Metropolitan Gerasimos Speaks to TNH about Youth, the Archdiocese, and Holy Cross

Metropolitan Gerasimos speaks to a group of dancers during the Greek Orthodox Folk Dance and Choral Festival in California organized every year by the Metropolis. (Credit: Metropolis of San Francisco)

BOSTON – The naves in many parishes of the San Francisco Metropolis were filled to capacity this past Christmas season, in contrast with other areas of the country where attendance was sparse.

In an exclusive interview with The National Herald Metropolitan Gerasimos explained, “the naves were filled with people that we have not seen in years. They are returning to their churches and customs. We also see young people who have established their families returning to the Church and it gives us hope about the future,” adding “I hope it continues that way.”

He also said that “recently we had a meeting with the youth at the camping center of our Metropolis with about fifty children, male and female. It was a very productive meeting. The concerns and the questions raised by the children should be addressed by the Church immediately.”

He continued, saying that “we all should create a level of education of Greek-Orthodox nature in order for our children to understand where they come from.” He emphasized that “the issue of the identity of our youth is the first priority of our Metropolis and I should tell you that there is a turn towards Hellenism.”

Metropolitan Gerasimos also said that “one of my first priorities in the New Year will be to teach and strengthen Hellenism with emphasis on the Hellenic Paideia because there is so much potential and interest here. Some children go and learn Chinese and I ask them ‘why are you studying Chinese when you have the Greek, which is the mother of all languages?’”

Metropolitan Gerasimos is playing with the youth of his Metropolis at the Camp Center. (Credit: Metropolis of San Francisco)

Regarding how receptive the children are towards their Hellenic heritage and identity, he said “if the parents, the priests, and the bishops show that they care, the children are serious about this issue.”

Asked whether the priests are fluent enough in Greek and appreciate their heritage themselves sufficiently to be able to transmit it to others, Metropolitan Gerasimos said, “I can’t say they all are, and that is the Golgotha for me and for them. About 45 percent understand very well the significance and importance of the Greek language and Hellenic education. Another 30 percent don’t have anything to do with either, purposely or because of their personal illiteracy, and there is another 15 percent who have gone to the other extreme, saying that if we don’t go back to Hellenism the Church is going to lose everything. I personally believe that there is a middle way here as well because we say “everything in moderation” (pan metron ariston). Definitely there should be a more active stance of the Church from what there is today. I make it clear in many ways that I will not ordain anybody who can’t read the Gospel, the Epistle, and the service books of the sacraments of the Church in both Greek and English.”

He added that, “if priests cannot say from the pulpit and the podium that we are Greek Orthodox Christians, and this is what it means to be Greeks, that is the point about the significance of the theological school,” adding, “the entire issue of Hellenism is the Church.”

Asked whether all theological school graduates are bilingual, he said that “that is a question about the policy and mentality of the School regarding the bilingualism of the priests, but it is a question that must be answered by the Archdiocese; I am sorry, but that’s the way things are.”

Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco with a group of young men and women at the Camp Center of the Metropolis of San Francisco. (Credit: Metropolis of San Francisco)

Gerasimos then addressed the future of the Church and the Greek-American Community, saying, “My wish is that unity and love prevail, for there to be vision at the Archdiocese. There should be planning and a strategy for the Archdiocese, the metropolises and the communities as to where the Church is going to go in the 21st century, because we have not done that, we have not plotted a course.”
Speaking about the Theological School he said “at this moment they are suffocating up there (at the School) financially, let us set aside the other issues at this time. I receive every day e-mails saying for God’s sake S.O.S. – we are drowning”.

As to why things have reached such a dire state, he said “there are many answers to that question and you know things very well.”
The National Herald posed a hypothetical question to Gerasimos about what he would say, if he were to have a heart to heart talk with Archbishop Demetrios, about what the latter should do, first, for the good of the Church and Greek-American Community, and secondly, to preserve his own posthumous legacy. The Metropolitan said that “the issue of the Archbishop is one that neither I nor the other hierarchs can individually determine and resolve. Every Archbishop and every hierarch is a servant of the Church and the People and we serve in our positions temporarily, not forever,” and he added “this is what we must realize and we must start from there.”

When asked if he believes that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is going to miss the train of history for Greek Orthodoxy in America, Gerasimos replied, “I think the Patriarchate and His All Holiness knows history very well and he has full knowledge of the things that are happening around him. At this moment the Patriarchate is being attacked on many fronts and it needs help. The mother Church was, is, and will be the main point of reference for every Greek Orthodox Christian and more than that.”

19 Comments

  1. If this interview represents the “quality” of our current Hierarchical leadership, all appears to be lost! By the way your Eminence where were you, a man who claims to care about our children, youth, young adults and the future of our Church when the family of Scott Nevins asked for your help? The stain of his death, is a permanent stain on your legacy! There is a corruption of silence and omission in our church. How many of our hierarchs have actually gone to Constantinople and told the Ecumenical Patriarch the truth about the situation in this country? Instead, they keep His All Holiness in a truth free bubble about what’s really going on in the United States. Our parishes are emptying and this is the quality of our leadership!

    1. Basil I agree with almost everything you said, except that I do not believe for a minute that the Ecumenical Patriarch is in a bubble about what is going on here in the American colonies. In this day of the internet, everyone around the world can know in real time what is going on in every other place of the world. With a dozen or more “Metropolitans” in Istanbul with no day jobs (i.e. no dioceses), I am sure they spend much of their time on the web reading God only knows what. I am sure they are well aware of the disasters month after month year after year here. But the Patriarch is only concerned about no upsetting the apple cart with his cash cow.

  2. I guess Bp Jerry has never read the NT. Christ is the foundation of the Church not Hellenism; this is not debatable. Jesus said “you can not serve two masters because you will love one and hate the other.” Is the GOA a Christ centered centered Church or a Hellenism centered Church? Rather is the GOA actually a Church? I want my children to have an identity with Jesus not with Hellenism. Hellenism saves no one, only Jesus saves. This interview is very discouraging.

  3. Then there is the issue of the 80% or so of “mixed ” marriages in the GOA for a generation now. How does that equation fit into what he says about Hellenism? Has anyone done a study about how many of those non-Orthodox convert and how many of their children are members of the faith? These people need Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy, not a lecture on the virtues of Hellenism.

    1. The 80% did not leave because of language. I left when I walked into a Good Thursday service and heard the pogrom inciting rants “Jews Jews” (anomus, adioscorus, anarcus) in ENGLISH. If they were in Koine, Tridentine or Klingon, I could have claimed denaibility. This parish happened to be close enough to where I worked that if any colleagues saw me there I would have a lot of explaining to do. The entire church is vile and depolrable.

      1. Indeed, I’d rather be at home with my robo-priestie. I don’t have to share a pew with yiayia’s fuss hole skid marks or have Comitazis Nikos Stone prostrate his flatulence up my nostrils.
        Yiayia gets her sermons from Athos MP3 so she only wants the priest to be a shaman.
        So we should do like Japan and get robot priests who can’t molest kids or argue with the council. Besides yiayia don’t even know her MP3 is really Yahuvatis. If you ever been to the old countries you can see the reason they don’t have pews is yiayias romp around and gossip like a cocktail party. Robopriest doesn’t even have to be life size. Priestie can pop out of a clock with incense and squawk “Gyro Lay On!” every hour.

  4. Gerry is simply and totally pathetic. He confirms that we are a Greek colony and not a religious community. It’s 2019 and now he’s waiting for someone at GOA to give him a strategic plan for the 21st century (when it’s 20% over with). A real leader, huh?

    What a joke !

    1. Spiro,

      Gerry is right. We are a glorified Hellenic – Greek cultural community center. A Greek version of the YMCA. Anyone who understands the Orthodox faith and spirituality knows how difficult it is to experience the therapeutic works of Jesus Christ in our churches…there are way too many distractions. John Romanides stated; “having faith in Christ without under-going healing in Christ is not faith at all.” So in short, instead of the church being what it was intended to be – a hospital for the sick; it is a community center for Hellenes.

      The true church begins in the heart and then in the home. Every Orthodox christian should have their own – in home Iconostasis to pray and reflect.

  5. What continues to strike me from reading the above article is: the priority seems to be “Hellenism or Greekness,” rather than, if I may, “Christness!”

    That may work well in Greece, but here in the good ol’ U.S.A., the national language is “English!”

    As always, it seems the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America seems to have its priorities in the wrong order!

    A united “Pan Orthodox Church” is what is needed here in the U.S.A., and not these various ethnocentric churches. First and foremost, we are, or better yet, should be “Christ Centered” and our language is “English!”

    1. GS, I don’t know if there is such a thing as an ethnocentered church. There are ethnocentered clubs that do religious services but not churches. Churches are Christ centered. This interview concerns me more than the situation in the Ukraine.

    2. Yes, we’ve established in these comments before that the GOA was a political concoction between Greek PM Venizelos and his cousin, the EP Metaxatakis, to “stash” the Greeks in America under the EP and have the Greek government pull the strings. Now, a 100 years later, Greece, the EU, the EP have all turned to crap and the dysfuntion has rippled into the GOA and seems to be terminal for us. Meanwhile, Gerry clings to the old order because that’s all he knows. He hasn’t a clue about America, leadership ( spiritual or corporate). Plus, rumors about him persist for decades. That’s it in a nutshell.

  6. GOA and AHEPA were formed in 1922, the year Lenin won his civil war and sought to sell all the churches that the tsars had funded, which is why the churches became AHEPA private chapels so they couldn’t belong to the Russians. Then Lenin got revenge for Venizelos joining the 19-nation force behind the Whites by sending Chechens to his former henchman Ataturk to kill Greeks in Smyrna. The first Greek churches were built by Benakis at New Orleans and Mobile, Franco-Spanish slave ports for Greek ships under other flags. The word Ku Klux Klan comes from the Greek Kuklos or Cyclos. The south was the source of modern fraternities and neoclassical architecture, which emulated the Greeks while the north emulated Rome and Harvard degrees are still in Latin. Greeks preferred to live in the south and Jefferson learned Greek from a Greek named John Paradise, the first naturalized American As can be seen in Kourides centennial history of the NYC Cathedral, some ghetto churches in major cities had already been organized as private chapels of Masonic Athena Brotherhoods which became the model for AHEPA. Further proof of the lie of the AHEPA KKK canard is that most incidents against Greeks took place in Northern areas like Wisconsin settled mostly by central Europeans who saw the Greeks as extensions of their Russian 1848 oppressors. Kourides wrote that New York State had a law chartering that all Orthodox churches belonged to Moscow, making the Athena Brotherhood necessary. The ultimate debunk of the AHEPA KKK canard is the Nashville Parthenon – the folks who built that didn’t hate Greeks

    1. The Russian issue is easily explained. The Russians were here first. That was accepted church policy, first ones in a new area had jurisdiction. Russian bishops served in “Greek” churches and an occasional Greek bishop came from Greece. Also, there were many parishes organized before 1920, before the deal between Venizelos, the arch-secularist and Metaxakis the arch-Mason, parishes that had nothing to do with Masons and AHEPA. Then there was the fight between the Monarchists and the Venizelists in the US for control, which lasted well after the GOA was organized and Archbishop Alexander was appointed. For the absolute best historical account read the book titled The Greeks in the United States, by Theodore Saloutos, published by Harvard University Press, 1964.

      1. No the Russians weren’t here first. There you go again Ripargidi, a robot puppet of the OCA and Putin. The Greeks in Florida and the Russians in Alaska came for other purposes and so neither qualifies. Go to the RUssian Patriarchal Catherdal on 97th and Fifth and you see “Cebero-Aleutska Metropolia” (Северо Алеутская митрополия, Siberian-Aleutskan Metropolia; also Алеутская и Североамериканская епархия ) was the origins of the OCA.

  7. Yes this article is a pathetic truth about our leadership.. But it is also the truth about how Bp. Jerry view his Metropolis and the wider GOA is the U.S. The most important thing to him is the ethnocentric Greek control of the church, it’s language, heritage, and leadership. Greek language classes and folk dance are more important to him than spreading the gospel to all. Most of the parishioners at my parish literally groan when he shows up for liturgy. The reason being everything will be repeated in Greek, two homilies, an extra hour to the liturgy, and he will want everyone bowing in front of him and acceding to his demands. The American Orthodox Church needs American bishops and priests who preach in our language..English! Jerry wants all of us to be colonies of Demetrios in NYC and Bartholomew in Constantinople. He is alone in his thinking.

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