Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of St. Photios and St. Photios National Shrine Day
Feb 3, 2014
February 6, 2014
Feast of Saint Photios
Saint Photios National Shrine Day
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 Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Each year our beloved Saint Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine in Saint Augustine, Florida hosts a pilgrimage weekend of events and commemorations including the annual meeting of the Saint Photios Foundation, a reception and banquet, and the Divine Liturgy in the beautiful Shrine Chapel. These events are always held on or near the feast day of the patron saint of the Shrine, Saint Photios the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople. In addition to commemorating the witness of this great champion of the faith, this is a time to review the accomplishments and activities of the Shrine over the past year and to affirm the vision and plans for the future.
This year, on the weekend of February 7-9, the Shrine Foundation will host these events and will welcome and honor the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) for contributing a significant amount in the past to pay off the Shrine’s mortgage. AHEPA will be honoring the Shrine by its participation in the pilgrimage activities and recognizing the ongoing relationship between the two organizations. These events will certainly be an affirmation of the long history of support given to the Shrine by members of the AHEPA family; but it is also an eloquent example of the strong bonds of identity and faith within our Greek American community.
Both the Saint Photios National Shrine and AHEPA have made important contributions to preserving and sharing our Greek heritage. Through genuine and consistent efforts the leaders and members of these organizations have affirmed the importance of our history and our connections to our place of origin and the many immigrants who came to America. They have also labored to ensure that our heritage is shared with new generations, who, through their educational programs, are able to connect with our Hellenic culture, traditions, and values that are essential to our humanity, our communities, and life in our modern world.
Events, as the above, are also witnesses of the strength of faith in our lives as Greek Orthodox Christians and in our Greek American community. We have and continue to see how our faith brings us together in mutual support and commitment to the mission of the Church and the sharing of the Gospel. Many who are members of our Hellenic organizations are also members of our parishes and contribute their time and resources regularly to ministry at all levels of the Church in America. In addition, they lead and serve both in the parish and the Greek American community in promoting the cherished relationship of our heritage and our faith. In this way and through their support of institutions like the Saint Photios Shrine and organizations like AHEPA, a true testimony of service, love, adherence to universal values and commitment to God is offered.
As we commemorate the Feast of Saint Photios and observe National Shrine Day, may we offer our prayers and support for our beloved Shrine and its ministry. May we also continue to recognize the work and generosity of organizations in our Greek American community and in our Church that give faithfully and regularly when and where needs exist. As we do so, we give thanks to God for all that has been accomplished through our faith in Him and our unity in Christ, and we anticipate the great and wondrous works He will accomplish as together we seek to bring Him honor and glory.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America