TO BE REPRINTED IN THE PARISH BULLETINS
TO: The Reverend Clergy and
The Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
FROM: The Office of the Archbishop
Archimandrite John A. Heropoulos, Director
DATE: March 5, 1998
Dear Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America,
The Church exists to minister to the Holy People of God and proclaim the "Good News" of the Gospel to all people. The Holy Spirit inspires the Church to develop ministries of service that reach out and embrace the different needs of the faithful and all those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
In an effort to communicate and inform the faithful regarding the ongoing ministry of the Church, this second "Memo to the Faithful" has been prepared in order to clearly articulate some of the work of the Holy Archdiocese of America. This "Memo to the Faithful" in no way enumerates all the ministries of the Church, but is hoping to offer clear information, so we may continue to work together in love and unity for the good of all and the further progress of the Gospel of Christ in this blessed land of America.
* * * *
HELLENIC COLLEGE/HOLY CROSS
The academic year 1997-1998 has been progressing according to schedule under the guidance of Metropolitan Isaiah, President, and the Rev. Deacon John Chrysavgis, Acting Dean. Enrollment for 1997-98 is 173 students.
Monthly meetings of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees have been held presided over by Archbishop Spyridon, Chairman.
Particular high points during the past two semesters have been the following:
- All classes of HC/HC students have, already, or will soon visit the Archdiocesan Headquarters in New York. During these visits the students are greeted by Archdiocesan staff, are hosted to a luncheon by the Archbishop and participate in an extensive question and answer session with His Eminence.
- A Presidential Search Committee has been established to identify a full time President for HC/HC.
- Special study was dedicated to reviewing and enhancing the HC/HC curriculum.
- The beginning of the Great Lent was observed by His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon presiding over Vespers Services for the HC/HC community. Also, in attendance at the evening services were Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, Dr. Rodney Peterson of the Boston Theological Institute (of which Holy Cross is a full member), and the Rev. Diane Kessler of the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
Visiting Lecturers, Hellenic College/Holy Cross 1997-98
Several internationally renowned scholars and speakers have visited or will visit the Campus in Brookline during the current academic year. These include:
- Professor Christos Voulgaris, Dean of the School of Theology at the University of Athens, Greece. Professor Voulgaris is Head of the New Testament Department, and the author of numerous books and articles (in Greek and English) in the area of New Testament and Biblical Exegesis. He is a graduate, among other institutions, of Boston University. Prof. Voulgaris taught two classes, and addressed the entire Hellenic College/Holy Cross community.
- The Rt. Rev. Dr. Kallistos (Ware), Bishop of Diokleia. Bishop Kallistos teaches at the University of Oxford, England, and is one of the most renowned spokesman of Orthodoxy in the world. He is the author of many books and articles, translated into several languages, including The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way. Bishop Kallistos offered a retreat and addressed the entire Hellenic College/Holy Cross community, as well as celebrated the Divine Liturgy and preached at the Chapel.
- Professor Andrew Louth, currently in the Department of Theology at the University of Durham, UK. Dr. Louth has taught at the University of Oxford, and was Professor at Goldsmith College at the University of London. A prolific author in the field of the Church Fathers and Mystical Theology, Professor Louth was received into the Orthodox Church some years ago. Professor Louth will deliver the St. John Chrysostom Lecture Series March 22-24.
- Rev. Dr. George Liacopoulos, to deliver the Annual Missions Lecture in November;
- Professor Susan Ashbrook Harvey, from the Department of Religion at Brown University, Rhode Island. An Orthodox Christian, Professor Harvey is a well-known Syriac scholar, the author of a number of publications on the lives and times of Syriac saints. She will be on campus on March 19.
- Professor Kimberley Patton, from the Divinity School at Harvard University, MA. A member of the Greek Orthodox Church, Professor Patton is a specialist on classical and world religions. She will be on campus on March 31.
- Very Rev. Dr. George Papaioannou, of Maryland will deliver the annual Patriarch Athenagoras Memorial Lecture. He holds a Licentiate in Theology from Halki University and a Ph.D. from Boston University. The Lecture is on May 1.
- Dr. John Rassias, of Dartmouth College, NH will speak to the Hellenic College faculty on "Methods of Teaching" on April 7.
CLERGY-LAITY CONGRESS 1998
NATIONAL PHILOPTOCHOS CONFERENCE
NATIONAL YOUNG ADULT LEAGUE (YAL) CONFERENCE
Plans are well on the way for the 34th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress, the National Philoptochos Conference and the National YAL Conference. Dates for these events are July 2 through July 9.
The Spiritual theme of the Congress is: "A new heart I will give to you, and a new spirit I will put within you" (Ez. 36:26).
The general theme of the Congress is: "One Faith, One Family, One Future: Together to the New Millennium".
Diocesan Clergy-Laity Conferences are being convened throughout the country in preparation for the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity. New ideas for guest speakers, awareness sessions, and administrative workshops are being explored and planned at the weekly Clergy-Laity meetings held at the Archdiocese.
Registration packets are being prepared with anticipated distribution by the end of March.
Protopresbyter William Gaines, President
Protopresbyter Nicholas Vieron - Editor of "The Epistle"
The retired clergy of the Archdiocese, who have played such an important role in the life and development of the Archdiocese in the past, and who continue to serve in parishes throughout the country are organized into a very dynamic and creative group. These dedicated clergy continue to serve with great care the faithful of the Church, and many times are serving in parishes which otherwise could not look forward to a consistent priestly presence.
The retired clergy of America maintain many projects and programs, one of which is their periodical called The Epistle . This newsletter unites these dedicated priests and presbyteres and acts as a resource to many.
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Steve Yeonas and with the blessings and encouragement of His Eminence, the twenty seven retired clergy who receive a low pension were each given approximately $950 during the holiday season. Also, a trip to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Spring is planned by Mr. Yeonas who will underwrite the cost of the pilgrimage.
THE STANDING CONFERENCE OF THE CANONICAL ORTHODOX BISHOPS IN THE AMERICAS
On February 25, 1998, the pre-Lenten Meeting of the Hierarchs of SCOBA was convened at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Chairman, and all other Orthodox jurisdictions, except the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, were in attendance.
Special attention was concentrated on:
- Establishing a committee which will deal with contemporary and social issues resulting in the SCOBA bishops issuing Archpastoral letters and guidelines.
- Review and evaluation of ecumenical dialogues under the auspices of SOCBA in view of current ecumenical trends.
- Giving comprehensive direction and purpose to the various commissions, organizations and committees which have been created and endorsed by SCOBA.
- Planning on the observance of the Millennium in a pan-Orthodox manner
Archimandrite Gabriel Karambis, Director
The support of parishes throughout the Archdiocese to the National Ministries through the Total Commitment program surpassed $8.4 million in 1997 bringing in an increase of nearly $300,000 from the prior year. Thanks to the commitment of devout clergy and laity, the future of the National Ministries looks bright as the Church marches forward to the new millennium.
Mr. Michael Pappas, Coordinator
Ionian Village will begin its 28th year this summer. Nearly 500 teenagers and young adults are expected to participate in this annual program that returns young people to their spiritual and cultural roots.
Ionian Village has three programs: Summer Travel Camp for 12 to 15 years of age. Byzantine Venture for 16 to 18 years of age, and Spiritual Odyssey for young adults ages 19 and older. Participants, using the beautiful Ionian Village facility on the coast of the Ionian Sea as a home base, travel throughout Greece and the Greek Islands, visiting villages and cities, churches and monasteries, historic sites and museums.
The highlight for this summer's program will be a pilgrimage to the Patriarchate and Constantinople, and a private audience with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The pilgrimage is an annual event for the Spiritual Odyssey and, this year for the first time, it is being offered as an optional trip for the Byzantine Venture. In addition to the Patriarchate, participants will visit the various religious and historic sites of the city, including the church of Hagia Sophia.
DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Presbyter Frank Marangos, Director
In order to develop a comprehensive educational vision, catechetical material and instructional resources the Religious Education Department is pursuing the following:
- The development of a comprehensive 5-year Catechetical Plan for the entire Archdiocese. The 5-Year curriculum would include an annual educational theme that would be extrapolated and taught to Orthodox Christians in every context of parish, diocese and Archdiocesan life. Consequently, GOYA, YAL, as well as Philoptochos, Leadership 100, Archons and parish council members will all have the opportunity to briefly study and reflect upon important aspects of their religious heritage and tradition.
- The Director of Religious Education has been conducting Religious Education Seminars and Workshops throughout the entire Archdiocese for the purpose of properly training catechetical instructors in methodology as well as proper Orthodox theology.
- The Department of Religious Education has established a national committee that is currently developing a uniform Archdiocesan Summer Camp Curriculum Program for the summer of 1999. The curriculum is being developed in cooperation with the Youth Ministry Office.
- The Department of Religious Education is utilizing the Internet and emerging technologies to disseminate educational materials and resources. The Religious Education Ministry Page is the second most active Site on the Archdiocesan Web Page. The interactive Web Site has been designed for those interested in on-going religious instruction. Educational articles, DOXA, diocesan news, and curriculum updates are written and posted by the Director each week.
Mrs. Mimi Skandalakis, National President
Through the generous support of our over 500 Chapters throughout the United States the National Philoptochos has been able to make the following contributions to our Archdiocese National Ministries and Charities:
- One of Philoptochos' main concerns is for the continuous support to the students at Hellenic College/Holy Cross who upon graduation and ordination will one day serve our Churches. Over 94 students were assisted this year with scholarships in excess of $103,000. A separate contribution of $46,000 was also donated to the School to be used at their discretion.
- Saint Basil Academy and its children has always been a priority for Philoptochos. The National Philoptochos Office sends $25,000 per month, for a total of $300,000 per year to assist the Academy with their expenses. To children who have graduated from the Academy and are furthering their studies, we awarded over $3,600 in Scholarships. Philoptochos members visited with the children over the Christmas holiday, and a regular visitation ministry plan is in the works.
- To honor the memory of the first colony of Greeks in the New World and to further the traditions of our Greek heritage and Orthodox Church, a donation of $10,000 was sent to St. Photios Shrine.
- Through our Medical Funds, $13,000 was spent in helping cardiac patients, and 39 cancer patients were assisted with medical bills in excess of $45,000. Our Social Services division assisted 250 clients in 1997 with grants in excess of $104,000. In May, National President Mimi Skandalakis will be presenting a check to Boston Children's Hospital and to Hasbro Children's Hospital in Rhode Island, for $50,000 each, from the proceeds of the Children's Medical Fund Luncheon which was held in May of 1997.
- To assist the ministry of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, Mrs. Mimi Skandalakis presented His All-Holiness a gift of $150,000 at our 65th Anniversary Banquet in Atlanta this past October. Additional assistance was provided through the entire Patriarchal visit across America.
- On January 26, 1998, the National Philoptochos were happy to offer a check for $10,000 to UNICEF.
Mr. Theo Nicolakis, Director
The Internet Ministries of the Archdiocese of America is charged with the development of the Archdiocese of America's presence on the Internet and World Wide Web as well as the integration of new Internet technologies for Orthodox Christian Ministry. The Archdiocese of America has created the largest and most comprehensive Orthodox web site in the world with over 14,000 web pages. The Archdiocese's ministry on the Internet has not gone unnoticed: Since the enthronement of His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, the Archdiocese's web site has amassed over 9 million hits from countless countries around the world. Currently, the Archdiocese's web site received over 225,000 hits each week from over 65 countries around the world. The Archdiocese of America's web site has also received five Internet awards for quality and excellence.
The Internet Ministries continues to set the standard for developing an Orthodox presence on the Internet. In response to the challenge of ministering via the Internet, the Internet Ministries has added thousands of new web pages and cutting-edge technologies, including:
- Countless pastoral and ministry-related resources for parishes
- Comprehensive articles on the Orthodox faith and life
- Resources for religious education
- Resources for youth and young adult ministry
- Resources for sermons, retreats, parish bulletins, and other publications
- A searchable directory of parishes
- Online discussion and chat forums
- An online liturgical music gallery
- Online videos on the Orthodox faith and life
- Web sites for all Archdiocesan ministries and departments
- Web sites for all Archdiocesan institutions and organizations
- An expansive web site on the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
- A virtual reality tour of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
- An Archdiocesan e-mail information server for the dissemination of news and press releases
- Complete issues of the Orthodox Observer
The Archdiocese of America web site may be found at: http://www.goarch.org
INTERCHURCH AND INTERFAITH MARRIAGE
Presbyter Charles Joanides has recently been selected to examine the interchurch and interfaith marriage challenge and opportunity in our Arhdiocese, as a result of his expertise as a family scholar and researcher. Fr. Joanides has met with His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon and the members of the Interfaith Marriage Committee of the Archdiocesan Council. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies, with a specialty in marriage and family therapy.
Specifically, Father Joanides will conduct, (a) interfaith marriage focus groups, and (b) stakeholder focus groups in each Diocese with the following objectives in mind:
- To create a systematic understanding of interfaith couples' lived experiences in our Archdiocese.
- To create a grounded theory that will seek to generate a clearer understanding of the interfaith marriage challenge in our Archdiocese.
- To develop a manual (with empirical grounding) to assist clergy and and laity in their efforts to minister more effectively to the interfaith marriages in our Archdiocese.
- To develop a manual to assist interfaith couples in their efforts to negotiate the numerous unique challenges that face interfaith couples in our Archdiocese.
- To create a seminar that will seek to raise the awareness and sensitivity of (a) future seminarians, and (b) present clergy and lay leaders regarding interfaith marriage challenges and opportunities.
- To create user friendly programs and approaches that clergy and laity can employ in their efforts to reach out to interfaith marriages across our Archdiocese.
- To facilitate and encourage increased participation among interfaith couples in the religious, spiritual, and social life of our communities: to God's glory and our salvation.
THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN MISSION CENTER (OCMC)
Archimandrite Dimitrios Couchell, Executive Director
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center was established in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1985. Known originally as the Archdiocesan Mission Center, its scope was expanded in 1993 and it became the Mission and Evangelism Agency of SCOBA.
As Chairman of SCOBA, His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon has supplied the Mission Center with the most current mailing list of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in order to assist in their fund raising activities to enable the Church to continue spreading the Gospel of Christ to all people.
Highlights of this on-going ministry are:
- More than 25 long-term missionaries have been sent out to serve in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana in Africa; Albania, Romania and Slovakia in Eastern Europe; and to Costa Rica, Puerto Rico,
- Mexico and Haiti in the Carribean; More than 150 indigenous Orthodox priests in Asia and Africa receive monthly stipends;
- More than 50 students from Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa have received scholarships to attend Orthodox Theological Schools in America, with most returning to their homelands as ordained priests.
- A total of 38 Mission Teams with 441 participants have been sent out to Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Carribean to construct churches, schools and clinics, to heal the sick and the suffering, and to preach and teach Orthodox Christianity.
- More than 75 development projects have received funding through the Agape Canister program, which has raised over $800,000.
- Over 25 small mission parishes within the Greek Archdiocese have received funding to make a full time priest available, and about 10 are now fully self-sustaining parishes.
- The Mission Center budget has grown from $100,000 per year to $1.2 million in 1997, and the staff has increased from one to seven full time employees.