Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of Saint Basil and the New Year
Dec 27, 2004
Feast of Saint Basil and the New Year
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
My Beloved Christians,
As Greek Orthodox faithful we commemorate on the first day of each New Year the life and legacy of Saint Basil the Great, a revered ecumenical Hierarch and Teacher of our Church whose renowned intellectual and spiritual legacy has shone brilliantly for centuries. Today, we particularly remember Saint Basil for his enduring commitment to the development of institutions of care, such as orphanages and hospitals, and to the spiritual and physical health of all persons in need of care.
In light of this remarkable inheritance which we have received as Greek Orthodox Christians, it is appropriate that we begin the New Year by considering the quality and scope of our own Greek Orthodox institutions of care throughout our Archdiocese. One of these institutions, named in tribute of Saint Basil, is our Saint Basil Academy in Garrison, New York. For over fifty years, Saint Basil Academy has provided a home to children and young people from across America, many of whom come from troubled family situations and are in need of a nurturing environment, a place where they can know the peace and the love of Jesus Christ.
Today, in addition to serving as a home for children in need, Saint Basil Academy also plays the equally important role of serving as an administrative home for our new Archdiocesan Center for Family Care. This Center, which is charged with the sacred task of ministering to the diverse needs of Greek Orthodox families throughout America, will occupy a prominent position in our national ministries throughout this New Year, 2005, which we have designated as the Year of the Family. Accordingly, as we affirm the importance of the family as a blessed gift from God, the mission of Saint Basil Academy prompts us to consider the vital importance of children as precious members of our families. It is for this reason why the Academy is a sacred institution of care worthy of its namesake.
Each year on this day, we are led by our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and the many local Philoptochos chapters 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, let us especially remember the truly outstanding service of care, healing and peace at Saint Basil Academy. Let us also remember and praise the continued good work of the diligent clergy, staff, and volunteers who oversee the important operations of the Academy. Your contributions to the Academy will truly assist in bringing the love and care of Jesus Christ into the lives of many children who are in need.
I pray that the light of God’s love and peace shine upon all of you and your families throughout the New Year, especially upon the children within your homes and communities, and upon all the children who reside at Saint Basil Academy. May this New Year, 2005, be a year of prosperity for all sacred institutions of care throughout our Archdiocese, and may it also be a year of health and love for all families throughout our nation and our world.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America