Father Charles Joanides presents the 'Intermarriage challenge' to philoptochos members
April 10, 2006
The faithful of the Metropolis of Boston, including clergy, members of the parish councils and Philoptochos, gathered together at the Cathedral Center in Brookline as one unified body, for a session of informative presentations with the theme “Today’s Parish: Reaching the Next Generation”. The day also marked the 22nd Anniversary of the Enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios as Bishop of Boston.
The Philoptochos members were honored to have with them for a special presentation, the Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides, who spoke on a most current and relevant topic, “Intermarriage Challenge”. Fr. Charles is currently the parish priest in Newburgh, New York. In addition to his pastoral duties, he is also the Director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s ministry to intermarried couples and their families. Fr. Charles is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has authored three books for both the clergy and laymen on the subject of intermarriage and is now working on a fourth. He is also a commentator on the radio program, Come Receive the Light and his commentary can also be found on a regular basis in the Orthodox Observer.
Fr. Charles reported a rather startling statistic: 80% or more of today’s marriages are interfaith marriages, or “intermarriages” as he prefers to call them. This was also confirmed by a study conducted by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in which it was also revealed that most coverts to Orthodoxy come from this particular group.
Fr. Charles revealed that, through his extensive research, there are both many blessings and challenges faced by intermarriage couples. These are issues that face the couples on an individual basis, as a couple, their families and extended families and can be centered on religion, ethnic or cultural backgrounds, racial or class boundaries.
Fr. Charles stressed the importance of educating our clergy, our youth and all of our faithful on this important issue. Some very helpful information is contained in his publications that he urged us all to read and to make available in our parish bookstores. The need for increased awareness through marriage workshops, employing a more welcoming and respectful attitude towards intermarried couples, and the increased use of English during our liturgy was also discussed. It was also pointed out that we must continue reaching out to our GOYA and YAL groups to educate our youth on this particular subject at a much earlier age.
The presentation concluded with a question and answer session that left the Philoptochos participants feeling that they had certainly been given something relevant to think about. More information on this topic can be found by visiting the website www.interfaith.goarch.org.