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Church

The Superior Court of Massachusetts in Favor of Fr. Nicholas Kastanas

December 27, 2019

BOSTON – Judge Peter B. Krupp of Massachusetts Superior Court with his decision of December 16 dismissed the counterclaims of the Metropolis of Boston and St. Athanasius parish of Arlington, MA against Fr. Nicholas Kastanas.

The decision Number 17-2312-L2 is comprised of 13 pages and says among other things the following:  “After defendant Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, Inc.’s (“Metropolis”) removed plaintiff Rev. Fr. Nicholas Kastanas (“Father Kastanas”) from his parish in 2017, Father Kastanas filed this case to recover his personal property that he alleged the Metropolis was holding. The Metropolis counterclaimed, alleging that Father Kastanas had failed to return property belonging to it and/or the parish. As it relates to the motion before me, the operative document is the First Amended Counterclaim (Docket #17). Father Kastanas has moved to dismiss the counterclaim. After hearing, and consideration of the parties’ briefs, including those submitted after the hearing, the motion is ALLOWED.”

It is reminded here that Fr. Kastanas was dismissed on July 27 by Metropolitan Methodios of Boston after 28 years of successful ministry at the St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox parish in Arlington.

Methodios had left the letter of Fr. Kastanas’ dismissal with his chancellor Rev. Theodoros Barbas and left for Greece on vacation.

Also Metropolitan Methodios suspended Kastanas of all Liturgical activities because the latter filed an injunction – a temporary restraining order with a High Court in Massachusetts – requesting the court to prohibit the Metropolis of Boston from returning his private computer and personal documents that were taken from his office by members of the parish council as directed by the Metropolis.

On page 2 of the decision the following is stated: “Before July 27, 2017, Father Kastanas was the parish priest at St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox Church in Arlington (the Parish). In 2014, the Metropolis Finance Committee (MFC) began reviewing the Parish’s finances. During its review, MFC discovered an account named ‘St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox Church Homeless & Needy Fund’ (the Fund), which had not appeared in the Parish’s annual audits. The Fund was a passbook account controlled by Father Kastanas, who refused to provide MFC with records relating to the Fund. In March 2017, an audit committee of the Parish, which was formed at MFC’s direction, issued a report finding that the Fund ‘was improperly handled, did not contain sufficient records and there is no accounting for the use of the funds.’

“The Metropolis removed Father Kastanas from his position as the Parish’s priest on July 27, 2017.

Procedural History

“On August 1, 2017, Father Kastanas filed this action, asserting that the Metropolis was wrongfully retaining his personal property. On November 13, 2017, the Metropolis filed an answer and counterclaim. The Metropolis asserted claims against Father Kastanas for replevin, conversion, and an equitable accounting of the Fund. After Father Kastanas moved to dismiss the counterclaims and before the court heard the motion, the Metropolis filed its First Amended Counterclaim (Jan. 24, 2018). The First Amended Counterclaim asserts the same three counts averred in the initial counterclaim, but also purports to add the Parish as a third-party plaintiff or alternative party to assert those claims.

“On March 2, 2018, Father Kastanas moved to dismiss the First Amended Counterclaim. Because of the parties’ attempts at mediation, among other things, that motion is only now before the Court. In his motion, Father Kastanas argues that the Metropolis does not have standing to bring the First Amended Counterclaim on its own behalf, that it fails to state claims upon which relief can be granted, and that the Parish is not properly before the court. I consider the standing and procedural arguments below after addressing a threshold jurisdictional matter raised by the Metropolis after the hearing. Because I conclude the Metropolis lacks standing, I do not consider the argument that the counterclaim fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

On page 13 it concluded as follows:

“ORDER

Plaintiffs Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Counterclaim of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, Inc. (Docket #21) is ALLOWED.

Dated: December 16, 2019.”

As The National Herald reported on October 23, 2019, Metropolitan Methodios intends to send Fr. Kastanas to Spiritual Court. The chronic issues of Fr. Kastanas and his long-running suspension, and the St. Athanasius parish will rise again; it will be phase two and will generate even more negative publicity, in light of the upcoming visit of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Boston on May 7, 2020.

It has become known that Fr. Kastanas has filed for ‘ekliton’ (supreme final appeal) to Archbishop Elpidophoros as the First Ecclesiastical Authority of our Church in America, a process analogous to the ekliton the hierarchs can initiate with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who renders the final decision on a specific dispute.

It is noted here that it is against the Canon Law of the Church for the suspension of Fr. Kastanas to continue for so long.

It is also noted that Fr. Kastanas does not receive a salary from anywhere, he does not have medical insurance, and he was not permitted to bless the wedding of his son a few months ago, nor attend the baptism of his grandchild.

The results of Methodios’ decision to oust Fr. Kastanas in July 2017 from St. Athanasius, the way it was done, the accusations that were used, and the reverberations in the parish and its congregants have created an open wound.

A massive exodus of many families occurred from the parish which was considered one of the most vibrant and most populous not only in the Metropolis of Boston but in the entire Archdiocese of America. The parish had the potential to house a Greek Day School since it has the necessary building and facilities, but in the meantime dozens of parents took their children from the existing Greek Afternoon School of St. Athanasius in protest of Methodios’ action towards their parish. They have established their own school in a rental facility in a neighboring town with great success.

When the news broke in July 2017 there was wide press coverage by the major media outlets of Boston while Metropolitan Methodios was the subject of protests and demonstrations by St. Athanasius’s parishioners.

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