Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Begins Apostolic and Patriarchal Visit to the U.S.
Oct 21, 2009
NEW ORLEANS – His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew arrived today in New Orleans, as he begins a 15-day Apostolic and Patriarchal Visit to the United States. “We welcome you, Your All Holiness with deep reverence and respect, total dedication and plenty of love,” said Archbishop Demetrios of America, welcoming the Ecumenical Patriarch at Louis Armstrong Airport along with Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, members of the local clergy, local officials, a small group of Orthodox faithful from this area and two-dozen children dressed in traditional costume.
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew offered a few words of greeting and blessing to those who had gathered at the airport and said:
From the Mother Church of Constantinople and the Holy and Great Church of Christ, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we bring you greetings and blessings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
We give thanks to Almighty God for granting us a safe arrival here in New Orleans, a place to which we return with much hope and expectation. We return after nearly four years, when we came in the Winter of 2006 to share in the loss and pain of the courageous citizens of New Orleans and to witness the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. We return to the place where the mighty Mississippi River nears its course into the Gulf of Mexico, and where the waves of the sea and the banks of the river overflowed. We return so that we might bear witness to the hope that is in you, the hope you have manifested through the rebuilding your lives and your community. We return in order to pray with you and to intercede with the Lord of creation, that the ‘flood of many waters shall not come nigh unto you again’, (cf. Psalm 31/32:6).
We return to this historic and famed city, and call on your fellow citizens around the country to return here for themselves; whether to live or enjoy the unique offerings of New Orleans.
Finally, we return to New Orleans with the same conviction and concern that has taken us around the globe, to oceans and seas and mighty rivers: from the Aegean to the Arctic, from the Black to the Baltic Seas, from the Danube to Amazon – and now, to the mighty Mississippi River. Throughout the previous seven Religion, Science and Environment Symposia, we have brought together academics and policy makers, scientists and theologians; so that we might pose questions and find solutions for the ecological perils of our time.
Here in New Orleans, for the next five days, we shall gather again, and we thank the RSE Committee for their extraordinary efforts in bringing this conference to fruition. Our prayer is that during these days, we shall heighten awareness, strengthen resolve, raise expectations and explore new hopes.
We stand in solidarity with the people of New Orleans and all people who seek a better life. And we are present with you to call for a renewed consciousness for environmental responsibility, and an awareness of what such a consciousness entails.
We pray that our days among you will be a blessing for you and a blessing for us, for we come with only words of peace, love and benediction upon our lips and in our hearts. May God bless the people here present, and bestow upon all his infinite mercy.
Tomorrow Oct. 21, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will convene and officially open the Eighth Religion, Science and the Environment (RSE) Symposium, entitled “Restoring Balance: The Great Mississippi River,” which takes place here for the next five days under his high patronage and includes a large and diverse group of theologians, scientists, policy makers, environmentalists, representatives of business and NGOs, and media. (More information on the Mississippi symposium: www.rsesymposia.org)
The Patriarchal party includes Metropolitans Athanasios of Chalcedon, Emmanuel of France, and Ambrosios of Korea, the V. Rev. Archimandrite Kyrillos Sikis, Deacons Nephon and Neofytos and Spyros Pantazis (youth representative), Simeon Francelacioglou (Grand Chamberlain), Lakis Vingas, Nicholas Manginas. Grand Archdeacon Maximos will arrive later.
For more information on the Ecumenical Patriarch and his visit to the U.S. can be found online at: www.usvisit2009.org.
Contact: Stavros Papagermanos
Tel.: (212) 570-3530 or (718) 415-5850