San Francisco, CA - Metropolitan Anthony, the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, with jurisdiction over the seven western states, died today, December 25, 2004, five weeks after he was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma. He was 69 years of age. At the time of his death, he was surrounded by clergy, family and friends, including his sisters, Eleni Koniaris and Chrysoula Antonopoulos and their families, and his sister-in-law, Giannoula Gergiannakis, and her family. Metropolitan Anthony was pre-deceased by his brothers, Mihalis Gergiannakis and George Gergiannakis, and a sister, Stella Roumeliotakis. He also leaves behind twelve nephews and nieces and a number grand nephews and grand nieces.
In announcing the passing of Metropolitan Anthony, Bishop Anthimos of Olympos, a close friend and assistant at the Metropolis, noted "Although we are deeply saddened by the passing of this very dynamic hierarch of the Church, we are confident he is with the Lord. The Lord took him on Christmas Day, as if to remind us that his entire life and ministry were a gift to us, to his family, to the Church." Assisted by Fr. Stephen Kyriacou, the Dean of the Annunciation Cathedral, the Bishop administered "last rites" prior to the Metropolitan's death and conducted a Trisagion (memorial service) immediately following.
Metropolitan Anthony's body will lie in state in the Bishop Anthony Chapel of the Annunciation Cathedral from Monday, December 27, through Tuesday evening, December 28. The faithful are invited to pay their respects and sign the Book of Condolences on Monday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and also on Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Orthros (Matins) will be celebrated on Tuesday at 9 a.m., with a Divine Liturgy following. The Liturgy will conclude at 12 noon. That evening, a Trisagion Service will be celebrated, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Cathedral is located at 245 Valencia Street, San Francisco.
Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, December 29 at the Ascension Cathedral, 4700 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, beginning with Orthros (Matins) at 7 a.m., and followed by the Divine Liturgy, at 8:30 a.m. The Funeral Office will be sung at 11 a.m. Until preparations are finalized for Metropolitan Anthony's final resting place at the Monastery of the Theotokos the Life-Giving Spring, in Dunlap, California, in accordance with his wishes, he will be entombed temporarily in the Greek Orthodox Memorial Park in Colma. Also, in accordance with Metropolitan Anthony's expressed wishes, donations to the Heritage Museum are requested. Checks should be forwarded to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, 372 Santa Clara Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127.
A resident of San Francisco for the last 26 years, Metropolitan Anthony emerged from humble and austere beginnings. The son of Emmanuel and Eleftheria Gergiannakis, he was born in the village of Avgeniki on the island of Crete, Greece, the third of six children, growing up during the brutally difficult years of the Nazi occupation. He was the first member of his family to leave the village, attending the ecclesiastical school of Chania, Crete, and ultimately graduating from the internationally renowned Halki Theological School of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1960. He was ordained a deacon on July 27, 1958, and a priest on September 29, 1960. After his ordination to the priesthood, he came to the United States to pursue postgraduate studies and serve the Church in this country. While serving as a parish priest, he earned a Masters of Divinity at Yale University and pursued doctoral studies in Contemporary Church History at the University of Chicago, and in Russian and Balkan History at the University of Wisconsin. In 1974, he was appointed Dean of the St. George Cathedral in Montreal, Canada, where he remained until his elevation to the episcopacy on May 21, 1978. As titular Bishop of Amissos, he served the Eighth Archdiocesan District in Denver, Colorado, until his election as Bishop of San Francisco in 1979.
Metropolitan Anthony was enthroned as the first bishop of the newly-created Diocese of San Francisco on June 7, 1979. He served as the Bishop and later Metropolitan of San Francisco for over twenty-five years, overseeing the western states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. During that time, he was responsible for a tremendous expansion of ministries and programs, an unparalleled period of ferment and renewal. His tenure saw the founding of over twenty new parishes and missions in the Metropolis of San Francisco, nearly one parish for each year of his ministry, as well as the establishment of three monasteries. He was the founder of St. Nicholas Ranch, the Greek Orthodox conference and retreat center located in the Sierra Nevada foothills. He was also the driving force behind the construction of the Monastery of the Theotokos the Life-Giving Spring on the premises of St. Nicholas Ranch. He developed the annual Metropolis Folk Dance Festival into the largest exhibition of authentic Greek folk dance, costume, and music in the world. Together with the Metropolis Philoptochos, he created the Bishop Anthony Student Aid Endowment Fund, a multi-million dollar scholarship account providing funding for seminarians and students from the Metropolis to attend Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. He served as a member of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese of America. He proved a source of inspiration for countless thousands, not only Greek Orthodox faithful, but also religious and civic figures who recognized in him a great leader and a true man of faith.
Metropolitan Anthony will be remembered for his enthusiasm, his vigor, and his prophetic vision for the Metropolis of San Francisco. He challenged his faithful to be more than we believed we could be, to accomplish more than we ever thought possible, to dream great dreams and to make them a reality. A source of inspiration for countless thousands, not only Greek Orthodox faithful, but also religious and civic figures who recognized in him a great leader and a true man of faith, his presence and legacy will be felt for generations to come.