Letter to the Editor: Response to “The Parish Priest”

To the Editor:

The article, “The Parish Priest” written by Harry Mark Petrakis in the August 18 edition of your newspaper, has prompted me to write my very first letter to an editor. Like Mr. Petrakis, I am the child of a Greek Orthodox priest.

It is regrettable that Mr. Petrakis’ comments and observations of conflict and challenges that his father faced as a parish priest still exist today.

How sad that the issues Father Petrakis faced within his parish are some of the same issues that my Dad, Rev. Demosthenes J. Mekras, faced in the mid 60’s – Disagreement on matters of church policy, Barring the priest from the pulpit, Parish Councils in conflict with the priest. My Dad was even taken to court by his Parish Council (and won). He received no salary for one year, as he continued to serve the parish.

Yes, as Mr. Petrakis stated, many wealthy parishioners feel a sense of entitlement in their communities. We certainly need their generous donations. However, let us not forget the parishioner who is in church every Sunday making his or her humble donation. I am a great believer in equal sacrifice. Their donation is consistent over the years and given with reverence and devotion to the Church.

Have we not learned anything from past experience? That conflict only hurts the parish and its parishioners? The pettiness and intolerance that Mr. Petrakis refers to only damages a parish.

Father Petrakis was born in Crete, my Dad in Massachusetts. Both were pioneers of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. Fr. Petrakis was brought to America to serve his Church. My Dad graduated from Pomfret in 1944. Fr. Petrakis served many communities. My Dad was assigned to Saint Sophia in Miami, Florida and it was his only parish. He retired in 1987 after being instrumental in the opening of nine other parishes in South Florida. He remained active in church services and sacraments until his death in 2005.

Both our Dads served the Church with no benefits for their young families. No health/medical/dental insurance. No car/gas allowance. No pension/social security. Those “perks” came in their later years of serving.

Mr. Petrakis and I grew up in a home where our Dads were available to their parishioners 24/7. No specific office hours, no specific days off, appointments and meetings any day/ hour of the week, hospital visitations a phone call away.

A parish priest cannot be everything to everyone. He carries the burden of his parishioner’s problems. My Dad was once asked by one of his granddaughters if he could keep a secret. His response was “That is what I have done all my life, keep peoples secrets.” If your priest is a family man, we should not dismiss that he has the same family issues as his parish families.

We need to respect the Spiritual Father leading our parish. Priests are people too. They answered their calling to the Church. This is not to say they do not have human flaws. The difference is the priest chose to dedicate his life to the Church and his flock.

As the daughter of a very progressive and innovative Presbytera who supported her husband in his Church mission, I say that we, the parishioners, have to decide what we expect from our priest’s wife. If she is very active in the community, parishioners may whisper “Who does she think she is?” and if the Presbytera does not take an active role, they may again say, “Who does she think she is?”

I have not travelled to communities as extensively as Mr. Petrakis. However, as a past Metropolis of Atlanta Philoptochos President and as a National Philoptochos 2nd Vice President, I have visited many parishes. It saddens me, as it does Mr. Petrakis, when I see discord in parishes. It encourages me when I see a thriving community.

As a Greek Orthodox faithful and as a Mother and Yiayia, I say let us set a better example for our children and grandchildren by supporting our parish priest. Too often our families hear our negative feelings rather than positive ones.

So many PK’s do not take an active role in parishes because of the issues their Dads faced as a parish priest. And then there are those of us who are active, who continue to be so as a respectful tribute to our Dads and their dedication to the Church.

Years before his passing, my Dad wrote a letter to his family .We later found it in his desk. His plea to us sums it up best:

“Please do not leave the Church.

The Church at its Worst is better than the World at its Best.”

Evangeline Mekras Scurtis

Miami, FL

8 Comments

  1. Thank you for your reflective and thoughtful observations about our Greek Orthodox Church and our Orthodox priests. You,as a daughter of a priest and as an active participant in the church, so compellingly provide an accurate account of the challenges your dear father, Fr.Mekras, and my beloved pappou, Fr. Panagiotis K. Mitsis, and many of the pioneer priests faced in sustaining and growing our Greek Orthodox faith in America. While you point out the current positive changes that have taken place in the church to ease the financial burdens of the parish priest, you also poignantly validate some of the same struggles, challenges, and failings currently taking place in our churches, dioceses, and the Archdiocese.

    You are so right in underscoring our need to support our local priest and to be mindful of all the Orthodox faithful who continue to worship and support our local parishes.

  2. Thank You… Mrs Scurtis….for sharing with the faithful of the Greek Orthodox Church….. the most important
    and significant advise from your dad……”Please do not leave the Church….The Church at its worst….is better than the world at its Best”!

    To the parents of the Christian community and the Greek Orthodox Church…… it is you who should be indicted for failing to pick up your 4 month old baptised baby, with their diaper bags….. and march off to Church every Sunday….and thank God …their is a church to go to ….. because their is no place on earth….no public school, no government and especially…no T.V station …..that can provide the answers to the mystery of life….and how we can attain real happiness and contentment in our lives and our family!

    To these Parents….. you spend thousands of dollars to educate your children …for what …. to prepare them for living their lives comfortably…. and providing necessary assets for their families! However, you remain derelict …when you walk away from the church…for what ever reason…. and abandon the most important education and asset for attaining happiness and contentment ….. that which you can only get from our church….. and comes right from the creator of our world!

    Spare me …the new narratives of a sick society….that Christianity is dead, and not cool by the milleniums and empty degenerates who litter our Universities, Government , and Broadcast media…. who live off the false illusion ….that they are the only reliable source of how we must live …. and worship the mighty dollar ….as testimony ..to their greatness!

    I address this to the Greek Parents of the Orthodox church….because they, deprive the children of the world , that they bring into this world…….. and without the permission of those children….from the most important gift …that their families passed on for centuries…. and I have been blessed with to this day….. and what my children are now experiencing….and importantly, understand what has really made them happy and content in this world!

    Their are no Therapist needed , no psychiatric treatment needed, no drug rehab needed, no reality T.V. shows needed …portraying what their definition of life is among ….the rich and famous! There is no Government cute slogan advertised to the masses …suggesting the politically correct way to address lifes craters and conduct!. There is no need to define…what greed and abusive power represents and where moral concious and sensitivity begins! Only your church can provide those answers …and , it is the parents of our children …who are obligated to pass this gift on to their children ….who will pass them on …as my great grandparent did ….when they brought this gift to America ….and established one of the oldest Greek Orthodox churches in New Orleans!

    Mrs. Scutis dad…. was lucky as was Mrs.Scutis…. for being born into the Greek Orthodox Church and family….. and having the opportunity to pass it on …to their next generation! I know how lucky I was!

    1. Dear Evangeline

      Your father and mother remain in my prayers, as do you and your family. I proudly wear the vestments that were prepared from the material you gave me after his passing in 2005. Although I only knew him for a few years, I will never forget him, most especially his pastoral advice and counsel to me during my time in South Florida. All the best- God’s blessing for the new ecclesiastical year!

      Yours in Christ

      +Fr. Michael Condos

    2. Mike, I’ll give $1,000 to the charity* of your choice, if you can stop your head exploding posts.

      *GOA or affiliates are not considered an authentic charity, despite their tax-exempt status. They are a jobs program for otherwise inept and unemployable sychopants.

      1. Spiro…. I know it gives you great pain …to face the truth…but your complaint should be with TNH….and the rest of media , for failing to properly inform the public, on the details as to why their articles are misrepresented and unbalanced! I will continue to write on this platform…. despite your efforts to silence those who can refute your emotional and demeaning effort to relegate the truth …..which has been derived thru proper due dilligencr of information ……not blind adoption of systematic narratives by corrupted journalist…who think we are all inferior peasants ….who cannot understand that their are much more sources of information and knowledge available today…which exposes not journalistic mistakes ….but brutal deception for their financial benefactores!

        While the idea of donating a thousand dollars to a charity of my choice is attractive…. since , I can assure you ….it would be donated to you …for gettlng proper therapy ….to your addiction to reading my post…which appears to be self inflicted pain …to suppress the demons you are struggling with…. I will continue to do what I do…. until TNH…..joins Facebook , Twitter, and You tube….in imposing another step to maintain the Totalitarian rule of the people of America and the world …by now banning any social media messages…..which they deem …representing “Bad Behavior’ ! So far….anybody that has challenged the narrative of the media and government…are already be banned!

        So Spiro …be comfortable in the knowledge…. that action is being taken to support your need to ….save your exploded brain to the truth….and maintain your ignorance and stupidity! I have already been kind enough to attempt to diagnose your problem ….by providing you with the following quote………by Martin Luther KIng Jr. who also was guity of long speeches and writing as follow:

        ” Their is nothing more dangerous to the world than ignorance …but sincere
        Stupidity”

        Martin L:uther King Jr.

        By the way….he was also called a Sycophant , homosexual, adulterer, communist sympathiser …and finally assasinated by the likes of you ….. white supremacist , only entitled to have freedom of speech!

        As I said before….you represent a sick society….who could care less about the truth…and only want those Narratives ….that make you feel good…. and relieve you of Your moral responsibility …to act like Christians …and confront degenerates littered thruout our government and media supporters!

  3. “The church at its worst , is better than the world at its best”! One of the most powerful and inspiring statements I’ve ever heard . Thank you for sharing those words with us. This is something we as Greek Orthodox should repeat to others every chance we get. Michael your comments Are dead on! Shame on So many Greek parents for not teaching their children whats really important. When your life is in trouble, don’t see a therapist , see a priest !

  4. All of you are conflating two different issues and then agreeing with each other.

    Issue # 1 is not in contention: the courage and perseverance of the early pioneer priests in difficult times and their desire to see the church growing, strong and united. We share that sentiment today.

    Issue # 2 is your misinterpretation of the variation of the theme of “my church, right or wrong”.

    Whether its your country or your church, when you see wrong, that’s clearly wrong, you raise hell to correct it, even if you have to break some precious china. You don’t remain passive and hidden behind some old adages, blindly obedient to inept hierarchs,criminal activity, be it sexual abuse or theft or bold lies. Even Jefferson said, “from time to time, the Tree of Liberty must be watered by the blood of patriots”.

    None of the old-time priest-warriors would have put up with what we have going to today. They would demand a Temple Cleaning, just as Jesus took the lash to the money peddlers and merchants in the synagogue. The King of Kings was not a pacifist. He chose his path purposely.

    Don’t peddle, “pray, pay, and obey” as a philosophy in an age where information and accountability is essential to the success of any endeavor, spiritual or otherwise. Peddle the lash that The Master used.

    1. Between you , Bobbi, and Repanidi….based on your labels and adjectives….it would appear , it is you who subscribes to the ” my country right or wrong” mentality! You would best serve our readership by directing your anger towards …. a government and country ….that obviously …. subscribes to the…”MIght Makes Right ” philosophy. Importantly, …based on that philosophy you support….the Archdiocese must be right …..since the currently have all the power!

      So based on your posts and followers we can conclude the following and continue to talk you down…from your efforts to explode your brain!:

      The Greek Orthodox Priests , and their faithful members are stupid and ignorant ….made up of Social workers,like me and the only approved affiliated organization to the Greek Orthodox chucrh like the Philoptohos and PTO….are not generous and wonderful volunteers,, but crony paid for jobs by the Church!
      Additionally, our priests, are intellectually challenged based on their admission scores…is that SAT scores, or merit scores ?

      Apparently, based on your measurement of the worthiness of our Priest to preach the Gospel and doctrines of our church to the faithful….not even Christ, has any admission scores to provide us…and therefore, he by you and Spiro’s standards….not even Christ is worthy or OXIOS to serve in the Greek Orthodox Church!

      However, what they do have…is the most important qualifications and highest admission scores …in being worthy to be the caretakers of the Church of Christ and be the spiritual advisor to our faithfull in how to worship our lord, and the roadmap to how we are to live our lives …which includes compassion, love, forgiveness, and most importantly love your neighbor….all the things that you and Spiro despise!

      You mock the faithful for being STUPID and COMPLIANT to the hierarchy of the church….. when you are stupid to believe that 99% of the parishioners of the GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH….. actually, go to church to worship the hierarchy of the Archdiocese every Sunday, and not to worship ourlord and comply with his teachings….as provided by the only authorized servant of God …our priests? 99% of the members of our church ….. are genuine christians ….who have no idea that their are dangerous deviates…who wish to destroy their churches ! The also …have no idea …that their church is being run by alleged homosexuals, sycophants, and crooks as highlighted by the followers of TNH…. and represent nothing more than angry opportunist…waiting for the right time..to overthrow our church doctrines and history, not help our church!

      That is why Spiro, bobby and Repanidi…continue to use the demeaning adjectives and labels ..to try to make their case to the faithful of our church and history….because , non of that means a thing to 99% of our faithful…..whose only concern …is to bring their children to church to be able to partake and witness the only legitimate service in Christian history …that brings them closer to the lord!

      The only time it will matter to them …..is if someone tries to change or dilute the spiritual service provided by the priests of our church, as proscribed for centuries! Then you will get their attention!

      Your demeaning characterization of our priests and faithful ….has no reality…and therefore., you only embarrass yourselves with your misguided ranting in support of another fake news journalist from TNH!

      All you have to do …is actually attend a Greek Orthodox service and find out …who we worship how we worship, and I think you will discover….When we receive communion to partake of the body and blood of Christ…. we share the same blessed wine from one chalice and one spoon….and that is what makes us the original church of Christ, and does not make us compliant or stupid to any other Hieracrch, other than Christ!

      Finally, Spiro….you promised to dog me and my post….well I have a whole bunch of Posts ..addressing the various ….distorted narratives of you and TNH…which are littered thruout their Newspapers….please put up or shut up!

      To me you and the TNH editor …. are what Captain Hook means ….to Peter Pan! Without Captain Hook …their would be no Peter Pan! I need you and the readers of THN need you…..to bring reality to the threats to Neverland!

      So Spiro…it is showtime…show us what you got! Just read thru the various articles…and let us hear from you….but I would recommend …you restrain from using demeaning characterization and labels…do you know justice, and is very boring to your efforts …to bring justice and Truth….to the Greek American people! Look forward to hearing from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *