Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America,
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
During this joyous holiday season when we have been blessed with so much cheer and an abundance of gifts, who of us has not been truly shaken and deeply moved by the enormous catastrophes and the nightmarish loss of lives in Asia. In the blink of an eye, a natural disaster of unimaginable proportions has left devastation and unbearable pain in its wake for countless people. Well over 130,000 individuals have lost the most precious of all gifts, their lives. In it all, we are reminded of the fragility of life, and we acknowledge that every day is indeed a gift from God.
As an Orthodox Christian community, our first and foremost response must be a call to prayer for the eternal rest of those who lost their lives and for comfort and strength from God upon those left behind. As it is well known, the overwhelming majority of those adversely affected by this catastrophe are amongst the poorest of the poor of this globe, who have lost all of their meager belongings.
Comfort from God must be accompanied by a tangible expression of comfort, which we can offer to the survivors whose lives now depend on whatever assistance the rest of the world is able to offer them. For communities in the region, the Orthodox Metropolis of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia has commenced appropriate relief efforts.
The IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities), an organization of SCOBA (Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas), is also offering special assistance to the disaster areas affected by the earthquake and tsunamis. It is equally important, however, that all of us extend our support, through prayer and through financial assistance, to those who have been affected by this tragedy. I would therefore kindly and fervently ask on behalf of our Eparchial Synod that the Greek Orthodox faithful of America respond most generously to this appeal for a special collection to be made on Sunday, January 9, in all our parishes throughout the Holy Archdiocese. Your benevolent contributions should be forwarded to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and designated exclusively for our “Asian Disaster Relief Fund”.
Knowing of your boundless generosity and your abiding love one for another, we are confident that you will do whatever you can to offer as much comfort as possible to the least of our brethren, who are the brethren of Christ, (Math. 25:40) and to offer in this most darkest hour a ray of hope. Let those who have survived a foreboding wave of death and destruction now be encompassed by a comforting wave of love and concern.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America