Archbishop Nikitas Speaks to TNH Shortly before his Enthronement

Archbishop Nikitas of Thyatira and Great Britain during the Service of Great Minima (Announcement) at St. George Patriarchal Cathedral, signs the Patriarchal Code of his election. Photo: Ecumenical Patriarchate-Nikos Manginas

BOSTON – His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain will be enthroned on Saturday July 27 at the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral of London. Archbishop Nikitas was elected unanimously by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Wednesday June 12, succeeding Archbishop Gregorios who retired from active ministry.

Metropolitan Emmanuel of France will preside over the service of the enthronement representing His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, assisted by visitor hierarchs from Greece and Europe. From the United States will come Metropolitans Alexios of Atlanta, Gerasimos of San Francisco, and Nathanael of Chicago.

In an interview with The National Herald replying to a question about the preparations of the enthronement he said that “we are doing very well and the first and main reason is we have the blessing of our Patriarch. Second, I went to greet and received the blessing of my predecessor Archbishop Gregorios, who invited his relatives and some friends and told them “I want you to support and help the new Archbishop.”

Archbishop Nikitas added that, “Archbishop Gregorios welcomed me cordially. I kissed his hand and I told him don’t worry about anything. You will stay here at the Archdiocese and we will provide you with anything you need. He will continue to live in the Archdiocese because he requested that from me and I told him that I see you as my own father and whatever I would have wanted for my father I want it also for you.”

His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyatira and Great Britain with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar. Photo: Ecumenical Patriarchate-Nikos Manginas

When asked about his first impression and findings from his visits thus far in the Archdiocese in England he said, “first I want to tell about the great enthusiasm of the clergy and laity who were waiting for me with open arms. When I visited a number of restaurants of Greek ownership I went into the kitchen I greeted all the employees, introduced myself and told them I am your new Archbishop. They became speechless because they weren’t expecting that from me.”

Regarding the condition of the communities of the Archdiocese, he said, “I didn’t have a chance to visit many except two or three.” He added that, “we are going to start some programs. It is helping me a lot that I am a child of America and that I have lived and served in its Missions. I believe that all the future hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate should go and serve first in Missionary places and Metropolises because by doing you realize the difficulties and you know what to do when you are called to minister a Metropolis.”

He also said that “certainly the Archdiocese of Thyateira has been there for many decades but we should open more to the outside world and show that we have something to offer.”

According to Archbishop Nikitas, “the Archdiocese is comprised of more than one hundred communities, some of which are very small and. It includes four countries England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.”

As to how the Archdiocese is sustained financially, he said that, “it has a Trust and also some real estate from which it has income. The paid membership of the faithful in the communities is not obligatory as it is in America. The faithful give only donations if they so wish, freely, and also they give something for the issuance of marriage and baptismal permits. I want to stablish a list of the faithful just to be able to communicate with them.”

Asked what he would do if someone comes to a parish and says he does not have the funds to pay for a marriage or baptismal certificate, but asked him to bless the wedding and baptize the child, Archbishop Nikitas said, “of course,” he would. “What would Christ do? If we drive away the people then we are not a Church.”

Archbishop Nikitas of Thyatira and Great Britain during the Service of Great Minima (Announcement) at St. George Patriarchal Cathedral.
Photo: Ecumenical Patriarchate-Nikos Manginas

Regarding the salaries of the priests he said “the priests are salaried by the parishes, but many of them don’t have good salaries – they get one thousand dollars a month and that is why they work in other jobs.”

One of his first priorities will be “the Greek Education. We have schools here and now with the economic crisis in Greece many Greeks immigrate to England.” He added, “of course I will pay attention to the religious education and youth as well.”

Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain is the son of Constantine and Kalliope Lulias. He was born on June 22, 1955 in Tampa, FL and raised in Tarpon Springs, FL with his brother John. His roots are from Krokos Kozanis and the island of Kalymnos.

A member of Savant, the University of Florida Honor Society, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree from the University in 1976. His Eminence attended Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and received his Masters’ of Divinity, with Honors, in 1980. He pursued graduate studies at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece until November 1982. He also studied the Russian language at the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary, St. Petersburg, Russia from late 1992 to mid-1993. His Eminence Nikitas’ first assignment upon ordination was Associate Pastor at Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Merrillville, Indiana. He remained at the Cathedral until 1987, at which time he became the Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Chicago. During his tenure as Chancellor from 1987 to 1995, he was involved in numerous educational, community service, and interfaith activities, including teaching a course in Orthodox Christian Theology at Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois (1988 to 1991). In 1994 he was appointed Director of Development for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and on July 1, 1995 he became Pastor of the St. Demetrios Orthodox Church of Chicago. He was consecrated a bishop and named Metropolitan of Hong Kong and South East Asia on December 14, 1996. That historic event took place in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George the Great Martyr at the Phanar in Constantinople. He was enthroned as the first Metropolitan of Hong Kong and South East Asia (the Exarchates of China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore) on January 12, 1997 at the Cathedral of Saint Luke the Evangelist in Hong Kong.

In March of 2007, His Eminence Nikitas was appointed Director of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute.