BY KARINA SCHROEDER TH STAFF WRITER of DUBUQUE HERALD TELEGRAPH

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos could never separate his existence from his religion.

The bishop, a devoted member of the Greek Orthodox Church, has made church ministry and social justice his life for more than 20 years.

As auxiliary bishop and metropolis chancellor for the Metropolis of Chicago, Demetrios was visiting Dubuque's St. Elias Greek Orthodox Church on Monday and today. The visit comes in time for the church's celebration today of St. Elias' feast day.

The church held a Vesper Service Monday night, and a hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be held at 9:45 a.m. today. At the service, which is open to the public, Demetrios plans to address the Dubuque parish.

He said the parish has been losing members recently, and sometimes smaller parishes struggle.

"(We) want them to know we are all connected," Demetrios said. He said the church is aiding struggling families during the ongoing recession.

"Practically speaking, we offer quite a bit, spiritually speaking, we offer a lot more," he said.

While some parishes are hurting, Demetrios said the church is growing.

"I think more people are searching in general," he said. "(They're) looking for stability, authenticity, history."

As chancellor, Demetrios oversees administrative duties in the Metropolis of Chicago, which includes 59 parishes in six Midwest states. As auxiliary bishop, he aids the Metropolitan (administrative head of the Metropolis) in his ecclesiastical duties.

The Eastern Orthodox Church lays claim to more than 2,000 years of history, descending directly from Jesus and his apostles.