Department of Marriage and Family
Affirms the importance of the family as a blessed gift from God and addresses the specific needs of families as they try to live in a very challenging culture and world.
Department of Marriage and Family
79 Saint Basil Rd; Garrison, NY 10524 • Tel: (845)424-8175 • Fax: (845)424-4172 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Fr. Constantine L. Sitaras, Director
Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides, Ph.D., LMFT, Researcher, Interfaith Marriage
Melissa Tsongranis, Associate Director
Presvytera Kerry Pappas, MA, LMFT, Coordinator for Seminarian and Clergy Couple Care
Mari Diveris, Administrative Media Coordinator
The Department of Marriage and Family has been established to consider issues relevant to the well-being of marriage, family life, our Church and society. The institutions of marriage and family are under assault, and the challenges are becoming increasingly more complex. The Archdiocese is sensitive to these changes, and is seeking to address them in an effort to facilitate religious and spiritual development and promote healthy, holy marriage and family life from an Orthodox perspective. To pursue this effort there are currently two arms of this Department—the Center for Family Care and the Office of Interfaith Marriage.
Center for Family Care
The mission of the Center for Family Care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is, in the words of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, "both to affirm the importance of the family as a blessed gift of God and to address the specific needs of families as they try to live in a very challenging culture and world. As Orthodox Christians, we know that each and every family needs to be connected to the Church—a place where true relationships with God and one another are nurtured and sustained. Thus, through this program we will be working to bring more aspects of our faith into the home and to bring more families into the Church."
There are many facets of family life and, therefore, different ways we can minister to the families in our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. We just completed our first national study on the Orthodox Family in America at Home and in Church which gave us much insight into the religious practices of families (for the results visit our Web site). Currently, we create resources, provide seminars, and facilitate retreats for families and the parishes that minister to them. As the ministry grows, our scope will branch out so that we can provide resources and services for all Orthodox Christian families in every stage of the family life cycle. Currently some of our resources are:
- Parish Family Night
- Table Top Prayer Guide: Volume I and II
- Family Worship: Creating and Using a Place in Your Home
- Family Gospel Lessons
- Family Retreats, Seminars, and Parent Workshops
- Web site
- Family Connections page in the Orthodox Observer (and annual expanded edition)
- Family Link Email Ministry
Office of Interfaith Marriage
Vital statistics kept by the Department of Registry indicate that the numbers of inter-Christian marriages conducted in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America have steadily increased. Today, nearly two thirds (63%) of all marriages conducted in the Archdiocese are designated inter-Christian. When Greek Orthodox persons marrying outside of the Archdiocese are also considered, intermarriage rates are likely closer to 75–80%.
Given these and other similar statistics, the Archdiocese has chosen to view these trends as a challenge and an opportunity for growth. With love toward all, and with a desire to witness Orthodoxy to all persons who choose to worship in our Greek Orthodox churches, the Archdiocese has taken a proactive approach in its efforts to reach out to intermarried couples and their families. All resources produced by this department are evidenced based and firmly grounded on Orthodox Theology. Some of the resources available are as follows:
- The Interfaith Marriage Web site affords clergy, lay leaders, lay workers and inter-Christian, interfaith couples readings, resources and related links.
- A regular column continues to be featured in the Orthodox Observer addressing marital and family concerns. In addition, articles have been authored for professional journals as well as theological publications
- A resource entitled, When You Intermarry: A Resource for Inter-Christian Intercultural Couples, Parents and Families has been authored by Fr. Joanides. A companion resource for clergy and lay leaders entitled, Ministering to Intermarried Couples: A Resource for Clergy and Lay Workers is also available. In addition, a resource to promote marital satisfaction entitled, Attending to Your Marriage: A Resource for Christian Couples has also been written.
- Marriage building workshops, and lectures on the topic of intermarriage continue to be offered throughout the Archdiocese upon invitation.
- A series of brochures entitled, Interfaith Marriage: Opportunity for Outreach is also now available for clergy, lay leaders and intermarried couples and their families.
- A premarital education program entitled The Journey of Marriage which is intermarriage friendly is now available and being installed across the Archdiocese.