One year ago, a wish that myself and many youth of the Greek Orthodox Church shared was granted. God blessed us with a new Archbishop of America, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros. On the anniversary of his enthronement I find myself reflecting on how far the Church has come since the enthronement. I remember my parents, who were the first Greek-Americans to meet with His Eminence after his election, calling me from the Patriarchate. They were floored on how down to earth His Eminence was. He sat with them for hours listening to them and promised that change was coming. That conversation was the hope (ελπίδα) we were all looking for.
His Eminence was welcomed with open arms when he arrived in the United States and he hit the ground running. He has accomplished so much in so little time; most importantly he has been focused on keeping the youth of the Church engaged as much as possible. Gone are the days that an Archbishop visits a parish and expects to be waited on hand and foot and taken out on swanky dinners. I’ve witnessed firsthand that our Archbishop’s number one priority when visiting a local parish is to engage with the children and young adults. It’s truly refreshing to see his big smile and humility.
In his first year our Archbishop has restarted the construction on the St Nicholas Shrine in New York City. He will take what has become an embarrassment to our Archdiocese and make it possibly the most visited house of worship in the world.
Not only has our Archbishop restored our confidence in the Archdiocese after many years of financial mismanagement, he has also restored our faith with God. I know this Lent was one that we will all remember for the rest of our lives due to the COVID-19 crisis and not being able to attend a Lenten or Holy Week service. At first it was a tough pill to swallow, knowing we wouldn’t be able to go to church and receive Holy Communion, but our Archbishop and Archdiocese took the appropriate action and set up infrastructure to be able to stream every Service online. We truly felt that we were in the chapel of St. Paul with his Eminence.
Looking forward, our Archbishop’s hard work will continue. The Church needs to formulate a strategic plan on how to not only survive but to thrive in the future. Our Archbishop also needs to continue his journey of ridding the Church of corruption and focusing on transparency. I look forward to His Eminence continuing his journey and vision for the Church of America. I am willing to offer His Eminence any suggestion or ideas on how to continue moving the Church in the right direction.
Happy one-year anniversary Your Eminence, Πάντα Αξιος!
Elias Manolis is a young businessman in the restaurant and real estate business in Dracut Massachusetts, and he also walks in his parent’s philanthropic steps.