WHITESTONE – The Feast Day of the Universal Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Holy Cross was celebrated on September 14 at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Whitestone where His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America presided over the community's feast day for the first time.
The Archbishop of America would usually be in Boston at the Holy Cross Theological School for the services and blessing the students as they begin the school year, but classes are virtual at this time due to the pandemic, so His Eminence instead presided over the Great Vespers at Holy Cross in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn on September 13, and the Divine Liturgy at Holy Cross in Whitestone on September 14.
Rev. Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas, recently appointed to serve at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center, Very Rev. Archimandrite Chrysostom Panos of the Transfiguration of Christ Church in Corona, Fr. Panagiotis Papazafiropoulos of St. Gerasimos Church in Manhattan, and presiding priest of the Whitestone community Fr. George Anastasiou also participated in the service of the Divine Liturgy and the Artoklasia.
The Archbishop's Encyclical was read in Greek and in English during the service, highlighting the need to support the Holy Cross Theological School.
Following the Divine Liturgy, Fr. Anastasiou thanked His Eminence for blessing the community with his presence and then introduced Vice President of the Parish Council George Isaakides to present a donation to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation as a token of the community's appreciation.
Archbishop Elpidophoros in his remarks referred to his Encyclical for the feast day and emphasized the need to support the Holy Cross Theological School, not with funding but by sending young people to study there and at the Hellenic College, adjacent to the Theological School, so young men and women can learn about Greek culture, civilization, and the language. He also encouraged the community in its efforts to re-open its day school. His Eminence pointed out that it is 50 years since the Halki Seminary was closed and the efforts to reopen it continue through talks with the Turkish government and through reaching out for help to reopen it from the U.S. government and other countries, adding that in the U.S. where we are in a free and democratic country, there is every opportunity to open schools for our children to learn our culture, language, and faith.
“May the Holy Cross always be your light, your strength, your source of health… may it bless you, your children and grandchildren, all your family, your work, so that with health, love, unity and faith we can continue the good fight which the Lord has given us here in America, to hold onto our faith and culture,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said. He then offered his best wishes to all those present and especially those celebrating their name day.