NEW YORK – His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America held a teleconference call with the Hierarchs and clergy – active and retired, of the Holy Archdiocese of America. The call was organized by Metropolitan Methodios of Boston in his capacity as Archiepiscopal Vicar, with the cooperation of the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council. Approximately 400 clergy participated in the call.
During the one-hour conference call, Archbishop Elpidophoros had the opportunity to address the clergy directly and took questions on various aspects of the ministry of the Church. Among his opening remarks, Archbishop Elpidophoros said:
“I was especially eager to address you, the beloved and most respected clergy of our Holy Archdiocese, for you are the very heart of this vital Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne. I wanted to let you know, personally, that my heart and mind are deeply focused on your welfare, the welfare of your families, and your God-saved ministries on behalf of the People of God.
“Although my service to the Church of America is only now commencing, our service to Christ and His Holy Church has always been united – by prayer, by our celebrations of the Divine Liturgy, and by our commitment to the Priesthood of our Great High Priest Jesus Christ. I do feel that I am already with you – in your trials and in your triumphs. As a Deacon, I learned to serve, as you all have done. As a Priest, I enjoyed the foretaste of His Glory as you also enjoy, standing before the Holy Altar. And as a Hierarch, I embrace the service of the Good Shepherd, as I know all of you try to do in your every-day ministries.
“I look forward getting to know all of you, as the Militia of Christ that you already are, and as individuals as well. Your pains will be my pain. Your challenges are my challenges. Your needs will be my priority, as together we seek to strengthen the foundations upon which your ministry edifies the Body of Christ.
“I am very concerned about the issues of Clergy financial security, especially in regard to your health and the healthcare for you and your families. Your physical and spiritual health, and the health of your families, are the sine qua non of the health of our Archdiocese. You need to know that you are cared for, so that you can care for the Flock of Christ. I want you all to know that you and your families are my priority, and we will work together to insure that you have the very best health care that we can find.”
During the hour-long teleconference, a number of priests posed questions to the Archbishop, in a range of various pastoral issues. Examples were:
- “What advice can you give us to help our faithful remain close to the Eucharist and the Body of Christ?”
- “What do you see as the greatest strength of our Archdiocese today? Also, where do you feel we need improvement?”
- “As part of the greater financial issues facing the Archdiocese, could you please comment on how to make the restoration of the Clergy Pension plan a priority.”
- “What is your vision for the future of Orthodoxy in America?”
Although many of the topics could have consumed the entire hour, everyone expressed their joy and satisfaction that Archbishop Elpidophoros had initiated the teleconference, and that this experience of dialogue and solidarity was going to be the first of many.