November 1, 2019
Beloved clergy and faithful of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago,
I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to God and to the women and men of our Metropolis who helped us plan, organize and successfully complete our 2019 Clergy-Laity Assembly in the Twin Cities. For those who were not able to join us, I also use this as an opportunity to share with you what we were able to accomplish and where we are heading in the months and years ahead.
Our Assembly represents a watershed moment for the faithful throughout the Midwest. Not only is it the first such assembly since I assumed the responsibility as your Metropolitan, but more importantly because of the exciting new direction upon which we have set course.
Recommitment to our Saint Iakovos Retreat Center
The first task of our work at the Assembly involved reviewing the current state of our Saint Iakovos Retreat Center (SIRC). The newly established SIRC Board presented a comprehensive overview of the Retreat Center’s financials, discussed ways to increase usage of the SIRC, enhance fundraising efforts, and also announced to the delegates the ongoing strategic planning process for the Retreat Center that will help address long-term issues, including ways to make the Retreat Center a self-sustaining ministry of our Metropolis. After answering questions from the floor, the delegates voted to renew parish financial assistance of the Retreat Center for 2020 and 2021 in the amounts of $160,000 and $150,000 respectively. It was agreed that these funds will only be used to pay down the principal of the current mortgage.
Metropolis Financial Position and 2020 & 2021 Metropolis Budget
The Assembly delegates received an overview of the Metropolis’ financial condition. Independent financial audits of the Metropolis finances for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 were presented and reviewed, and we informed the faithful that an independent audit for the 2018 fiscal year will also be conducted. The proposed 2020 and 2021 budget of the Metropolis was reviewed and approved at the Assembly. You may view it by clicking HERE.
Establishment of a New Metropolis Center
The Burton Place property has served as our Metropolis Center since the 60’s. After receiving a report of the physical condition of the building, delegates received information about how we might best utilize this property to secure a Metropolis Center that better meets the needs of our parishes for the future. Further presentations were made by experts in real estate and in nonprofit asset management. In the end, the delegates of our Assembly voted to allow the Metropolis Council to market and sell the Burton Place property and use the proceeds to establish a new Metropolis Center.
Metropolis Strategic Plan Unveiled
During the past year, hundreds of our people have participated in a strategic planning process. The second day of our Assembly focused entirely on the Metropolis of Chicago Strategic Plan. The delegates, observers and Philoptochos delegates present in the Twin Cities received a first look at our strategic plan. Men and women from all corners of our Metropolis participated in breakout sessions and were able to sign up for the Smart Goals that interested them the most. The Strategic Plan of our Metropolis will not only help guide our work for the next 4-5 years, it will provide us greater opportunities for collaboration across our parishes.
If you haven’t yet viewed our Strategic Plan, please visit (HERE). There is still time for you to sign up for a Strategic Goal. I urge you to get involved and contribute to this unique opportunity to build a more vibrant Church!
Election of Next Class of Metropolis Council Members and Archdiocesan Council Representatives
As required by the Archdiocesan Regulations, 16 of the 24 members of our Metropolis Council are to be elected during the Clergy-Laity Assembly. The remaining 8 members of the Metropolis Council are appointed by the Metropolitan. After receiving more than 30 nominees from across the Metropolis, the following individuals were elected or appointed to serve for the next two years on our Metropolis Council and as Metropolis representatives to the Archdiocesan Council:
Elected Members of the Metropolis Council:
- Ms. Anne Marie Adams, Sts. Peter and Paul, Glenview, IL
- Reverend Fr. Tilemahos Alikakos, St. Spyridon, Palos Heights, IL
- Reverend Fr. Stephen Bithos, All Saints, Joliet, IL
- Mr. Nick Boosalis, St. Mary’s, Minneapolis, MN
- Dr. George Bovis, St. John the Baptist, Des Plaines, IL
- Ms. Lori Chiampas, St. Demetrios, Chicago, IL
- Mr. Mark Dinos, Sts. Constantine and Helen, Palos Hills, IL
- Reverend Fr. Chrysanthos Kerkeres, St. George, Chicago, IL
- Reverend Fr. Sotirios Malamis, Ascension of Our Lord, Lincolnshire, IL
- Mr. John Mercuris, St. George, Des Moines, IA
- Ms. Rachael Pontikes, St. George, Chicago, IL
- Reverend Fr. Ciprian Sas, Annunciation, Milwaukee, WI
- Reverend Fr. Timothy Sas, Twelve Holy Apostles, Duluth, MN
- Reverend Fr. Dimitri Tobias, Saint Basil, Chicago, IL
- Archdeacon Vasilios Smith, Metropolis of Chicago
- Mr. Chris Varones, St. Andrew, Chicago, IL
Appointed Members of the Metropolis Council
- Mr. Harold Anagnos, Ascension, Lincolnshire, IL
- Ms. Pamela Argyris, St. Sophia, Elgin, IL
- Mr. Perry Giannopoulos, Holy Taxiarche-St. Haralambos, Niles, IL
- Mr. Gus Kolyvas, St. Spyridon, Palos Heights, IL
- Mr. Dean Kutrumanis, St. George, Chicago, IL
- Mr. James Lakerdas, Assumption, Chicago, IL
- Mr. Yiannis Sianis, St. John the Baptist, Des Plaines, IL
- Mr. John Sotos, St. Nectarios, Palatine, IL
Metropolis Elected Representatives to the Archdiocesan Council
- Mr. Tom Kanelos, Holy Taxiarchai & St. Haralambos, Niles, IL
- Mr. Bill Vranas, Assumption, Chicago, IL
Commitment to our Youth and Young Adults
The final day was dedicated entirely to our young people. During my pastoral visits, I have received questions and concerns from all corners of our Metropolis regarding our youth and young adults. Many of you are worried that we are losing them, that we are not connecting with them, that we don’t have any way to bring them back to Christ. To this end, we received vital information regarding the “Nones,” the 60% of our young people who do not self-identify with any religion.
The information was eye-opening and humbling. We know that we have a problem; it is time for us to do something about it! Our young people will not change their perception of the Church if we, the members of the Church, first don’t change who and what we are. We learned that most young people avoid going to Church because, among other things, they feel that Church is not addressing important issues facing society, or because they believe the Church doesn’t acknowledge or empower them. As a Church, we need to do a better job of protecting our young people, but we must also acknowledge, challenge, and empower them to transform our parishes into more vibrant and mercy-filled communities.
I know that many of you have been carefully watching to see where we are going as a Metropolis since my arrival. Some of you have been carefully observing and waiting to witness words lead to action. As I stated to you on the day of my enthronement, my prayer is to establish a Metropolis that is more inclusive and one that achieves its goals with dignity, transparency and accountability. I agree with those who believe that results speak for themselves. The results and accomplishments presented at the 2019 Metropolis Clergy-Laity are the fruits of the hard work of so many of you. With your help, we achieved our goals, and we did so in a Christ-centered manner.
As we concluded the 2019 Clergy-Laity Assembly, I felt a great deal of joy and satisfaction, not merely because every motion put on the floor passed with deep support of our delegates, but because of the dignified manner in which people conducted themselves. Even when criticism or an opposing view was offered, it was done so with love and respect. As your Metropolitan and father, this gives me the greatest satisfaction—that we were able to treat each other as images of Christ!
Now what? Where do we go from here?
Intrinsically, we all know that the participation of the people is essential to the vibrancy of our Metropolis; however, it’s important to unambiguously state this truth. To achieve our future Metropolis goals, I need your help! As I continue my ministry as your chief-shepherd and servant, I ask that you continue to walk with me. Give of yourselves! Pray fervently and daily for our Metropolis! Volunteer your talents to your parish and to our Metropolis ministries! Donate generously to enable growth of our efforts to reach more and more people!
Beseeching our Lord God to preserve you and your families by His Mercy, I remain
With gratitude and paternal love in Christ,
+Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago