“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you:

but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)

The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklesia, the same word used in the New Testament for Church
(and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word,
which connoted equal participation in all deliberation by all members,
came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia -
which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times,
who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.)

- Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter


Monday, May 7, 2007

Does the Proistameno Need to Control Us ?

For the last few months we have been treated to the following bromide in the weekly Sunday bulletin, aka “The Word.”

“Fr. Michael and Fr. Matthew are the only two Clergy who are assigned to the Parish to care for the Spiritual Need of the Parishioners.”
As you all know English is not my native language, so I apologize if I am misreading the emphasis of the bold language above. The Proistameno is correct in saying that “Fr. Michael and Fr. Matthew are the only two Clergy who are assigned [emphasis added] to the Parish .... .” The Proistameno is wrong though to dictate that the two assigned priests are the only priests who can minister to and/or “care for the Spiritual Needs of the Parishioners.” The parishioner who requests spiritual solace and guidance has the right to feel comfortable with the right clergyman of his or her own choice.

The edict that only the two assigned priests can “care for the Spiritual Needs of the Parishioners” is ill-timed, illogical, and divisive. It is not supported by any Canon of our Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is not supported by any religious writing of any of the Fathers of our Church. We do not know if it is espoused or supported by the Metropolitan of this Metropolis or by the Archdiocese.

The Proistameno’s arrogance in thinking that the mere fact of his “assignment” to this community by the Metropolitan, invests him with an emperor’s robes is not consistent with principles of humility. Other faiths promote infallibility. Our faith does not. Our clergy wears liturgical vestments and not imperial robes.

What of the four other priests that we presently have in this community? Why are the four other clergy NOT allowed to “care for the Spiritual Needs of the Parishioners?” Why are the parishioners prevented and deprived from an opportunity to have their spiritual needs met by any other duly ordained clergyman? Why are the parishioners discouraged from developing relationships with other duly ordained clergymen in our community? Why do the parishioners of our community need to be dictated to by the Proistameno as to who their spiritual father ought to be? This is a highly personal matter. WHY?

The prohibition does not even make sense when viewed within the framework of the actual practice allowed by this Proistameno. Why then, whenever any one of the below listed clergymen is serving in Church on any given Sunday, is he allowed to offer Communion? And yet, this same clergyman is otherwise prohibited by this same Proistameno “to care for the [other] Spiritual Needs of the Parishioners.” Does this make sense?

Why, prior to this Proistameno’s arrival in our community were all Orthodox Clergyman allowed to “care for the Spiritual Needs of the parishioners?” New Rules? WHY? What changed? What made other spiritual needs besides those administered in church now restricted acts that must fall under the purview of this Proistameno?

For some time now, our community has been fortunate to have available to it four additional clergymen.

Fr. George Politis has been ministering to the parishioners’ spiritual needs for well over 35 years during the most critical times of our community’s existence. Why is he not capable any longer to care for a parishioner’s spiritual needs if asked? Why is he now being pushed aside by this Proistameno? A lot of us have built relationships of trust, confidence, and love with Father George during the last 40 years. Fr. George has ministered and helped innumerable parishioners with issues that faced them. He offered the Sacraments to parishioners according to their needs. Father George has been instrumental in serving, and thus saving, the Greek School program during the period that he served in this community. He has served this community with distinction, humility, and faith. Fr. George is a most cherished clergyman in this community. How does a newcomer decide that Fr. George may not help with the Spiritual Needs of this community? And WHY?

Fr. Makarios also grew up in the community and has been ministering to the community's spiritual needs ever since he came back from his monastic life. Why is he not capable any longer to care for our parishioners’ spiritual needs? WHY is he now being pushed aside by this Proistameno?

Fr. Koucos grew up in this community and has been ministering to our community ever since his ordination. The Metropolitan sends him to other communities to minister for God. He takes care of other parishes’ spiritual needs. Why is he not capable to care for our parishioners’ spiritual needs? WHY is he now being pushed aside by this Proistameno?

Fr. Mario Giannopoulos also grew up in Salt Lake City and has been currently residing in our Parish. Why can he not minister to our parishioners' spiritual needs if asked? WHY is he being pushed aside by this Proistameno?

During this Proistameno’s frequent absences from our Parish, he calls upon the above-named clergy often to “care for the Spiritual Needs of the Parishioners.” Are they only capable “to care of our Spiritual Needs” when a parishioner seeks spiritual solace from one of them specifically, but only when the Proistameno is not in town? WHY does this Proistameno think that these clergymen may not minister to parishioners’ spiritual needs, except only as he sees fit? It just does not make any sense, does it?

What if a parishioner were to ask one of the "non-assigned" clergy to care for his or her spiritual needs? Does this parishioner then commit a sin? Is the parishioner who so acts subject to sanctions? Is the clergyman subject to sanctions? Is the Proistameno’s edict sanctioned by the Metropolitan? Is the Proistameno’s edict provided for under Canon Law?

Why does the Proistameno feel that he needs to be so deeply in control? We do not need a policy that promotes control to this degree. We do not need a policy that fosters fear. We do not need policies that are antithetical to good common sense. The Proistameno should rethink his announced policy and rescind it. If he chooses not to do so, perhaps he should seek another community that wants to take advantage of his many talents.

This community deserves humble priests who WANT to promote good will and who will work cooperatively with all parishioners and clergy. This community needs a bridge builder, a unifying force, as its Proistameno, and not a divider.

If you feel as I do, or if you have other thoughts on the subject, I invite you to submit your thoughts on the comment link below this article.

Thank you.

Nick Colessides

1 comment:

John Mastakas said...


I support and agree with your statements that you have posted on the online blog.