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,

On Sunday, February 6, we commemorate one of the great luminaries of our Church, Saint Photios the Great, a holy Father whose life and work as the Patriarch of Constantinople had a lasting impact on the Church throughout the world.

Saint Photios was a brilliant thinker who strove always to remain faithful to the Tradition of the Church while at the same time laboring to meet the needs of his flock in the present and the future. For this reason, Saint Photios was first of all deeply committed to paideia, or education, in every sense. As a scholar himself, Saint Photios attached great value to learning, using his resources as Patriarch to share the blessing of education as widely as possible. Secondly, Saint Photios was dedicated to maintaining the adherence to the right faith and to the good order of the Church in accordance with the Apostolic Tradition. He devoted himself to preserving the rightful administration of the flock of God even through times of intense pressure and under persecution. Third, Saint Photios was a man of profound missionary zeal, who sought to spread the light of the Gospel to non-Christians by continual methodical action.

On the Feast of Saint Photios, we as an Archdiocese also honor the work of the Saint Photios National Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida. In its own way the National Shrine carries on the work of Saint Photios by educating, preserving, and enlightening. The Shrine holds exhibits that recall the accomplishments of our protoporoi, the earliest generations of Greek Orthodox immigrants who came to the shores of America to make a home for themselves in the New World; the Shrine also conducts programs that preserve and project our Orthodox Christian faith and our Hellenic cultural heritage. It is the custom of our Church to pass a special tray on Sunday, February 6, which is designated as "Saint Photios National Shrine Day," in order to support the work of this worthy Archdiocesan institution.

Through the intercessions of St. Photios, may the Lord bless the work of our National Shrine and all of you and your families with His peace and grace.

With paternal love in Christ,

DEMETRIOS

Archbishop of America