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In Memory of Archbishop Iakovos

On Wednesday, April 10th, 19 years were completed since the repose of the blessed memory of Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America. He fell asleep on Sunday, April 10, 2005, at the hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, shortly after the end of the parades in New York and Boston commemorating Greece’s Independence Day from the Turks, as if he were waiting for the echo of the joyful voices of the children chanting “Greece never dies.”

Iakovos loved and cared deeply for Greece, which is why he became a target of the Turks who declared him persona non grata, meaning unwelcome. They did not allow him to visit his ancestral land, the island of Imbros, for 27 years – if I remember correctly. Iakovos knew very well that the Turks could not be trusted, no matter how much they changed their appearance.

Iakovos dominated our ecclesiastical and community life as Archbishop for 37 years, which means entire generations knew only him as Archbishop. Now he rests behind the chapel of the Holy Cross of the Theological School opposite Boston, which he loved dearly, having served as a priest at its Cathedral of the Annunciation of Boston during its glorious days. If he were alive today, his soul would be distressed both for the paralyzing condition here at the Archdiocese and the decline there at the Phanar because Iakovos loved the Patriarchate and knew very well those who served there.

We disagreed many times with the blessed Archbishop Iakovos on issues of ecclesiastical and educational nature, such as the Greek language, the Hellenic identity of the School of Theology, the property of the Archdiocese at the time with the complicated issue of its lands and the main figures involved, the closure of the Academy of St. Basil, as well as the only training School of Greek female teachers. It is no secret that we made critical interventions – however, always because of the nature of the issues, and Iakovos understood that.

In the last ten years of his life, having now entered a phase of tranquility, we had gotten to know Iakovos very closely through his own invitation and initiative, and he often spoke openly about many things and many people here and there (the Phanar). He was then a “different Iakovos” but it was already too late.

May God rest his soul.

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