From Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Date Wed, 28 May 2008 09:00:36 -0700
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
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Tel: (212) 570-3530 Fax: (212) 774-0215
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2008
Contact: Stavros Papagermanos
Archbishop Demetrios Received at State Duma
Delegation Visits Philanthropic Institution of Moscow Patriarchate
MOSCOW ? Archbishop Demetrios of America was received at the State Duma of the Russian Federation on Monday, May 26th, together with the accompanying Hierarchs and members of the delegation. Before the official visit to the parliament of the Russian Federation, the Archbishop, accompanied by officials of the Moscow Patriarchate, visited the Central Hospital of the Moscow Patriarchate, a Church philanthropic institution restored to Church ownership only in the last decade.
The Archbishop and delegation were received at the gate of the hospital grounds by administrators of the hospital and the spiritual father of institution, Archpriest Arcady. The clergy escorted the delegation immediately to the main chapel of the facility, dedicated to Saint Alexy of Moscow, where over 100 high school pre-nursing students of the reestablishedâ??Sisters of Mercyâ?? were awaiting the Archbishop with flowers and hymns. As they lifted their voices in singing â??Christ is Risenâ??(â??Christos Voskreseâ??), prayers of thanksgiving were offered. Fr. Arcady officially welcomed the Archbishop and delegation on behalf of the doctors, nurses and administration of the hospital.
The Archbishop introduced the members of the delegation one by one, saving for last Mrs. Aphrodite Skeadas, Treasurer of National Philoptochos, who made a presentation of $25,000 to the hospital. In her remarks, Mrs. Skeadas gave greetings on behalf of the more that 27,000 women of Philoptochos throughout the Archdiocese of America. Offering in her address these words of explanation of the purpose of the organization to the very attentive young women of theâ??Sisters of Mercyâ?? high school program, she said:â??
The women of Philoptochos aspire to their mission and honor their devotion to our Risen Lord by using their faith, gifts, abilities, compassion and love to improve their families, their Orthodox communities, contemporary society and the worldâ ??.
Following the presentation of the Philoptochos gift to the Hospital, the more than 100 young women of the â??Sisters of Mercyâ?? program chanted ? to thee delight and surprise of the delegation ? the famous hhymn of St. Nektarios of Aegina, â??Agni Parthene,â?? (in Greek) in honor of the day. The students then came forward one by one to receive the blessing of the Archbishop, and the delegation proceeded to a tour of the Hospital while â??Christ is Risenâ?? was chanted.
During the visit of the hospital, Archbishop Demetrios personally greeted some of the patients on the neurological ward, blessing them and sharing a pastoral moment with them. As the delegation has two physicians, Dr. Antoine Harovas and Dr. Anthony Limberakis, there were also discussions related to the healthcare system in Russia that started in the halls of the hospital and continued at a reception offered to the delegation by Fr. Arcady. As in all the visits on this pilgrimage, the hospitality and gifts were only equaled by the warmth and respect afforded the Archbishop and all the members of the delegation.
After the visit to the hospital, the delegation departed for the State Duma, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, where the Archbishop was received by the Deputy Chairman, Liubov K. Sliska and various members and officials. As Deputy Chairman Sliska welcomed the Archbishop and the members of the delegation in a formal Hall of the Duma, she spoke of the great honor ? both to herself and to thee State Duma, to receive for the first time â??the Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.â?? She thanked the Archbishop for his visit and expressed great appreciation for his prayers and the prayers of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in connection with the reunification of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). She spoke with great praise for Patriarch Alexy, and his leadership of the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church. She also expressed her hopes that the visit of the Archbishop to Russia would contribute in a positive way to the relations between the United States and Russia.
The Archbishop spoke of the importance of the historical relations of Russia and United States, and stressed the support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for many of the issues that are important to the Russian people. The Archbishop also expressed deep satisfaction at coming to this center of government, the State Duma, and finding such a deep commitment to the Orthodox Faith.
In the evening, the Archbishop and the delegation were guests of Patriarch Alexy at a concert and performance in the Auditorium of Christ the Savior Cathedral. The performance, including music, poetry and dance, were a continuation of the celebration of Slavic Letters Day. The Archbishop sat with the Patriarch throughout the evening, and accompanied him to a reception afterwards.
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