greek Orthodox Chorale as a performing group that would come together whenever needed by Archbishop Iakovos. It was during Dino’s tenure of about 10 years that the Chorale expanded its base to include other than religious concerts and changed its name to the Metropolitan Greek Chorale. It continues to perform to this day with major concerts in the NY Metropolitan area. The Chorale has performed numerous times at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Over the years there have been personnel changes but interestingly there remains a core of about a dozen voices who continue to sing together after so many years. The Chorale has been blessed with some of the most talented directors. We have His Eminence to thank for a wonderful life experience. We would love to do a memorial concert as a thank you to our beloved Archbishop someday. I’m sure he would be there.

With kindest regards,

As an Anglo American convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, I was consistently impressed with Archbishop Iakovos' hospitality. The first time I met him I was working on the staff at the Ionian Village in 1977. He was the guest of honor, but was very attentive to those of us who were working at the IV. Subsequent meetings always left me feeling that Archbishop Iakovos tried his best to pay attention to unimportant people like myself.

Iakovos served Orthodox Christians in America with grace, dignity, and a poetic sense of mystery and liturgy. For many years I have displayed the Life Magazine cover photograph of Iakovos with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and labor leader Walter Reuther in my Sunday School room at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Madison, Wisconsin. That image, I try to teach my students, represents an icon of the qualities of love, peace, tolerance, and truth embodied in the teachings of Jesus. I am grateful for Archbishop Iakovos' presence in America during this troubled time.
David Giffey

My memories of His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos go back to my childhood and adulthood. His great charisma and inspiration touched the lives of millions including myself. A vivid memory of His Eminence occurred in 1975, when my class was the first Women's Graduating Class of Hellenic College following the merger of St. Basil's Academy with Hellenic College. The day prior to our commencement His Eminence requested to meet with all of us, 22 girls, so that He can formally announce our appointments to the various parishes of our Archdiocese. Following the exciting meeting with His Eminence, He looked at us and with His distinguished and eloquent voice He said, "Go forth and serve our Greek Orthodox communities in America in the various positions of teachers, administrators and lay leaders. Take our children and plant in their hearts and minds the values of our culture, the knowledge of our language and the essence of our faith. Our beloved institutions of St. Basil's Academy and Hellenic College have trained and given you the ability to serve our parishes with passion, love, faith and commitment. As you move on to your new lives, always remain focused on Christ and His Holy Church."

His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos was a Man of All Seasons, a Pillar of my precious Greek Orthodox Faith... He will remain in my heart forever... ETERNAL MEMORY.
Presvytera Anastasia Palesty
Flushing, New York

I was so proud of Archbishop Iacovos' involvement (and therefore all of the Orthodox faithful) in the Civil Rights movement. Although I am Caucasian,. . .as a child. One of my teachers was bigoted and thought I was Black. I learned a very valuable lesson about segregation before I knew what it was all about.

I will always remember MY Archbishop marching in the front lines of the movement with pride. I have already told my grandchildren about this.

I love Archbishop Iacovos
Diane Polys

"Well done, good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of your Lord." Matthew 25:21
Rev. Aristotle Damaskos
Dean, Holy Trinity Cathedral
Toledo, OH

I started my choir career in the home church of Archbishop Iakovos. We had a small, a capella choir. I was the lead bass, while a good friend was the lead tenor. I loved to sing low, while he loved the high notes...even though we had similar ranges.

One Sunday after church, my friend and I were heading back for the coffee hour, engaging in a vocal competition as we went. We sang the usual scales going up and down, getting louder and louder as the duel heated up, each stressing his favorite highs or lows. Finally, utterly oblivious to the world around us, we were making a whole lot of noise.

We rounded the corner to the start of the tables, only to be greeted by the laughing demeanor of our Archbishop. Embarrassed, we silenced ourselves quickly, but it was obvious that this most human of Archbishops had thoroughly enjoyed our "performance."
Miriam Kotsonis

Archbishop Iakovos: Choir

Thank you for organizing this inspiring website!
On behalf of our choir, I'm submitting the following picture and explanatory text, which captures the loving and approachable nature of Archbishop Iakovos.

Archbishop Iakovos visited Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Westfield, NJ, on the third Sunday of Lent in 2001. As he handed out daffodils, he made personal contact with each parishioner in the overflowing church. Afterwards, he asked the Angel Choir to sing a reprise of the hymn, "Se Imnoumen," because he had enjoyed their sweet voices so much during the Holy Liturgy. The group of youngsters, with Director Kathryn Athanasoulas, happily gathered around him for this beautiful moment.

With best wishes for a blessed Holy Week.
Kali Anastasi!
Miriam Kotsonis