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 Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
At the inception of this new millennium I invite you to reflect on another beginning that occurred almost two thousand years ago in the days following the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Holy Apostles at Pentecost. The Holy Scriptures tell us that upon hearing the witness of the Gospel of Christ thousands believed, were baptized, and joined together in worship and ministry (Acts 2). The community of faith, the koinonia of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 1:9) was visibly established and consequently extended throughout the world through missionary endeavors.
It is with this sacred history in our hearts and minds that on January 1 we celebrate our sharing in faith and fellowship in several ways. First, we commemorate our Holy Father among the Saints Basil the Great, whose pastoral, ascetical and theological labors extended and strengthened the koinonia of Jesus Christ. Second, in recognition of our rich heritage of ministry and philanthropy so exemplified by this great Saint, we celebrate the cutting of the Vasilopeta. In this annual custom of our Greek Orthodox communities, our leaders and organizations, as well as our families, are remembered in the parishes and homes of our Holy Archdiocese as we acknowledge our shared commitment to faith, worship, and works of love. Finally, it is also on this day that we recognize a very special group among our koinonia--the children, the young men and women, the staff, and the directors of Saint Basil Academy in Garrison, New York. Each year we are led by our National Philoptochos Society in collecting funds for this vital ministry that provides a supportive and nurturing environment for children and young people from across America. May we all participate in the work and growth of Saint Basil Academy by sharing the material blessings we have been given by God.
As we celebrate this day in worship, in fellowship, and in giving to the needs of others, may we firmly acknowledge our commitment to and participation in the community of faith in Jesus Christ. As we are united with Him in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, we are united with one another as His Body, members who are equipped for the work of ministry in our homes, in our parishes, and throughout our Holy Archdiocese and the world. May we be thankful for our fellowship, our partnership, our koinonia in the Gospel as we worship and labor together, knowing that He who began a good work in each one of us "will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:5-6).
May the Lord grant joy in fellowship and strength in service to each of you and your families as we begin this New Year and new millennium in the hope and the vision of His glory.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America