GR US

Archbishop Elpidophoros and Eparchial Synod Reinstate Fr. Nicholas Kastanas

The National Herald Archive

Fr. Nicholas Kastanas delivers his last sermon on Sunday July 30, 2017 at St. Athanasios Greek Orthodox parish in Arlington Massachusetts. (Archive Photo by TNH/ Theodore Kalmoukos)

BOSTON – Metropolitan Methodios of Boston sent a letter via e-mail dated April 8, 2021 to the clergy of the Metropolis informing them that the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese lifted the liturgical suspension of Fr. Nicholas Kastanas.

He wrote the following:

“Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston

IEPA MHTPΟΠΟΛΗ ΒΟΣΤΩΝΗΣ

April 8, 2021

To the Reverend Clergy of the Metropolis of Boston. Reverend brothers,

This past Monday the Holy Eparchial Synod lifted the suspension that was imposed upon the Rev. Nicholas Kastanas and included him among the ranks of retired clergy. Compliant to this decision the aforementioned is permitted to participate in liturgical services after requesting and receiving canonical permission.

May the remainder of the Great Lent be for him an opportunity of self-reproach and heart filled, unfeigned repentance.

With Archpastoral love,

METHODIOS

Metropolitan of Boston.”

The issue began on Thursday July 27, 2017 when Fr. Kastanas was dismissed by Metropolitan Methodios after 28 years of successful ministry at the St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox parish in Arlington.

Methodios had left the letter of Fr. Kastanas' dismissal with his chancellor, Rev. Theodoros Barbas, and then left for Greece on vacation.

A massive exodus of families followed from the parish which was considered one of the most vibrant and populous not only in the Metropolis of Boston but in the entire Archdiocese of America. The parish had the potential to house a Greek Day School since it has the necessary building and facilities, but in the meantime dozens of parents took their children from the existing Greek Afternoon School of St. Athanasius in protest of Methodios' action towards their parish. They have established their own school in a rental facility in a neighboring town with great success.

The National Herald

The filled-to-capacity nave of St. Athanasios in Arlington at the last Liturgy of Nicholas Kastanas on Sunday July 30, 2017. (Photo: TNH Archive/Theodore Kalmoukos)

When the news broke in July, 2017 there was wide press coverage by the major media outlets of Boston while Metropolitan Methodios was the subject of protests and demonstrations by St. Athanasios parishioners. About two thousand faithful of all ages and generations filled the St. Athanasios nave crying, protesting against Metropolitan Methodios, who was enjoying himself in Greece on his vacation, while Fr. Kastanas had to calm the parishioners down.

The Metropolis of Boston ordered the removal Fr. Kastanas' personal computer from his office at St. Athanasios so that it could be taken to the Metropolis. Also, the locks of the nave and the church building were changed, prohibiting Fr. Kastanas from entering and taking his personal belongings: books, documents, vestments, crosses etc. Those in charge of the Community sent those items in boxes to his Fr. Kastanas' residence.

Metropolitan Methodios suspended Kastanas from all Liturgical activities because the latter filed for an injunction – a temporary restraining order with a high court in Massachusetts – requesting the court to prohibit the Metropolis of Boston from keeping his private computer and personal documents that were taken from his office by members of the parish council as directed by the Metropolis.

The Metropolis accused Fr. Kastanas of misusing an account which he had established to help the needy.

After years of court action and mediation Judge Peter B. Krupp of Massachusetts Superior Court with his decision of December 16, 2019 dismissed the counterclaims of the Metropolis of Boston and St. Athanasius parish of Arlington, MA against Fr. Nicholas Kastanas.

The decision, Number 17-2312-L2, was comprised of 13 pages and stated among other things the following:

“After defendant Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, Inc. (`Metropolis') removed plaintiff Rev. Fr. Nicholas Kastanas (`Father Kastanas') from his parish in 2017, Father Kastanas filed this case to recover his personal property that he alleged the Metropolis was holding. The Metropolis counterclaimed, alleging that Father Kastanas had failed to return property belonging to it and/or the parish. As it relates to the motion before me, the operative document is the First Amended Counterclaim (Docket #17). Father Kastanas has moved to dismiss the counterclaim. After hearing, and consideration of the parties' briefs, including those submitted after the hearing, the motion is ALLOWED.”

As The National Herald reported on October 23, 2019, Metropolitan Methodios intended to send Fr. Kastanas to Spiritual Court but he was delayed in doing so.

The National Herald

Metropolitan Methodios with Fr. Panagiotis Giannakopoulos, former priest of St. George in Hyannis, whom Methodios appointed Chief Judge of the Spiritual Court session against Fr. Kastanas. (Photo: of Metropolis of Boston)

Fr. Kastanas filed an `ekliton' (supreme final appeal) to Archbishop Elpidophoros as the First Ecclesiastical Authority of the Archdiocese of America, a process analogous to the ekliton the hierarchs can initiate with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who renders the final decision on a specific dispute.

It is noted here that it is against the Canon Law of the Church for the suspension of Fr. Kastanas to have continued for so long.

When Archbishop Elpidophoros at the meeting of the Eparchial Synod in October 2020 announced that Fr. Kastanas had filed an ekliton, Metropolitan Methodios became angry and angrily said that he was going to send Fr. Kastanas to Spiritual Court, which he did in March, 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, orchestrating his defrocking. He appointed as chief judge Fr. Panagiotis Giannakopoulos from Hyannis, MA, along with judges Fr. Demetrios Tonias of the Cathedral of Boston, Fr. Christopher Foustoukos of Peabody, Fr. Tom Chininis of Transfiguration of Lowell, and Fr. Vassilios Bebis then of Roslindale.

Metropolitan Methodios held on to the decision of the Spiritual Coourt for many months, not sending it to the Archdiocese until one day Archbishop Elpidophoros told him that the issue should come to an end ordering him to submit all the documents. When the Archbishop received them, he considered that Methodios' accusations did not justify the penance of defrocking, and he suggested the reinstatement of Fr. Kastanas by lifting his suspension, as was officially announced on Monday April 5, 2021.