Metropolis of Boston Faithful Gathered Together to Celebrate the Present and the Future

June 14, 2006 

BROOKLINE---In the presence of more than 800 faithful from throughout New England, Metropolitan Methodios presented the 2006 Ministry Award to dedicated men and women representing the parishes of the historic Metropolis of Boston. Said the Metropolitan, “This evening we gather to celebrate our Orthodox Faith and to thank God for, and take pride in, the ministry of our Parishes here in New England. We assemble to honor those individuals who have offered dedicated service in the communities which comprise our Metropolis. Tonight, we honor the recipients of the Ministry Award….. The Psalti, the Parish Council member, the Philoptochos lady, the person who bakes the prosforon. We honor two dedicated teachers who for 40 years have taught the Greek language and our cultural heritage in our Parish schools. Tonight, we honor someone who is 102 years of age, a lady who dedicated her life to her family and her church, passing on her faith and cultural heritage to her children and grandchildren. We say thank you to all those who contribute their time and talents to their local community and to the Metropolis.”

Peter John Condakes, a steward at the St. Demetrios Parish in Weston and member of the Metropolis Council, was the master of ceremonies. He congratulated and thanked the honorees for their exemplary stewardship and movingly recalled members of his own family who received the award including his grandmother Stavroula, parents, John and Evangeline, and uncle James, all of blessed memory. The honorees were also thanked and applauded by their family and friends, by their fellow parishioners, and by those who offered greetings during the program: Angelo Stamoulis, representing the Metropolis Council; Tina Caramanis, representing the Metropolis Philoptochos Board; Fr. John Maheras, representing the Clergy Brotherhood; and the Hon. Constantine Orphanides, the Consul General of Greece in Boston. Panayotis Terzakis, a talented bass baritone, led the gathering to the singing of the National Anthems and presented a short musical program which delighted all.

Metropolitan Methodios told the gathering, “Tonight, we gather to celebrate the present and envision the future. We are not here to rest on our laurels, but to see new realities, to recognize new opportunities, to set higher goals.

“We gather at this banquet of achievement, this table of thanksgiving to strengthen the bond of unity that links us to the past, and bridges us to the future; that bond of faith and of love and commitment which binds us together in mind and purpose.

“Our dinner this evening coincides with Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the “Birthday” of the Church. We all know that each time we gather at the Lord’s Table during the Divine Liturgy, we re-live the miracle of Pentecost. The celebrant beseeches God the Father to send the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and wine into the very body and blood of Christ, and to consecrate all who are present at the Sacrament.

“Reading the second chapter of the Book of Acts, we learn that it was on that first Pentecost when a company of fearful disciples received the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit and were changed into enthusiastic, active witnesses confident in their faith and future. Their fears disappeared. Peter, a simple fisherman, once so fearful that he denied knowing Christ, stands before thousands to proclaim that what he and the other disciples had experienced was foretold by the Prophets of the Old Testament --- that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. As a result, thousands were baptized.

“This was the case with all the disciples. Once simple fishermen, they proclaimed the word of God with boldness. Men once consumed with fear were now giving testimony to the Resurrection of Christ (Acts 4:33). As a result of the miracle of Pentecost, each understood the Gospel in his own language. The barriers of communication were down. A new source of unity prevailed. The Spirit of God was received, and led them from discouragement to confidence, from fear to action….to a vision of God active in the world.

“The manifestation of the Holy Spirit is not a milestone in the history of the Church, but rather a daily miracle. The Holy Spirit descends daily upon the disciples of the Nazarene, blessing them with various gifts. It descends upon our parish priests and the laymen in our communities to inspire our mutual ministries in our parishes. More so than at any other time in human history, we must be able to speak a language understood by thousands who stand at the periphery of the Church, awaiting to hear its message. I pray tonight that we may all be inspired by the Holy Spirit to enhance our efforts in the world in which we live so that the confusion of modern day Babel be dispelled by a glorious symphony effected by descend of the Holy Spirit.

“As we look to the future, we must not be satisfied with the status quo in our parishes or in our Metropolis. We must use the wings of faith, of vision, of imagination and of creativity to bring us to greater progress. We owe it to our young people who yearn for a Church which is truly an oasis where their thirsts for Orthodoxy’s truth and way of life will be quenched. This is why our Metropolis gives so much attention to Youth Ministry. This is why we have developed a year-round camp program. I encourage you to visit our camp so that you can see with your own eyes what our young people experience. This is why we must soon break ground for a Retreat House at our Faith and Heritage Center which will open its embrace to our Priests, Parish Councils, Philoptochos, Senior Citizens, to our college students and young married couples.

“We owe it to our future to break ground for a Retreat House which will also welcome other Orthodox jurisdictions and men and women of all faiths. The time has come to make this vision a reality. I will be visiting parishes throughout New England to raise the additional funds needed to complete the project. Together, we will make the dream come true.

“My brothers and sisters, it was the Providence of God that tonight, as we honor the recipients of the Ministry Award on Pentecost Sunday, we also celebrate the Feast of St. Bartholomew, Patron Saint of our Ecumenical Patriarch.

“Two things: First is that we must always remember that the Church of Christ ministers far beyond the boundaries of our individual parishes. We certainly must be supportive of our parishes, but also of our Metropolis, our Archdiocese and Orthodoxy throughout the world. We have to pray for and be supportive of our missionary priests throughout the world that “rightly teach the word of Truth” under very difficult conditions. Second, we remember Patriarch Bartholomew as well as the other Metropolitans, Bishops, Priests and laymen in Constantinople, all modern day martyrs of Christendom who struggle and suffer to keep the vigil lamp of Orthodoxy shining in Turkey and throughout the world.

“As you know, I have been traveling once a month to Constantinople to serve on the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate. It has been an eye opening and soul shattering experience. I have come to personally witness the tragedy of our Ecumenical Patriarchate which exercises its responsibilities under the most restrictive and threatening atmosphere. I will have more to say in articles which I will be writing in the future. Suffice tonight to remind you that there are only 2500 Orthodox Christians remaining in Constantinople----if that many! Before the Turkish Pogrom in September 1955, before the Turks raped, robbed and pillaged the Greek Orthodox population of Turkey, the Ecumenical Patriarchate served more than 300,000 faithful in Constantinople alone. The Theological School of Halki---the lifeline of the Patriarchate, was arbitrarily closed in 1971. Hundreds, if not thousands of properties, including private homes, churches, schools, monasteries and orphanages have been confiscated!

“The Patriarchate is placing its final hope on the inclusion of Turkey into the European Union. Will this happen? And if it takes 30 years to take place, what will be left of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to salvage?

“As we celebrate tonight, let us not forget our spiritual roots, our Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its head, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. As he celebrates his feast, we pray that God will continue to inspire and embolden him during these critically difficult and challenging times.”

Metropolitan Methodios also congratulated the Rev. Fr. George D. Tsoukalas, the Pastor of the St. George Parish in Lynn, MA who on Sunday, June 11 marked 40 years of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. His Eminence presided at the Divine Liturgy at St. George on Sunday morning.

The 21st Annual Metropolis of Boston Ministry Award Dinner will be held on Sunday, June 10, 2007.

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