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Archpastoral Reflections - May 2005

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May 5, 2005

Our consideration of the family as a vital source of spiritual sustenance for its members is enriched by our contemplation of our role as leaders in the vital area of family care. As we have discussed in previous reflection pieces, parents who emphasize prayer, love, and holiness within the home enable their children to navigate the experiences of life while strongly rooted and secured in their faith. In this regard, the leadership role of parents within the family is integral, and absolutely indispensable.

Though the leadership role of parents is vital for the cultivation of healthy families, it is equally pressing to consider family situations where parents are either absent from the home or are incapable of providing adequate or loving care to their children, as is sadly seen today in many cases. Here, it is appropriate to recognize and value the care that is offered to families by extra-parental sources, such as communities of faith, and also state and charitable agencies.

As Orthodox Christians, we ourselves constitute a community of faith that is vital to the spiritual well-being of families. As we gather in prayer within our homes and as we come together with other families for worship in the local parish, we are called to be sensitive to the needs of our brothers and sisters by offering to them our unfailing love and support. More than this, we are called to be leaders in the offering of care to others who are in need. Through expanding the adult educational programming in our parishes, through intensifying our ministries of care to children in need, and by continuously engaging the elderly members of our communities, every parish has the potential to serve as a local community leader in the field of family care.

Yet we must also continue beyond the parish level in developing and expanding our ministries that focus on the particular needs of families. One example of such a ministry is our Archdiocesan Center for Family Care, which supplies people and society at large with a much needed demand for leadership in the vital area of family care. Other examples of family ministry include institutions like St. Basil Academy and St. Michael's Home which, respectively, serve the needs of disadvantaged children and the elderly.

Each of these ministries speaks to our tremendous potential as Church to offer a dynamic, creative, and meaningful leadership in the vital area of family care. The diversity and direct impact of these ministries prompts us to consider some essential questions that cut to the core of our Orthodox Christian identity as servants of Christ's Gospel: Should not all of our ministries, on parish, Metropolis, or Archdiocesan levels, be recognized objectively as models of family care? Should not we as Greek Orthodox Christians aspire to be leaders in the field of family care among other denominations, communities of faith, or state agencies in contemporary America?

It is fitting that we consider these questions as we contemplate our vocation as Orthodox Christians to offer the love of Jesus Christ to others, and specifically to families in need. As a Church that gathers as a family, and as families that constitute what St. Paul termed the "Church in the home," this calling to offer love and service to families is a particularly integral aspect of our Orthodox Christian identity that is worth our cultivating, cherishing, and sharing.

It is my heartfelt prayer and exhortation as we experience the joy of the Paschal season that we may reflect more intensively upon our role as leaders in the vital area of family care, and that we may draw inspiration from the Risen Christ, who abides with us and strengthens our capacity to expand and intensify our ministry to families everywhere as we lead them to eternal life and everlasting communion with Him.

+DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America

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