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Metropolitan Ieronymos of Larissa officiates at the ‘Trisagio Service’ at the site of the deadly accident. (Photos provided by ONLARISSA.GR)
BOSTON – His Eminence Metropolitan Ieronymos of Larissa and Tyrnavos, in an interview with the National Herald, revealed how he lived the drama of the deadly train accident at Tempi, near Larissa. He stood as ‘a good shepherd’ close to the families of the innocent victims not by words but with deeds.
He said, “many days have passed since the deadly accident and we still can’t believe what happened. It is something very tragic because 57 souls departed unjustly and suddenly.”
Asked about his experience in the hospitals, His Eminence said, “I think my presence was on many levels. We met the relatives the first day who were filled with anxiety regarding the fate of their people. From the second and third day there was a lot anger and rage due to the fact that authorities delayed giving the corpses of their people, because the authorities had to identify them through DNA. Some human remains had to be identified and put into the coffins. Our mission was to be there and support those people.”
The Metropolitan added, “we organized groups of priests in shifts that changed every two hours to provide moral support to the relatives. Of course, there were psychologists and physiotherapists from both the General and the University Hospitals, and City Hall provided its own services, but when they saw that some of the relatives were extremely upset, they left. Please allow me to say that the relatives found comfort in the clergy; they respected us absolutely.”
The Metropolitan said that, “a father who had lost his child got up, embraced me, and began crying – and then he went back to his seat. There was no need for me or him to say anything.”
He added that, “many were asking ‘why?’ And you know, at these moments the ‘why’ doesn’t have any answer. We are trying to bury the victims with dignity and to honor their families, especially the mothers who had lost their children.”
His Eminence Ieronymos was the only one except for the director of the mortuary and its personnel who were there, the former saying, “I went in not out of curiosity but to offer a ‘Trisagio’ memorial service. Our mission was to pray for the dead and to support the living. I saw bags in which there were burned bodies beyond recognition, others were completely disfigured, and others cut into pieces – it was something concussive for me. God and the Theotokos gave me strength. I had be strong because the personnel of mortuary were looking to me for courage – they had a very difficult job to do.”
The Metropolitan noted that “some nurses who were the first ones to receive the injured shortly after the accident and the first dead bodies, they collapsed. It is human, it is natural.”
His Eminence supported the relatives of the victims in practical ways too. He said, “the first thing we did was to provide water and juice to the General Hospital and to people outside of the mortuary who were waiting endless hours so they could have something to put in their mouth. The Metropolis paid for it gladly. We also reserved hotel rooms for the people to have somewhere to sleep because we realized that the process would be delayed. Later the Association of Hotels provided rooms as well, but the Metropolis paid for the rooms it reserved. We also sent 150 meals and water to the workers who were trying to recover the bodies from the train’s debris because they were working shifts of ten and more hours. I am not ashamed to say that only 95 dollars are left in the account of the Metropolis, but I don’t have any problem with that because I know that God will provide.”
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