By Theodore Kalmoukos
Participants received a new vision and saw better prospects for the future of the Greek-American Community since the Church is its basic foundation.
All of the events pertaining to the enthronement were presented with grandeur and honor, and in an orderly manner, as befits this highly symbolic and historic moment, the enthronement of a new Archbishop.
There was much enthusiasm and many expressions of good wishes and prayers. Acclamations and cheers of “AXIOS,” which means worthy, emerged from the hearts and mouths of people of all generations when they saw their new spiritual father and teacher in the faith, Archbishop Elpidophoros, coming. Children were tossing flower petals in his path and exclaiming “AXIOS” and “welcome Your Eminence.”
The Archbishop was continuously blessing them and smiling at them. He smiles all the time, another sign of a person at peace with himself and in possession of a joyful soul which is reflected on his face.
Please allow me this personal testimony, that all the years that I have known the Archbishop since he was a lay theologian, he was always smiling and cheerful, approachable and personable, making his interlocutor feel comfortable from the very beginning of their meetings and discussions.
The minute he entered the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity the congregation started applauding and repeating the exclamation AXIOS as the Archbishop continuously blessed the faithful. The highlight of the day was when he approached his mother, Mrs. Eleni Lambriniadis, embraced her and kissed her hand; she then kissed her son’s hand.
It was that very scene that brought tears to the eyes of many in the congregation, seeing a mother realize her dream of seeing her son elevated to the Archiepiscopal Throne of the Archdiocese of America, with his authority spread across the most prominent and powerful country of the contemporary world.
Archbishop Elpidophoros’ behavior towards Metropolitan Avgoustinos of Germany, who was his mentor during his time of graduate studies in Germany, was also very touching and proper. When Metropolitan Avgoustinos was handing him the archpastoral staff on behalf of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, which was an act of high significance and ecclesiastical symbolism, the Archbishop embraced and kissed him, and he also kissed his hand. He did the same thing with his predecessor, Archbishop Demetrios. These were acts that show ecclesiastical ethos, reverence, and honor to senior hierarchs, respectful of their lengthy service to the Church after their ordination to the high priesthood.
And something else: The Archbishop was standing for more than two hours greeting all the faithful and giving them a souvenir of a small cross for his enthronement. He also had a good word for everyone and he didn’t refuse anyone who wanted to be photographed with him. This is who Elpidophoros is, a prelate full of humanity, kindness, and humility. He made a good beginning – but he has a tough road ahead of him because of the condition of the Archdiocese in general. The situations of St. Nicholas at Ground Zero and the School of Theology can only be described as dire. Our best wishes and prayers are with him for the good and advancement of our Church and Community.