Special Encyclical for
The California Wildfire Victims
To 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
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On behalf of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, I write to you to convey the heartfelt prayers and support of our Holy Archdiocese for all those who are grieving in the aftermath of the devastating fires that have taken place in southern California. This tragedy has affected hundreds of thousands of people in the region who were under orders of evacuation in the face of danger and uncertainty. Many people lost their homes and must now begin the painful process of rebuilding what was destroyed by this unpredictable calamity, while others were injured by these fires, and some lost their lives as a result of this disaster. Among the victims of the fires are also members of our own Orthodox Church, of our beloved Holy Metropolis of San Francisco.
As Greek Orthodox Christians, we are called to pray fervently for all those who are feeling the effects of these fires, which are only now beginning to be finally extinguished. Remembering the words of the Apostle Paul, we must "put on heartfelt compassion" (Colossians 3:12) and offer our prayers and support for those who are grieving the loss of not only their homes but also their loved ones.
Our experience with the devastating effects of wildfires is painfully firsthand, as we have witnessed the difficulties faced by those who are in the process of recovery by the wildfires which occurred only weeks ago in Greece. As a result of this experience, we know that the road toward recovery is a long one, but we also know firsthand that those who must walk along this road do not engage in this journey alone but are accompanied by the love of God and the love of others. In the forthcoming weeks, I ask that we all continue to pray and to offer our support to the victims of the California wildfires, especially to our brothers and sisters of our Church, so that in this period of aftermath and healing they may know that they are supported by our love as they work to rebuild what they have lost.
May the infinite protection and shelter of our loving God be with all of us, and may He give us peace now and in the days ahead.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America