Your Eminence Elder-Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, venerable representative of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:
I would like to reverently express to You — on behalf of all the fellow brother concelebrants of our Holy Eparchial Synod, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, our entire clergy body and all of our Archdiocesan faithful — our warmest and most heartfelt welcome! Indeed, we welcome You to the great Eparchy of the Venerable Ecumenical Throne here in America.
Blessed is His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, our Abbot and Chief Celebrant, who comes in the name of the Lord. The Star of the East, who came to give us once again the light of the ever-shining and martyric Phanar, so as to illumine us with the most beautiful heirlooms bequeathed to us from the centuries-long history and legacy of Constantinople — the foremost Throne of responsibility and glory of the Orthodox Church and our devout Genos. O, how beautiful are the feet of His All-Holiness; He, who preaches to us the gospel of peace and the good things of God. And in humbly bowing our heads to Him, it is with a joyful heart that we all receive His venerable Patriarchal blessing.
On the occasion of this radiant, pan-Orthodox Chorostasia, presided over by You, dear brother and Elder-Metropolitan of Chalcedon, I would like to highlight the firmness of the sacred bonds that join all of the Orthodox ecclesiastical presences here in the United States in the love of Christ. I also would like to emphasize the fraternal and most fruitful collaboration that we especially enjoy within the framework of the Assembly of Bishops, which actually convened recently here in our nation’s capital. And for the first time in the Assembly’s ten-year history, we had the blessing to congregate eucharistically in a pan-Orthodox concelebration by the members of the Executive Committee.
Even though the Patriarchate of Moscow is currently not being represented physically — something, of course, that I hope is only temporary — we nevertheless still consider them to be present with us in spirit. And to this end, then, we fervently pray for our swift, in-person reunion once again.
Your Eminence, it is also worth mentioning that for the entirety of this challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Bishops convened virtually on a weekly basis and produced praiseworthy work — insofar as concerns the strengthening and consolation of our faithful, as well as the promotion of pan-Orthodox unity and witness here in the United States.
With His All-Holiness’ blessing, we have established a new institution in our Sacred Archdiocese, known as the body of “Senators for Orthodoxy and Hellenism.” And this is an august group of individuals, consisting of both clergy and laity, who have been distinguished for their great contribution to the work of the Church — either on a parish or Archdiocesan level — as well as for their contributions to Hellenism particularly here in America. Their wisdom, experience, prudence and heartwarming flame of the faith, together with their ever-vigilant sensitivity and pure patriotism, are precious assets for our Archdiocesan Council. Therefore, we fervently beseech You, beloved brother, to inaugurate these esteemed individuals today on behalf and in the person of His All-Holiness.
Of course, as it is well known, “praise befits the upright,” and the elders who rule well are worthy of double honor. And so, I would like to fervently request one more thing as well: that Your Eminence honors, with fitting dignity and in the name of His All-Holiness, some of our bright clergymen — specifically, the Reverend Father Steven Zorzos, Presiding Priest of this Cathedral of Saint Sophia; Fr. Mark Leondis, President of the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council; and Fr. Elias Villis, President of the Clergy Syndesmos of the Archdiocesan District; as well as the Reverend Fathers Dimitrios Antokas, Evagoras Constantinides and Panagiotis Papazafiropoulos. We also would like to request from You to bestow upon Fr. Steven Zorzos the Cross of the Holy and Great Synod.
All six of these individuals are select clergymen of ours, who are characterized by a high sense of duty, godly zeal and ceaseless work ethic in the liturgical, pastoral, social and philanthropic fields. They also possess an unwavering commitment and steadfast dedication to the Archdiocese and their Archbishop, as well as — and primarily for — our martyric Mother Church of Constantinople and the venerable person of our Patriarch.
In closing, we are grateful to His All-Holiness from the bottom of our hearts and souls for the great distance He traversed in order to visit us, together with His venerable delegation: the much beloved holy brother hierarchs Elder-Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Metropolitan Joseph of Proikonissos, and Metropolitan Ioustinos of Nea Krini and Kalamaria, and the rest of the Patriarchal entourage’s dear and esteemed members. With especial fervor, our hearts and lips praise, glorify and give thanks to the all-holy name of God for safely bringing our Patriarch to us. We hope and pray that all the days of His All-Holiness’ stay in America are most enjoyable and gladsome, and that they may be filled with an abundance of radiance for all the faithful and our country!