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Remarks by Rev Protopresbyter Mark Leondis, President, Archdiocesan Presbyter’s Council

Your All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Your Eminences, Your Graces,
My dear brother Clergy (both active and retired) and beloved Presbyteres
Mr. George Cantonis, President of Hellenic College/Holy Cross, and the wonderful students with him. 

It is indeed an honor and blessing to serve as the Master of Ceremonies this afternoon.  

We gather today with much anticipation and great expectation, to welcome and be in the presence of our spiritual Father, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. 

Your All-Holiness, we are delighted and honored to welcome you and to be with You this afternoon. 

This historic Apostolic Visit is an opportunity for America to experience Your All-Holiness’ most endearing qualities of love, kindness and humility, that we have all come to love during your 30 years of ministry….the longest of any Patriarch in the history of the Ecumenical throne. 

Your All-Holiness’ strength, courage, pastoral love, endurance and leadership over these 30 years has been truly monumental and inspiring in the history of the Orthodox Church.

We are TRULY honored to be with you this afternoon and express our deepest gratitude and respect to Your All-Holiness.

We are all present here today to receive your Patriarchal blessing: your Priests, your Presbyteres, your future clergy, and we thank you for spending this time with us. 

For many of us here…Hellenic College/Holy Cross has a very special place in our hearts. 

During our time on “the Holy Hill”, we learned what it meant to serve our Lord’s Church; we developed a deep love for Christ and ministry; we spent countless hours in the Chapel; a place where we prayed to our Lord Jesus Christ with most cherished and dearest friends. 

It was at Holy Cross that we first met the Elder of Chalcedon, Metropolitan Emanuel, when he was a student there.

The student body of the school is the life-line. Our students are called to serve Christ and His Church.

A vibrant student body, working side by side by the professors and staff, enhances the vision and mission of our School. 

Our beloved school is secure on so many levels. We give thanks to our Archbishop and President, Mr. George Cantonis, for their vision and action.

It is no secret that the success of any married priest is supported by his loving and supportive wife. The Presbytera, is a position that they neither asked for or necessarily wanted, but because of their love for their husbands, they assume it with PATIENCE AND LOVE. 

On a daily basis, they inspire us, protect us, cry with us, laugh with us, love us, and sometimes scold us - when necessary. 

Over these past 4 years as a member and President of the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council, I have worked closely with the National Sisterhood of Presbyteres, most especially with their Executive Board. The APC works “hand in hand” with the NSP in ministry, benevolence and education. 

Serving as the President of the Archdiocese Presbyters Council (APC), has been one of the most greatest honors in my 25 plus years of ministry. 

“Brothers who love and serve one another” is our vision. 

The APC gives us an opportunity to express the love of Christ to each other in a brotherly and loving way. 

I truly thank our brotherhood for this great honor. 

Our Archbishop reminds us that the Priests are on the “front-lines” of ministry. 

I have often heard this from my beloved father, who would say, “the work toward salvation takes place in the parish.”

It can be difficult being a priest; countless hours away from family; emergency calls; late night meetings; missing major events in family life; never really feeling like your “off” because there is ALWAYS a need. 

They don’t always here the positive…but I want to share with them today, in front of the 270th Successor to the Throne of Saint Andrew, how much they are appreciated. 

My dear brothers…

You are indeed exceptional people - men of God: solid pastors; daily and weekly liturgists; efficient administrators; selfless individuals; loving teachers; caring Confessors; kind people who serve others; you are loving Shepherds. 

We are truly proud of your ministry and service to our Church. 

Your All-Holiness, the Clergy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America are indeed exceptional men of God. 

Brothers…on behalf of the faithful whom you serve, we thank your!