February 6, 2011
Feast of Saint Photios
Saint Photios National Shrine Day
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 and Patriarch of Constantinople, it is our annual tradition to recognize and support the work of our Saint Photios National Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida. We do this because the National Shrine has a significant role in the ministry of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. This past year over ninety thousand visitors came to the Saint Photios Shrine and experienced the way that this beloved institution of our Archdiocese offers a remembrance of our heritage, a witness of our Orthodox faith, and illumination through the grace of God.
For over three decades through the efforts of its founders, supporters, directors and staff, the Saint Photios Shrine has been a place of remembrance. The Shrine’s location is a place of history, tied directly to the Greek immigrants who came to North America in the late 1700s. Along with preserving the knowledge, struggles, and identity of these early pioneers, the Shrine has expanded its role and work to include numerous aspects of our Greek American history and identity offering an unique and essential educational experience to our Omogenia, to area students, and to visitors from throughout the United States and the world.
The Saint Photios National Shrine is also a place of witness. In addition to preserving and teaching the Greek American experience, the Shrine offers a genuine witness of the depth, beauty, and holiness of our Orthodox Christian faith. Through the chapel, programs, bookstore, and exhibits the Shrine shares with visitors both the strong relationship between our heritage and faith, as well as invites all who enter to engage with the sanctity of our worship and contemplate their faith and relationship with God.
This is why our Saint Photios Shrine is also a place of illumination. Over the years many have had a deep and transforming experience of the presence of God, a spiritual prompting by the Holy Spirit to seek more, to encounter Christ, and to open their hearts and minds to faith. For many their visit to the shrine was the beginning of a journey into the Orthodox Church and into a greater experience and understanding of the grace of God.
With our prayers and support our Saint Photios National Shrine will continue to open the spiritual eyes of visitors to the way of life and truth that is offered and nurtured through our Orthodox faith. It will also continue to be a place of remembrance and witness, serving a vital role in the preservation, teaching, and exploring of our heritage as Greek Americans. I encourage you to offer your support to our National Shrine on this day by remembering the directors and staff in your prayers, giving generously to the programs of the Shrine, and planning a visit to experience this very special place that serves all of us in the Church in America.
As we commemorate our father among the Saints, Photios the Confessor, may we also follow his example and intercessions to Christ our God in our witness and prayers, so that others will see the grace of God in our lives and seek Him who offers the gift of truth, love and life.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America