His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros
Eulogy for James (Jimmy) Pantelidis
April 18, 2023
Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Greek Orthodox Cathedral
New York, New York
Beloved Stella – Carli, Mariana, and Nicholas: dear spouse and children of our precious Jimmy Pantelidis,
Dear Siblings: Peter, George, Markela – and the entire Pantelidis Family.
Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Lord,
On this sad and painful day, We greet one another with our most defiant affirmation of life. We say, “Christ is Risen!”
Since becoming Archbishop of America, if there is one life that I have come to know, who exemplifies what it means to be risen with Christ, it is our beloved brother, a husband, father, sibling, uncle, friend: James – Δημήτριος – Jimmy Pantelidis.
How many words can we find?
How many stories can we tell?
We can start, but we will never finish. We will be exhausted by our love for him, long before we have done his memory justice.
The presence of so many of you this morning, in the Cathedral that Jimmy and Stella have nurtured for so many years, whispers to us something about our brother. I see in your pained countenances and damp eyes, the witness of a life so very well lived. And a death so bravely faced.
Six years after a diagnosis that strikes fear and despair in human hearts, we lay this warrior to rest. But Jimmy always refused to bow before his own mortality. He lived his life to the fullest no matter what.
Throughout the Omogeneia, from Brooklyn reaching all the way to his ancestral Chios, his fellow Greeks and all those whose lives he touched are mourning the loss of such a man as this … such a hero as this. For he was the perfect combination of Greek and Orthodox – a man who never forgot his roots, and gave of himself with boundless generosity to the preservation and enhancement of Hellenic culture and our Christian Orthodox Faith. If we were to recount his achievements, we would be here until the sun set.
Truly, Jimmy was our new Phidippides, our Marathon Man. Our Champion, whose gifts and talents were as endless as his love and joy. Whether in song, or in dance, or in that most grueling race of the distance from the shores of Marathon to Athens – the same Boston Race run yesterday that he triumphed in, he taught us how to live life to the fullest.
His years of illness and struggle were his personal Holy Week. A long and extended Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάδα, in which his beloved Stella stood by him with a fortitude that amazes us all. God will never forget the goodness of all of you his family, for you stood by him, and with him, with all your love.
That he passed over from this world to the next on Holy Thursday – the day that the Lord washed the feet of His Disciples – speaks volumes of the faith that he lived with humility, with generosity, and with grace.
Together with the Holy Apostle Paul, Jimmy can rightly say:
Τὸν ἀγῶνα τὸν καλὸν ἠγώνισμαι – I fought the good fight.
Τὸν δρόμον τετέλεκα – I finished the race.
Τὴν πίστιν τετήρηκα – I kept the faith. *
A life as well lived as his cannot be subject to any single summation. Each of us – all of us, we will go on to share stories and tell of his irrepressible love of life, his love of family, his love of Church, his love of his identity as a Greek’s Greek. But also, so quintessentially American, with all of the success and accomplishment that so characterizes the American Dream.
He fought because he loved you so.
He raced because he could not be defeated.
He persevered in faith and love, because that’s what his heart was made of.
We honor him today with this special Resurrection service – one only used during Bright Week and on the Fortieth Day after Pascha. If there was ever a person who merited the hymns of the Resurrection at his exequies, it was our beloved Jimmy.
For his life is a Resurrection Life. In the midst of his battle against cancer, he lived with joy, with zest, with vigor, and with intention.
He has gone – not from our hearts and minds, but he has gone before us and leaves us with the testament of his well-lived life.
He ran the race and at its finish line, he shouts from heaven for all of us to hear:
Νενικήκαμεν! We are victorious! †
His victory is the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over hatred, over sin, and over death. Like our Lord, Jimmy crossed over from this world to the next during Holy Week. And now, by the life he lived, he proclaims to us the Resurrection of our Lord, as we chant the Paschal Canon and hymns at his funeral.
I know that the pain of this loss seems so great that many of you will not be able to see a time when consolation arrives. I pray that it will be as soon as possible for all of you. You will never forget your Marathon Man. He conquered. And you will too. Remember his spiritual victory over death, even as you grieve his passing.
May the soul of this devoted servant of God, Demetrios, now find his just reward in the Kingdom of Heaven, where he now rests from his labors upon this earth.
May his memory be eternal.
* II Timothy 4:7
† The cry of Phidippides announcing the victory at Marathon.