This Encyclical of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios is being released in advance to assist parishes and media with publication and distribution.

January 1, 2004

Feast of Saint Basil and the New Year

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 in America

My Beloved Christians,

At the beginning of the New Year we celebrate the Feast of Saint Basil the Great, a revered hierarch and great theologian of our Church whose life was an exemplary offering of love, wisdom, and worship. Today, the legacy of Saint Basil continues to inspire us in our offerings of ministry and care to others within our communities.

As we remember Saint Basil on this day, we pause to reflect upon the offering of a particular labor of love, a vital ministry that for decades has provided a home to children and young people who are in need of the peace, love, and fellowship of Jesus Christ. This home is appropriately named Saint Basil Academy, a sacred institution of our Archdiocese located in Garrison, New York.

The children who reside at Saint Basil Academy are Orthodox Christians who come from all parts of our country. Many of these children come from difficult home and family situations, and are in need of special care and attention. Some of them are children of deceased parents. All of them, however, are children of God who have been entrusted to the care of our Church. For many of them, living at the Academy presents a significant encounter with a genuinely loving, healing, and supportive Christian community. It is for this reason why the ministry of Saint Basil Academy is a sacred undertaking, a blessed labor of philanthropy worthy of its namesake.

Here, we must praise the diligent staff and clergy at Saint Basil Academy, who work tirelessly to promote the physical, psychological, emotional, educational and spiritual well-being of the children. Often, this necessitates providing for the most basic essentials, such as food, clothing, and medical coverage. In many situations, without the donations of the faithful, the children would have difficulty accessing necessary health care facilities.

Today, Saint Basil Academy continues to rely upon your financial support to meet the needs of its children. On this special day, we are invited to respond to their needs. Each year, our Ladies Philoptochos Society leads us in this effort through the annual Vasilopeta fundraiser for Saint Basil Academy, now celebrating its sixty-year anniversary. I ask that you kindly contribute to this sacred ministry generously, cheerfully, and according to your ability. By so doing, you will be enriching the lives of the children, and you will be honoring the rich, philanthropic legacy of Saint Basil on his feast. This is truly the best way to honor Saint Basil.

May the love and fellowship of the Holy Spirit bring joy and peace to you and your families always; and may you, through the intercessions of Saint Basil, partake always in the abundant blessings of our merciful God.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America