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
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the spirit of St. Paul's moving exhortation, weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) and put on heartfelt compassion (Colossians 3:12), I write this letter in the wake of the mudslides that have claimed the lives of 14 people in San Bernardino, California. The victims of this terrible catastrophe were the caretaker of our St. Sophia Camp in San Bernardino, his entire family, and a number of his relatives and friends who were with him on Christmas Day within the area of the camp. As we have learned, the mudslides appeared suddenly, without warning, in an area that had been severely damaged by recent devastating fires.
The intense pain caused by this unexpected tragedy continues for the family members and friends of the deceased victims, whose place of origin is Central America and who live in San Bernardino, in a community which today grieves over a considerable loss, and is in need of assistance, comfort, and healing. Our Metropolis of San Francisco, specifically through the work of the parish of St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, to which the destroyed camp belongs, has already commenced the appropriate efforts.
However, as Greek Orthodox Christians, it is important that all of us extend our support to the mudslide victims of San Bernardino through prayer and through financial assistance. To this end, I am kindly asking all our parishes across America to pass a special tray this Sunday, January 4, 2004. I appeal to your hearts to give generously to this special collection. Your contributions to this tray should be forwarded to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and designated exclusively to benefit the Mudslide Victims of San Bernardino, California. I also invite you to join me in praying that this New Year 2004 may be a year of peace, comfort, and healing for the entire San Bernardino community, and especially for the people directly affected by the tragedy. May the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always, and even more throughout the New Year.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America