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The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve sees Pittsburgh mission as 'centerpiece' of national effort
Sunday, January 30, 2011
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette
Troy Polamalu holds his two sons, Paisios, right, and Ephraim during a benefit for FOCUS North America sponsored by the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church Community Center in Mt. Lebanon.
The Orthodox of Pittsburgh are famous for mouth-watering food festivals that support their churches. But in April they will open a center in the Hill District to give food and other assistance to the poor, regardless of their faith.
It will be the seventh center for FOCUS North America, the first nationwide pan-ethnic effort by Orthodox Christians to provide social services in America. Because of the concentration of Orthodox in the Tri-State area, FOCUS founder and board chairman Charles Ajalat expects it to become a "centerpiece" for the 2-year-old organization.
"We have 130 priests and six bishops within a two-hour radius," he said Tuesday at a fundraising dinner that drew 400 people to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Mt. Lebanon. Few regions can say the same.
FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve. Its website is www.focusna.org.
Elsewhere, FOCUS has developed niche ministries. In Orange County, Calif., where it couldn't afford to buy or rent in the sky-high real estate market, a FOCUS truck brings food to motels where many evicted families live. Last month in St. Louis, FOCUS helped 45 women with crisis pregnancies fill out online job applications and trained them in basic skills such as job interviewing and budgeting.
"We don't want to duplicate unnecessarily what any other association, ministry or social service is doing here," said the Rev. Justin Mathews, a Serbian Orthodox priest from Kansas City, Mo., and executive director of FOCUS.
While its range of mission is being developed, Pittsburgh FOCUS will have an outreach to low-income and homeless military veterans. It has hired an Iraq War veteran as the center director. Struggling vets are a special concern of the FOCUS's most prominent supporter, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. He surprised organizers by attending the dinner amid Super Bowl preparations.
His wife, Theodora, was a founding national board member of FOCUS. Its capital campaign was Tackle Poverty with the Polamalus.
"I grew up very poor," Mr. Polamalu said in an interview. Before he moved to live with his aunt and uncle at age 9, he was often on the streets of Santa Ana, Calif., while his mother worked.
"I was hanging out with homeless people, even stealing food from picnic tables and giving it to homeless people. Even, at times, stealing for myself to eat," he said. His closest friends have always been those who have known poverty, he said.
Mrs. Polamalu spoke at the dinner on seeing the image of God in the poor.
"We are all images of the very God we serve," she said. "It is the imperative of this organization to restore the dignity that belongs to each man as bestowed by God."
She spoke of people who lost everything in the recession and of veterans who returned from war "to homelessness and despair."
"You might ask, 'Where is God in their lives?' The better question is 'Where is God in our lives?' " she said, urging listeners to respond in the name of Jesus.
Tuesday's dinner raised $62,000 toward a $150,000 launch budget for the Hill District center. Eight people bid a total of nearly $12,000 to eat dessert at a table with the Polamalus. An autographed Polamalu jersey brought in $5,200 and a pair of the Polamalus' prime seats at Heinz Field yielded $1,200.
Ann Rodgers can be reached at
First published on January 30, 2011 at 12:00 am
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11030/1121413-53.stm#ixzz1CdApRpNu
By the Mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from the Savior Christ Born in Bethlehem
* * *
Beloved brother concelebrants and blessed children in the Lord,
Within the somber atmosphere that recently prevails throughout the world with the diverse affliction of the financial, social, moral and especially spiritual crisis, which has created increasing frustration, bitterness, confusion, anxiety, disappointment and fear among many people with regard to the future, the voice of the Church sounds sweet:
Come, O faithful, let us raise our minds to things divine and behold the heavenly condescension that has appeared to us from above in Bethlehem …
(Hymn from the 6th Hour, Christmas)
The unshakeable belief of Christians is that God does not simply or indifferently observe from above the journey of humanity, which He has personally created according to His image and likeness. This is why the incarnation of His only-begotten Son and Word was from the very beginning His “good will,” His original intention. His “pre-eternal will” was precisely to assume in His person, in an act of extreme love, the human nature that He created in order to render it “a participant of divine nature.” (2 Peter 1.4) Indeed, God willed this prior to the “fall” of Adam and Eve, even before their very creation! Following the “fall” of Adam and Eve, the “pre-eternal will” of the Incarnation embraced the Cross, the Sacred Passion, the Life-giving Death, the Descent into Hades, and the Resurrection after three days. In this way, the sin that infiltrated human nature thereby infecting everything and the death that surreptitiously penetrated life were completely and definitively dispelled, while humanity was able to enjoy the fullness of the Paternal and eternal heritage.
However, the divine condescension of Christmas is not restricted to things related to eternity. It also includes things related to our earthly journey. Christ came into the world in order to spread the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven and to initiate us into this Kingdom. Yet, He also came in order to help and heal human weakness. He miraculously and repeatedly fed the multitudes who listened to His word; He cleansed lepers; He supported paralytics; He granted light to the blind, hearing to the deaf and speech to the dumb; He delivered the demonized of impure spirits, resurrected the dead, supported the rights of the oppressed and abandoned; He condemned illegal wealth, heartlessness to the poor, hypocrisy and “hubris” in human relations; He offered Himself as an example of voluntary self-emptying sacrifice for the sake of others!
Perhaps this dimension of the message of divine incarnation should be particularly emphasized this year. Many of our friends and colleagues are experiencing terrible trials from the current crisis. There are countless numbers of unemployed, nouveau poor, homeless, young people with “cropped” dreams. Nevertheless, Bethlehem is translated as a “House of Bread!” Therefore, as faithful Christians, we owe all of our troubled brothers and sisters not only the “essential bread” – that is to say, Christ, who lies in swaddling clothes in the simple manger of Bethlehem – but also the daily tangible bread of survival and all that “pertains to the bodily needs.” (James 2.16) Now is the time for a practical application of the Gospel message with a dignified sense of responsibility! Now is the time for a clear and exact implementation of the words of the Apostle: “Show me your faith with works!” (James 2.18) Now is the time and the opportunity for us “to raise our minds to things divine” to the height of the royal virtue of Love, which brings us closer to God.
This is what we proclaim to all the children of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from this sacred and martyric See, the Church of the Poor of Christ, and we invoke upon all of you the divine condescension and the boundless mercy, as well as the peace and grace of the Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, who for our sake was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. To Him belong the glory, power, honor and worship, with the Father and the Spirit, to the ages of ages. Amen.
At the Phanar, Holy Christmas 2010
BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople
Your fervent intercessor before God
This message is also available for download in 8 other languages. Click on the language to download the pdf.
Arabic, Belarusian, French, German, Greek, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian.
The National President of the the Ladies Philoptochos, Aphrodite Skeadas along with her husband Peter recently visited and spoke at St. Demetrios Church and the Headquarters of the Orthodox Christian Network in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Here she speaks of the sacred work of the Ladies and also their Partnership with OCN as we spread the message of the Gospel to the world.
As the return of the Büyükada Orphanage to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate was completed this week, the patriarchate's attorneys have begun a similar process for the return of other buildings that belong to foundations of Turkey's Greek minority.
The title deed for the orphanage was delivered on Monday. Cem Sofuoğlu, an attorney representing the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, received the title deed for the Orthodox orphanage for boys and then delivered it to Patriarch Bartholomew. The decision by the Foundations General Directorate to return the orphanage to the patriarchate marks the first time that the Turkish government has returned a seized property to a minority group.
The patriarchate once had 90 churches in İstanbul and on the islands of Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos), the deeds of which belong to the foundations of each church. The Foundations General Directorate arbitrarily assumed the management of 24 of these foundations, together with their property and claimed to have the right to rent or transfer these properties -- churches, schools, etc. -- to third parties.
Ankara decided to return the orphanage to the patriarchate following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which ruled that the Turkish government had to return the orphanage to the patriarchate and pay 6,000 euros for non-pecuniary damages and 20,000 euros for costs and expenses.
The orphanage, one of the largest wooden buildings in the world, was bought by the patriarchate in 1902 and its management was handed over to the Büyükada Greek Orphanage Foundation in 1903. The orphanage housed Greek orphans from 1903 until 1964, when it was transferred to nearby Heybeliada. The building on Büyükada was left abandoned and eventually suffered further damage from a fire in 1980.
The ownership status of the Greek orphanage has been the subject of much debate between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Foundations General Directorate, a powerful state institution that has been dealing with the fate of 2,235 properties owned by 147 foundations run by minorities.
Sofuoğlu has requested that some 23 other properties, including three buildings that belong to Turkish Greek minority foundations on Bozcaada (Tenedos) Island should be returned as well. Among those buildings are Salkımsöğüt Aya Terapi Ayazama (holy spring) and Primary School, Edirnekapı Aya Yorgi Orthodox Church, Fener Katip Muslahattin Aya Yorgi Greek Church, Edirnekapı Greek Primary School, Vefa Panayia Church and Ayazma, Büyükada Aya Yorgi Greek Monastery and Heybeliada Aya Yorgi Greek Monastery.
Meanwhile, one area in which both the patriarchate and the international community would like to see progress is on the issue of the Greek Orthodox seminary on Heybeliada, which remains closed. The Halki Seminary was closed in 1971 based on a law that put religious and military training under state control.
The Turkish government is warm to the idea of opening the seminary but expects steps from the Greek government in return regarding the Turkish minority's needs in Greece. The Turkish Education Ministry has already researched possible legal avenues that would allow for reopening the seminary. Doing so would also require changes to laws, which the government is unlikely to do on the eve of the 2011 elections.
The Ministry of Education had recommended that the seminary be put under its authority or that of the Higher Education Board (YÖK); however, the patriarchate has rejected both suggestions.
The patriarchate has also encountered serious problem in terms of how it has been perceived by the Turkish Republic. It has been described as a “threat” in national security documents, which were only recently updated to eliminate hostile wording as the Turkish government takes positive steps regarding democratic and religious freedoms.
Ankara is now expecting the Greek government to take some steps as well, for example, increasing the number of Turkish teachers in Celal Bayar High School in Komotini (Gümülcine) and allowing Fethiye Mosque in Athens to be restored to its original use. Ankara also points out that Athens is the only European capital without a mosque for its 200,000 Muslims and that the Greek government should implement its long overdue project of building a mosque in the city.
Istanbul, Turkey - Turkey complied with a European Court of Human Rights ruling on Monday and returned a 19th-century orphanage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, the center of Orthodox Christianity around the world.
The move is likely to appease the European Union which also calls on the Turkish government to reopen a Greek Orthodox seminary and return dozens of other properties such as school buildings and churches seized from Jewish and Christian foundations decades ago.
"It is an important development to show respect for law, democracy and minorities," said Cem Murat Sofuoglu, an attorney for the patriarchate, after receiving the title deed. "A right has been taken back."
Turkey took control of the 19th-century building in 1997, many years after it was abandoned, on the grounds that it belonged to another foundation and had fallen into disuse.
The Patriarchate, however, said the government had refused to issued the necessary permits for the maintenance and repair of the structure, one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.
The European court ruled in June that the land was registered to the patriarchate, giving it de facto legal status to the building.
Turkey is also under pressure to reopen a theology school on an island outside Istanbul that trained generations of church leaders, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, until it was closed by Turkey in 1971. The official argument for the seminary's closure is that a religious institution without government oversight is not compatible with the secular institutions of Turkey, a country where all Muslim clerics are trained and paid by the government.
The patriarchate says Ankara refuses to open the seminary because it wants to prevent the church from raising new leaders. The church's leader has to be a Turkish citizen, which makes it difficult for the dwindling Greek community of several thousand to produce any candidates. But in a move to address that problem, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government recently granted Turkish citizenship to 12 senior clerics at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so that they could succeed the 70-year-old Bartholomew.
The patriarchate in Istanbul dates from the Orthodox Greek Byzantine Empire, which collapsed when the Muslim Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1453.
OCN to offer on site coverage of this historic event. Stay tuned starting Nov 14, 2010.
NEW YORK – The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, will hold an International Religious Freedom Conference entitled “Religious Freedom: Turkey's Bridge to the European Union,” on November 16-17, 2010 at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
The two-day conference will bring together scholars, religious freedom and human rights advocates, journalists, diplomats, parliamentarians, religious leaders, representatives of the Government of Turkey, lawyers and members of minority communities that will focus on religious freedom. Speakers will analyze issues of religious freedom confronting the religious minorities in Turkey and propose answers.
“Religious freedom constitutes a most valuable gift from God, since it affects directly and substantively our relationship with Him. It is the open way of communication with our Creator. Therefore, a conference dedicated to religious freedom becomes a bridge between humanity and God and by extension a bridge connecting people, nations, cultures and religions,” said Archbishop Demetrios talking about the upcoming conference.
The conference is sponsored by the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America and the Pammakaristos Brotherhood of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Europe, in cooperation with the Patriarchal Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union.
Archbishop Demetrios of America will offer an introductory address at the opening dinner at the Conrad Brussels Hotel, the evening of Monday Nov. 15. The Conference will be held in the European Parliament and will begin Tuesday, November 16. Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of St. Andrew will welcome the participants along with Rodi Kratsa Tsagaropoulou, vice-president of the European Parliament. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, director of the Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union will read the Patriarchal Exhortation, and Archbishop Demetrios will follow him with the keynote address.
Additionally, the list of the distinguished speakers includes: Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Armenian Church, Archbishop of the Armenians in Turkey – Mustafa Akyol, Journalist and Political Commentator – Egemen Bagis, Turkish Government, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator – Orhan Kemal Cengiz, Lawyer, Human Rights Defender, and News Paper Columnist – Cole Durham, BYU Law School, Susan Young Gates University Professor of Law and Director, International Center for Law and Religious Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School – Steven Ealy, Senior Fellow, Liberty Fund – Dilek Kurban, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, Program Officer Democratization Program, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation – Mario Mauro, Member of the European Parliament, Italy – Johny Messo, Syriac Universal Alliance, President – Claudio Monge, DoSt-I (Dominican Study- Institute) – Muna B. Ndulo, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, Director of Cornell's Institute for African Development, Human Rights Advocate and Humanitarian – Otmar Oehring, Director, Human Rights Office, Missio Society – Emre Oktem, Professor, Galatasaray University – Pietr Omtzigt, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe – Jaime Mayor Oreja, Member of the European Parliament, Spain – Elizabeth Prodromou, Vice Chair, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom – Patrick Gregor Puppinck, Director, European Center of Law of Justice – George Rockas, Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – Bican Sahin, Assistant Professor, Hacettepe University, and President of Association of Liberal Thinking – Odysseus F. Sassayiannis, Administrateur, EFG Bank (Monaco) – Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation – Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel to the American Center for Law and Justice, Washington, D.C. and to the European Center for Law and Justice, Strasbourg, France – James J. Silk, Lawyer, Human Rights Defender – Renate Sommer, Member of the European Parliament, Germany – Konrad Szymanski, Member of the European Parliament, Poland – Rodi Kratsa Tsagaropoulou, Vice President of the European Parliament – Riza Turmen, Former Judge, European Court of Human Rights – Lakis Vingas, Representative of the Minority Foundations at the General Directorate of Foundations Assembly – Angela Wu, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, International Law Director, Washington, D.C. and – Mine Yildirim, Researcher at the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University.
Sep 27, 2010 - NEW YORK – On Tuesday, Sept. 21, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received the Officers of the Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. His All Holiness had invited the Officers through the cooperation of Archbishop Demetrios of America, the Chairman of the Assembly, who also led the delegation to the Phanar for a substantive meeting. The other Officers included Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk (Moscow Patriarchate, Vice-Chairman), Archbishop Antony of Hierapolis, (Ecumenical Patriarchate – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Treasurer), and Bishop Basil of Wichita and Mid-America (Patriarchate of Antioch – Antiochian Archdiocese, Secretary). Also in attendance at the meeting were Archimandrite Bartholomew Samaras, Deputy Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archpriest Igor Vyzhanov of the Moscow Patriarchate, and Frs. Mark Arey and John Chryssavgis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Vice Chairman Metropolitan Philip (Patriarchate of Antioch – Antiochian Archdiocese) was unable to attend.
Following the greeting and paternal exhortation of His All Holiness (see Patriarchal Greeting), the officers engaged the Ecumenical Patriarch in a full and robust discussion of the work and prospects of the Assembly. Of particular note during the discussion, was the emphasis that His All Holiness put on the Committee structure and function, and his encouragement to commence the Committee work as soon as possible. He also noted both the size and the diversity of the Assembly.
Following the two-hour meeting, His All Holiness hosted the Hierarchs in the Patriarchal Trapeza, together with Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne. Following the meal, the Patriarchate arranged for the Officers to visit the famous Churches of Chora and Agia Sophia, before being hosted again in the evening by His All Holiness for a farewell dinner. Archbishop Demetrios returned to the United States on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
B A R T H O L O M E W
By the mercy of God
Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and
Grace and peace unto the Plenitude of the Church
From the Fashioner of All Creation
Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ
Beloved Children in Lord,
Our ever-memorable predecessor, the late Patriarch Demetrios, who possessed a deep awareness of the gravity of the environmental crisis, as well as of the responsibility of the Church to directly and effectively confront the crisis, issued the first official encyclical dealing with the protection of the natural environment more than two decades ago. Through this encyclical, the Mother Church officially established the date of September 1st, - the beginning of the ecclesiastical year - as a day of prayer for the protection of the environment, declaring it to the plenitude of the Church throughout the length and breadth of the world.
At that time, our Church insightfully emphasized the significance of the eucharistic and ascetic ethos of our tradition, that manifests our most important and most crucial unique contribution toward the proper and universal struggle for the protection of the natural environment as a Divine Creation and shared inheritance. Today, in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis, humanity is facing many and diverse trials. But this trial is related not only to our individual hardships; this trial affects every aspect of human society, especially our behavior and perception of the surrounding world and the way we rank our values and priorities.
It is important to note that the current grievous financial crisis may spark the much-reported and absolutely essential shift to environmentally viable development; i.e., to a standard of economic and social policy whose priority will be the environment, and not unbridled financial gain. Let us all consider as an example what may happen to countries that are suffering today on account of the financial crisis and poverty, such as Greece, which at the same time have exceptional natural riches: unique ecosystems, rare fauna and flora and natural resources, exquisite landscapes, abundant sunlight and wind. If ecosystems deteriorate and disappear, natural sources become depleted, and landscapes suffer destruction, and climate change produces unpredictable weather conditions, on what basis will the financial future of these countries and the planet as a whole depend?
We hold, therefore, that there is a dire need in our day for a combination of societal sanctions and political initiatives, such that there is a powerful change in direction, to a path of viable and sustainable environmental development.
For our Orthodox Church, the protection of the environment, as a divine and very good creation, embodies a great responsibility for every human person, regardless of material or financial benefits. The direct correlation of the God-given duty and mandate, to work and preserve, with every aspect of contemporary life constitutes the only way to a harmonious co-existence with each and every element of creation, and the entirety of the natural world in general.
Therefore, we call upon all of you, beloved brethren and children in the Lord, to take part in the titanic and righteous battle to alleviate the environmental crisis, and to prevent the even worse results that derive from its consequences. Let us motivate ourselves to harmonize our personal and collective life and attitudes with the needs of nature’s ecosystems, so that every kind of fauna and flora in the world and in the universe may live and thrive and be preserved.
September 1st, 2010
Your beloved brother in Christ and
fervent supplicant before God,
+ BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople
NEW YORK - As is well known, on September 11, 2001 our city and nation suffered a terrorist attack of unparalleled proportions. In addition to the tragic and horrific loss of almost 3,000 innocent victims, a number of whom were members of our own community, the world witnessed the unimaginable collapse of the Twin Towers. When the second Tower fell, it landed on and erased all traces of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church of St. Nicholas, the only house of worship destroyed that day. Opened in 1916 by a group of Greek immigrants, the church not only served the spiritual needs of its parishioners but was also a sacred space in which people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds working in the surrounding area would often stop, light a candle and spend a few moments in prayer and reflection.
Following the events of 9/11, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the St.Nicholas parish fully cooperated and worked closely with the relevant authorities.Former Governor George Pataki pledged without reservation his support for rebuilding in the belief that it was a necessary part of the healing of New York City and of our nation. Early on, as plans were being formulated for the reconstruction of the area, the Church agreed to relocate and rebuild its house of worship at a new locale to facilitate the envisioned design for the overall site. In 2004, the authorities proposed that the new edifice be built at 130 Liberty Street, a parcel on the same block as the original site, and an agreement was reached between the Archdiocese and the Port Authority. Four successive LMDC/Port Authority administrations honored this mutual agreement which entailed extensive on-going work and planning on the part of all parties. All site plans for the area which the LMDC/Port Authority released to the public show St. Nicholas at this new locale. Regrettably, the latest Port Authority administration in 2009 unexpectedly and arbitrarily reneged on this agreement and as a result, the Archdiocese and St. Nicholas parish are suddenly offered no viable option. LMDC/Port Authority has refused to meet with us. In the meantime the LMDC/Port Authority has excavated the original site without our consent, rendering it unusable, in flagrant violation of our legal rights.
The Archdiocese and parish leadership remain firmly committed to the rebuilding of the church honoring the long standing agreement with LMDC/Port Authority. Confident that we have acted in good faith and trusting in Almighty God, we expect that justice will prevail and that we will be successful in this sacred endeavor.
Thursday, August 19, 2010 - The Clergy of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, regret to inform the brothers and sisters of our God-protected community that His Eminence Metropolitan +CHRISTOPHER, our beloved Archpastor and spiritual father, has reposed in the Lord on August 18, 2010 at 7:45 pm, following a short and serious illness at the age of 82.
Born in Galveston, Texas, and baptized Velimir Kovacevich, the future Metropolitan Christopher was the ninth of twelve children of Serbian immigrant parents. After graduation from high school, he attended Nashotah House and graduated from St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois. After marriage, he was ordained to the Diaconate and Priesthood. Continuing his education, he earned a B.A. (Philosophy), Master of Letters (History) at the University of Pittsburgh; the Master of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, and completed courses and examinations for the doctorate at the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Father Velimir ministered to parishes in Pennsylvania and in Chicago, also serving as chaplain to four universities. He assisted his parishes to become bilingual in their worship and education programs, and at the same time he was active in the defense of unity and canonical order in his church during a period of schism. As a priest, he served as spiritual father, counselor, youth worker, administrator, educator, and, above all, in priestly ministry at the Holy Altar. Widowed in 1970, he is the father of four, as well as the grandfather of nine.
Elevated to the episcopate in 1978 by the Assembly of Bishops in Belgrade and tonsured with the monastic name of Christopher, he became the first American-born bishop to serve a diocese of his church in North America. As Bishop of Eastern America and Canada, he soon developed a diocesan-wide program in religious education. Active also in ecumenism, he has served on the joint commission of Orthodox and Roman Catholic bishops and on the Orthodox-Lutheran dialogue, and has represented his church at high levels in both the National and World Councils of Churches. In 1991, he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan, thereby becoming Primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the U.S. and Canada.
May the Lord our God grant blessed repose and eternal rest to His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher.
MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010
- Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, 10:00 AM, Monday, August 23, 2010, at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 N. Redwood Drive, Chicago, IL 60631.
- Funeral Matins, 7:00 PM, Monday, August 23, 2010, at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 N. Redwood Drive, Chicago, IL 60631.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010
- Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and Requiem Service, 9:00 AM, Tuesday, August 24, 2010, at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery 32377 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, IL 60048, followed by burial at grave on south side of church.
A memorial lunch will be served at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5701 N. Redwood Drive, Chicago, IL 60631, following interment.
Atlanta, GA - The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate introduced a resolution to the hierarchs, clergy, and participants at the 40th Clergy Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America held in Atlanta, GA, July 4-8, 2010. The resolution was passed by unanimous vote, and reads:
WHEREAS, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has been suffering as a result of the oppressive policies and actions of the Turkish government and its agencies; and
WHEREAS, by reason of such policies and actions, the worldwide ministry of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is hindered, and as a result our own rights as Orthodox Christians in America are violated,
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the officers and delegates of the 40th Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, an Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, hereby unanimously
RESOLVE and call upon the Government and Congress of the United States of America, as well as upon the Governors and Legislatures of all 50 States to:
Demand that the Turkish government comply with its obligations to provide religious freedom to its minorities and further respect its commitments pursuant to the Turkish Constitution, the Treaty of Lausanne and the several human rights conventions it has signed and ratified; and we
FURTHER RESOLVE, that the Government of the United States of America intensify its efforts and strongly urge the government of the Republic of Turkey to:
(a) Refrain from interfering with the governance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate;
(b) Recognize and acknowledge that the Ecumenical Patriarchate exists and functions as a legal entity and maintains its own legal personality;
(c) Acknowledge the Ecumenical status of His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew;
(d) Take all necessary steps to allow the prompt and orderly re-opening of the Theological School of Halki;
(e) Immediately refrain from any further seizures of Church-owned properties and return or otherwise provide fair compensation for all properties previously confiscated since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey and to
(f) Implement and respect the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights with respect to minority property rights in Turkey.