The visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States has come to an end. Let us take a look at its milestones.
First of all, every visit of Patriarch Bartholomew is an important event. Proof of this is that the days he was with us felt different. Like a celebration.
And while it is natural, due to his position and personality, to conduct everything related to his visit in a formal way, it does not mean that if he visited the United States more often, i.e. every three or five years, his program should necessarily always include meetings with politicians or other persons outside the Greek community. With more frequent visits, among other things, the ties of the Community with the Patriarchate would be further strengthened in a way that only the Patriarch could accomplish.
This visit was marked by his one-hour meeting with the U.S. President, by the event at Georgetown University, and his visit to the town of Weirton, West Virginia, where thousands of Greek immigrants spent their days and lives working in the mines of the area in the early 20th century, and where he visited a special place, the philanthropic endeavor known as Evgenia’s House of Hope. The events in his honor or that he presided over in New York, especially the ‘Thyranixia – Door Opening’ of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero, were exceptional, although there was some confusion as the church is not yet ready for a Grand Opening. That is expected to happen next July, as the Patriarch himself announced.
The whole visit, of course, was overshadowed by His Holiness’ hospital admissions – first in Washington and then in New York where he successfully received stents to ensure the normal functioning of his heart. It will be discussed for a long time whether this visit was appropriate based on his health problems, and whether he should have addressed them before boarding the plane from Constantinople to New York – such a long journey.
The nice coincidence is that, even if it was not planned, the Patriarch was given the opportunity to take care of his heart issues in New York, in one of the top hospitals in the world, and under the care of a team of top doctors.
And it is important – and touching – that this distinguished group of doctors who placed the stents in him are Hellenes. Greek Orthodox people of high caliber who live among us: gentlemen, demonstrating humility and philotimo – helpful to all those who ask for their help.
They are scientists who studied in Greece and decided to spread their wings and continue their studies abroad, and eventually live and practice in New York.
They are people and scientists who make us proud.
While there are problems in the Community, we often lose sight of the other side of the equation – the positive side, the people who excel in society and in the world in general and who make us proud. Physicians and scientists such as Dr. George Dangas, who led the operation on His Holiness, Dr. Stamatis Lerakis and Dr. George Syros, who participated in the procedure and accompanied the Patriarch on his trip back to Constantinople.
But I must also bring up scientists such as Dr. Albert Bourlas, Dr. George Yancopoulos, and Dr. Christos Kyratsous – who were honored by the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate last weekend because they were instrumental regarding breakthroughs with COVID vaccines and therapies.
So, we have so much for which we as Greeks, as Hellenism, and as the Patriarchate can be proud.
Fare well, Your All-Holiness. And we hope to have you with us again soon.