His Eminence was elected as Archbishop of America on July 30th, 1996 by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, presided over by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. 

The Enthronement Ceremonies were attended by His Eminence Metropolitan Ioakeim, senior member of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, bishops and priests from throughout the Archdiocese, Orthodox hierarchs representing several jurisdictions, Catholic and Protestant clergy, members of the U.S. Congress and House of Representatives, and members of the diplomatic corps, among others.
Soon after assuming office His Eminence was appointed by Secretary of State Warren Christopher as one of 20 members of a Special Advisory Committee to the Secretary of State on Religious Freedom Abroad. He has also been invited to participate in The President's Summit for America's Future as one of 10 co-chairs and is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Archbishop Spyridon, the son of Clara and the late Dr. Constantine P. George, was born George C. P. George in Warren, Ohio on September 24, 1944. His father, a native of the Island of Rhodes (Greece) practiced medicine in Houston, TX, Tarpon Springs, FL and later, Warren, Steubenville and Mingo Junction, OH before moving back to Rhodes when George was nine years old. The Archbishop returned to the United States when he was 15 years old and lived for two years in Tarpon Springs, FL, the birthplace of his mother. He completed high school there, graduating in 1962.

He returned to Greece after high school to prepare for the priesthood and soon thereafter enrolled at the famed Theological School of Halki (Turkey) from 1962-66, where he graduated with honors. He subsequently pursued graduate studies in Switzerland (1967-68) specializing in the history of Protestant Churches. Awarded a scholarship from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, he then studied Ecumenical Theology and Byzantine Literature at Bochum University in Germany (1969-73). Fluent in Greek, English, French, Italian and German, he is also extremely computer literate.

His Eminence served as secretary at the Permanent Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches (Geneva, 1966-67), and later as Secretary of the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Chambesy (Geneva), as well as editor of its newsletter, EPISKEPSIS (1973-76).

Ordained a deacon on November 30, 1968, and taking the ecclesiastical name Spyridon, he was ordained to the priesthood on February 1, 1976, and assigned to the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Andrew in Rome, where he served until 1985.

Through his long and direct contacts with the Roman Catholic Church, he acquired a down-to-earth realism in viewing inter-church relations, a fact which contributed to his appointment in 1984 as Executive Secretary of the Inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

In recognition of his manifold services, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected him as Titular Bishop of Apameia on November 5, 1985. He was ordained as bishop at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George on November 24 of the same year and assigned as an auxiliary bishop to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Austria and Exarchate of Italy, as it was then known. In November 1991, upon creating the Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate of Southern Europe, the Holy Synod elected Spyridon as the first Metropolitan for the newly created Archdiocesan See. During the course of four years as Metropolitan of Italy, he created various auxiliary departments, increased the number of parishes and provided them with a more sound structure.

His Eminence made a significant contribution to the cause of Orthodox unity by incorporating various Italian Orthodox communities, giving particular attention to the youth by creating the Union of Greek Orthodox Students of Italy. Following a lapse of many centuries, he reintroduced Orthodox monasticism in Italy.

In 1992 he was appointed chairman of the Inter-Orthodox Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation, immediately giving renewed impetus to the dialogue with this preeminent Protestant body.

He has also represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate in various inter-Church missions and international meetings. His address to the Special Synod of the Roman Catholic Bishops in Europe (Rome, 1991) was of particular importance as he clearly identified the developments that were to follow in the relations between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.

The first official pastoral visit of His Eminence was an emotional return to the city of his birth, Warren, OH, and Steubenville where he lived until the age of nine. Archbishop Spyridon, commenting on his visits to communities throughout the Archdiocese, has said that: "One of the greatest joys of being Archbishop is to visit the parishes . . . it gives me an opportunity to know the faithful and be a part of their community. A community in which clergy and laity, young and old, men and women, work together for the glory of God's name."

His has underaken  numerous initiatives in areas of adult religious education, inter-faith marriage and an expanded Internet presence for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and its Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the Fall of 1997, His Eminence hosted the Ecumenical Patriarch on his first official U.S. visit, which was a coast-to-coast visit spanning one month.
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Encyclical for Great and Holy Lent

Holy and Great Lent

To the Reverend Clergy, the Presidents of the Parish Councils of the Churches and Communities, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth and the entire devout Plenitude of the Holy Archdiocese of America

My dear Christians,

The blessed season of Holy and Great Lent is once again at the doors; coming to bring us an opportunity for spiritual resurgence, a greater devotion to our souls and a more substantive personal participation in the sources of our faith and salvation.

All this will be achieved by a spiritual return to the Lord of Glory, Who, as a good and loving bestower, is ready to grant His rich gift of salvation to whomever should come forward freely to receive it.

The Divine Liturgies of St. Basil the Great and the Pre-Sanctified Gifts, the Triodia, the Psychosavvata, the Great Complines, the Salutations to the Virgin, the Vespers of Contrition (on Sunday evenings), the Great Canon and all the other special liturgical services, which our Church places at our disposal during Great Lent, commence a period of repentance and turning back to the path of salvation.

The Holy Church, stressing the importance of this period of forty days, has wisely fixed the yearly celebration of specific and remarkable events in the history of salvation, as well as certain holy personalities, in order to demarcate the boundaries, as it were, of the course and character of this present life. Thus, She prepares us for our return to the Lord of Glory and participation in His divine grace.

Great Lent is divided into five weeks, which begin with the blessed Sunday of Orthodoxy. Already, from the eighth century and after, the victory of the depiction of holy persons over the imprudent heresy of the iconoclasts, who denied any such depictions, was identified with the name of "Orthodoxy."

On the second Sunday we celebrate one of the leading personalities of the Church, our Father among the Saints, Gregory Palamas, who stood up against the anti-hesychastic heresies of western scholasticism, and taught the true theology concerning the union of created man with his uncreated Creator, whereby theosis is attained, that is, likeness with God.

The third Sunday is dedicated to the Veneration of the Cross. On this day, the mystery of the Cross is put forth as the model way of sanctification, which cleanses the ailing nature of our humanity and opens it to the horizon of joy and resurrection. The Cross reveals our true politeia -- our citizenship on high -- which is characterized by humility, forgiveness, sacrifice, death and resurrection.

The fourth Sunday presents to us the great abbot of the Monastery of God-trodden Sinai, the holy John Klimakos, who authored a work which has a special place in the readings of Great Lent and is comprised of divinely revealed knowledge about the soul and the way to purification and self-knowledge. This Saint of the desert explains to us how "the Kingdom of heaven is within us", for he outlines the ladder -- the klimax -- of the soul's virtues, which culminate in theosis.

The fifth Sunday is dedicated to Saint Mary of Egypt, who passed through this present life as a devout ascetic, that is, in total self-denial and repentance, rejecting transitory earthly pleasures and fixed only on things eternal. She is an example of unrivaled spiritual consistency and orientation.

Thus, with these holy feasts, these persons and their deeds we are led to Palm Sunday so that we may receive the Lord of Glory and follow Him on the way of His martyrdom, by which He fulfilled the expectation of all ages and the purpose of the history of the world, the victory over evil, redemption, our very salvation!

My fervent prayer to the Lord of Glory is that He may grant unto all of you to be prepared by the means our Mother Church has provided us, that we may worthily celebrate the feast and solemnities of Pascha. "The contest in the race for virtue has begun; let those who wish to run the race enter in."

With much fatherly love,

 Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America