of His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilochios of Kisamos and Selinon
President of the Board of Trustees of the Orthodox Academy of Crete
at the Ceremony Naming
Their Beatitudes the Primates of the Holy Autocephalous Orthodox Churches
Grand Benefactors and Fellows
of the Orthodox Academy of Crete
OAC, June 24, 2016
|Your All Holiness, Father and Master,|
Your Beatitudes, Primates of the Holy Autocephalous Orthodox Churches,
Your Eminence Archbishop Eirinaios of Crete, President of the Sacred Eparchial Synod of the Church of Crete,
Your Eminences, Your Graces, my beloved brothers,
Very Reverend Fathers,
Honorable Regional Governor of Crete, Messrs. Mayors,
Erudite Professors, brothers and sisters,
My humility has the distinctive joy, privilege, and blessing to greet, address, and welcome all of You with great reverence and love on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, as its President.
It is widely known that the Orthodox Academy of Crete – an institution of our Holy Metropolis – operates under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is spiritually accountable to the Most Venerable Ecumenical Throne. This spiritual Insitution was in the process of preparing to celebrate the first semi-centennial of its establishment, testimony, and ministry (1968-2018) in October 2018. Towards this end, its General Director, the erudite Dr. Konstantinos Zorbas, and I visited His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Excellency the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos to personally deliver an invitation requesting their participation in this anniversary celebration.
However, our most merciful God’s providence willed it otherwise and saw fit to bestow extraordinary honor and glory on this Academy earlier than expected through the convocation of the proceedings of the Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox Council that is being held in its facilities. This is a Council through which the truth of the Faith shall be heard and draw near to today’s men and women, the Body of Christ shall be edified, and the unity of the Orthodox Church shall be displayed. In a like manner, the universal quality of the Church is also being expressed, because both these qualities – catholicity and conciliarity – are interdependent in the Church.
The importance and significance of this historic and singular ecclesiastical event demonstrates, among other things, the interest shown by the entire world, which has turned its attention to this blessed corner of Crete over the past few days, where the proceedings of the Holy and Great Council of our Orthodox Church are taking place. Unquestionably, it awaits the decisions of the Council with great interest.
We extend our deep gratitude and countless thanks to His All Holiness, our Master Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as to all Your Beatitudes, the honorable Primates of the Holy Orthodox Churches, because you selected this spiritual Institution as the site for the proceedings of the Holy and Great Council.
Today’s celebration in honor of the naming of the Primates of the Holy Orthodox Churches as Fellows of the Orthodox Academy of Crete – with the exception of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, who have already been included among its Fellows for some time now – marks the present and future of the Academy.
This spiritual Institution serves our Church’s holy ministry, with its multitude of responsibilities, bringing the message of salvation in Christ and the truth of Christ the God-man to our modern world, which is mired in confusion. At the same time, it serves the holy mission of educating the plentitude of the Church in the Orthodox faith and tradition, while concurrently cultivating and developing a dialogue of reconciliation and mutual understanding among the Christian world, in keeping with the spirit of the Venerable Ecumenical Throne.
I am not about to attempt to give any type of report at a formal occasion such as this, nor tire You with statistics or other data. All I ask is that You accompany me for a short look back and share in the moral satisfaction that all of us who serve in this Institution in any way whatsoever feel at this very moment.
Above all, through its own volition, my mind turns to my predecessor, the ever-memorable Metropolitan Irenaios of Kisamos and Selinon, who is now resting in the land of the living. I dare say that the welcoming and hosting of this great historical event – the convocation of the Great and Holy Council – in the facilities of the Orthodox Academy of Crete fulfills his expectations and gives him an abundance of rest, blessings, and grace for the labors and struggles put forth by this beloved Hierarch. May his memory be eternal.
With vivid words of praise, I dutifully recall the ever-memorable Metropolitan’s closest aide – the first General Director of this Institution, who served at that post for many years, Dr. Alexander Papaderos, and who bore the heavy responsibilities of the Academy’s mission on his shoulders; often times, during periods that were exceptionally unfavorable.
Next, I feel obliged to remember those persons who contributed to the realization of this vision in their own unique way: The then Archbishop of Crete Eugenios, as well as his successor Archbishop Timotheos, and especially our current Archbishop, Irenaios of Crete, along with all the members of the Sacred Eparchial Synod of the Church of Crete – both those still living and those who have departed from this world.
Also, I must mention the representatives of the honorable Greek State and Local Governance who have served over the years, for their contribution and support to the smooth operation of this Institution.
Next, I would like to mention the persons who contributed more directly and with personal sacrifice: the fathers of the neighboring Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Panagia Hodegetria in Gonia, on whose premises this Institution was built; the holy Clergy and devout people from our Metropolis’ districts of Kisamos and Selinon; the members who served on the Board of Trustees of this Institution from its establishment until the present day, as well as its personnel; the publicly recognized and anonymous people from our local community as well as those from abroad who embrace and support the work being done here and its progress with brotherly love and a spirit of selflessness.
As I close my eyes, I can see all those individuals dating back to the summer of 1968, when this welcoming field of dialogue, reconciliation, and rapprochement first opened and thousands of people – Greeks and foreigners, Orthodox Christians and non-Orthodox, faithful and agnostics, clergy and laity, young and old, men and women, those governing and those being governed, meek and angry people alike, truly interested people and others who were simply curious, the suspicious and those with pure hearts, prominent and anonymous individuals – all began arriving like migrant birds. These people were thirsty for light, justice, peace, and love, while still others were seeking to satisfy their shrewdness, judgement, and desire to criticize. Nonetheless, they were all welcome, without discrimination, without preference, without valuation, but rather, with appreciation and much love. Throughout these fifty years, we shared the same bread and wine, monologues and dialogues, meekness and tension, dreams and disappointments, fear and hope, doubt and faith, disagreements and agreements, prayer and thanksgiving, and deep silence that leads to the Light and the Revealed Truth of the mystery of the age to come.
This brief overview serves as an expression of infinite gratitude and thanks to the Triune God, who looked upon the lowly state of His servants and by His Grace showed us worthy to edify a work dedicated to His glorification, the beauty of His Church, and the dignity of the human person. We send up praise and glory to His all merciful will, because after five entire decades, it pleased Him for this sacred corner of Crete to continue the glorious tradition of this Land in the face of the new challenges facing our age; to serve the Gospel in defense of human freedom against the manifold oppression of the bonds of destruction.
I have the feeling that this countless multitude of people who share in the life and experiences of the Orthodox Academy of Crete are with us in spirit at this extraordinary event in this Institution’s history, filling this hall to the brim, mystically partaking in this present gathering, and celebrating together with us.
After once again expressing my heartfelt thanks and my infinite gratitude to all those who aid in the work and service of this Institution and share in the burden of the cross we bear, I now proceed in proclaiming Their Beatitudes the Primates of the Holy Orthodox Churches Fellows of this Institution, by virtue of the decision number 177/29-2-2016 of the Board of Trustees, which will be read shortly by the Academy’s General Director Dr. Konstantinos Zorbas. Your Beatitudes, from hereon the bonds between the Orthodox Academy of Crete and all of You will be indivisible, fraternizational, supportive, and rewarding of peace, but also desiring of it.
I thank You profusely for Your acceptance of our request to join the ranks of the Fellows of our Insitution, and I kindly ask all of You to pray that the Orthodox Academy of Crete may continue throughout the next fifty years of its existence to carry on the work of the Church, which can be nothing short of the continuous repetition of God’s call to mankind, as expressed in Revelation: “Come up, look on, listen, keep,” as His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said in His address at the opening of this present wing in November 1995.