BROOKLYN – October 14, the Holy Cross Church in Brooklyn warmly welcomed the return of Archimandrite Gerasimos Makris, who was ousted from there in January. After the Divine Liturgy, he attended the church’s annual Philoptochos luncheon. Philoptochos President Eleni Psaras, who is also a member of the National Philoptochos Board, is a native of Lemnos who has been in the parish for 37 years, 30 of which she has been a Philoptochos member and President for the past eight. She spoke with The National Herald; the interview follows.
TNH: Do you know what happened regarding Fr. Makris?
EP: No one can yet understand what has happened. No one believed anything of what was said. When Bishop Andonios [of Phasiane, the Archdiocesan Chancellor] spoke to us in a meeting we had with all the presidents, he said that it was something minor but he has to be out of the Church for a while. That is what he told us. Above and beyond that, whatever they told us, no one believed anything.
TNH: In his February 2 letter to your parish, Bishop Andonios wrote that Fr. Makris himself admitted that he was involved in inappropriate behavior.
EP: Yes, he sent a letter, but when he spoke with us he said [the matter] was something small.
TNH: So, which is correct, what he said or what he wrote officially?
EP: I don’t know what to say.
TNH: Did you ever ask Fr. Makris what happened?
EP: When he left the Church, he didn’t speak to anyone. I learned he couldn’t talk to anyone, so as to be asked and to answer.
TNH: Now that he is back, have you asked him?
EP: No. We haven’t seen him. And why should I ask him now? It is better to forget what happened. What can we do? He is back, that’s what everyone wanted. It is finished. People expected him to return, and no one believed [the accusations]. No one believes this man could do something like that. We didn’t believe the women who accused him.
TNH: It is Bishop Andonios and the Archdiocese that wrote the letter about the accusations, was that a problem?
EP: Yes. But we don’t know exactly what happened.
TNH: So Bishop Andonios doesn’t know what he’s doing?
EP: Someone accused Fr. Gerasimos and the Archdiocese wrote the accusations. Was it true? We don’t know.
TNH: Why don’t you ask Fr. Makris what happened?
EP: I can’t ask him. The Parish Council president should ask him. It is not my business.
TNH: How does the parish feel?
EP: For almost a year, we were without a priest; a ship without a captain. The church had emptied. People left. They didn’t put money into the tray. We were desperate. Now that he is back, people have embraced him. Now that he is back, people have embraced him. On October 14, the nave was full. They applauded him. As they did at the Philoptochos luncheon, where they also ran to him and embraced him.
TNH: Can you please tell us about your upcoming Philoptochos initiative in Greece?
EP: This is our ninth trip to Greece. The first one was to Zaharo, with the fires. We collected some money and we wanted to hand-deliver it, but the joy we gave was more important. We make this visit every year. This year we are going to start in Constantinople and then go to Thessaloniki, Florina, Karditsa, Trikala, Athens, and Mati of Attica.