By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
To the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America
November 10, 2022
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
I come to you today with a heart that bears both sadness and good hope – sadness for the loss of our beloved brother in Christ and concelebrant in the Holy Spirit, the late Metropolitan Ilia of Philomelion. We are not yet even at the fortieth day from his passing, and the vacuum that has been created by his absence is powerfully felt by us all. But as the Apostle Paul says:
… to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. *
Therefore, we take heart from the fact that this hierarch, who served the Albanian Church for so many decades with all his strength, is present with the Lord, and prays with us for the future of the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America.
Hence, my brothers and sisters, I have a good hope for this Diocese, and I pray that you do as well. There is much work to be done, so that the efforts that have yielded a spiritual harvest to date will be extended for the benefit of generations to come.
This is a time of transition – a time when we will move as One Body in Christ to the next apostolate to which our Lord calls us. I would like to assure everyone that as the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, I will give my utmost to ensuring a smooth progression for the beloved Albanian Orthodox Diocese, so as to ensure a future that is consistent with its past.
We can never forget the legacy of this Diocese, as well as the renewal and reconstitution of the Orthodox Church in Albania. All of you were crucial to the resurrection of Orthodoxy in Albania, which now holds a rightful place as one of the Autocephalous Churches.
The role of this Diocese – especially under the late Metropolitan Ilia, and his vigorous pursuit of true apostleship to the Albanian Motherland – can never be forgotten. His All Holiness knew where to find partners to assist in the restoration of Orthodoxy in Albania. And all of you should know that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will continue to be your partner going forward.
Therefore, let us take the time that is before us in order to learn from and about one another, so that we may more perfectly serve the needs of this Diocese’s faithful.
I would like to hear your concerns and your hopes for the future. If there are changes to be made, evolutions to be considered, we shall do so together. Let no one fear radical reorganization. Because like a loving mother, the Mother Church of Constantinople has only the spiritual protection and progress of this Diocese in Her heart.
As for me, I pledge to you my best efforts to meet your needs and to present your interests to the Mother Church, so that whatever course is charted is embraced by all.
I thank you for your participation today, and I look forward to hearing from you now, and to keep this dialogue of love and hope open in the future.
May the Lord bless us all!