BOSTON – The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in its June 13 meeting with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew presiding elevated the Metropolis of Toronto to the Archdiocese of Canada and, consequently, its Metropolitan to Archbishop Sotirios of Canada.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were approximately 300 Canadians of Greek descent. The first communities established were the Greek Community of the Annunciation in Montreal in 1896, the Greek Community of St. George in Toronto in 1909, and the Greek Community of Holy Trinity in Thunder Bay in 1918. The first Bishop in Canada, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Elaia, was appointed by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in 1960 and was followed by Bishop Timothy of Rodostolon 1963-1967 and Bishop Theodosios of Ancona 1967-1973.
The present Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada), Sotirios, was elected Bishop of Constantia on December 18, 1973 and ordained on January 27, 1974. Since then, he has served the Church in Canada. He was promoted to Bishop of Toronto in 1979 and Metropolitan of Toronto in 1996 and Archbishop in 2019.
At the time of his election as Bishop, there were only 22 Churches in Canada. Under his tenure, that number has grown to 76 Churches and 350,000 Greek Orthodox Christians. During his Archieratical service, the Diocese, now an Archdiocese, established: Annual Youth Assemblies (1980); a monthly newspaper, Orthodox Way (1982); Social Services (1984); Metahomes, providing transitional housing for the homeless (1984); Greek Orthodox Order of Canada (1987); weekly television program Orthodox Voice which is broadcast across all of Canada (1990); School of Byzantine Music (1991); Convents of St. Kosmas of Aitolos in Ontario and the Virgin Mary of Consolation in Quebec (1993); Greek Orthodox Education in Ontario, (1996) “Metamorphosis” Greek Orthodox Day School and “Metamorphosis” Child Care Centre, Toronto; Metamorphosis Preschool, Toronto; “St. Nicholas“ Child Care Centre, Toronto; Homes for the Aged, (nine Homes: Toronto, Montreal, Laval, Vancouver); 50 Homes for Needy Families (Thunder Bay); Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy (1998); “Metamorphosis” Summer Camps (1999); and the Metropolis Cultural Centre (2002).
His Eminence Archbishop Sotirios Athanassoulas was born to George and Anastasia in Lepiana, Arta, in Epirus, Greece in 1936. He graduated from the University of Athens School of Theology and obtained a Master’s Degree in Theology from the Universite de Montreal. He speaks Greek, English, and French. When still a layman, he served as Dean of Students at the Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline and was ordained Deacon on July 17, 1962 and Priest on July 18, 1962.
Archbishop Soterios has published a Catechism of the Greek Orthodox Faith in English and composed verse and written prose in Greek. He has been honored with the Centennial Medal of Canada; the “125 Canada” Medal; the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002); the medal of the city of Athens; and, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). His Eminence has also been named Grand Commander of the Order of Phoenix of Greece.