(October 27, 2021)
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Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America,
Your Eminence Metropolitan Savas,
Dear Clergy and Faithful,
Beloved Children in the Lord,
In the Holy Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we bring to you our paternal and Patriarchal blessings from the Mother Church of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Apostolic Throne of the First-Called Andrew.
We recall with emotion our late and blessed brother in the Lord, Metropolitan Maximos, who fell asleep in the Lord on the very anniversary of our Enthronement last year. He left this world as the longest serving Hierarch of the Greek Orthodox people of Pittsburgh. Our brotherly fellow of Halki, ὁμογάλακτος ἀδελφός, was a devoted son of the Holy Great Church of Christ, and left a great example of loyalty for all to follow.
It is nearly twenty-four years since we were last in Pittsburgh, and we are only here until later this evening. But we have no doubt that your warm welcome and hospitality will turn moments into eternity.
We have come to visit the famous Greek Orthodox Community of Weirton, West Virginia, named for All Saints. We shall have much to say later about this community and the men and women who possessed the steel in their souls to build the only Church in America with a stainless steel dome and belfry.
For now, we rejoice to return to the very place from which we departed, on our first and longest Patriarchal Voyage to the United States. We were young in our Patriarchy those many years ago, and now, by the grace of God and prayers of All the Saints, we have fulfilled thirty years of Patriarchal ministry.
In returning here to Pittsburgh, we recall our last injunction to the Faithful of America that November day in 1997:
Love one another. There is no greater power for unity and peace. There is no greater gift you can give to our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift you can give to your children. There is no greater gift you can give to each other . . . than love.
Beloved Children in the Lord:
As we closed that pilgrimage those many years ago, we commence again today with the same message: Love one another.
There is no greater commandment of the Lord, and no greater calling for every human being.
Thank you for this warm and hospitable welcome. May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bestow upon you, your families, and loved ones, grace upon grace,* and His infinite mercy. Amen.