Metropolis of New Jersey
GREEK ORTHODOX METROPOLIS OF NEW JERSEY ΙΕΡΑ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΙΣ ΝΕΑΣ ΙΕΡΣΕΗΣ
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2020
The Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy
Esteemed Members of the Metropolitan Council, Esteemed Members of the Parish Councils, Philoptochos Sisterhood, Faculty and Students of the Catechetical and Greek Afternoon Schools, Directors and Participants of all Youth Organizations, and all devout Orthodox Christians of the Communities of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of
My Beloved in the Lord,
As we celebrate the universal exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, we have the opportunity to reflect on how our Lord’s self-sacrificial decision to be crucified for the life of the world transformed all of creation. Although encountering the crucified Christ fills us with sorrow as we see Him in agony outstretched on the Cross, it was through this act that joy and salvation came to all the world and newness of life was granted to all creation. It is this paradox which uniquely sets us apart from other faiths and which confounds those who are unwilling to understand the glory of God. Joy came through the Cross even though, at the time, the Cross was associated with violence. The Cross bore the fruit of life, even though it was associated with death. In the centuries that have passed since our Lord’s crucifixion, the image of the Cross has been transformed from being a violent method of execution, to being emblematic of life, joy, and salvation. Indeed, the Cross has uplifted and supported generations of saints, clergy, ascetics, and faithful Orthodox Christians who have found comfort in it and who wear it faithfully as a reminder of our love and devotion to Christ and to His Church.
The Lord’s example, however, and His own words remind us that we are to endure our own struggles in order that we may dwell with Him in His everlasting Kingdom. Christ tells us, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). We are called to follow the Lord by taking up our own Crosses and, in this way, we may become worthy of eternal life. The burden of each person’s Cross is different, each according to the will of God. Moreover, there are some Crosses that we bear as a Community. In order to be recipients of the joy the Cross brings and beneficiaries of the eternal life the Cross grants, we must take on the responsibility of bearing both our personal and our communal Crosses.
Therefore, I encourage you to come to the Divine Services, partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, engage in the Church’s ministries, and help to build up the Body of Christ once more so that we may continue the Church’s mission of helping those in need.
During these last several months in which we have endured the harshness of the Coronavirus Pandemic, we have witnessed families, friends, and neighbors adversely affected whether by being afflicted with the virus themselves or suffering the reverberating consequences wrought by the economy. Even more so, the Church and its ministries have endured setbacks as churches were closed for months at the beginning of the Pandemic and Parish Communities are unable to continue many of their ministries. Most lamentably, the annual Feast of the Holy Cross Celebration and Blessing of the Waters which has traditionally taken place every year in Asbury Park since 1947, is unable to be held this year due to the Pandemic. This celebration, which was instituted by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras when he was Archbishop of North and South America, sought to bring everyone together in prayer for the peace of the world which had just endured the Second World War. Although we will not have the opportunity to be present in Asbury Park this year for the Holy Cross Celebration and Blessing of the Waters, we all should nevertheless pray with all our mind, soul, and strength for the peace of the world and for an end to the Coronavirus Pandemic which has afflicted us for these past several months.
My beloved in the Lord, let us commit ourselves to increased prayer and dedication to Christ and His Church, recognizing that the trials and tribulations we presently endure are temporary, but the life our Lord offers us is everlasting. Let us wear our Cross and make the sign of the Cross, no matter where we are, with joy and without fear. Finally, may we always keep the Cross at the forefront of our spiritual lives remembering the words of St. Paul, “If we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Rom. 6:5). Praying that you may be guarded and guided by the power of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, I remain
With Paternal Love and Blessings,
† E V A N G E L O S
Metropolitan of New Jersey
215 East Grove Street, Westfield, NJ, 07090-1656 • Tel: (908) 301-0500 • Fax: (908) 301-1397 Web: www.nj.goarch.org • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos was born in New York City on September 20, 1961 to John and Magdalene Kourounis, the Most Reverend Evangelos (Kourounis) attended the Greek-American parochial schools of St. Eleftherios and St. Spyridon in New York City. Upon graduation from Immaculata H.S. in N.Y.C., he enrolled in Hellenic College, in Brookline, MA from which he graduated in 1983 and then continued his studies at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology graduating in 1986 with a Masters of Divinity Degree.
In 1987-88 he attended the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey of the University of Geneva, Switzerland from which he received a Certificate of Ecumenical Studies.
He was ordained to the Holy Diaconate February 1st, 1987 at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Eleftherios in Manhattan and to the Holy Priesthood on July 30th, 1989 at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in New York City by His Grace, Bishop Philotheos of Meloa.
His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America elevated him [ordination] to the rank of Archimandrite on March 30th, 1991 at Sts. Catherine and George Greek Orthodox Church in Astoria, New York. He served as Deacon to the Orthodox Center of Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambesy, Geneva in 1987-1988, as Deacon to Archbishop Iakovos and Assistant Director of Archives of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in 1988-1989. From August 1989 until September 1993 he served as assistant to the Dean of St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria, New York.
Prior to his election to the Episcopacy, Metropolitan Evangelos served as Chancellor of the Diocese of New Jersey from 1993-1999. He also served as Director of the Department of Registry of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese from 1996 to 2001, and as President of the Spiritual Court for the Archdiocesan District from 1996 until April 2003.
From October 2001 until his election to the Episcopacy, he served as Dean of the Hellenic Orthodox Community of Astoria "St. Demetrios Cathedral".
On April 12th, 2003, upon the recommendation of and nomination by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople under the Presidency of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, unanimously elected Metropolitan Evangelos as Metropolitan and Spiritual Leader of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey.
The "Mega Minima" (Official announcement and declaration of the Election) of His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos was read on May 9th, 2003 at the Archdiocesan Chapel of St. Paul the Apostle.
On Saturday, May 10th, 2003 His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios together with His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos, His Eminence, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, His Eminence, Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta and several other Hierarchs, ordained the Very Reverend Archimandrite Evangelos Kourounis to the Episcopacy at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
The Enthronement of His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos as the Spiritual Leader of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey took place on Sunday, May 11th, 2003 at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Theologian in Tenafly, New Jersey.
H. E. Metropolitan Evangelos succeeds Metropolitan Silas and Bishop George of New Jersey. With the new Charter granted to the Archdiocese by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2003, the Diocese of New Jersey, which was established in 1977, was elevated to a Metropolis. Therefore, Metropolitan Evangelos is the first Hierarch enthroned as Metropolitan of New Jersey.
Upon his election Archbishop Demetrios stated: "I am sure that by the Grace and strength from God, the new Metropolitan of New Jersey will prove to be a true imitator of our Good Shepherd Jesus Christ and will lead the devoted flock of his God-saved Metropolis to 'springs of living water" (Rev. 7:17)
The Metropolis is comprised of fifty-five parishes in New Jersey, the Greater Philadelphia area, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
Metropolis of New Jersey Website: http://www.nj.goarch.org/
Name day: March 25
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