Metropolis of Boston Recognized Those "Who Compose the Pages of Their Parish Histories With the Pen of Service Fulfilled With the Ink of Faithful Dedication"
BROOKLINE---The New England Greek Orthodox family gathered for the 21st time on June 10 "to be inspired by one-another, to take pride in one another, to mentor one-another in our faith. To encourage each other to be more imaginative and creative in order to meet the needs of those who yearn for a Church which is an oasis of spiritual refreshment in a spiritually parched world."
State Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), was the Mater of Ceremonies for the event. The Greek American legislator praised and thanked the recipients of the 2007 Ministry Award and also congratulated Metropolitan Methodios who this year celebrates the 25th anniversary of his consecration to the Episcopacy. Also expressing remarks of appreciation to the recipients for their service were,Metropolis Council member, Peter John Condakes, Metropolis Philoptochos President Diane Miminos, New England Clergy Brotherhood Rev. Thomas Chininis, Consul General of Greece Constantine Orphanides.
A highlight of the program was the presentations of the Metropolis of Boston St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival winners, John Daminanos of the St. Nicholas Parish in Portsmouth, NH and Christina Mitkonis of the St. Spyridon Cathedral in Worcester, MA. John's essay won the junior division and Christina's the senior division. The topic and manner of their presentations received standing ovations. Corinne Mason, until recently the director of the Youth Choir at the Annunciation Parish in Brockton sang the national anthems and offered a delightful musical interlude.
Metropolitan Methodios, who established the annual event in 1987, "To gather as a family to celebrate our unity. To reassure one another of our support. To affirm that our Church truly is One Holy Catholic and Apostolic. To remember that the purpose of the parishes is to preach the word of God, to teach the faithful," offered Archpastoral reflections strongly encouraging those who have never assumed leadership roles in the communities to be encouraged to do so. Said Metropolitan Methodios:
"Our Annual Ministry Awards dinner this year falls on the eve of the celebration of the Feast of St. Bartholomew, Patron Saint of our Ecumenical Patriarch. The wings of our faith bring us to Constantinople to pray for the blessings of Almighty God upon our Patriarch Bartholomew and all the hierarchs, priests and laymen who heroically struggle to keep the light of our faith shining "for all to see." We pray especially for Patriarch Bartholomew whose life is under constant threat. May God continue to inspire and embolden him during these critically difficult and challenging times at the Phanar.
We gather on this Sunday known liturgically as the 2nd Sunday of Matthew, and we recall the text we heard during the Divine Liturgy this morning which described the beginning of Christ's ministry. How he chose two sets of brothers Peter, Andrew, James and John and summoned them to be His disciples to transmit the message of salvation to the ends of the earth. The four fishermen in the gospel text were challenged to be fishers of men. Their nets would be the Church. The fish they would catch would be souls drowning in the sea of faithlessness, of injustice, and of cruelty. Souls swimming aimlessly in the sea of material bankruptcy and spiritual ruin. We learn from the gospel that these fishermen "straightaway left their nets"-they "immediately left their boat and their father and followed him". The rest, of course, is history.
"Countless others followed their example and do so until this day. This morning I ordained the Rev. Nicholas Pelekoudas to the Holy Priesthood so that he too may labor in the Church and help it to cast its nets of salvation into the dead sea of secularism and hopelessness, of pain and despair.
"Today we honor parishioners throughout our Metropolis who, as members of the Royal Priesthood, are also disciples of Christ who offer ministry in our Communities---the Psalti, the Choir Director, the Philoptochos lady, the Catechetical and Greek School teacher, the lady who prepares the prosphora.
"Tonight we thank those who contribute their time and talents, those who compose the pages of their parish histories with the pen of service filled with the ink of faithful dedication. We gather this evening at this banquet of achievement, this table of thanksgiving, to strengthen the bond of faith and commitment which unites us as a family of brothers and sisters in the household of God.
"We gather to be inspired by one-another, to take pride in one another, to mentor one-another in our faith. To encourage each other to be more imaginative and creative in order to meet the needs of those who yearn for a Church which is an oasis of spiritual refreshment in a spiritually parched world.
"Many of our honorees and many of you attending this evening's dinner have faithfully served on Parish Councils and Philoptochos Boards. I thank you all for your dedicated services.
"But tonight, I want to share with you my conviction that it is of outmost importance and critically necessary that we strongly encourage those who have never assumed leadership roles to do so. Our Parish Councils and Philoptochos Boards must be renewed. All those who have served for a number of years should step aside to give others the opportunity. It is imperative that we encourage NEW membership on our administrative boards to spark NEW enthusiasm, refreshing NEW visions, NEW dreams and NEW aspirations. Opportunities for service ---on Parish Councils, Parish Philoptochos Boards, on our Metropolis Council and Philoptochos Board, and on the various Archdiocesan bodies ---must be made available to brethren who have never served.
"There are those who will argue that it is difficult to find people to "run for the Board". MAYBE IT IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE EVERY REASON TO"RUN AWAY" FROM THE VARIOUS BOARDS IN THEIR PARISHES. Maybe it is because the manner in which these administrative bodies function is no different than similar boards in the secular world. But the Church isn't a secular organization, it isn't a business, it is the Body of Christ. Over inflated egos, personal agendas, and self promotion have no place in the governance of our Church as they do all too often in our communities. Service on these boards should not be considered the lifelong privilege of an exclusive few.
"There are many qualified individuals anxious to get involved that stand at the periphery of the Church. The time has come to give them an opportunity to serve, to invest their enthusiasm, their vigor, their dedication. It is time for them to be given the opportunity to plant the seed of Orthodoxy into the fertile ground of America.
"I am particularly interested in our young people. I strongly encourage you to visit our camp at the Faith and Heritage Center in New Hampshire to see with your own eyes the vital ministry offered by Fr. Phil Mousis, Mike Sintros and a staff of over 100 young adults---college students and university graduates who volunteer their time to nurture our children. I believe that the mantle of leadership must be passed on now to young adults such as these.
"I end by quoting a verse from St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans which we heard during the Divine Liturgy this morning. It reads, "glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good."
"Tonight we honor those who have "done good" by their selfless service to our Parishes. May the Triune God continue to inspire their lives."
The 2008 Ministry Awards Dinner will be held on Sunday, June 8!