WASHINGTON, DC – The ordination of Bishop Joachim of Amissos took place on December 22, known as Sunday before the birth of Christ, at St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC. His Eminence Archbishop Elpirophoros of America officiated, assisted by Metropolitans of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Savas of Pittsburgh and Nathanael of Chicago. Also Metropolitan Melchizedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) as well as Bishop Apostolos of Medeia and Bishop Thomas of the Diocese of Oakland, Charleston and the Mid-Atlantic of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese.
Twelve priests participated, four deacons, and also Rev. Dr. George Dragas representing the faculty of Holy Cross Theological School.
Addressing Bishop-elect Joachim prior the ordination Archbishop Elpidophoros made reference to “the asceticism of scholarship” and said among other things that “there is another kind of spiritual discipline— the asceticism of scholarship. A life of study, a life spent advancing knowledge— this is its own form of self-denial. It is also form of spiritual guidance. True scholarship requires solitude and sacrifice; it requires total commitment and a sense of service to others. It requires a dedication to the highest standards of excellence.
Αιέν αριστεύειν— “Ever to excel.”
The Archbishop also said that “this idea inspired the heroes of ancient Greece, as it also inspired the heroes of the Christian faith. It is one of the timeless values of Hellenism that the Church adopted for Herself down through the ages. It is an ideal that has shaped you: as a son of the Greek Orthodox Church, as a scholar, and as a clergyman. You have shown the utmost commitment to the visual expressions of our Faith. This lifelong labor— a labor of love, indeed— has made you a world-class expert and art historian. Your love for books and your achievements in the field of Library Science have also blessed our students at Hellenic College and Holy Cross.”
The Archbishop added that “because you exemplify genuine scholarship and academic excellence, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected you to be raised to the Episcopacy. As the resident bishop at our theological School, you will be both a living icon of Christ and a dynamic model of scholarly excellence.
“This is a high calling. It is a calling to a quiet kind of heroism that is often in short supply. It is a calling to self-denial and self-sacrifice. It is a calling to total commitment to the well-being of the Church.”
His Grace Bishop Joachim in his reply stated, among other things, that “I humbly stand here before you about to enter into the high calling of the episcopacy of the Holy Orthodox Church, upon the election of His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, and the most venerable members of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Great Church of Christ. This is a great blessing for which, of course, I have done nothing deserving nor am I worthy of such a great gift, a gift bestowed from on high and as a sign of Your Eminence’s paternal love.”
He added that “I come before you today as one in the autumnal stage of life and from the margins, or as Saint Paul says, as one born out of due time (I Cor. 15:8). Yet, although I may be out of time and place, I do, however, begin this new diakonia within a context, and that context is this sacred temple of Hagia Sophia of Washington, DC, or as it is fondly referred to here among the faithful, Saint Sophia.
“It is here, Your Eminence, that I was first nurtured and raised in the Faith, by my devout and most righteous parents, Alexander and Demetra, and along with my dear brother Chris, all of whom have gone to their rest before me. May their memory be eternal! And may they rejoice with me today as those enjoying eternal life within the Church.
It is here in Saint Sophia that I received catechism as a child, served as an altar boy and later was a member of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship as an undergraduate at the nearby University of Maryland.
“Your Eminence, as I stand at the threshold of the episcopal office, I fervently pray to the Lord to make me a most worthy image of His High priesthood, most significantly at this holy season in which we joyfully anticipate the celebration of His Saving Birth in our world. At this moment, I also fervently seek the intercessions of my homonymous saintly patrons, John the Baptist and Joachim, along with those of the beloved Holy Hierarchs Nicholas and Nektarios the Wonderworkers, but most of all I turn my prayers to the Virgin Mother of God, the Theotokos, so that one day, I, too, as my beloved cousin the late Metropolitan Nikolaos of Fthiotida, may be remembered as Theotokophilos-beloved of the Theotokos.