Your Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America,
It is with tremendous joy that we welcome You today to Saint Thomas, in this first historic visit of Your Eminence to our Parish. We all feel blessed and honored with Your presence, especially during these days of the pandemic, when we all feel distressed and anxious, not only because of the disease but mostly of the various effects that this brings to our lives.
Our Parish, Your Eminence, has a life of 91 years, although the actual Church was built 53 years ago, it is comprised of hundreds of people, very devout people, that love and respect God, their Church, and their Clergy. We have 1st to 5th generation Greeks, converts and Orthodox faithful from other areas of this world. We are a strong and vibrant Greek Orthodox Community in South Jersey, that serves God and His people day and night.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, not all our faithful were able to come and be with us today. Therefore, I submit to You Your Eminence, everyone’s respect and humble wishes for a blessed, healthy and productive ministry as our Spiritual Father and leader of countless Orthodox faithful across the United States of America. Moreover, I relay to You the love and prayers of the Archons of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, all the 17 members of our Parish Council, the President and the members of the St. Irene Philoptochos Society, the office staff, the chantors and the members of our Church choir, our Seniors, the Kali Parea and the St. Thomas Maturity Club, the staff and the families of our Hellenic Afternoon School, the members of our Hellenic Heritage Dance Group, the devoted Youth workers of our Parish along with the hundreds of young people, babies, children, young adults that make up the Youth of Saint Thomas, our Sunday School, and our GOYA, JOY, HOPE and Summer Camp, the members of our local chapters of the Ahepa, the DOP, the Maids of Athena and the Sons of Pericles, and of course all our parishioners.
The last time that the Archbishop of America visited our Parish, was in 2001, when Archbishop Demitrios came to pray at the funeral of our beloved Danielle Kousoulis, one of the 3000 victims of the terrorist attacks in NY on September 11. Danielle’s name is written in the books of heaven, in the heroic history pages of the United States and in the memory of our community. We are very proud of our Danielle.
As I previously mentioned, St. Thomas has been and always will be a dedicated Parish to our Holy Archdiocese, to our Archbishop, and to the mission of our Orthodox faith.
Your presence and visit today, Your Eminence, renews our mission and hard work, as you are giving us strength, power and courage, not only to continue, but also to become even stronger, especially after this pandemic.
Please accept our gratitude for being with us, just a few days before Christmas, and may the Lord keep You safe, honorable and healthy for many years! Before I conclude my thoughts, please allow me to say that Your historic visit today, is the first of many to come. Therefore, we, the people of St. Thomas, are humbly asking Your Eminence to honor us with Your presence on St. Thomas weekend, May 8th & 9th, 2021.