Archbishop Iakovos Fact Sheet

Early Life

  • Born on the island of Imvros, Turkey on July 29, 1911 to Maria and Athanasios Coucouzis
  • Given name was Demetrios
  • Two sisters, Virginia and Chrysanthi, and one brother, Panagiotis
  • Enrolled at age 15 in the Ecumenical Patriarchal Theological School at Halki

Early Ecclesiastical Service

  • Ordained a Deacon in 1934, taking the name Iakovos (James)
  • Served as Deacon to Archbishop Athenagoras who later became Ecumenical Patriarch
  • Ordained to the priesthood in 1940 in Lowell, Massachusetts
  • Served churches in Connecticut, New York, and St. Louis
  • Appointed Dean of the Annunciation Cathedral in Boston in 1942 and served until 1954
  • Became a United States citizen in 1950
  • Ordained Bishop of Melita in 1954 by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras
  • Served four years as the Patriarchal representative to the World Council of Churches

Education and Academic Service

  • Graduated with high honors from the Ecumenical Patriarchal Theological School at Halki
  • Served in 1940 as assistant dean of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School
  • Earned a Master of Sacred Theology Degree from Harvard University in 1945
  • Received honorary degrees from 40 colleges and universities

Archbishop of the Americas

  • Elected on February 14, 1959 by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the fourth Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Americas
  • Enthroned April 1, 1959 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in New York City
  • Became the spiritual and administrative leader of hundreds of Orthodox churches in North and South America
  • Improved parish organizations and enhanced roles of the Archdiocesan Council, the Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress, and the Ladies Philoptochos Society
  • Established departments of Church and Society and Youth Ministry
  • Expanded work of Saint Michael’s Home for the Aged and Saint Basil Academy
  • Founded the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund
  • Guided the reorganization and accreditation of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and established Hellenic College
  • Established the St. Photios National Shrine in St. Augustine, FL
  • Retired after 37 years as Archbishop at the age of 85 on July 29, 1996

National and World Religious Leader

  • Served nine years as president of the World Council of Churches
  • Established dialogues with Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Jews
  • Founded the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas in 1960
  • Championed civil rights and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama
  • Initiated campaign in 1974 to assist Greek Cypriot refugees following invasion of Cyprus
  • Friend to nine US presidents and religious and political leaders worldwide
  • Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed by President Jimmy Carter on June 9, 1980
  • Awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1986

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Archbishops of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America