His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros
Remarks at the Archon Event
A Short History of Anger: A Hybrid Work of Poetry and Theatre
September 21, 2023
Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine
New York, New York
Regional Commanders of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of New Jersey and the Direct Archdiocesan District:
Archon Dikaiophylax, George A. Tsougarakis, and
Archon Ekdikos, Nikiforos Mathews ,
Our Poet of life and of death, and the Creator of this Testament:
Beloved Artists and Performers,
Your Grace and Reverend Fathers,
Friends of Saint Nicholas National Shrine and
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Tonight is very emotional for me, as someone born and raised in Asia Minor, and within the living memory and narrative of the Καταστροφή της Σμύρνης – the horrific Burning of Smyrna. All of my life, I have listened to stories of survivors and of others, whose generational presence in what is now called “Türkiye,” was erased by the consequences of this genocidal act.
I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Saint Nicholas National Shrine – for both sponsoring and hosting this important performance.
To our composer, Joy Manesiotis, and all the artists with her in this moving memorial and witness – I extend my profound gratitude for this exploration of pain, of suffering, and of the triumph of the human spirit.
To sing of these things upon the Hallowed Ground where we stand this evening – in the rebuilt and resurrected Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine – could not be more fitting for this unique House of God.
Here, where hatred and ignorance fueled the raging fires that burned the Twin Towers to the ground, taking our fellow citizens and the little Saint Nicholas Church to their unjust destruction – here is where the story of another cruel fire, and another incalculable loss, should be memorialized.
The Asia Minor Holocaust and subsequent Dispersion of the Greeks from the homes they had known for literally thousands of years changed the trajectory of our People. Over one million human beings were forced to leave their homes and build their lives anew. It accelerated the formation of the Greek Diaspora, which reaches around the world. Indeed, the establishment of our Archdiocese was a pastoral response to the Asia Minor Catastrophe. The Mother Church saw Her children upended and scattered to the four winds.
Her heart was broken, and in order to bring healing to those who survived and who reached these blessed shores in order to rebuild their lives, the Great Church ordered the ecclesiastical life of America directly under Her wise and maternal supervision.
Therefore, as an Archdiocese, we have an even greater responsibility to remember the Asia Minor Holocaust, because our origins are mingled with their tears and ashes. We are built upon the blood of those Martyrs, led by the Hieromartyr Metropolitan Chrysostom of Smyrna, whose martyrdom preceded the torching of this magnificent city – known in the Book of Revelation and to whom the Lord said, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life!” Our spiritual and physical ancestors were faithful, they were crowned by God, and we shall never forget what they endured for the sake of Christ and His Holy Church.
Tonight’s presentation in this Hallowed Ground is another example of how their memory is cherished, and I thank all of you – our Poet and all the artists who brought them to life in such a beautiful and meaningful way.