SOUTHAMPTON, NY – Father Philemon Patitsas officiated on Sunday morning at the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary in Southampton, at the invitation of the Protopresbyter Father Alexandros Karloutsos.
Father Philemon was chosen by Archbishop Elpidophoros to serve in Holy Trinity parish in Wilmington, DE, hometown of President Joe Biden.
Joe Biden is a very close friend of the Greek American community, and Archbishop Elpidophoros took initiative to have provide that parish with one of the Archdiocese's leading priests.
"It is known that the President of the USA loves the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity and many Greek-Americans are excited that Father Philemon will be there," Father Karloutsos told The National Herald. Born to a Greek family in Akron, OH, Father Philemon grew up in a Greek community. “I come from a large family of six children, most of whom were involved with the Church. Even though my father wasn't a priest, both my parents loved Christ and the church," he told TNH.
While he studied engineering, he still held onto the dream of becoming a priest. “I always knew that someday I would be a priest. I have been thinking about it since I was young. I have had a speech issue since I was a child and this is something that made me wonder about whether I could make it as a priest, since I had to read the Gospel, talk to people etc. So, for a while I stopped thinking about it.”
Father Philemon has been married for 34 years to Presvytera Maria, and they have three children together. “At one point I said to her, `someday I may become a priest, are you okay with that?' And she replied `I might be, but it's a good idea to wait a little longer; we'll see.' She knew I had that desire in me.” He continued, “when I became 40 years old I told myself `I must wait a little longer. Towards the end of my life I will become a priest.' When I realized I should finally make a decision, I had to leave my home and my job and go to study. I completed a master's degree in Theology. At the same time, I decided to enroll in Harvard's Kennedy School to study Public Administration. When I finished my studies, I urged my family to pray and see which path we should follow now. It was August 15 and we were fasting,” Father Philemon recalls.
He then received a proposal to serve as an assistant priest at the Holy Trinity Parish in North Carolina. He stayed there for two years and then was appointed to Naples, Florida.
Father Karloutsos said, "I am glad that while he could continue his career, he decided to give his life to our faith and culture. And as a Greek-American he reflects the best of his kind. Aιέν αριστεύειν – always excelling."
Father Karloutsos gifted him with an icon of the Virgin Mary made by a Swedish sculptor who became Orthodox after his marriage to a Greek-American woman, saying, "I wanted to offer this gift to Presvytera and Father Philemon with gratitude and respect," and the latter said, “Father Alexandros Karloutsos is a friend of mine and I respect him deeply, he is my mentor. I gladly accepted his invitation to come to his church."