Greek Orthodox Stewards of America - April 6, 1999
Fr. Constantine Simones requests
that those who have been on the Archbishop's back
during the last two and a half years should back off and give him a chance
Archbishop Spyridon visited St. Sophia Parish on Sunday, March 21. I was informed of this visit on Friday, March 12. The short notice did not give us much time to prepare for his visit. In spite of this, the visit went very smoothly. This is the first time since the Archbishop's enthronement that I have had the opportunity to see and experience him up close. I truly did not know what to expect from him since I was one of the 105 priests that signed the letter of concern about the governance of the Archdiocese. I too have been disturbed about the dramatic changes that have been taking place in our Archdiocese. I had developed a very negative attitude toward His Eminence's ability to lead effectively our very complex Archdiocese.
I had no idea what would transpire during the Archbishop's visit to St. Sophia in view of what I had read about his visits to other parishes. His presence in our midst belied the very negative image that has been portrayed of him on your web page and in the Greek American news media. I found him to be a very warm and caring human being. He is very approachable. In spite of his extreme fatigue and a nagging cold, he projected an image of goodness, kindness and concern for the Church and our people. He took the extra time to meet with people who needed to see him privately. He profusely complimented St. Sophia for its beautiful complex and its Orthodox Christian witness in Southeastern Connecticut.
I got the distinct impression that His Eminence is making a real effort at reconciliation with those of us who have disapproved of his administration to date. As a priest, I too have suffered the wrath of the people in the past. I think that there is something in the American psyche that makes us turn on people who don't meet our expectations without first giving them a fair chance. We expect instant results from our leaders.
In view of this experience with His Eminence at St. Sophia, I would request those of us who have been on his back during the last two and a half years should back off and give him a chance. If he is truly trying to improve his image, we all have a Christian duty to cease all the negative reporting that is coming from too many people.
Fr. Tom Paris from Oakland, CA set the tone two weeks ago when he too publicly said that we must back off for the good and unity of our precious Church. The alternative to backing off is uncertainty and chaos. We should now move forward in unity so that the sovereignty of Jesus Christ can prevail and not the arrogance of man.
I pray that all of our Orthodox Faithful in America will continue to have a spiritually fruitful lent and a glorious Pascha.
I remain yours
In the LOVE of Jesus
+Fr. Constantine J. Simones
Note from Stewards' Website Editor: This letter was originally printed on Voithia. Father Simones is to be complemented for his candor and courage. Such behavior will go a long way toward diffusing the so-called "crisis" in the Church.
[ Greek Orthodox Stewards of America
April 6, 1999 ]