NEW YORK — Thursday, October 6, 2022, marked the first full day of the Apostolic Visit to the United States of America by His Beatitude Theodoros II, Patriarch and Pope of Alexandria and all Africa, accompanied by Their Eminences Metropolitans George of Guinea and Nikodimos of Memphis, and Sub-Deacon Moses Kariuki Maina. The first official visit began with a Doxology Service at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He was warmly received by Archbishop Elpidophoros, Archimandrite Nektarios (Papazafiropoulos), V. Rev. Archimandrite Chrysostom (Onyekakeyah), Rev. Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne Panagiotis Papazafiropoulos, and Rev. Protopresbyter Nicolas Kazarian.
During the joyous service, the Archdiocesan Chapel of St. Paul was filled with clergy and their families, Archdiocesan staff, and leaders from the Order of Saint Andrew, the Greek Orthodox Ladies’ Philoptochos Society, and Leadership 100. These included Archon National Commander Dr. Anthony Limberakis and Vice Commander Hon. B. Theodore Bozonelis, Leadership 100 Executive Director Paulette Poulos, and Philoptochos President Arlene Siavelis Kehl and Vice-President Anita Kartalopoulos. His Excellency Ambassador Andreas Hadichrysanthou, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN, and Mr. Konstantinos Konstantinou, Consul General of Greece in New York were also present.
After the service, Archbishop Elpidophoros addressed His Beatitude, stating, “This Apostolic Visit to the United States – a first for the See of the Holy Evangelist Mark – is a tremendous honor for our Eparchy of the Mother Church of Constantinople, as well as for the beloved Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We pray that Your Beatitude’s stay in the United States will be a rewarding one, filled with purpose and spiritual satisfaction. All of us here at the Archdiocese and throughout the Omogeneia are at Your disposal to make this First Apostolic Visit – which coincides with Your Beatitude’s Anniversary of Election – as meaningful as possible.
“We are most enthused for this Apostolic Visit and for the many opportunities to hear from Your Beatitude. We welcome You with open arms and open hearts. With the utmost respect and deepest reverence. And with joyous anticipation of receiving Your Apostolic Blessing,” the Archbishop said, presenting His Beatitude with a special Archdiocesan Centennial icon of the Sower.
Patriarch Theodoros expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop: “You opened the door of your heart and received me today.” He also presented His Eminence with a replica of the Cathedral of St. George in Cairo, the "the dream of my life” and a parallel to the cathedral of the same name at the Phanar.
Then, turning to the faithful, His Beatitude said, “I will have more strength because I will remember your faces, all these blessed people who are here today; the blessing of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; Archbishop Elpidophoros; Your Eminences; the Archons; Ambassadors; and all these memories will give me strength to continue the hard work of my missionary work in Africa.”
Afterward, a number of inter-Orthodox, ecumenical, and interfaith leaders— many of whom also attended the Doxology Service— honored Patriarch Theodoros at a special lunch at the Archdiocese. Among them were His Excellency Archbishop Gabriele G. Caccia (Representative of the Holy See to the UN), His Eminence Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nicholovos (Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church), His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian (Armenian Orthodox Church-Holy See of Cilicia), The Rev. Bishop Paul Egensteiner (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Rev. Cyril Antonios (Coptic Orthodox Church), V. Rev. Fr. Gabriel Adde (Syriac Orthodox Church), and a number of representatives from the Assembly of Bishops, including His Grace Bishop Irinej (Serbian Orthodox Church).
Rabbis Joseph Potasnik and Diana Gerson (New York Board of Rabbis) and Rabbi Noam Marans (AJC), as well as Rev. Mark Fowler (Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding), Rev. Chloe Breyer (Interfaith New York), and Rev. Rev. Doyeon Park (Won Buddhist Manhattan) attended as well.
A number of heartfelt toasts were offered, welcoming His Beatitude to the United States. In offering his toast on behalf of the Orthodox representatives, Bishop Irinej noted how the unique ministry of Patriarch Theodoros on the African Continent was one that not only embraced his Orthodox flock, but also truly one of ministering, in the words of St. Nicholai of Zhicha, stated in New York City at a similar gathering (1921), to ‘pan-humanity’.
Photos: GOARCH / Dimitrios S. Panagos