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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 Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, 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,

On the first day of the New Year we commemorate the life and legacy of Saint Basil the Great, the ecumenical Hierarch and Teacher of our Church who is renowned for a brilliant intellectual and spiritual legacy that continues to shine universally. Saint Basil was not only a figure of towering intellectual prowess; he 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 served as bishop. Appropriately, the complex of these institutions bore his name, "the Basileias." Today, the "Basileias" remains a considerable achievement in the field of philanthropy that attracts the attention and study not only of Church historians, but also more generally of sociologists and other professionals in related fields such as public health. This reality serves to remind us that many people today are looking to history and specifically to our Orthodox Christian legacy for blueprints upon which they can build comprehensive institutions of care for contemporary times and needs. 

This legacy of Saint Basil provides us with wonderful challenges and examples of service to incorporate in our lives as Greek Orthodox Christians, and it is fitting that we begin the New Year by considering ways and means by which we can respond within our communities to the rich legacy bequeathed to us by Saint Basil the Great. One example of this rich legacy finds concrete expression in the work of our own Saint Basil Academy in Garrison, New York, appropriately named for Saint Basil the Great. For over fifty years, Saint Basil Academy has provided a home to children and young people from across our country, many of whom come from troubled family situations and are in need of healing and attention. The Academy provides them with a comprehensive environment of care, including educational, recreational, and health-related support. Moreover, it is a place where they can experience the peace and the love of Jesus Christ.

As is appropriate at the beginning of 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 important ministry. This effort continues to be a vital source of support for the Academy, which relies upon the donations of the faithful to continue its important work of care unto others. Thus, as we begin the New Year, and as we distribute pieces of the traditional "Vasilopeta" named in honor of Saint Basil to our loved ones, I ask that you consider making a special contribution to Saint Basil Academy. Through your prayers and your contributions, you will be supporting the aims of this important ministry, benefiting the children and young people who call the Academy their home and the diligent staff who oversee the daily operations of this sacred institution of our Holy Archdiocese.

Through the intercessions of Saint Basil the Great, may we continue to be inspired to do works of charity and philanthropy throughout this New Year 2008. I pray that the love and peace of Jesus Christ may be with you, your families, all those who live at Saint Basil Academy, and the officers and board members who serve the Academy. May the light and joy of Christ permeate your hearts, and may you be marked by prosperity, abundance, health, and joy every day of this New Year. 

With paternal love in Christ,

+DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America