Skip to content. Skip to navigation
Personal tools

Archbishop Iakovos Mourned and Praised as Pastor, Ecumenist and Statesman

Document Actions

Apr 19, 2005


New York - Hundreds of worshippers from near and far filled the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity for the funeral of Archbishop Iakovos, former Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, on Thursday, April 14. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, presided at the Funeral Service assisted by the Holy Eparchial Synod and four clergymen. Orthodox hierarchs in attendance included His Beatitude Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, and representing the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Eminence Archbishop Grigorios of Thyateira and Great Britain and His Eminence Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imvros and Tenedos.

Faithful and friends of all religions and backgrounds, from across the country and the world, were offered several opportunities to pay their respects to the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Americas from 1959 to 1996. Viewings were held at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City on Tuesday evening, April 12, also throughout the day on Wednesday, April 13. Trisagion Prayers were offered by Metropolitan Herman and clergy of the Orthodox Church of America and Bishop Antoun and clergy, on behalf of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The City of New York offered New York City Greek American policemen, members of the St. Paul Society, to serve as honor guards for the three days of viewing and the funeral. They joined the Evzones (Presidential Honor Guard of Greece) who were given permission by the Government of Greece to extend their stay, following participation in the Greek Independence Day Parade, to serve as an honor guard to Archbishop Iakovos until the conclusion of the funeral.

Following a Trisagion (Prayer) Service on Wednesday evening, April 13, Archbishop Demetrios of America and representatives from a number of Greek Orthodox organizations offered remarks. Speakers included Rev. Fr. James Moulketis, President of the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council, Mr. Michael Jaharis, Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council, Mrs. Georgia Skeadas, President of the National Philoptochos Board, and Mr. Nikos Diamantidis, President of the Hellenic Federations of New York.

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was filled to capacity at the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy and the Funeral Service of Archbishop Iakovos on Thursday morning. Orthodox Hierarchs in attendance in addition to the Patriarchal representatives and Archbishop Christodoulos, included Metropolitan Tarasios of Buenos Aires, SCOBA hierarchs and members of the Holy Eparchial Synod including Metropolitans Iakovos of Chicago, Maximos of Pittsburgh, Methodios of Boston, Alexios of Atlanta, Nicholas of Detroit, Evangelos of New Jersey and Gerasimos of San Francisco, as well as auxiliary and retired bishops of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, representatives of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and ecumenical leaders of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches and the Jewish community.

In a moving farewell Archbishop Christodoulos said: "History has already recorded your remarkable passage. Orthodoxy does not mourn today. It rejoices because you served it with a unified dream and great faith. The Church of Greece, its hierarchs, its clergy and its people bow before your holy body today. May the blessings of the Holy Cross, our respect, love and holy recognition accompany you on your way to the Angels."

Metropolitan Grigorios read the official statement of the Ecumenical Patriarch and commented extensively on the life and service of Archbishop Iakovos to Orthodoxy, to the world and to the Americas.

Metropolitan Kyrillos in his closing remarks, addressing the reposed Archbishop Iakovos said: "I brought with me some earth from our homeland Imvros and from the holy grave of your parents to keep you company, so that you don't feel lonely away from home. I brought this earth to bless your hands that blessed us when you were with us. Farewell and may your memory be eternal."

Members of the Greek and Cypriot diplomatic corps were in attendance at the Funeral Service as well government and political leaders headed by the Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, and included former Mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins and Ed Koch. Calling Archbishop Iakovos an "immigrant in a city of immigrants" Mayor Bloomberg continued: "Today, we come together to mourn the passing of someone who, for so many years was the most visible representative of this (Greek American) community" so we revere the memory of Archbishop Iakovos. Not only as the man who put a powerful human face on the faith of our half-million Greek Orthodox neighbors, but who also devoted his life to building bridges of understanding between people of all religions and races. He truly walked the walk and talked the talk."

Also speaking were Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD); the Minister of Macedonia and Thrace Nikolaos Tsiartsionis, representing the Prime Minister of Greece, and Grigoris Niotis, member of the Parliament representing George Papandreou and PASOK. Condolence messages were read from Correta Scott King and President George H.W. Bush.

"Archbishop Iakovos was unyielding and committed to Orthodoxy but open at the same time to other religions", said Archbishop Demetrios, who began his Eulogy by remarking on the tremendous life and ministry of his predecessor. He thanked those who remained close to and cared for Archbishop Iakovos during the 9 years of his retirement and especially during the past months and days. Archbishop Demetrios also recalled that Archbishop Iakovos, in his final days, spoke words of thanks and love to those around him. And when he was unable to speak, his last ultimate final communication was to use his hand to make the sign of the cross, conveying that when human language stops the language of God begins. Archbishop Demetrios concluded his remarks with one of Archbishop Iakovos' most loved passages from St. Paul's letter to the Romans, " Who shall separate us from the love of God. Neither death, nor life, not angels, nor principalities, nor things present, not things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8, 35:39)

Immediately following the funeral, a cortege led by the hearse carrying the body of Archbishop Iakovos and several cars with clergy and close friends and family completed his final journey to Brookline, MA and beloved Holy Cross School of Theology for burial on the grounds of Holy Cross Chapel on Friday morning, April 15. Archbishop Demetrios presided at the Trisagion Service and interment, attended by several faithful, clergy and seminarians. Speaking were Deputy Minister of Finance Peter Doukas, representing the Greek Government, and His Eminence Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imvros and Tenedos. His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, who grew up with Archbishop Iakovos, beginning as a 13-year old altar boy in Holy Trinity Cathedral, and who served several years as his Deacon, offered a warm and emotional personal remembrance. In closing he said, "Today we bid farewell to a clergyman who honored his priesthood every day - every moment of his life. Archbishop Iakovos was born to be a priest. He was destined by Almighty God to be a leader in the Church. And what a leader he was! He made those of us born in America proud of our faith and cultural heritage. He moved Greek Orthodoxy into the main stream of the religious, cultural and political life of our nation. We thank God that he blessed each of us in this Chapel, that he blessed America, our Church and humanity itself with the life of this charismatic man."

Messages of condolences from throughout the world continue to be received from religious, governmental and diplomatic leaders including: Patriarch Theodoros II, of Alexandria and All Africa; Patriarch Ireneos of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Church of Cyprus; Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania; Archbishop Nikolai of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and numerous hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches throughout the world.

Additionally, messages were also received from President George W. Bush, President William J. Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton, President Jimmy Carter, Governor George Pataki, Senator Charles Schumer, President of the Greek Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister of Greece Constantine Karamanlis, Mayor of the City of Athens Dora Bakoyiannis, and other dignitaries.

Among the condolences received from various religious leaders were messages from The Vatican and Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo; Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; Bishop Skylstad, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop of Baltimore Cardinal Keeler, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches Dr. Samuel Kobia; General Secretary of the National Council of Churches Rev. Robert Edgar; Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church; Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church and Dr. David M. Elcott, President of the American Jewish Committee.

Document Actions