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Group photo with members of the St. Peter the Apostle Parish Council, left to right: Olga Fotinis, George Kammos, George Sofillas, Fr. Iakovos Roditis, Archbishop Elpidophoros, Nicholas Katehis, Kostas Malonoukos, and Evangelos Zervoudis. Photo: TNH / Despina Afentouli
BRONX, NY – The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and memorial service, officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, was held at St. Peter the Apostle Greek Orthodox Church in the Bronx on June 26.
Presiding priest of the St. Peter community Archimandrite Fr. Iakovos Roditis, Archdeacon Dionysios Papiris, and Deacon Michael Giavris, also officiated.
Archbishop Elpidophoros expressed his joy visiting this community shortly before the feast of Saints Peter and Paul and spoke about the Gospel: “Jesus Christ went to the people of toil of work and told them… ‘come and follow Me,’ a few words, simply. I will make you ‘fishers of people.’ Do not think that the Apostles understood much. What does ‘fishers of people’ mean? But, they had a pure heart. And when you have a pure heart… you hear Him. You do not understand much, but you have confidence. You understand who is in front of you and that He is telling you something important. And they left their jobs and followed Christ. The Apostles were with Him for three years. But, when Christ was arrested and crucified and buried, none of the Apostles was there. Only one, His beloved John, together with the Virgin Mary who was under the Cross were there. What they had not understood during these three years, was implanted in them… when the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost. [Thus] these twelve Apostles converted the whole universe.”
At the same time, His Eminence spoke about the importance of the priesthood: “God chooses some people and out of nothing, by the Grace of God, brings them to serve the Church. How important is the priesthood. How transformative is the Grace of the Holy Spirit and their Grace comes at the time of ordination. Therefore, I want you to talk to your children about the priesthood. We need priests, successors of the Apostle Peter, an Apostle so much a person of the people, so genuine, so spontaneous. We all have our moments, our faith and our weakness… We need priests in America to believe in God and everything else is complemented by the Holy Spirit. The criteria of God are not our criteria. May the Lord raise others like the Apostle Peter, priests and hierarchs worthy of our faith, of our Church. Amen.”
Fr. Roditis welcomed His Eminence, and expressed his gratitude: “You found time to be with us today, the Sunday before the feast of our patron saint. We know that your program is very busy these days with the preparations of the historic Clergy-Laity Congress and your arrival here, today, demonstrates your true love for our Church. Your Eminence, one and a half years have passed since you assigned me the pastoral duties of this Parish. And I want to thank you once again for the opportunity you gave me to be a ministering priest here at St. Peter. I believe that we are one of the best parishes in our Archdiocese, although younger and smaller in number of members than others.”
On behalf of the community, Parish Council President Nicholas Katehis thanked Archbishop Elpidophoros for the honor of his presence and invited him next year to the name day feast of St. Peter’s.
His Eminence thanked Fr. Roditis and Katehis for the moving reception noting that “here I feel, not that I am visiting a parish, it is like visiting a home, a family, you welcome me so warmly.”
Afterwards, a poem was read by the altar boy Christos Kammos, and flowers were presented by children in attendance to Archbishop Elpidophoros, who then distributed commemorative gifts to the community and children.
A meal followed in the community’s Steve Zervoudis Hall.
CONSTANTINOPLE - His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros visited the Balikli Greek Hospital today following last week’s devastating fire and had the opportunity to hear from staff and residents about their experiences during the ordeal.
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