His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America at the official opening of the 46th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress on July 4. Photo: GOA/ D. Panagos
NEW YORK – The 46th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress (CLC) officially opened at the New York Marriot Marquis Hotel on July 4 with speeches celebrating the Archdiocese of America’s centennial and expressing hope for the future and best wishes for the success of the Congress. Running through July 7, the CLC returned after over two years of pandemic and also commemorates the Centennial of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
The event began with a Doxology service for the opening of the CLC and the Fourth of July. It was led by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and sung by the Archdiocesan School of Byzantine Music and the National Forum of Greek Church Musicians who also performed the Greek and U.S. National Anthems.
Opening remarks were offered by Co-Chairs of the Clergy-Laity Congress Nick Karacostas and Chrysanthy Demos. Karacostas also served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Remarks were then offered by Archdiocesan Council Secretary and Presiding Officer of the Congress the Honorable Theodore Bozonelis, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Archdiocesan Council Vice Chairman John Catsimatidis, National Ladies Philoptochos Society President Arlene Siavelis Kehl, Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou, Ambassador of Cyprus Marios Lysiotis, and Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Chancellor V. Rev. Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos. Virtual greetings were presented by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. “Despite – indeed, even through – many and manifold challenges, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America remains the vibrant face of Orthodoxy in the western world,” His All-Holiness said. “Therefore, it ‘is meet and right’ to give glory and praise to the almighty Lord, who has showered us with abundant wonders. In this spirit, we offer our paternal congratulations and patriarchal commendations to all of you who continue this sacred tradition and commemorate this significant centenary.”
“Dear delegates and friends, with the certainty that this Clergy-Laity Congress will not be a mere commemorative event of past glories, but an inspiring and visionary moment for the future of this precious Eparchy of our Ecumenical Throne in the United States, we pray fervently and wholeheartedly that the grace of God will always bless, support, and protect you and your loved ones,” Patriarch Bartholomew said.
Archbishop Elpidophoros, for whom this is the first in-person CLC since his enthronement in 2019, said in his Keynote Address: “As a unified Archdiocese, let us lay hold of hope for the future – a hope that is founded upon the legacy of our past and our effectual energy in the present moment. We have the firm foundation. And we have the dynamism to go forward.”
His Eminence entered the venue with and also recognized the two living former Archbishops of America, Spyridon and Demetrios, as Centennial Honorees: “Having these two former Archbishops of America with us is a tremendous honor, as it offers us an even better glimpse into the history of our Church here in America. What I am trying to say is that their presence here at our Centennial Clergy-Laity Congress affirms the continuation of our unity, as well as the perpetuation of the spiritual bonds of our faith and leadership through the ages.”
He then presented each of his predecessors with an icon and an engolpion in honor of the day.
Also among those present were the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, His Eminence Metropolitan Geron Emmanuel of Chalcedon and Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymno and Avlopotamos, as well as the members of the Holy Eparchial Synod. Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Konstantinos Koutras was also among those attending the CLC opening along with many members of the clergy and laity from across the United States.
Archbishop Elpidophoros spoke with The National Herald following the CLC official opening, noting that “this year the Clergy-Laity Congress has an added value because this year the Archdiocese is celebrating 100 years since its foundation. For us, 100 years does not simply mean a remembrance of the glorious past, to honor our predecessors, our fathers, those who founded the Archdiocese. It is an occasion to envision and plan for the future, learning from mistakes and building on the foundations of the past.”
BOSTON - The former Archimandrite of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, John Heropoulos, who left the priesthood after twenty years of ministry, surprised everyone when The National Herald revealed that on January 9, 2016, he married a man.
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