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 and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America,

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing to you on this tragic day after having expressed to our President George W. Bush my deepest condolences, to call all of our faithful to prayer and remembrance as you gather this Sunday for the Divine Liturgy. On Saturday, February 1, the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia died tragically as they were making their return from a 16-day science mission in space.

As people of faith, love, and hope, I ask you to pray for the families who have lost loved ones and to remember these crew members who were a magnificent mosaic of humanity and who heroically exemplified our ability to strive for achievement and progress for all the people of this planet.

May we also on this day and in the days to come pray for our President and our national leaders, asking God to grant them wisdom and strength as they address the needs that follow this national tragedy. Further, I ask you to pray for the many who are exposed to grave danger each day while serving faithfully our country and our communities. We must always be mindful of their offering and their sacrifice.

May the grace of the Holy Trinity protect all of you, and may the presence of our Lord bring comfort and peace.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America

To be read from the Pulpit
On Sunday, February 2, 2003.