NEW YORK, NY – By Revekka Papadopoulou
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew departed the United States on Sunday afternoon, November 7, following a 12-day apostolic visit that was extended for four more days due to a medical procedure.
His All-Holiness was escorted to New York’s JFK international airport by Bishop Apostolos of Medea, Consul General of Greece to New York, Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, and Consul of Greece, Dimitris Papageorgiou.
Patriarch Bartholomew concluded His 8th visit to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America since 1997, that has covered Washington, DC, Weirton, WV, South Bend, IN, and New York City, with words of gratitude and a message of love.
Here is the text of His All Holiness’ remarks as prepared for delivery upon His departure from the United States:
“At this special hour, when we depart the United State of America, we convey to you our paternal and Patriarchal satisfaction for this Visit to a truly great country. We were able to see aspects that had been heretofore hidden, and meet new faces and new friends, as well as reacquaint ourselves with many dear and old friends.
We bid farewell to all with a heart filled with emotion and hope for the future. We first came to the United States as Patriarch in 1997 for the 75th anniversary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. And we leave now on the cusp on the 100th anniversary. We have only gratitude to Almighty God for His grace and mercy to grant us such a panorama and view of the life of this precious Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne.
We express our gratitude to our beloved brother in Christ, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, to their Eminences the Metropolitans of the Holy Eparchial Synod, as well as to their Graces the auxiliary Bishops. We also thank the reverend clergy and laity and all the faithful, whom we have visited.
We have had the opportunity to meet with so many faithful, and with ecumenical leaders. Our heart has been open to all and full of love and respect for all. We salute this land of liberty, where every human person is respected, no matter their beliefs. We fervently pray that the people of the United States will always enjoy spiritual prosperity, principles of peace, love and brotherhood, and the triumph of truth.
Most of all, we cherish the time passed with our own Orthodox faithful, the Bishops, priests, laypeople, and especially the children, that have made this visit so enjoyable and so memorable. We have prayed together and strengthened the bonds of love that secure the unity of the Church. We have feasted together and shared the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. When we think of the faces of the children, the most precious treasure of the American Orthodox communities, we are filled with hope for the future.
The Holy Archdiocese of America is a newly planted branch of the ancient vine of Christ’s First-Called Disciple, Saint Andrew.
Your roots reach down deep into the history and tradition of the Mother Church. Hold fast these traditions and stand fast in the Orthodox Faith.
We leave you with a heart filled with paternal affection and the same commandment we imparted nearly a quarter of a century ago: “Love one another. There is no greater gift you can give to our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift you can give to your children. There is no greater gift you can give to each other… than love.”
And so, as we bid you farewell, we leave you with a heart filled by your love, and we commend all of you to the love of God. May his love, peace and hope fill your hearts unto overflowing.
At this point, we find it “meet and right” to express our sincere gratitude to the doctors and medical personnel of Mount Sinai Hospital for their great care and effective treatment they offered to our Modesty during the last part of our trip. We were greatly impressed by the combination of their professionalism and scientific expertise with the qualities of kindness, compassion and empathy. We would be remiss if we failed to also thank His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros for his ceaseless interest for our physical well-being, as well as for providing us throughout our Apostolic visit with the precious assistance of Dr. George Dangas. We are also very moved by the messages and expressions of solidarity and love that we have received by many of you, as well as by your fervent prayers.
We bestow on all of you our paternal and Patriarchal blessing, invoking upon you the grace of God, the great “physician of our souls and bodies.”
“Δόξα τῷ Θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν!” “Glory be to God for all things!”