February 6, 2016
Feast of Saint Photios
Saint Photios National Shrine Day
So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.
II Corinthians 5:20
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,
On this blessed Feast of Saint Photios the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, we commemorate a Saint who offered a brilliant witness of the truth and love of God. Having a tremendous intellectual ability and a deep love and faith in Christ, he endured false accusations, threats, and ordeals, yet he remained a true messenger of Gospel. Throughout his life Saint Photios was a faithful ambassador for Christ, never wavering in his apostolic mission to proclaim the truth that leads to God and salvation.
The witness and faithfulness of Saint Photios affirms the mission and ministry of our Saint Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida. For decades the directors, staff, and benefactors of the Shrine have been ambassadors for Christ in many ways. The Shrine has been a place of remembrance, commemorating the place and the legacy of Greeks who made the arduous journey to North America in 1768, endured suffering and deprivation as indentured servants, and gathered in the Avero House to find strength and hope through faith and community.
The Saint Photios National Shrine offers a witness of Christ through our Orthodox Christian faith and our Hellenic heritage. The beautiful chapel invites visitors to reflect and pray in a very sacred space dedicated to God. In preserving the story of faith in the lives of our Greek forebears who came to this land, the Shrine affirms the priority of faith in our lives as Greek Americans and Orthodox Christians.
The benefactors and directors of the Shrine have also been ambassadors for Christ through their support for our seminarians at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. For the past three years, the Shrine has hosted seminarians for the annual National Shrine Pilgrimage thanks to the generosity of our benefactors. Thus, several of our future clergy will have a connection with the Shrine that will remain with them throughout their lives and ministries in the service of Christ and His Church.
In our commemoration of the Feast of Saint Photios, please offer your prayers and gifts of support to our Saint Photios National Shrine. As many from throughout our Holy Archdiocese gather on the weekend of February 6 for the annual Pilgrimage, may we affirm the vital ministry of our National Shrine, and in all of our places in life seek to be ambassadors for Christ so that others may find light and life in Him.
With paternal love in Him,
Archbishop of America