AXIOS! AXIOS! AXIOS!
V. Rev Archimandrite Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos Elected Bishop of Nazianzos
This morning, the Holy and Sacred Synod elected The V. Rev. Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos, Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod and Chaplain of the Holy Cross Theological School, as the Bishop of Nazianzos, assistant Bishop of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, who placed him at the disposal of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America in order that he may continue his current service in the Holy Archdiocese.
The full announcement is below.
With thanksgiving it is announced that during its gathering today, the Holy and Sacred Synod, at the suggestion of His All-Holiness, elected unanimously:
1) His Grace Bishop Andreas of Krateia as the provincial Bishop of Toronto of the Ukrainian presence in Canada under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
2) The V. Rev. Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Ambrosios Koutsourides, Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of Germany, as Bishop of Argyroupolis, serving in the future the very numerous expatriates in Bavaria as an assistant Bishop of the Metropolitan.
3) The V. Rev. Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos to the high title of Nazianzos, as assistant Bishop of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch who placed him at the disposal of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America in order that he may continue his current service as the Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod and in the Holy Cross Theological School of Boston.
Their Graces the Bishops-Elect of Argyroupolis and Nazianzos performed on the same day the Small and Great Minyma and received the congratulations of His All-Holiness, the Holy Hierarchs, and the members of the Patriarchal Court who wished them to have a faithful hierarchical diakonia.
At the Patriarchate, on the 19th of May 2021
From the Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod
Personal Statement of Bishop-Elect Athenagoras
Revered assemblage of Hierarchs,
With deep sentiments of joy and gratitude, but with reverence and fear of God, I humbly welcome the news from Your All-Holiness that with Your counsel and recommendation I have been elected, by the reverend Hierarchs of the Holy and Sacred Synod, Bishop of Nazianzos. I am eternally grateful for this distinct honour. At this sacred moment, I profess to Your All-Holiness that this is not a moment of respite but in fact one of reinvigoration and embracing my ministry of service towards the Mother Church and this Venerable Centre of Orthodoxy.
From a young age, I longed to serve Christ and His Church. I was truly blessed to sit at the feet of holy fathers, who inspired in my heart my love for Christ, my love for prayer, and my love for the liturgical life. I was also fortunate to be taught by experienced hierarchs the virtues of obedience, patience and most importantly love and devotion to the Church. I am profoundly grateful to have served the pious people of God in Germany and Canada, and now in America, through the ministry of love for our sisters and brothers in Christ. Evermore thanks to everyone who has stood by me to this very day; My beloved family and friends, and the hierarchs I reverently served: His Eminence Metropolitan Augoustinos of Germany, His Eminence Archbishop Sotirios of Canada, and most notably my trusted confident, my brother in Christ, and my Geronda, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. As a faithful child of the Church, I will always keep my gaze upon the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to Your All-Holiness, our supreme spiritual leader and father of the faithful throughout the world. I will always humbly and reverently serve wherever Your All-Holiness and the Church instructs me.
With humbleness and awe I accept this election. With deep gratitude I earnestly thank God who is all love, our Most Holy Theotokos, Saint Paisios the Athonite, and my patron Saint, the recently canonized, Saint Ephraim of Katounakia. I reverently thank the Holy Hierarchs of the Holy and Sacred Synod, who honoured me today with their extraordinary support and entrusted me with such a great responsibility. I sincerely thank Your All-Holiness for your enduring paternal love and for putting your unwavering trust in me. I bow before Your All-Holiness, I venerate your right hand, and I humbly request your blessing so I can go and give everything I have for the Church.
Bishop-Elect Athenagoras of Nazianzos (Christos Ziliaskopoulos) was born in 1970 in Reutlingen, Germany, and grew up in Greece and Germany. He spent his young adulthood on Mount Athos as a monastic and learned to live a life devoted to Christ and the Church. He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate in 1997 and the Holy Priesthood in 1998 by His Eminence Metropolitan Augoustinos of Germany. In 1999, he was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. On May 19, 2021 he was elected Bishop of Nazianzos by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as an Auxiliary Bishop to His All-Holiness.
For over twenty years, Bishop-Elect Athenagoras served as a parish priest starting at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Germany with successive appointments. He was appointed as the Hierarchical Vicar of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis for two States in Germany. A member of the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Ecumenical Theological dialogues. In Germany, he served as a member of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Councils, the founding chairperson of the Interfaith Council of Religions, and as a chairperson for one of the Assemblies for Orthodox Clergy. He was a frequent speaker at universities, public schools, interfaith groups, cultural associations to discuss Orthodox life and spirituality.
Bishop-Elect Athenagoras established the first Orthodox Chapel in the international Frankfurt Airport and a 24-hour Orthodox crisis hotline. Founder of the first Greek Orthodox youth camp in Germany. Spearheaded a 15th-century church building's archeological renovation, built a church and community center from the ground up, and other needed initiatives.
In 2017, Bishop-Elect Athenagoras relocated to Toronto, Canada at the invitation of His Eminence Sotirios Archbishop of Canada to serve as Dean of the Patriarchal Theological Academy of Toronto and Office Director for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada. In 2019, he transferred to the United States of America, at the request of His Eminence Elpidophoros Archbishop of America, to offer his ministry to the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2021, Bishop-Elect Athenagoras was appointed Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and as the Spiritual Advisor to the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society of America.
Bishop-Elect Athenagoras holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Theology, a Masters of Theology, and a PhD in Theology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He also took classes in Pedagogics, German Literature, Roman Catholic and Protestant Theology, Judaism, Islamic Studies and Comparative Religious Studies at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Fluent in modern and ancient Greek, German, and English, is proficient in Turkish and has a basic understanding of Latin, French, and Koranic Arabic.