To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, 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,

I write this letter on behalf of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in the wake of the fatalities, heavy damage, and trauma caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. This natural disaster has affected entire communities throughout these States, and today many thousands of people are mourning the painful loss of their loved ones, their homes, and their businesses as a result of the violent storm.

As an Orthodox Christian community, our first and foremost response must be a call to prayer for the eternal rest of those who lost their lives and for comfort and strength to be granted by the merciful God to those left behind. Our prayers, however, must also be joined by a tangible expression of material assistance, so that those affected by this tragedy may receive the help that they need to recover from this overwhelming catastrophe.

We therefore make an appeal to the Greek Orthodox faithful of America to please respond generously to a special collection that will be made this Sunday, September 4, or at the latest on Sunday, September 11, in every parish throughout the Holy Archdiocese during the Divine Liturgy. Your financial contributions should be forwarded to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and designated exclusively for our “Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund.”

In this difficult period of aftermath, we are moved as Greek Orthodox Christians to remember the inspiring words of St. Paul, "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15) and "put on heartfelt compassion" (Colossians 3:12). Knowing of your boundless generosity and your abiding love one for another, we are confident that you will do whatever you can to offer as much comfort as possible to our neighbors who have been affected by this tragedy. May God keep you always in the shelter of His loving protection.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America

Archive: Archbishop Demetrios' Encyclicals