Dn. Dimitri Tobias Ordained to the Holy Priesthood

Today, September 2, 2012, Dn. Dimitri Tobias was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by His Grace Bishop Demetrios, with the permission, knowledge and blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, at St. Nectarios Church in Palatine, IL. Fr. Tobias has been assigned as the associate pastor at SS Peter and Paul in Glenview, IL.

A X I O S !

ORDINATION "PROSFONESIS" by Fr. Dimitri Tobias

Your Grace, Bishop Demetrios of Mokkissos, reverend Clergy, friends, and family.

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Paul exhorts us through his 1st letter to the Corinthian “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” In this exhortation we see the role of the priest. 
You will notice in the worship of the Orthodox that the priest does not face the people for the majority of the Liturgy. He faces the same direction as the faithful. Indeed when we entered the beautiful church of St. Nectarios this morning we might have seen in the Narthex the icon of the Good shepherd on the northern wall. Now, many will compare the priest to the shepherd, moving his flock towards Christ, but I invite you to consider another image. For those who have visited sheep farms they will notice that one sheep has a bell about its neck. The shepherd signals that sheep, and that lone sheep responds. The other sheep, then, seeing the movement of the sheep with the bell follow suit and so come to their shepherd. Beloved brothers and sister, the priest is that sheep. That sheep by which all other sheep imitate. For Christ added this when he charged one of his flock, St. Peter to  “Tend my sheep.” This shows a mystical transformation from sheep to shepherd in his own right.
Therefore, that shepherd must be watchful of spiritual assailants that would harm the other sheep. I don’t need to say it, but we are very aware of the image of wolves sneaking in with sheep’s clothes and worse, as St. Paul emphasizes when he states. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 
That shepherd must stand firm in his faith. In a world where apathy, homogenization of beliefs, and political correctness thrive, a priest must never forget his faith. People need to look to their priest, to that shepherd, as steady, pious, and firm. They need to know their priest will never bend on issues of faith, dogma, and his never-ending crusade for the salvation of their souls.
That sheep must be courageous. Courage is necessary because the priest will  always be beset by adversity, both physical and spiritual. St. John Chrysostom states that in the care of sheep, the wolves will leave the shepherd alone having acquired the sheep, but those foul demons that prey on those in the care of a priest will not spare the priest, rather they will set upon him all the more to destroy him. Standing against such attrition takes courage and reveals the character of the priest.
That shepherd must be strong. We are not strong. Priests are no exception. They take strength, from the source of strength. To make steel strong it is placed in fire and refined. The priest is also placed in the fires of the Holy Spirit to become stronger, to lead with conviction and the strength held in his right hand. “Your right hand, O lord, is glorified in strength; your right hand, O Lord, hath shattered your enemies, and in the multitude of your glory has crushed your adversaries. From Exodus, and read when the deacon, priest, and bishop place upon their wrist the the right epimanikion,
Finally, that shepherd must do everything with love. A priest can be intellectual, but ineffectual. A priest can be an excellent planner, but lack luster. A priest can be an amazing chanter or liturgist, but empty. None of these qualities will bear any fruit if the priest is lacking in love. A professor once told me, and I feel it is true. “No one will care what you know, until he or she knows that you care.”
St. Paul gives a model for that leader in his letter to the Corinthians, BRETHREN, be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 
but Jesus Christ gives a greater message in his lesson found within the Gospel of St. Matthew.
In the parable of the Vineyard, Jesus Christ tells us of the wicked Tenants who were tasked with taking care of the grapes, the winepress, and the property. These wicked Tenants killed the servants of the owner of the vineyard, and then the heir.
 
The vineyard represents the people of God. The Body of Christ.
These servants the Tenants killed represent the Old Testament prophets who the Scribes and the Pharisees rejected. The Heir, of course is Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom they killed on the Cross. 
When asked what should be done to these wicked Tenants, they say “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons."
The Holy Priesthood is ever aware of the fate of those who mismanaged their sacred trust bestowed on them by God the Father. The people of God, the fruits of the vineyard are not the property of the priest. They belong to God and their fruits are His. While the priest must nurture the fruits, weeding, pruning, watering, tending the soil, he must never think that the fruit is his. It has been entrusted to him. And it is very precious. 
But unlike a plant or animal that can in some way be reasoned in its behavior and actions, a priest cares for human beings and acts as the spiritual physician to all in his care. St. John Chyrostom states it is not possible for any one to cure a man by compulsion against his will, so it is necessary for the priest to act wisely and convince those in his care that his treatment is appropriate. This cannot be a treatment too soft or too harsh, but measured just right to save. The priest must convince the lost sheep to return, not by force or compulsion of fear, but through love.
This is a difficult task, and one for which the punishment of failure is severe.
And it is for this reason I tremble as I stand before you. For if the Golden-Mouth uttered these words, of what hope do I have to serve. “For I fear lest if I took the flock in hand when it was in good condition and well nourished, and then wasted it through my unskilfulness, I should provoke against myself the God who so loved the flock as to give Himself up for their salvation and ransom.”
Before the consecration His Grace Bishop Demetrios will present me with the Lamb, the body of Christ and order, “Receive this Divine Trust, and guard it until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, at which time He will demand It from you.
I am to be tasked with protecting this trust, this vineyard, these souls.  This is not a symbol. This is reality. In return for the supreme gift of mystically standing in both this world and paradise simultaneously, the priest is expected to lead competently. And this is done through right teaching. Not just example.
St. John Chrysostom quotes Christ  from Mattthew 5:19 For whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great. And St. John Chrysostom explains, “Now if doing were the same as teaching, the second word here would be superfluous; and it had been enough to have said whosoever shall do simply. But now by distinguishing the two, he shows that practice is one thing, and doctrine another, and that each needs the help of the others in order to complete edification.
Chrysostom warns of what awaits he who fails in this trust. “But how dire is the destruction, and how terrible the fire which such a leader brings upon his own wretched head for every soul which is thus lost.”
He also states of the soul of the priest “Cease then to urge us on to a penalty so inevitable; for our discourse is  about an office which needs the virtues of an angel. For the soul of the Priest ought to be purer than the very sunbeams, in order that the Holy Spirit may not leave him desolate, in order that he may be able to say, Now I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”
Given such warnings, one would naturally think it the supreme arrogance to dare and approach the Holy Priesthood. In my years of studies I have often asked myself for what possible reason could I have for approaching this moment before which I stand, a moment for which my entire life has prepared?
Do I honestly believe I posses the watchfulness, firmness, courage, strength, and love a priest requires? Do I think myself up to the task of leadership and the trust to be bestowed on my soul? Do I really think my soul so pure and spotless that it can receive the Holy Spirit and transform bread and wine into the very body and blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
I do not stand before you in false humility when I say that the answer is a resounding no. I do not possess these qualities, and yet I am here. Yet I am ready to take this step. Because it is not my choice. It is not my will. It is not a step that I take for the power of the priesthood, for the reward of participation in the Divine Liturgy. I am neither arrogant nor spiritually suicidal. It is not a step I take, but a response.
I stand here today in response to a calling from God, a calling I received while still small, one that has pressed my soul forward here before you, a loving call to serve the Church, to tend the sheep ,and to obey my hierarchs.
Therefore, I take courage in this step I take today. Not to say I am worthy, because I know I am not, but because I know that I have been called and that I am not alone. I never have been.
I have my amazing brother clergy that have supported me in my studies and formation. Fr. Demetrios, Fr. Christos, Fr. Peter and Fr. Andrew in particular. I have a patient and loving proistamenos in Father Jim who has directed my fledgling steps at SS. Peter and Paul, pushing me to better myself and better serve God. His supreme respect for the priesthood bolsters my own respect and echoes the words of His Grace Bishop Demetrios when he urged that I do all things with “dignity.”
I have dear friends and precious, precious family who pray for me and support me including the Parish of St. Nectarios that helped in my formation and have been like a family to me.  I have the love of my life after Christ who brings me such joy as I cannot describe, my Mary. When she smiles, all of my problems and stresses in life vanish. With her in my life I walk with confidence. Mary, you are my everything, and I am so grateful to God that He placed you in my life to walk with me side by side as we strive for salvation.
I have a metropolitan who has loved me and cares for my well being. And I have you, your Grace. As a leader of people, I will need to answer to the Metropolis, the Archdiocese, and the Patriarchate of Constantinople. There is no greater feeling of support than to know that your bishop loves you and supports you. There is no greater feeling than to know that I have the trust of my bishop and that with his blessing I can serve the flock. He, with the blessings of Metropolitan Iakovos, placed me in the capable hands of Fr. James Dokos to mold me, and into the care of the parish of SS. Peter and Paul to serve with love, a parish that has been so loving and welcoming to both my wife and me. Your Grace, words cannot accurately reflect my love and respect for you. With your prayers, blessings, and support, I know I will not fail. 
Therefore, it is with humility that I dare approach and pray that God will give me His strength, fulfill that which is lacking, and allow me to serve Him as best as I am able, being ever watchful, firm, courageous, strong, and loving, in His tender mercies, through the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos, St. Nectarios of Pentepolis, the paramounts of the Apostles SS. Peter and Paul, St. Demetrios the Myrrh bearer who is my model of courage, St. Mamas whome we celerbrate today, and all the saints. Amen

Two-time Olympian Receives Award

 

To see a video of Christina Loukas receiving the Medal of St. Paul, follow this link.

Christina Loukas of the United States competed in the Women's 3m Springboard Diving

FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

If Christina Loukas fans were disappointed by her eighth-place finish at the summer Olympics in London, you wouldn’t know it from her supporters at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral  in Chicago.

About 200 people gathered inside the cathedral on Sunday to watch as the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago gave Loukas the Medal of Saint Paul, the highest honor the the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America bestows on a layperson.

“She is in a beautiful tradition that our people invented,” Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos said. “This is a really huge honor for our community.”

After 18 months of training, Loukas finished in eighth-place in the women's 3-meter springboard event. While that’s an impressive feat for any athlete, Loukas, who was raised in Riverwoods, was hoping for something better.

“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but it was just an amazing experience,” Loukas told reporters after the medal ceremony.  “Afterwards I was just kind of relieved … it was finally over.”

The Greek Orthodox Church was an early supporter of Loukas. She often performed well in multiple sports at the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago’s junior Olympics, parishioners said.

“She was always an excellent athlete, said Christine Kandaras, a family friend of the Loukas family. “She was always self-determined.”

On Sunday, parishioners lined up to shake hands with the Olympic athlete, often talking about how they were cheering her on from their homes stateside. Later, the Greek America Foundation gave her a copy of its upcoming quarterly magazine, in which she is on the cover.

Such support is typical in the Greek community, said Greg Pappas, the founder of the Greek America Foundation.

“When I was watching the Olympics, the one thing I have to tell you that struck me the most was repeatedly seeing thirty, forty members of the Loukas family all there all making the trip to London to be with her,” Pappas told the crowd of parishioners. “If that’s not an indication of who we are as Greek Americans I don’t know what is.”

And the fanfare over Loukas may not end just yet. Loukas said Sunday she is going to take a break from the sport, but she has not ruled out the possibility of trying again in 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

“Right now, I’m just gonna take a step away from diving … Maybe try some other things,” she said. But “four years is a really long time. So if I want to make a comeback, I can definitely do that.”


Bishop Demetrios Gives Keynote for 2012 OCPM

His Grace Bishop Demetrios gave the Keynote Address at Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry 2012 Convocation, held at the Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Mall of America on July 26-28. The Keynote Address spoke "on uncovering what is already a present reality, hidden from sin, prejudice, and preconceived ideas." The audio as well as the text of the address is provided here.

Community Celebrates Ordinations

St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis was blessed to have two recent ordinations.  On Sunday, June 17th Jason Houck was ordained to the diaconate by His Grace, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos.  On Sunday June 24th Deacon Thomas Alatzakis was ordained to the priesthood by His Eminence, Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago.  The ordinations were celebrated with great joy.  It was a rich blessing for the faithful to have our hierarchs present and to be able proclaim Axios for two such devoted servants of the Lord.  Both ordinations were followed by beautiful luncheons to provide a time of fellowship and further celebration.

New APP Available for Metropolis of Chicago

The Metropolis of Chicago has released an APP available for both iPhone and Android. If you have an Android phone, you can download it here. The iOs version is available here.

 Use the APP to:

- Find a parish nearby and use your phone's GPS to get directions.
- Find out what events are happening in the Metropolis, then easily add an upcoming event to your device's calendar, and get directions to the event.
- Get push notifications of upcoming events and important messages.
- Listen to podcasts of Daily Scripture readings, the Synaxarion of the day, recent shows on Ancient Faith Radio, and stream the music feed of AFR right to your device.
- Watch video feeds of Orthodox Church news from around the world.
- View photos of recent Metropolis events.
- Gain convenient access to daily prayers. 
- Stay informed with the latest news from the Metropolis.
- Includes a directory of all priests who service the Metropolis.
- Call or email (if available) any parish within the Metropolis.

His Grace Visits Peoria

His Grace Bishop Demetrios bestowed the medal of St. Paul upon George Manias

Click here to hear a radio interview about His Grace's visit.

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria welcomes a prominent religious figure this weekend.
His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos is chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.

He is in town to lead All Saints Day services at the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church.
City leaders like Mayor Jim Ardis welcomed the Bishop Saturday evening, with a traditional shoe shine at George's downtown.

The Bishop says he appreciates the local Greek Orthodox community.

"Sometimes people leave a smaller or middle sized city to go to Chicago or other larger cities, but I think it's important that those who are here understand that they are important," said Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos.

"They're very important to the fabric of the parish. They're very important to the fabric of the community, and they make up this family called the Metropolis of Chicago."

Peoria is one of nearly 60 parishes under the Metropolis of Chicago. Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos will lead the 9:30 am Sunday service at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church t 1812 North Prospect Road in Peoria.

Everyone is welcome.

FROM CINEWSNOW.COM, with corrections.

Greek Orthodox Community Commemorates Fall of Constantinople

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          Contact: Rev. David G. Bissias
May 30, 2012                                Special Assistant to the Metropolitan
                                                                            TEL.:  (219) 932-7347
                                                                  Email:  frdgb@sbcglobal.net

 

Chicago's Greek Orthodox Community
Commemorates "Fall of Constantinople"


CHICAGO, IL: On Tuesday, May 29, the “Commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople” was held at the Chicago Historical Museum. The program for the event included a special preview of the documentary film Hello Anatolia, a musical performance of traditional Greek music from Asia Minor and a memorial prayer for the departed Orthodox Christians who populated Asia Minor over the centuries and defended the City in 1453.

The annual event recalls the capture of Constantinople (modern Istanbul), capital of the Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire, by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D. This historical moment was turning point for European and Near Eastern civilization whose consequences are felt even today.

The event has been a joint presentation of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Hellenic Society of Constantinople and, this year these organizations have been joined by the Greek America Foundation. Present among the nearly 400 attendees were His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, spiritual leader of the local Greek Orthodox community, representatives of the host organizations, and numerous religious leaders from Chicago’s ecumenical Christian and interfaith communities.

The annual commemoration has focused on the contributions of the Byzantine legacy throughout the world, the cultural sustainment of the Greek people during the Ottoman period, and the continued presence of Greek cultural life in Asia Minor and modern Istanbul today. This year’s event focused on “building bridges” in light of the historical tensions between the Turkish and Greek communities.

Hello Anatolia (Crescent Street Films) tells the story of a young Greek American filmmaker, Chrysovalantis Stamelos, who embarks on the journey of his life to Izmir (Smyrna), Turkey, to trace the footsteps of his great grandparents in their native land. In his effort to strengthen his own connection to his cultural heritage, he becomes a bridge builder of two cultures and two peoples who share a more than divides them. The executive producer of the film is the Greek America Foundation and Gregory Pappas. Stamelos was on hand to answer questions from the audience following the viewing.

The musical performance of the evening was presented by three young and dynamic musicians. Vocalist Margarita is a native of northern California who has appeared on the Greek television program Fame Story, similar to the well-known American Idol. She was joined by brothers George and Paul Psarras, also of California, who play in the musical group Fotia. Paul Psarras is a Grammy-nominated musician. The three performed Greek folk music arising from the Hellenic communities of Asia Minor, especially near Smyrna (the “Smyrneika”) and the experience of Greek refugees following the war between Greece and Turkey in 1922 (the “Rebetika”). The selected songs celebrate the triumphs of the Hellenic spirit and immortalize the tragedies of the period.

Host Rev. David Bissias noted the theme of “building bridges” at the onset, connecting the past tragedies with new positive developments in the relations between the Turkish government and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople still resident in modern Istanbul, as well as a new spirit of cooperation between the Greek and Turkish communities in the USA, an effort spearheaded by Metropolis of Chicago Chancellor, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, and exemplified by the recent meeting at the request of the Turkish Foreign Minister with Metropolitan Iakovos following the recent NATO Summit in Chicago.

Bishop Demetrios concluded the evening’s program with a memorial prayer for the fallen heroes at the “Capture of Constantinople” in 1453 and the Orthodox Christians who struggled to preserve their faith and culture to the present day in Asia Minor. 

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Bishop Demetrios Speaks on Christian Unity

At the 12th annual Ecumenical Prayer Service for Christian unity, organized by Ecumenism Metro Chicago, His Grace Bishop Demetrios spoke powerfully on the true nature of Christian unity as a response to the fundamental question posed by our Lord to his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" The lamentable divisions which exist amongst Christians, though complex and varied, can be understood simply: "We do not all share the same answer (to the Lord's question) in a spirit of love," said His Grace. The authentic desire to heal all divisions cannot be "constructed," he said, but must rather be a response to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit working within us through our real participation in the resurrection and inheritors of the Kingdom of God. "And thus," His Grace said, that "if the Church is to be an icon of the Kingdom, a living image of the perfect Image of God with the Holy Spirit to the glory of our Father, then in our humility, in our openness to the Advocate and Counselor, the Holy Spirit will change us, and that which we have constructed to divide us will be scattered, and the truth will set us free so that we may be one…"

To read the complete text of His Grace's Homily, please click here.

FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

By Naomi Nix, Chicago Tribune reporter
10:17 p.m. CDT, June 3, 2012

About a dozen religious leaders gathered with Cardinal Francis George on the steps of St. Hedwig Catholic Church on Sunday evening to pose for a picture that could symbolize the goal they had come to promote: Christian unity.

The clergy and about 150 congregants came to the Polish parish for Chicago's 12th annual ecumenical prayer service for Christian unity. It was organized by Ecumenism Metro Chicago, a coalition of Christian communities, in an effort to deepen relationships among members of varying Christian traditions.

"Jesus said if we are not one, the world will not believe," said George, who has previously talked about the need for the Roman Catholic Church to work with other denominations. "We have an obligation to be a united witness."

The challenges to unity among Christian faith traditions are their differing perspectives on religious doctrine and discipleship, George said. Questions of sexual morality and social justice also continue to divide Christians, he said.

Sunday's service was a continuation of the worldwide Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that usually takes place in January.

At St. Hedwig, about 100 people from Roman Catholic, Orthodox and mainline Protestant denominations gathered for a mixer in which they talked in small groups about what made their religious experiences different, their relationship with other Christian traditions and the necessity for of interfaith dialogue.

Denise Renken, 59, who is Catholic, said divisions among Christian denominations are fading.

"I have found the parishes are a little more welcoming now. Before, if someone new walked in, it was like you don't belong here," Renken said. "To me, the Roman Catholic faith is what I believe in, (but) I have no problem with someone believing in something else."

John Sandors, 73, who is Greek Orthodox, said Christian unity doesn't have to come at the expense of pride in individual Christian traditions. "If you don't praise your own house, it will fall down," he said. "You should be proud of who you are."

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, who also is Greek Orthodox, gave the homily at the service. He said that while diversity is healthy for the Christian faith, Christians are called to love one another regardless of their differences.

"This love for one another is often difficult," he said "(But) it's possible because God first loved us."

The bishop added that churches should allow God's "transformative" power to heal divisions among various Christian factions.

"If we are open to being moved by the spirit ... our lives with one another will change and change for the better."

The Rev. Amos Oladipo, who is Methodist, said the fact that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated the same week asMartin Luther King Jr. Dayis fitting. "It reminds us to promote reconciliation among races as well as churches," he said.

Toward the end of the service, the attendees exchanged edible wafers as a symbolic gesture of unity. Then, the clergy in robes as colorful and as different as their religious traditions led the congregants out of the church.

"This is a start. It's all of us working together toward unity," said Michael Terrien, who works for the Archdiocese of Chicago and helped organize the event. "That's what's happening now, and we can continue that."

Turkish Foreign Minister Visits Metropolis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          Contact: Rev. David G. Bissias
May 23, 2012                                Special Assistant to the Metropolitan
                                                                            TEL.:  (219) 932-7347
                                                                  Email:  frdgb@sbcglobal.net

 

Turkish Foreign Minister Visits Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago

 

CHICAGO, IL: On Tuesday, May 22, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his wife paid a formal visit to Metropolitan Iakovos, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, comprised of 59 parishes in six Midwestern states.  Also in attendance were Greek Orthodox clergy and lay leaders, as well as members of the Turkish Consulate in Chicago.  He is the highest ranking Turkish official to make such a visit to the Metropolis.

The Metropolis of Chicago, as part of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, falls under the jurisdiction of the ancient Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, headquartered in modern Istanbul, Turkey.  Many ethnic Greeks trace their ancestry to Anatolia (Asia Minor), now the modern Republic of Turkey.  

The meeting is a sign of warming relations between the Turkish and Greek communities, both here and abroad, a relationship known more for its conflict than the cultural similarities of modern Greeks and Turks that both Mr. Davutoğlu and Metropolitan Iakovos fondly shared.

Mr. Davutoğlu reported on the status of concerns held by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and shared by Orthodox Christians throughout the world.  Noting the significant return of a major property to the Patriarchate, a former orphanage, long contested, he also affirmed the will of the Turkish government to find the legal means to permit the re-opening of the Greek Orthodox seminary of Halki, the only such school of the Orthodox Church in Turkey, forced to close in 1971.  

Likewise, he has recently directed all Turkish ambassadors to formally welcome the Ecumenical Patriarch when he travels abroad, an acknowledgement of his importance as a world religious leader—which former governments of Turkey have downplayed or ignored.  Such moves, Davutoğlu noted, are signs of Turkey’s growing cultural confidence, domestic stability, and a progressive foreign policy that has been the hallmark of his tenure as Foreign Minister.  

He also expressed Turkey’s concern for Turkish and Muslim minorities in Greece and Europe, observing that churches and mosques that have been confiscated from religious minorities should be respected as houses of worship even if they cannot be returned for practical or political reasons.   

Metropolitan Iakovos and attending Greek Orthodox community members expressed to the Minister their praise for the present and former Turkish Consuls General of Chicago and their staff, for the increasing goodwill and cooperative efforts in the Chicago area between the communities.  This is the result of an initiative spearheaded with the blessings of the Metropolitan by the Metropolis Chancellor Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos and prominent Turkish-American Mr. Mehmet Celebi, president-elect of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations and a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.

Bishop Demetrios noted that the Metropolis’ annual “Fall of Constantinople” program to be held on May 29 at the Chicago History Museum will highlight the common cultural inheritance of Greeks and Turks with both music and the premier of the documentary Hello Anatolia, a film by a Greek young adult who follows the footsteps of his ancestors in modern Izmir (ancient Smyrna), Turkey.

Both the Foreign Minister and the Metropolitan agreed that the hostilities of the past and the challenges of the present can be overcome with the spirit of goodwill and the appreciation of a common cultural legacy shared by Turks and Greeks, to the benefit of all but especially to the ethnic minorities of Greeks in Turkey and Turks in Greece.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Foreign Minister presented the Metropolitan with a commemorative plate of the visit, and the Metropolitan presented Mr. Davutoğlu and his wife with a pictorial album featuring all the Greek Orthodox churches of the Metropolis.

Welcoming the Foreign Minister with Metropolitan Iakovos and Bishop Demetrios were Rev. David G. Bissias of Hammond, IN; Mr. Harold Peponis, Regional Co-Commander of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a lay group dedicated to the defense of the Church of Constantinople; Mr. Chris P. Tomaras, founder of the Pan-Hellenic Scholarship Foundation; Mr. Andrew A. Athens, President and Founder of hellenicare; Mr. Nicholas Harisiadis, graduate of the Halki seminary; and well-known Greek-American journalist John Kass.

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Missouri Legislature Calls for Religious Freedom

 

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
4967 Forest Park Ave.
St. Louis, MO  63108
314-361-6924

For immediate release

For more information:
Fr. Michael Arbanas, 314-425-9641
frmarbanas@gmail.com

NEWS RELEASE

Missouri State Capital

The Missouri State Legislature has taken a strong stand for religious freedom by calling on the government of Turkey to guarantee full religious and human rights for the Ecumenical Patriarch and all religious minorities.

With the adoption of House Resolution 1365, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Bahr, and Senate Resolution 1762, sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, Missouri joins 40 other states in which the Legislatures have expressed support for the Patriarch’s rights. 

The Missouri effort was led by the clergy and several parishioners of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis, under the guidance of Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago. 

They were supported in this work by Stephen Georgeson of Atlanta, who is coordinating efforts by the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to get similar resolutions passed in all 50 states. The state Resolutions initiative is just one component of a multi-faceted Religious Freedom project led by the Archons in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Fr. Douglas Papulis, proistamenos of St. Nicholas, traveled to the state Capitol in March with Fr. Michael Arbanas and a group of parishioners to gather support among legislators for the resolution.

“In an era when many people think that partisanship has made our government ineffective, it was very encouraging to see such strong bipartisan support for the religious freedom of the Patriarch and the Church,” Papulis said.

The Turkish government refuses to recognize the global character of Patriarch Bartholomew’s office and regards him as no more than the bishop of the 2,500 or so Orthodox Christians remaining in Turkey (down from 1.8 million in 1914). It has insisted that new Patriarchs be elected from the rapidly dwindling population of Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey.

The government has confiscated hundreds of churches and other properties historically belonging to the Orthodox Church, and in 1971 it closed the seminary at Halki, the major center for the education of future Church leaders.

In recent years, though, as Turkey has endeavored to join the European Union, the government has eased some of the pressure on the Church. The Missouri resolution commends this progress and urges the Turkish government to fully guarantee the religious rights of all its citizens.

In both resolutions, the House and Senate urge the government of Turkey to uphold and safeguard the religious and human rights of all its citizens without compromise, to grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate international recognition, ecclesiastical succession, the right to train clergy of all nationalities and to respect the property rights and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and all religious and faith traditions. The effort to pass the resolution is in no way meant to be anti-Turkish, Papulis said.

“We’re not calling for a boycott of Turkey or Turkish products,” he said. “We only want to encourage the Turkish to continue the progress it’s made in recent years toward the full religious freedom of the Church and all minority religions.”

In their meetings with legislators, the delegation from St. Nicholas emphasized the international respect the Turkish government could earn, in a time when it is working to exercise leadership in the Middle East, if it guaranteed the rights of all its citizens.

“This could really be a point of pride for Turkey,” Papulis said. “Can you imagine how it would look to other nations if Turkey, a majority-Muslim country, could say that the spiritual leader of the second largest Christian community in the world continues to lead Orthodox Christians around the globe from their country with full rights and toleration? It would say a lot.”

The resolution renewed a historic connection between Missouri and the Ecumenical Patriarch that dates to 1948, when Archbishop Athenagoras of America was elected Patriarch. There was a real fear that the Turkish government would not allow him to travel to Istanbul to assume his position, but Missouri-born President Harry S. Truman made sure that he was allowed to enter Turkey by sending him on the presidential plane, now known as Air Force One.

The House version was adopted May 1, and the Senate resolution on May 17. The full text of the resolutions are available at: http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills121/billpdf/intro/HR1365I.PDF and http://www.senate.mo.gov/12info/pdf-bill/intro/SR1762.pdf.

 

2012 Clergy Syndesmos Retreat

His Grace Bishop Demetrios, His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, Fr. Maximos Simonopetrites, with the clergy from throughout the Metropolis.

From May 7 - May  10 the Metropolis of Clergy Syndesmos held its annual retreat in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos and 58 clergy from the throughout the Metropolis. This year’s invited speaker was Father Maximos Simonopetrites (formally Nicholas Constas) of Simonos Petras Monastery, Mount Athos. Father Maximos delivered three insightful sessions on: a) The Philokalia, b) Elder Aimilianos, c) The Ambiguum of St. Maximos the Confessor. The lectures were very well received by the Clergy of the Metropolis. In addition to the lectures, the Clergy had the opportunity to worship together for Orthros and Vespers each day, and celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, as well as spend time in fellowship with one another during personal time.

Commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople

 

Χριστός Ἀνέστη Christ is Risen!

 The Commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Annual Commemoration of the ‘Fall of Constantinople’ presented by: The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, The Hellenic Society of Constantinople and The Greek America Foundation, will be held on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 beginning at 7:00PM at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois.

This year’s observance will feature the premiere of a documentary film, Hello Anatolia about a young Greek American filmmaker who embarks on the journey of his life to Izmir (Smyrna), Turkey to trace the footsteps of his great grandparents in their native land. In his effort to strengthen his own connection to his cultural heritage, he becomes a bridge builder of two cultures – and two peoples – who share a lot more than they have that divides them.

The faithful of all communities and their families will enjoy this unique opportunity for cultural and spiritual enrichment on the 29th of May. DUE TO LIMITED SEATING CAPACITY, PLEASE RSVP TO THIS EVENT BY CALLING 312-733-4633 OR BY EMAIL INFO@GREEKAMERICA.ORG.

In the service of the Risen Lord,
 
+Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos
Metropolis of Chicago
40 East Burton Place
Chicago, IL 60610
(office)  312-337-4130

Bishop Demetrios at National Innovation Conference

From Left to Right: Nicholas T. Gialamas, Lake Forest, IL; Stella A. Papadopoulos, Notre Dame, IN; Bishop Demerios of Mokissos; Maria Z. Vathis, Chicago, IL; Dimitri Peter Eliopoulos, Chicago, IL; Not pictured – Stavros Thomopoulos, St. Louis, MO
On April 27 - 29, 2012 in New York City, the Greek America Foundation hosted its second annual National Innovation Conference. In attendance at the conference events, at the invitation of the foundation's Chairman, Mr. Gregory Pappas, was His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos. The conference culminated in the presentation of the Greek America's Forty Under 40 awards on Saturday April 28. Those honored are among the best and brightest of the Greek American community in the United States, those who "have excelled in their respected business endeavors and who simultaneously strive to make the world around them a better place through community involvement, philanthropy and/or volunteerism." Significantly, five of the honorees reside and work within boundaries of the Metropolis of Chicago, and include:  Dimitri Peter Eliopoulos, Chicago, IL. Nicholas T. Gialamas, Lake Forest, IL; Stella A. Papadopoulos, Notre Dame, IN; Stavros Thomopoulos, St. Louis, MO;  and Maria Z. Vathis, Chicago, IL. These five individuals have made significant and diverse contributions to the areas of: finance, art / architecture, medicine, wealth management, and law, while also assisting other. His Grace was on-hand to offer the congratulations of His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, and to encourage them to continue their efforts to assist, improve and motivate their communities utilizing their God-given talents for the betterment of all.

 

Bishop Demetrios Celebrates the First Resurrection

Bringing with him the paternal blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, His Grace Bishop Demetrios celebrated the First Resurrection on Holy Saturday morning at the parish of Saint Luke the Evangelist in Columbia, Missouri. As a new parish, begun only 9 1/2 years ago, this marked the first time that a hierarch visited and participated in the services of Holy Week at Saint Luke.

It is customary at this bright and festal service to throw bay leaves and flowers throughout the Church in anticipation of our Lord's passing over (Pascha) from death to life, to be celebrated at the Paschal Vigil at midnight.

In response to the community's recent purchase of 20 acres of land for a purpose-built Orthodox Church, His Grace urged the congregation to be vigilant in their efforts to spread Christ's Gospel of love and reconciliation throughout mid-Missouri. He reminded the congregation that in order to build strong buildings, we must first kindle the Resurrectional Light within our hearts in response to our own love and dedication to the Lord. 

With His grace were His assistant, Dean Kartsimas and Panagiotis Katsikeros, visiting chanter from Greece.