Metropolitan Gerasimos Talks to TNH about the Shooting, Orfanos and the Fires

His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco expressed his compassion for the Orfanos family and his concern about the deadly fires. (ArchiveTNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

SAN FRANSICSO, CA – In an interview with The National Herald, His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco spoke about the difficult times that California is experiencing, with the massive murderous attack at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks on November 7 that took the lives of over a dozen victims, including Telemachus Orfanos, and also the deadly fires that at press time had claimed 41 people.

About Orfanos, Metropolitan Gerasimos called it tragic, and said “our Greek-American community here mourns for that good young man and his family is devastated. I didn’t know the young man personally, or his family, but the priest from St. Nicholas Northridge parish told me that he was a very good young man, an altar boy at the church. His family was connected to the church on some level.I have requested from the priest to talk to the family and he promised me that it will happen, but as you understand, it is a difficult time for the family.”

About the fires, he said he just returned from the area. “I have gone to the parish of St. Nektarios in Covina, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to go into Northridge because of the fires. I can’t describe to you what is going on here. At least 41 people have lost their lives and some 7,000 residences and stores have been burned down.”

Gerasimos issued a special encyclical to all parishes in which he wrote that “one life lost is too many. Yet we mourn the tragic killing of 13 young people who were enjoying an evening at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California when gunfire erupted. A nightclub full of college students and young adults quickly turned into a crime scene with dead and injured people, and people literally running for their lives.

Santos Alvarado, right, and his son Ricky recover a safe deposit box from their destroyed home at Seminole Springs Mobile Home Park, on November 11, following devastating wildfires in the area in Agoura Hills, CA.
(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

“One of those killed was 27-year old Telemachus ‘Tel’ Orfanos, a member of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Northridge, CA. Orfanos’ family has been active in the parish for many years, and Tel served as an altar boy in his youth. This young man was a veteran of the United States Navy, and was a survivor of the Route 91 massacre in Las Vegas in 2017. There is nothing more powerful than prayer, and we must come together as an Orthodox family, raising our voices and our hearts in collective prayer.

“The time is now for us to also raise our collective voices throughout this country to all civic and religious leaders that definitive and decisive steps must be taken to eradicate this kind of violence that continues to befall our nation. We must not allow this type of behavior to become commonplace; it is up to us as people of faith to act in unity to stamp out this evil.”

In a separate encyclical, he wrote that “there are currently two major areas impacted by the fires. In southern California, the Hill and Woolsey Fires are threatening several faithful from the parishes of Saint Demetrios in Camarillo and Saint Nicholas in Northridge. Over 100 families are presently evacuated and are seeking shelter with family, friends and with the assistance of community agencies. Several homes and structures have been destroyed and many more are in harm’s way. None of our parishes are in the path of the fires, but with the excessive winds, we continue to monitor this situation very closely.

“Several of our clergy are trained as First Responders with IOCC and they remain active and ready to assist local agencies and provide for the spiritual and emotional needs of those impacted by the fires.”

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