BOSTON, MA – The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate unanimously elected the Very Reverend Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides Metropolitan of Chicago.
Metropolitan-elect Symeonides is the Director of the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations of the Archdiocese. He was born in Thessaloniki in 1978, the third child of Irene and Vasilios Symeonides. He is graduate of Hellenic College (BA, 2000) and of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (MDiv, 2003).
The National Herald has learned that Symeonides’ selection was received with joy and relief throughout the Archdiocese in the United States and most especially in Chicago.
He was expected to travel to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the Small and Great Message. His ordination has not been set yet. It probably take place on February 25, the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
TNH has obtained exclusive information that His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios unsuccessful attempted to thwart Symeonides’ selection.
After the names of the candidates of the Triprosopon (three-person ballot) were read aloud during the Synod meeting, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke first as he praised Symeonides, stating: “Holy Brothers, I recommend Archimandrite Nathaniel to be elected Metropolitan of Chicago.”
Then, Archbishop Demetrios asked to speak to give his own description of the candidates. He began by praising Archimandrite Timothy Bakakos – who received six votes in the Archdiocesan Synod to Symeonides’ five – and said that he is a priest with a lot of experience. Then he said Symeonides saying has good qualifications but is inexperienced and he is also too young and he would have difficulties to fulfil his duties.
Patriarch Bartholomew then told the archbishop that since Fr. Bakakos is so good and with so much experience, let Symeonides appoint him as his chancellor to assist him.
Metropolitan Athanasios Geron of Chalkedon raised his voice, asking Demetrios: “What do you want, that we do a special charter for you?” Demetrios said “we have a charter,” and insisted that it would not look good to choose the Triprosopon candidate who finished second, not first, in the voting.
Bartholomew, in turn, responded that if the Patriarchal Synod were simply to choose the Archdiocesan Synod’s top choice, it wouldn’t be an election, but rather a rubber-stamp validation. He emphasized that if the Patriarchal Synod did not choose whomever it wanted from among the three candidates, then the Triprosopon would have no essence.
Then, Metropolitan Elpidoforos of Prousa spoke and reinforced all that Bartholomew had said, and thus the election was unanimous.
The Metropolitan elect Nathanael Symeonides was born in Thessaloniki, Greece (1978). He is the third child of Irene and Vasilios Symeonides. He is graduate of Hellenic College (BA, 2000) and of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (MDiv, 2003).
He earned an STM (2003) and a ThD (2007) in Bioethics from Boston University. Fr. Nathanael has also studied the history and ethics of public health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He is a guest professor of Christian ethics and bioethics at Fordham University, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and Saint Vladimir Theological School. He has authored numerous articles in theology and bioethics.
Fr. Nathanael was ordained a Deacon (2003) and a Presbyter (2010) by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America. His ecclesial and pastoral work includes service as the Deacon to Metropolitan Methodios (2003-2006); Deacon to the Archbishop (2006-2010); Pastor of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, NY (2010-2013).
During his time as a parish priest, Fr. Nathanael developed an urban ministry, Orthodox Professionals in Action (OPA), which harnessed the gifts and talents of over 400 young professionals of Manhattan, offering them opportunities to create meaningful change in the lives of those most vulnerable in society. Fr. Nathanael has also served the pastoral needs of the Holy Resurrection Church of Brookville, NY and the Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY.
In September of 2013 he was appointed Director of the Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. In his present position, Fr. Nathanael manages and directs the relationships between the Archdiocese and numerous religious organizations, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and Permanent Missions to the United Nations.
As the Director of the Department, Fr. Nathanael is best known for promoting cooperation and inclusivity. Most recently, he convened a colloquium entitled, Orthodoxy and Humanitarianism: Ideas and Action in the Contemporary World, which provided experts from around the world the opportunity to meet and consider ways in which the Church may help respond to humanitarian crises and promote sustainable development in post-crisis regions.
Fr. Nathanael is a brother of the historic monastic community of St. George Epanosifis in Crete, Greece.