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 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,
By the infinite mercy and grace of God, we welcome the beginning of another year of worship and ministry in His loving presence. Each year, people from many cultures, religions, and nations mark the arrival of this day with a renewed spirit of optimism, comforted in the light of the dawn of the New Year and encouraged with hope to take further steps along the path of peace and reconciliation. As Orthodox Christians, our own efforts to promote loving relations within our world and within our immediate communities are vital, as we strive to follow the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt. 5:9) and the apostolic exhortation “love one another fervently from the heart” (I Peter 1:22).
Following these extraordinary teachings, our Church commemorates today one of her most distinguished ecumenical teachers and hierarchs, Saint Basil the Great. Revered for his astonishing acts of goodwill to the infirm and underprivileged, the legacy of Saint Basil imparts to us enduring examples of charity that aimed to promote loving and peaceful relations between the poor and the wealthy, the sick and the healthy, the downtrodden and the privileged. Today, these examples live on in the work of countless charitable institutions and agencies throughout the world that strive to advance the universal ideals of peace, love, and philanthropy.
In tribute to this beloved Saint, our Holy Archdiocese has endeavored to promote healing, care and peace within our own society through the ministry offered by the diligent staff and directors of Saint Basil Academy in Garrison, New York. For over fifty years, Saint Basil Academy has provided a home to children and young people from across America who are in need of a place of serenity, a place where they can know the peace and the love of our Lord. Today, the Academy continues to meet this crucial need, by providing a nurturing and supportive environment that offers strength and hope to some of the neediest among us.
Each year on this day, we are led by our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and the many local Philoptochos chapters 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, let us especially remember the truly outstanding service of care, healing and peace at Saint Basil Academy. Through your prayers, your generosity, and your acts of love, you will truly be the sons and daughters of God bringing spiritual and physical peace to those in need.
I pray that the light of God’s perfect love and peace shine upon all of you, upon our beloved children especially, and, indeed, upon all children of all nations of the earth as we enter a blessed New Year marked by His exceeding benevolence and great love for humankind.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America