November 6, 2012
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 Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On behalf of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, I am communicating with you following the devastating landfall of Hurricane Sandy and a very difficult week for New York, New Jersey, and other areas in the northeastern United States. As many of you know, this historic storm caused loss of life and tremendous destruction of homes and businesses. It has also radically altered cities and towns, as flooding and ruin has led to evacuations. Hundreds of thousands more have been challenged by the loss of electricity and access to basic public services.
Our first response to this disaster has been fervent prayer to Almighty God, Who is our rock and our fortress, and our deliverer in times of great distress and need (Psalm 18:2-4). We continue these prayers, and we ask all the faithful throughout the Church in America to pray fervently for comfort from above. We offer prayers of remembrance for those who perished and of solace for those who lost family members. We pray for the many who have lost their homes, and for those who are facing uncertainty regarding their jobs and livelihood. We continue our prayers for the rescue personnel and many others who are saving lives and offering comfort to those in need. We also pray for the leaders of our communities, cities, states, and our country, who are confronted with numerous crises and challenging decisions in the days to come.
As we assess the damages and challenges to our faithful and our parishes throughout the region, we are also responding to the many needs around us. In support of this ministry of compassion and healing, we are designating Sunday, November 11 as a day of prayer and offering on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Sandy. In addition to prayers for those mentioned above, we ask the parishes of our Holy Archdiocese to designate a special collection for the “Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.” These funds should be sent to the Archdiocese, and we will coordinate relief efforts with our National Philoptochos Society, the Metropolis of New Jersey, the Direct Archdiocesan District, and other local, state, and national efforts that provide direct assistance to those in need.
Through your generosity and prayers, many will find hope in the midst of great loss. Through our witness of faith in this trying time, many will see the power of faith and love, and know that the Lord gives strength to His people and blesses them with peace (Psalm 29:11).
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America