Feast of Saint Basil and the New Year

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 Christians,

The commencement of the New Year is always an opportune time to consider the abiding presence of Christ and His love in our midst. As we look forward to the hopes and challenges of the New Year, this time is certainly an opportunity to renew our minds with a spirit of Christian hope and positive thinking, to take care of our bodily health through sound exercise and nutrition, to become more conscious of our duties to protect our natural environment, and to grow in our Orthodox Christian faith through our acts of love, worship, and service to others. This time accords us the opportunity to work toward the achievement of our full potential as human beings created in the image and likeness of God, and being stewards of the earth.

January 1 is also significant because on this day we commemorate the life and legacy of Saint Basil the Great, a foremost distinguished ecumenical Hierarch and Teacher of our Church. In his lifetime during the fourth century, Saint Basil was revered not only for his theological acumen, but also for his acts of kindness and goodwill to the sick, the downtrodden, and the marginalized. Saint Basil was equally renowned for his vigorous pursuits and tangible successes in establishing charitable institutions, orphanages, and hospitals outside the ancient city of Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he faithfully and dutifully served as bishop. Appropriately, the complex of these institutions bore his name, “the Basileias.”

Today, the legacy of Saint Basil lives on through the good work of philanthropic agencies and charitable institutions that strive to advance human health on all levels: mind, body, and soul. One of these institutions that actually bears his name is our own Saint Basil Academy in Garrison, New York. For over fifty years, Saint Basil Academy has worked to provide a home of healing, care and peace to children and young people from across America who are in special need of a place of serenity, a place where they can know the love of the Lord. This work has been made possible by the grace of God, by the diligent and noble work of the directors and the staff of the Academy, and by the contributions of faithful who support its noble aims and endeavors.

Each year on this day, as a fitting way to begin the New Year, we are led by our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and the many local Philoptochos chapters in parishes throughout our nation in collecting funds for this vital ministry of love. This effort continues to be a tremendous source of support for the Academy. Thus, as we begin the New Year, and as we distribute pieces of the traditional Vasilopeta in honor of Saint Basil to the members of our communities and homes, I ask that you kindly consider making a special contribution to the Saint Basil Academy. Through your prayers and your contributions, you will truly be supporting the aims of this important ministry, and will be bringing the peace of Christ into the hearts of many who are in need of His tender care and mercy.

It is my heartfelt prayer that the New Year 2006 may be a year of peace and prosperity for you all, and that the infinite love and healing of Christ may permeate your minds, bodies, and souls. May the abundant blessings of God be with you all.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America

Archive: Archbishop Demetrios' Encyclicals