District News

Press Release for Archdiocesan District Clergy Laity Conference - April 1, 2023

"The Archdiocesan District Delegates gather in this Clergy Laity Assembly, bowing our heads in reverence, following tragic events in our country and recently throughout the world recognizing that lives, both young and old, have been sadly lost. While offering our prayers for those suffering, we follow the example of our Archbishop Elpidophoros as he invokes prayers for every life affected in misfortune. We equally show gratitude, love, and support to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, in recognition of His Eminence’s compassion, vision and pastorship of our Archdiocese, our parishes, and all our beloved faithful."
Resolution offered by the Delegates of the Archdiocesan District Clergy Laity Assembly - April 1, 2023
The Archdiocesan District Clergy Laity Assembly was held on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at the Archangels Greek Orthodox Church in Stamford, Connecticut. His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America welcomed all clergy and delegates. During his opening remarks, His Eminence thanked everyone who participated in the Archdiocesan Centennial Celebrations which took place in New York in July 2022 and highlighted the major events that took place. This was the first Clergy-Laity Congress to take place in person after the pandemic, and it was a blessing to gather in person and especially to be present for the Consecration of St. Nicholas National Shrine at Ground Zero.
Present at the Archdiocesan District Assembly meeting were His Grace Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos, His Grace Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Archdiocese Chancellor V. Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, Archdiocesan District Chancellor Rev. Fr. Elias Villis, Archdiocesan Treasurer Elaine Allen, President of Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology Mr. George Cantonis.
The Assembly heard a presentation from the V. Rev. Archimandrite Bartholomew Mercado, Professor of Canon Law, on the history and evolution of the Archdiocese’s Charter since 1922. Fr. Bartholomew highlighted some of the past Archdiocesan Charters and how, since the first Charter of 1922, there have been several changes to the Charters which were necessary to address ecclesiastical and administrative changes throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America which included the establishment of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America as a separate Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople. It was discussed that the current Charter of 2003 addressed many issues of the late 1990’s and, currently, some additional changes are being discussed to consider contemporary concerns of unity rather than fragmentation.
Following the presentation, His Eminence highlighted some ideas to contemplate. Since the celebration of the Centennial of the Archdiocese there have been open discussions on a vision of our Archdiocese for the future. The geographical size of our Archdiocese can present a challenge in communicating a consistent and unified message and delivery of ministry. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the differences in our parish life on the East Coast, West Coast and middle America. His Eminence went on to say that while maintaining the ministries of the Archdiocese, and working in conjunction with all the parishes of our Eparchy throughout the country, the primary goal is to keep a Canonical connection to our Mother Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople. His Eminence emphasized that the Archdiocese is one unified Eparchy and that we must have a healthy observation of the strengths and weaknesses of our current system. While there are concerns with our current Charter, the respect we afford our Hierarchs is paramount. His Eminence addressed some concerns relating to the diminishment of authority of our Hierarchs and the consolidation of authority in the Archbishop, which the Archbishop distinctly stated will not happen in the new Charter vision. Other areas to be discussed relative to the Charter include commemoration during the Divine Liturgy and a phased-in approach to the retirement age of Hierarchs. His Eminence’s main goal is to address the questions that our Clergy and faithful have, and consider the future of our Archdiocese while maintaining the strongest unified Ecclesiastical and Canonical relationship with our Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The Archdiocesan District Chancellor Fr. Elias Villis welcomed the Hierarchs, Clergy, and delegates, thanked them, and discussed several items affecting the parish life and ministries of the Archdiocesan District. A prime presentation took place on the Youth Protection Program with our new implementing vendor Sterling Volunteers, under which all Clergy, youth workers, and teachers are required to undergo personal background checks and formal youth safety training as elements of an enhanced Youth Safety Policy issued by the Archdiocese last year. Fr. Elias also thanked all parishes for the hard work in meeting and exceeding the Total Commitment allocation to the Archdiocesan District.
Elaine Allen, Treasurer of the Archdiocese, gave a brief report on significant updates on the financial status of the Archdiocese. She thanked all Clergy and delegates for their assistance in supporting the Total Commitment program of the Archdiocese. There have been many positive improvements in the financial condition of the Archdiocese, including that the Archdiocese has operated with a balanced budget, and generated an excess of revenue over expenses for five consecutive years. Ms. Allen also recognized Mr. George Cantonis, thanking him for his work as president of Hellenic College Holy Cross, as well as the substantial financial contributions that the Archdiocese has made to the improved financial condition of the School. The Archdiocesan Ministries updates were given by Archdiocesan Chancellor V. Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafiropoulos. Both Fr. Nektarios and Ms. Allen gave updates on the Ionian Village camping ministry, the Youth Safety program and other ministry developments.
Updates on the relocation and expansion of St. Michael’s Home to Uniondale, NY were given by His Grace Bishop Andonios, the Director of St. Michael’s Home, currently located in Yonkers, NY. His Grace stressed the need for this state-of-the-art continuum care facility that will accommodate over 150 residents. The Home is seeking another $5 million to complete the project due to historic inflation in the construction industry.
Lastly, an enthusiastic and well received presentation, “Historical Faith or Living Faith”, was given by Mr. George Orfanakos who offered a conceptual model and concrete steps that Clergy and lay leadership of a parish can employ to enhance its engagement of parishioners and its outreach efforts. Based on his past experience as a Clergyman and now a seasoned not-for-profit executive, Mr. Orfanakos challenged the delegates to undergo an assessment of their parish whereby they celebrate and recognize their past accomplishments, consider the effectiveness of their ministries through the use of metrics, engage parishioners in the life of the parish and drawing on the momentum established by the Archdiocese, the parish can achieve success.
Several other reports and presentations were made on the Department of Religious Education, the St. Anastasia Addictions Ministry, Greek Education, and the upcoming Servant Leadership Awards Dinner to be held on June 6th.
CLICK HERE for Photos: GOARCH/Dimitrios Panagos