Remarks by His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios at the Opening of the Metropolis of Boston Bi-Annual Clergy Laity
My brothers and sisters in the household of God, good morning and welcome to the Metropolis of Boston Clergy Laity and TCI conference. Every other year, clergy and lay representatives from all of our parishes gather to discuss and be inspired by the tremendous work taking place in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we gather here in the church of St. Demetrios, I look out and see several hundred Saint Demetrios’s. They are you, our priests and laity, the men and women gathered here today who are called to continue the work of this great saint. As the frontline soldiers on the battlefield of hatred, hypocrisy, jealousy, anxiety, and worst of all apathy, your actions and your example possess the power to inspire those who have drifted away from the church. Your love and your embrace possess the power to capture the minds and souls of everyone, especially our young people. Your outreach and your care possess the power to quench the spiritual thirsts of those marginalized and forgotten. Your presence and your care possess the power to occupy the longing of those who have never felt true Christian love. You may view your role as a small piece in the bigger picture of your parish and Metropolis ministries, but I consider you all great warriors of faith, imbued by the example of St. Demetrios.
We gather today to celebrate several great victories and to inspire each other to continue the sterling ministry you offer in your parishes. Over the course of today’s program, we will hear from representatives of the ministries offered by the Metropolis. As we hear about the work done on the Metropolis level, we must all take special note that this work is amplified by the sterling efforts taking place in each of our parishes. In particular, allow me to highlight a few of the ministries that will be presented today. Athena Kalyvas, the President of our Metropolis Philoptochos will share about the tremendous philanthropic work undertaken by our Metropolis Philoptochos Board and the many parish Philoptochos chapters across New England. Today a new Metropolis Philoptochos board will be elected which I am prayerful will continue the dedicated and successful work of the outgoing board. Thank you Athena for your leadership, and thank to all the members of the outgoing Board.
Bill Marianes, a staple of the Thriving Congregations Initiative, will offer remarks on the visionary work of this program. I am truly grateful to Bill for the time and effort he has dedicated to our Metropolis. I cannot tell you how many priests and laymen have approached me to express gratitude for his amazing presentations. Over the last year, Bill created and led parishes through a six-part strategic planning zoom series, guided four parishes through comprehensive strategic planning, connected communities with the Effective Parish Assessment, and much more. The Thriving Congregations Initiative supported dozens of parish based ministry initiatives by awarding over $100,000 in microgrants directly to parishes. Over the last few years, we focused on understanding the make up of our communities and on clarifying our mission and values. Today, we begin the next phase of the Thriving Congregations Initiative, “Cultivating Spiritual Practices”. As Orthodox Christians, the importance of the spiritual, liturgical, and sacramental life of our Church cannot be stressed strongly enough. All of our efforts must bring our faithful to engage in the life-giving and transformative sacraments offered by our church. We look forward to welcoming Fr. George Parsenios to offer remarks on the Thriving Congregations Initiative. I have no doubt that he will also offer great leadership just as he has done at our St. Nicholas Parish in Lexington.
Today, Mike Sintros and Panos Coufos will inform us about the progress of our St. Methodios Faith and Heritage Center and Metropolis of Boston Camp. Thanks to the great work of Mike Sintros, the retreat center has grown so immensely that bookings must be made many months in advance as there are few vacancies in the center’s schedule. Many groups from our own parishes as well as colleges, universities, and faith-based groups find a home on the beautiful grounds of our center in Contoocook, NH. Mike and Gordan Bristol who is the project manager will also share with us an update on the building of the new gymnasium which is currently under construction first and foremost for the benefit of our youth who call the Metropolis of Boston Camp their home away from home. Over the last several years, while many camps throughout the nation experienced decreases in enrollment, MBC saw its second busiest summer ever this past year. Reaching almost 1,000 campers throughout its programs in 2023, MBC’s reach grew an impressive 49% from 2022 and 29% from 2019, the last year pre-covid. A special word of gratitude is addressed to Panos Coufos. He has gathered around him a small army of counselors who have embraced our children and helped make the camping experience unforgettable! This alone should give us tremendous hope that our youth are yearning for something more from a world marked by senseless war, state-sponsored terrorism, innocent bloodshed, economic instability, food insecurity, and crippling rates of anxiety and depression.
Our young people discuss the impact of artificial intelligence on their lives now and in the future. We are at the starting point of a transformative technology that could change and alter our lives and livelihood. It is vitally important to define the moral principles that guide technological advancements and work to ensure that technology remains human-centered, ethically grounded, and directed towards human advances.
It is my hope that you leave here today inspired by the work taking place in our parishes across New England and that you return to your local communities re-energized to continue extending the embrace of Christ and His Church to all people. I thank all of you for attending today and ask that you give your full attention to our presenters who have many important insights to share. Before we begin I want to congratulate Bob Badavas of the Cathedral parish and Ted Spiros of our Arlington Community who were installed as new Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarch last Sunday at the Cathedral in New York City.
And finally, I ask that we all pray for the innocent brethren who are victims of the war in the Middle East. It is heart breaking to witness the tragic loss of life. Let us pray that the Lord of the Powers be with us, for in times of distress, we have no other help but You, Lord of the powers, have mercy on us.