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 Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Each year on the twenty-fifth of March, Orthodox Christians throughout the world come together in the love of Jesus Christ to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos. For Greek Orthodox Christians, this day takes on added significance, commemorating the heroic struggle of the Greek nation in the year 1821 for freedom, liberty, and independence. In honor of this important event, the New York City Greek Independence Day Parade will be held on March 30, 2003, at 1:00 p.m. To this Parade, I warmly call all of us to be present and to offer an enthusiastic participation.

On this day, we will march down Manhattan’s historic Fifth Avenue as one Greek Orthodox family, demonstrating to all members of society of every race, culture, and religion the significance of our Hellenic heritage and our Orthodox faith. In our contemporary world, which is beset today by threats of terror and war, our heritage and faith uphold the virtues of freedom, hope in God’s presence and deliverance, and love for all human beings. These virtues are absolutely essential for the promotion of peace, for the establishment of justice, and for the cultivation of loving relationships with God and one another.

Also on this day, as we celebrate the day of Greek Independence, we honor those noble Hellenes who gave their lives for the preservation of the very same values upon which our great American nation rests and for which the whole world aspires. May our march on this day be one of joy and thanksgiving, and may we honor our sacred charge to offer our heritage and faith to others.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America