ASTORIA – His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America was welcomed on Sunday, July 14, when he presided over his first Archieratical Liturgy at the Cathedral of St. Demetrios in Astoria.
His Eminence, assisted by His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia and the parish priest, Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, had the opportunity to reach out to the members of the community, some of whom had attended his recent enthronement.
This was the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 4th Ecumenical Synod, with Archbishop Elpidophoros referring to the events and its decisions, as well as to the Churches that did not accept its decisions (Copts, Armenian, etc.) stressing, however, that we should love and respect our Christian brothers, whether or not our Churches are in communion.
The Archbishop of America was welcomed to the parish by Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, who along with the flock exclaimed “Axios,” while he did not hide his emotion when he mentioned the day was also his mother’s 40-day memorial.
“It is our honor that, even in the summer, with this heat, you came here to bless us with your presence. We all want to say ‘Axios’ because, from the first moment you came, you gave examples of love and humility, and you are an example to all of us. You are our spiritual father and we expect in your pastoral service to get to know you even better. The day is special to me, as it is my mother’s 40-day memorial today,” said Fr. Papazafiropoulos, unable to hold back his tears.
In reply, Archbishop Elpidophoros, having noted that he fully understands Fr. Papazafiropoulos’ emotional response, spoke about the importance of the St. Demetrios community, but also of Hellenism in Astoria, in general.
“I understand the emotion of Fr. Nektarios. I would like to thank him for this warm welcome, but also all of you. I will visit the parish in the winter. Know that Astoria is not just in the heart of the Archdiocese. It is the heart of the Archbishop. Astoria keeps the traditions. Astoria keeps education. Astoria keeps the language. Astoria keeps Orthodoxy. Astoria holds the heart of the Archbishop,” His Eminence said.
He then spoke about the loss of a parent, referring to Fr. Papazafiropoulos’ loss. “I realize the pain is great. I lost my father, relatively recently. Whatever your age, when you lose your father or mother, you are an orphan,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said.
Thereafter, the Archbishop praised Bishop Apostolos, who is inextricably linked to the St. Demetrios community of Astoria.
Among the many present were many members of the community, the Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, and the former president of the Greek American Homeowners Association George Kitsios.