New York, NY - His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of over 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, arrived in New Jersey on Saturday, March 13 to begin his fifth visit to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and first official pastoral visit to the Metropolis of New Jersey. Welcoming His All Holiness upon his arrival at Morristown, NJ Airport were His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, diplomats, officials, clergy and laity of the Metropolis of New Jersey.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew went immediately to Holy Trinity Church in Westfield, NJ where hundreds of young people participating in the annual Sights and Sounds program of the Metropolis warmly greeted His All Holiness. "We grant upon you our paternal love and patriarchal blessing," he said, "and we pray that, day after day, you will approach the infinite beauty of the good creation of God, so that you will convey to all the message of joy, the Gospel of Christ, the hopeful message of the restoration of the relationship between man and God, and the end of feeling orphaned; you will share with all the news of your new adoption by our affectionate heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. By doing this you will experience a joy that is compete and inalienable".
On Sunday morning, March 14, hundreds packed the Cathedral of St. John the Theologian in Tenafly, NJ for the Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch. Later that evening over 1,000 people attended a banquet in honor of His All Holiness, including the Governor of New Jersey James McGreevey.
On Monday morning His All Holiness met with the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches (SCOOCH) at the Archdiocese Headquarters. In his remarks, the Patriarch said, "We are glad for this opportunity of a face-to-face personal exchange with you, especially in the time of the Holy and Great Lent. This is a time of fasting, of prayer, of spiritual refuge, and of lifting our hearts to the Lord Who is Coming for His Holy Passion, a journey to which He ever invites us to sojourn with Him."
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew also held separate private meetings with Senator Hillary Clinton and with Edgar M. Bronfman, President, and Rabbi Israel Singer, Chairman, of the World Jewish Congress. His All Holiness also offered his patriarchal greetings to the Members of the Preparatory Meeting for the Interreligious Conference and Dialogue.
The entire staff of the Archdiocese gathered for a Patriarchal Greeting and Blessing in the St. Paul Chapel. Later, some 200 Archdiocesan Leaders from throughout the Archdiocese attended a luncheon in honor of His All Holiness at The BoatHouse in Central Park.
Following the luncheon, His All Holiness met with His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations at the United Nations headquarters.
Later that evening he attended dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the occasion of the inauguration of the exhibition Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557). "May the works in this exhibit," said His All Holiness, "lead us to the right path of true faith from which true spiritual power derives. This spiritual power, in turn, is the creative power behind these displayed works of art. Most importantly, it is the creative power behind works of life that are less glamorous, but nevertheless are works that produce love for another, joy and hope in life. We wholeheartedly pray for the success of this exhibit, and we will consider as a great accomplishment, the true realization of the message conveyed through its title, in its true dimension: Faith and Power.&qout;
On March 16 His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios hosted a breakfast for religious leaders in honor of His All Holiness. Guests at the breakfast included Cardinal Egan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, Episcopal Presiding Bishop, Frank T. Griswold, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik. In concluding his remarks, His All Holiness said, "If mutual understanding, open dialogue and common action on issues of general concern among the various religions were needed in the past, today they are even much more needed. We live in a world of rapid social, political and economic changes. We live in a world of violence and terrorism and wars declared or undeclared". And we live in a world in which more and more the role of religion as vital, indispensable and dynamic factor is being universally recognized."
Also on March 16, clergy of the Direct Archdiocesan District received the Patriarchal Greeting and Blessing in the Archdiocesan Chapel. His All Holiness then attended a luncheon in his honor hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Ahmet Ertegun and Mr. And Mrs. Murat Koprulu.