Your Eminences and Graces,
Dear Members of AHEPA,
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
We are deeply moved this evening, by your warm and heartfelt reception of the Patriarchal Συνοδεία, His All-Holiness’ entourage in Christ. To be with the esteemed members of the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association is a cause of our rejoicing, for we know that you are all devoted children of the Mother Church of Constantinople.
Especially in this year of our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s God-graced and mercy-filled Thirtieth Anniversary of sacrificial service and admirable ministry upon the Patriarchal Throne of the Holy See of Saint Andrew the First-Called, as well as the Centennial that commences next year in 2022, of both AHEPA and this great Eparchy of the Throne, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
It is not without significance that both these institutions – one ecclesiastical in nature and one cultural, overlap in their respective anniversaries. Their synchronicity is a manifestation of the inextricable ties of Faith and Culture that are the hallmark of the Greek Orthodox identity and experience.
AHEPA promotes all the values and principles that are the rich legacy of Hellenism – Ancient, Byzantine, and Modern. And the Holy Archdiocese, as the daughter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, embodies these values and principles as they have been baptized into Christ through the preaching of the Gospel. For the Omogeneia, the Archdiocese and AHEPA are two hands of one body, and we are grateful for their cooperative spirit.
All of these events are occasions for observant reflection and for engaging our imagination. What has been built up with much sweat and toil must also be projected into the future, for the generations to come. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to look to what has worked best and most effectively, and promote those virtues.
But this is also a moment to engage your collective imagination, to be, as the Holy Apostle Paul says:
… ἔμπροσθεν ἐπεκτεινόμενος κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκω ἐπὶ τὸ βραβεῖον τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ ̓Ιησοῦ.
…reaching forward to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. *
This is no time for retreat, but for openness – for reaching forward and stretching our limits unto the benefit of future generations.
During the three decades of His unsurpassable Patriarchal ministry, His All-Holiness puts the imprint of high Christian values upon today’s culture. And in the years to come, He will continue to imagine the future of our Church – and all of global Christianity – in the “image and likeness” of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, with the Patriarchal blessings for all the members of the Order AHEPA and its ancillary organizations, and with gratitude for the honor they do His All-Holiness and the Sacred Center of our Faith, the First Throne of Orthodoxy, I lift my glass to your health, and “every good and every perfect gift from above.”
May the Lord bless you all.