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Ecumenical Patriarch: ‘The Orthodox Christians of the City [Istanbul], whoever we are, whatever we are, we are a family’

His All-Holiness presided from the Throne at the celebrating Church of Saint Paraskevi at Pikridi

“The Great Virgin-Martyr Saint Paraskevi, who is especially revered by devout Christians not only in Istanbul, but also in Romania, became along with Saint Paraskevi Epivatini a link between the Mother Church of Constantinople with the Romanian faithful here,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his address after the Divine Liturgy, at which he presided from the Throne today, Monday, July 26, 2021, at the celebrating Church of Saint Paraskevi at Pikridi, which has been granted by the Patriarchate to serve the Romanian-speaking community of the city. “The normal tradition of the Orthodox Church stipulates that in every city there should be only one sovereign Bishop, who is the spiritual father of all the faithful, of all the Orthodox who live in this city, regardless of ethnic origin,” His All-Holiness pointed out. He continued: “Consistent adherents of the Orthodox canonical order and ecclesiology, all of us Orthodox Christians of the City, whoever we are, whatever we are, we are a family, which is under the Archbishop of Constantinople, the Shepherd of the Romans, Romanians, Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians here. You are all beloved children of your Ecumenical Patriarch.”

His All-Holiness referred to today’s feast of Saint Paraskevi, which, as he said, is added to the celebration of the memory of about twenty Holy Women who are honored in the month of July, and are an example for modern Christians.

“In the middle of the heat of summer, the feast of Saint Paraskevi comes ‘as the dew of Hermon’ to offer refreshment and to be added to the chorus of the feasts of all those Holy Women, whose memory we celebrated during the current month of July. And they are many, about twenty, so that it is possible to call July ‘the month of the Holy Women,’ from whose life and spiritual effort we are taught what can be accomplished by Christian women, when their hearts are full of warmth and living faith in Christ and sincere love of neighbor. As some of them bore witness to Christ, others acted in the mission field and others became educators in Christ, inspiring and founding virtuous institutions and reforming society in the spirit of Christ. In the same way, modern Christian women, according to the conditions, requirements and needs of our time, can offer a great deal in the fields of ecclesiastical education, charity, and social solidarity.

“We rejoice, for we are in a position to demonstrate with satisfaction and pleasure that the ladies of the Greek Omogeneia, the Romies of the City, respond well to this sacred mission of the Christian woman. The work performed by them in the Philoptochos Society and the Syssitia, in our Hospitals and Nursing Homes, as well as in the camps of the First Island, testifies to their unshakeable love for their neighbor. Their sacrificial devotion and care for their households makes them commendable for continuing our honorable ancestral traditions.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch then referred to the life of Saint Paraskevi.

“Today, however, the life of the celebrated Saint Paraskevi is not only a shining example for women, but for each of us. In the New Testament, expressions are often found that characterize our lives as a race and a struggle, and remind us of the duty of spiritual effort, of struggle, of competition. Our goal is the Lord and eternal life in Him: ‘Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” And the reward for those who exercise well is the crown of righteousness, which the righteous Lord will render on that day.

“It is not a coincidence that the holy hymn writer in the apolytikion of Saint Paraskevi uses two expressions, ‘readiness’ and the name ‘champion,’ to show that this saint labored rightfully and well, since she was crowned and has been honored for centuries now, by all generations of Christians.

“If athletes who compete in the Olympics, such as these days in Tokyo, compete so diligently to win a gold medal, you realize, much-beloved children, how much greater should be our own zeal and how much higher our own determination to run the race, in order to win the praise and the crown of God Himself.

“Saint Paraskevi with her life enables us to live and know the mystery of the infinite love of God, Who in every moment, in all of our pain, fear and need, comes as our helper and supporter. This love of God is shown by the fact that we are here today and we perform the bloodless divine worship, here in this place of our ancestors, where for centuries God has been glorified and Saint Paraskevi has been honored.”

His All-Holiness in another part of his address expressed his deepest appreciation for the work performed in this Community by the Supervisor of the Tatula Region, His Eminence Metropolitan Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos. “We appreciate and love you personally, dear brother, and we commend the zeal and enthusiasm with which you undertook and performed your new duties. We warmly thank you for your cordial and pious address and we wish that you, in harmonious cooperation after the holy clergy of this region and the select Community agents in it, continue uninterruptedly the sacred work undertaken for the good of our Christians and the Mother Church.”

He also congratulated the Hierarchical Shepherd Fr. Sergio Vlad, “for his fruitful work, as well as for the affectionate interest he shows to our brothers in the Romanian parish here, to whom the unceasing care and care of the Holy Great Church of Christ granted this Holy Church to meet their worship and pastoral needs in their own language.”

Concluding his address, His All-Holiness expressed, on the occasion of today’s festive meeting, the thanks of the Mother Church to the Honorable Archon Exarchos Mr. Panagiotis Tsakos, who years ago undertook the renovation of the Holy Church of Saint Paraskevi. He also thanked him for the new donation he intends to make with the purchase of a plot of land that will be used as a playground for the students of Imvros.

Previously, His All-Holiness was addressed by His Eminence Metropolitan Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, who noted, among other things:

“Your physical presence in historic Pikridi, All-Holy Master, during the annual commemoration of our patron saint, comes to be added to a whole series of benefits of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for its children. Specifically, the use of our church was granted by our loving Mother Church to serve the worship and pastoral needs of our Romanian brothers and sisters, with whom we are connected by ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism.’ When, more than twenty years ago, the Romanian community grew and organized here in the City, the urgent need for the spiritual service of our brethren, who came from their lush homeland, arose. This church was deemed the most suitable for the occasion, due to its historical connection with the Danube countries, as evidenced by the burial monuments, which are located in its environs. In this way the Ecumenical Patriarchate, responding to the need of the circumstances, embraces its children with love, with interest and affection wherever they are, regardless of national origin, because as the Apostle of the Nations teaches us, ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek.’ Constantinople was and remains the loving Mother Church of the modern Autocephalous Churches, not only because it gave them the light of true faith and showed them the one and only way of salvation, but also because it remains always willing to serve the needs of all Orthodox Christians, regardless of race and language, as a supranational institution founded by God, as the Body of Christ, ‘one and undivided.’”

Then the Honorable Mr. Gherman Iulian, Consul of Romania in the City, spoke.

Present in the church were the God-loving Bishops Irineos of Rigi and Maximos of Melitini. The sermon was preached by the Patriarchal Deacon Oikumenios Amanatidis.

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