These are historic days for the Greek-American Community. These are days that will go a long way in determining the future of our Church in America and its relationship with our Ecumenical Patriarchate.
On Wednesday afternoon, our new Archbishop of America, Archbishop Elpidophoros, arrived from Constantinople, the seat of our Ecumenical Patriarchate to New York. We welcome him, on behalf of our Community, with warmth and respect, and offer him our best wishes.
Only 52 years old – Iakovos was 49 when he became Archbishop in 1959 – Elpidophoros is a humble, intelligent, dynamic hierarch with an easy smile that brings the hope we so much sought.
He brings us hope for the new start that we need. The hope that we will finally build a mature Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, with a definite identity and mission, based on its history and endeavoring to look far into the future.
Mr. Elpidophoros is taking over the reins of an Archdiocese that has gone through a long period of uncertainty and doubts - even about its survival. I am specifically referring to having been forced to take out a $7.5 million mortgage on its offices on East 79th Street, between Madison and 5th Avenues in Manhattan.
But the opportunities that every crisis presents should not be missed.
It can, and must be, the springboard for the radical reorganization of our Archdiocese and the Church in general. Archbishop Elpidophoros knows, from his personal experiences, the need for the reconstruction of our Theological School from the bottom up, because it has become a source of suffering for many in our Church.
He must make many difficult decisions. They will upset some of the people – but he has no choice. And he will have the support of most of us.
His first big decisions will involve personnel choices, ie., the Archbishop’s inner circle and the staff of the Archdiocese. The staff are exhausted from all the problems, and they will need to be inspired again.
These and other things must be seen from the beginning, especially actions that speak to the lack of transparency in the Archdiocese’s finances.
That said, it is clear that Greek-Americans are already feeling the blowing of fresh air. They are happy. And they are ready to work with the new Archbishop. And to contribute.
Archbishop Elpidophoros, we welcome you and wish you success in your mission.