The Loeb Boat House in Central Park
New York, New York
(November 2, 2021)
* * *
Your Eminences and Graces,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This evening, my heart swells with great emotion and feeling, as we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of our beloved spiritual father’s and Ecumenical Patriarch’s enthronement. Thirty years ago, as the ever-memorable Archbishop Iakovos congratulated His All-Holiness by invoking the names of the Saints of this day, he planted a seed in that great mind of our Patriarch, which led to my own transformation, becoming “Elpidophoros.”
Your All-Holiness, as I stand here tonight, it is truly impossible for me to express to You my profound gratitude and filial devotion. You have given me the greatest gift possible — to serve this Holy Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne, and to join my name with those of my blessed and venerable predecessors, who have faithfully served this Sacred Archdiocese.
Indeed, I am deeply humbled that the name You gave me at my ordination coincides with this historic anniversary of Your momentous and awe-inspiring Patriarchy. Again, Your All-Holiness, words fail in my expressions of thanksgiving to Your sacred person.
For all of us in the Archdiocese, our connection to You for more than a generation has been reinforced by Your visits to the United States. You have not hesitated to travel by land, sea and air in order to come to know Your American flock. Our response has always been one of joy and elation, but as Archbishop, I feel that we must honor Your All-Holiness further — by forming a massive education project on the history, meaning and vision of the Mother Church of Constantinople.
At the beginning of this visit, Your All-Holiness called us, as You did on Your first visit twenty-four years ago, “the newly planted branch of the ancient vine of Christ’s first called disciple Saint Andrew.” All of our authority to teach and to preach Christ — episcopal, parochial, ecclesial and canonical — comes to us from the Mother Church. There is no other source for us from which we can drink deeply from the well-springs of the Holy Orthodox Faith of Christ. We are the children of Holy Wisdom — of the Holy Great Church of Christ. And the spiritual pillars that are established in Constantinople on our behalf, are unmovable and unbreakable.
In Your venerable person, Your All-Holiness, we behold the living, physical connection to the spiritual reality of the faith of the apostles, the faith of the fathers and the faith that secures the universe. This is no small thing; it must be taught day and night, from one coast to the other.
Therefore, this evening’s feast of love and fellowship is also a feast of dedication — a renewed dedication to the Mother Church in hitherto uncharted directions.
We rejoice that the Order of Saint Andrew has led the way through the establishment of the eponymous Foundation in Your All-Holiness’ honor. Earlier today, the Saint Nicholas National Shrine received from Your precious hands the special blessing of the opening of its doors. These ministries, in particular, bode well for a renewal of dedication to the Church in America.
And I would be remiss if I did not mention the Reverend Protopresbyter Alexander Karloutsos and the ever-gracious Presvytera Xanthi, who have ceaselessly and selflessly labored on behalf of the Mother Church for many decades — both here in America and around the globe. Together, the Foundation and the Shrine owe an inestimable debt to them — for their commitment, persistence and effectual service in so many endeavors on behalf of the Ecumenical Throne!
Your All-Holiness, tonight, please accept from our hearts, our lips, and our hands our most sincere tokens of appreciation, gratitude, esteem and respect.
Above all, please accept our abiding love as well — that is, a genuine and sincere love of a child for its father, its protector and its guardian.
You have always been and will continue to be all of these and much, much more to us. Like all the Josephs of Scripture,[*] You provide for our needs, You raise us up in the ways of the Lord, and You comfort us in our sorrows. You are a father to us, who is worthy of the Heavenly Father, Who, like the sun in the sky, shines with loving light on all, without regard to their worthiness.
And so, we offer our humble prayers and wishes to You for Your health, Your spiritual prosperity and Your length of days.
Your All-Holiness, may You live long in the land, and may we be blessed to enjoy Your paternal presence and to receive Your Patriarchal benediction for many, many more years to come!
ΕΤΗ ΠΟΛΛΑ, ΠΑΝΑΓΙΩΤΑΤΕ, ΠΑΤΕΡ ΚΑΙ ΔΕΣΠΟΤΑ!
Following his Remarks, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros thanked the following donors to the Apostolic Visit.
Metropolises and Direct District of the Archdiocese
The Nicholas J. and Anna K. Bouras Foundation
Order of St. Andrew the Apostle
Friends of St. Nicholas
AHEPA Charitable Fund
Michael and Robin Psaros
Mike and Libby Angeliades
Theodore and Keryn Mathas
George and Judy Marcus
Nick Paschalis and Nick Tsoulos
Frosene and Steve Zeis
Reince Priebus, George Sifakis and Alex Veletsis
Steve and Arete Cherpelis
[*] Joseph the All-Comely, Joseph the Betrothed, and Joseph of Arimathea.