Address of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Ordination of Archdeacon Panteleimon Papadopoulos to the Presbyterate
Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
New York, New York
November 2, 2019
My beloved Archdeacon Panteleimon,
The Lord sent His Apostles to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Every bishop, priest, and deacon who serves today continues that global mission, in his own place and time and manner. God has given you a glorious role in this Apostolic ministry, as Deacon and Archdeacon for the last eighteen years.
In the service of Christ, you have traveled across our entire Holy Archdiocese. You have also accompanied His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios around the world, to Jerusalem, Russia, Albania, Germany, and the Holy and Great Council of Crete, to name but a few. Above all, you have visited many times our Holy Mother Church of Constantinople, and you have been a faithful servant to His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. I convey the warmest greetings and most fervent blessings of His All-Holiness on this auspicious day of your ordination as a presbyter.
In all these places, you have served devoutly and diligently: as you offered prayers and petitions in our holy churches; as you chanted the hymns of our Faith in the sacred places of pilgrimage; as you proclaimed the Gospel from some of the most beautiful pulpits in the world; as you served in the Divine Liturgy with His All-Holiness at the sacred Sumela monastery in Pontos, the land of your pious ancestors.
Not only have you traveled much; you have served many. I am indeed grateful to God for your experience and assistance at the beginning of my archpastoral ministry in America. For myself and for Archbishop Demetrios, you have been a humble and trustworthy servant, committed fully to the work of the Lord in body, soul, and spirit. You have given help and support to all of the hierarchs of the Holy Eparchial Synod; you have been a guide to our priests and a mentor to our deacons.
You have participated in many joyous occasions of our Church: the ordination of bishops and metropolitans, priests and deacons; the consecration of churches; the commencement exercises at our beloved Scholi; the Agiasmo blessings of our day schools and Greek schools and youth ministries. And you helped to found a glorious new program, the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music.
You have also been a steadfast servant of the Church in times of sorrow and pain: in funerals for our beloved Church leaders who fell asleep in the Lord, clergy and laity; at Memorial Services for our Orthodox forebears, and for victims of catastrophes at home and abroad; and above all, in the prayers and remembrances at Ground Zero for the victims of 9-11. Your presence, your prayerfulness, and the dignity of your Diakonia brought comfort to the afflicted and hope to the people of God.
Through the long days of ministry, and across the many miles of travel, you have maintained at all times a spirit of grace and joy, and a heart of faith and love, for Christ and for His Church. You have sacrificed much for the sake of the Church. Your family has sacrificed much as well: your beloved Diakonissa Georgia, together with your three beautiful children and your pious parents. I extend the profound thanks of our whole Archdiocese to them for this unlimited offering of love to God. And in return, I offer my own heartfelt paternal blessings on all your family. May the Lord our God remember your Diakonia in His Kingdom, now and forever!
My beloved and esteemed Archdeacon,
I know of your love for many saints of our Church, especially of more recent saints, such as: Saint Paisios the Athonite, Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia, Saint Sophia of Kleissoura, and Saint George Karslidis.
In his writings, Saint Porphyrios writes a prayer that I know is also your prayer to Christ: “Send me wherever your love wishes. …There is one thing I want, one thing I desire, one thing I ask for, and that is to be with You, wherever and however You wish.”[i] The Lord hears and answers that prayer today, as He—through our hands—ordains you a priest.
To some, perhaps, the ordination of an Archdeacon to the priesthood, and assignment to a parish—this might seem like a step down in service, a lesser degree of dignity. I assure you: it is anything but that. In days past, you traveled around the globe in the service of Christ. As a presbyter, the domain of your sacred work will again be the whole world, as it is found within every person who lives. For so we read in the works of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, that “the human being is a kind of small cosmos, a microcosm, containing in himself the same elements with which the whole is built up.”[ii]
By the grace of God today, you are to become a priest—a pastor, a shepherd, a healer of souls. Your parish is the cosmos, as you encounter it in the soul of each man, woman, and child in your community. Today you begin a new journey—not to the ends of the earth—but to the innermost depths of the human heart. There await you many trials and challenges, toils and labor, and above all, much joy and glory in the service of Christ. “The work of the priesthood is done on earth,” says Saint John Chrysostom, “but it is ranked among the heavenly ordinances.”[iii] Your ordination today is an elevation—not just to higher things—but to heavenly things.
Through the intercessions my own heavenly patron, the Holy Martyr Elpidophoros, together with the Great-Martyr Panteleimon and our righteous father Porphyrios: May our Triune God be glorified in your ordination, and in all your priestly service; now and forever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.