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Left to right: Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Dr. Albert Bourla CEO of Pfizer, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Drs. Christos Kyratsous and George D. Yancopoulos of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, M. Azar II, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Anthony Limberakis. (Photo by GOA/D. Panagos)
NEW YORK – When an Apostolic Visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch coincides with the ceremony for the investiture of new Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, members of the Order of St. Andrew, as is the case this week, it is always a moving time and a historic moment. The past weekend’s twin highlights featured the Patriarch Athenagoras Humanitarian Award Banquet which was held October 30 and the investiture ceremony at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan which followed the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy on October 31.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in the midst of this first visit to the United States since 2009, was visibly moved, saying that, “with boundless joy, emotion and contrition, we are gathered together in this splendid Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, where we have celebrated the ever festive Divine Liturgy, offering glory to the Lord of glory and giving thanks for His saving gifts to our Church and Nation, as well as to each one of us. When we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, the heavens are opened, while everything is filled with light and flooded in resurrection. Indeed, the Church lives in and through the Divine Liturgy.”
After paying tribute to the clergy in America for their reverence for the Ecumenical Patriarch and their services to their communities, he said to the Archons, those of long-standing and the new initiates, “in addressing you, honorable Archons, we observe that the titles of archons conferred on you and henceforth borne by you, represent significant public and ecclesiastical ministries and offices in the history of the Eastern Roman Empire and our Orthodox Church. They presuppose education, legal knowledge, diplomacy, linguistic skills, high intelligence and, above all else, devotion to the sacred mission of the Church and our People’s sacred traditions.”
His All-Holiness explained to the new Archons, the congregation, and viewers on TV and the internet that, “Archons have always offered manyfold and invaluable contributions to the Church and our Nation, and they continue to this day their service, organized into two Brotherhoods – the Order of St. Andrew, to which you all now belong, and the Brotherhood of ‘Panagia Pammakaristos’ comprising members outside of the United States. These around 1500 Archons throughout the world contribute in many ways and effectively to the support of the multidimensional and sacred work of the Mother Church, as well as to the defense of its inalienable rights, as demonstrated by the immense and admirable initiatives of the Order of St. Andrew under the dynamic leadership of Archon Actuarios Anthony Limberakis.”
Reflecting in his words the love for His All-Holiness and the Ecumenical Patriarchate visible in the faces of the Archons and their families, Patriarch Bartholomew said, “the Mother Church blesses you. It is proud of you for this sacred association and good witness, for your presence and contribution. Your Patriarch appreciates you, loves you, prays for you and your families. We ask that you transmit to your children, the new generation of our Community, the love for the Church and for our our most precious civilization.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros opened his remarks by addressing the Patriarch. “On this day… we are especially delighted and supremely blessed that You preside over the Divine Eucharist at the Cathedral Church of our Sacred Archdiocese, surrounded at the sacred altar by the members of Your honorable entourage and the members of our Holy Eparchial Synod.”
Of the Archons, whose spiritual advisor is Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, the Archbishop said to His All-Holiness, “they are our pillars and bedrock in every sacred task and initiative that we undertake in our religious and national goals, and they honor the Greek Orthodox name in the pluralistic American society. We ask You to grant them Your wholehearted blessing, so that they may henceforth achieve even greater things in every good deed. “
Expressing the feelings not only of the congregation Sunday morning on Manhattan’s Upper East Side but of all whom the Patriarch has encountered during the Apostolic Visit, Archbishop Elpidophoros said, “you are most welcome! You are at home! You are in the beloved Eparchy of Your Throne! You are among Your children! We all thirst for the joy of Your radiant face, for the taste of Your Paternal affection, for the reception of Your comforting and edifying words, for the veneration of Your right hand — which for the last thirty years has upheld, with perseverance and often through turbulence, the rudder of the Church’s vessel — in order to receive Your precious Patriarchal blessing!
The faithful who revere His All-Holiness were drawn to him from all over the United States. Indeed, in the midst of a pandemic, it was SRO at the Cathedral, with everyone masked, but no dampening of enthusiasm on a special day.
The atmosphere of the Cathedral was suffused with the glory of Byzantium and ancient Orthodox tradition, redolent with incense and extraordinary chanting by antiphonal choirs on each side of the solea, and spiritually accented by the poignant and powerful gospel of Lazarus and the Rich Man.
After the Divine Liturgy and the investiture of the Archons, the congregation witnessed the elevation of Archimandrite Christophoros Oikonomides, Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey to the office of Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne, and the Cathedral Dean Fr. Nikolas Karloutsos was elevated to Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Throughout the services, while His All-Holiness was in the sanctuary with Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the bishop’s throne was flanked by Metropolitan Geron Emmanuel of Chalcedon and Archbishop Demetrios, former of America.
Prior to the dismissal of the congregation, Patriarch Bartholomew invited Archbishop Demetrios to the solea, and concluded the emotional gathering by saying, “I wish you all a good afternoon and every good thing from God in heaven.”
The 2021 Archons include: Nicholas Anagnostopoulos, Soterios Theodore Argeroplos, Richard T. Brown, Spyros Catechis, Steven George Kounelis, Michael Efthimios Economou, John George Gumas, Elias Anthony Iliadis, Theodore Michael Kakoyiannis, Constantine James Kalaris, Ilias Katsos, Dennis Demosthenes Kokenes, Demetrios Kokotas, Steve Savas Kontos, Michael John Kostakas Kratsios, Kyriako Charles Kyriacou, Angelo Harry Magafan, Vasilios Mathews, Pantelis Michalos, George K. Moutis, Petros Neomanitakis, Dean George Pappas, Fotios Piniros, George G. Harry Poulon, Gregory Saad, Anis Nicola Shmaiyeh, Demetrios Gregory Skedros, George John Spanos, Stephen Donald Tibbs, Michael Leonidas Therianos, Jr., Chris Evan Tsamulatis, Chris Vasilakis.
The 2020 Archons include: Frank Demetrios Catrickes, Jeffery George Chrones, Dimitrios Georgakopoulos, Joseph John Kokοlakis, Nicholas Christos Kyriazi, Mark George Moraitakis, Anastasios George Papademetriou, Nicholas Papain, George J. Razis, James George Rockas, Terry Sarantou, Michael Seremetis, Paul Peter Skoutelas, Stavro George Sousou, John Thibault, Nicholas John Tranto, Christopher Paul Tsavoussis, Theodore Homer Vagelos.
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