ASTORIA – Hundreds of faithful from the New York Metropolitan Area, as well as those from as far as Maryland, attended the annual procession of the miraculous icon of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, which took place on Sunday, July 28, immediately following the Divine Liturgy at the Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Orthodox Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria with His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America presiding.
The Abbot of the Monastery, His Grace Bishop Ierotheos of Efkarpia, along with Fr. Apostolos Manoloudis, Fr. Nikolaos Kalafatis, Fr. Nikolaos Gourdoupis, Fr. Meletios Bougas, and Fr. Ierotheos Markopoulos, among others, also participated in the liturgy.
His Eminence presided for the first time at the celebration as Archbishop and read a message from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
In spite of the heat and humidity, the faithful waited patiently to participate in the procession which is one of the highlights of the summer for the Greek Orthodox community in New York and commemorates the Feast Day of St. Irene Chrysovalantou.
The procession started from the Holy Monastery of St. Irene on 36th Street, headed to 33rd Street towards Ditmars Boulevard, and then returned along 33rd Street to 23rd Avenue, completing the ritual.
With Sunday’s religious services, the four-day festival at St. Irene Chrysovalantou which benefitted from perfect weather conditions, concluded.
“It is a fact that the pilgrimage to St. Irene Chrysovalantou here in Astoria is a pilgrimage that attracts many people, thousands of people, all year long. They are not only Greeks and Greek Orthodox, but also from other denominations, culminating in this day, which was brightened by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America as the representative of the Patriarchate. There was a great deal of piety and emotion, and there were buses that came in from other communities as well,” Fr. Gerasimos Ballas told The National Herald.
WARM WORDS FROM ELPIDOPHOROS
There was a warm welcome and praise on the part of His Grace Bishop Ierotheos of Efkarpia on Saturday at the Great Vespers, which was also led by Archbishop Elpidophoros.
Bishop Ierotheos emphasized that Archbishop Elpidophoros is a “distinguished Hierarch of the Great Church” referring to the key posts he served at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the recent past.
“With the announcement of your election, everyone’s hearts were overwhelmed with joy and hopeful delight. You are a distinguished hierarch of the Great Church, the Holy Synod entrusting you with the rudder of one of the most remarkable provinces of the throne. Your ministry so far guarantees your continued pastorate. I met you at the Patriarchate when you were a deacon and secretary of the Holy Synod. Then you became Archbishop and, later, Metropolitan of the historic Metropolis of Bursa in Asia Minor, as well as Abbot and Director of the Theological School of Halki, which we hope will soon open its gates,” His Grace said.
Archbishop Elpidophoros, in his speech, conveyed the congratulations of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
“It is very moving to be with you. This is not the first time I have visited this beautiful monastery. I have visited other times. I have visited as a deacon, as a priest, and today God has granted that I visit as a representative of our Patriarch. I would like to express on behalf of our Ecumenical Patriarch the gratitude, praise, and congratulations, in the first place, to your Abbot, Bishop Ierotheos of Efkarpia, for the blessed and great work he is doing, the brotherhood around him, and you, too, who support him,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros.
Among those present at the Great Vespers service was Consul of Greece in New York Lana Zochiou.