Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message November 1, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I trust and pray you are well. The recent months behind us, and the time ahead has been, and certainly will be full of challenges and opportunities to seek out, participate in, and extend God’s mercies. I do not know of anyone that has not been touched in some way by either the physical or economic impact of the pandemic. Of course, I believe that we are also spiritually impacted by the recent circumstances our world finds itself in right now. This is obvious and painful. 

Thankfully, there are in people dedicated completely to the welfare, betterment, dignity, comfort and protection of God’s precious children. Yes, indeed, the literal children – the vulnerable, little ones. But ALL his children who suffer, are in want, face crisis, have been displaced, lack basic needs, or find themselves lost in any way. For our Archdiocese, this group of protectors, sustainers, comforters and providers is the National Philoptochos Society, and by extension, parish-based women’s philanthropy groups, such as our Women’s Ministry Team.

The Philoptochos (literally translated as “Friends of the Poor”) is actually the second largest women’s auxiliary group in America. Our former Archbishop Michael established the Philoptochos to be the charitable arm of the church. Just like individual Greek Orthodox parishes, the Philoptochos is made up of chartered organizations based in local parishes. Philoptochos operates on the local, Metropolis and Archdiocese levels, just like the Archdiocese itself.  They have their own governing body, organization, physical headquarters and system.

They are a unique ministry under the umbrella of our National Church.
As our parish is newly-established, and have only received our charter as a parish in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America this past summer, we have yet to take the formal steps of maturing our Women’s Ministry Team into a Philoptochos Chapter. This will take time. Such transitions, while eventual and necessary, take time, sensitivity, education and conscious effort. No doubt, us being largely apart still, due to coronavirus, has dampened the efforts to work towards such a lofty goal.

I can say without reservation, that the most important, energizing, Christ-centered and pure work of the church in America, coupled with our liturgical life, is the work that these thousands of dedicated women work towards and provide. Without a doubt, and above the call, the ladies of our Women’s Ministry Team are included.

I bring this up on this day, as tomorrow, Sunday November 1, 2020 is the Feast Day of Saints Cosmas and Damian, two twin-brother physicians who dedicated their lives to healing for the sake of glorifying God and comforting His children. I have included within the body of this writing, an Encyclical from His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, as these saints are the patron saints of Philoptochos and by extension, our Women’s Ministry Team. Please prayerfully read his words and contemplate his message…

Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries, Saints Cosmas and Damian November 1, 2020

Πορευόµενοι δὲ κηρύσσετε λέγοντες ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. Ἀσθενοῦντας θεραπεύετε, λεπροὺς καθαρίζετε, νεκροὺς ἐγείρετε, δαιµόνια ἐκβάλλετε· δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε.

And as you go, proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand! Cure the infirm, cleanse and restore the lepers, raise up the dead, cast out demons. Generously you have received, generously give.
                                                                                                                                                                             – (Matthew 10:7-8)

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we commemorate the Holy Unmercenaries, Cosmas and Damian – patrons of our National Philoptochos. These physician Saints are called Ἀνάργυροι – “renouncers of silver,” because they applied their healing arts without ever accepting payment of any kind. Theirs was a health care system that treated the whole person: body, mind, heart, and spirit.

Their ministry was based above all in love, and love was always their motivation. How appropriate it is that these brothers are the Heavenly Patrons of our National Philoptochos, for the Philoptochos is above all else a sisterhood of love – love for the poor, whether that poverty is economic, emotional, or spiritual.

Therefore, on this Sunday when we celebrate these wondrous Saints, our National Philoptochos has dedicated their collections that are being taken across the Archdiocese for the needs and the support of the benevolent and philanthropic ministries of our Mother Church of Constantinople.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate provides concrete services to orphans and the poor at the Baloukli Hospital and Senior Center. When you offer generously, I pray that each of you offer as to your own mother, with an intention to be of the most help possible. We depend on our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and local Philoptochos chapters for this special offering, and they deserve all our gratitude.
Especially in the time of the pandemic, the needs are great and conditions are challenging. Your generosity is a proclamation that the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived, has come unto the world. For the Lord said that the ministries of healing recognize the gift of God that we have all received, and thus we can give to others.

Thank you for your love for our Holy Mother Church, and on behalf of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, I express the deep gratitude of the Great Church of Christ for the ongoing support of the Ladies Philoptochos Society and the faithful of our Holy Archdiocese for these precious ministries.

With paternal love in our Lord Jesus Christ,

† ELPIDOPHOROS Archbishop of America

As we do not have a tradition of “passing trays” on Sundays, I ask that if you feel compelled to participate in such an opportunity of giving, please send your donations to St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church, earmarked for Philoptochos, and we will supplement, and forward donations taken from our community. 

This also gives me the opportunity to thank our St. Anna’s Women’s Ministry Team, especially through our co-presidents Beverly Bartel and Joanne Dokos for the countless hours they all dedicate to the principals and actions of their precious and philanthropic work. The ladies of our WMT are gems in the crown that is our parish. 

May the Feast of the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian be an inspiration to us all. 

May the work of our Women’s Ministry Team continue to be blessed, especially in times of great need, and while great limitations are placed on their efforts to gather, raise funds and work.

May our national organizations, especially those solely dedicated to philanthropic (philanthropy – literally translated as “friends of mankind”) work and Philoptochos specifically, find the support necessary to continue their mission.

May we all continue to navigate these days with faith, vision, trust, hope and joy. I love and miss you all tremendously. I remain,

With Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony Savas


Weekly Bulletin for November 1, 2020

Weekly Bulletin for November 1, 2020

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message October 25, 2020

The Holy Great-Martyr Demetrius – Celebrating Monday, October 26

This glorious and wonderworking saint was born in Thessalonica of noble and devout parents. Implored of God by childless parents, Demetrius was their only son, and so was raised and educated with great care. Demetrius’s father was a commander in Thessalonica. When his father died, Emperor Maximian appointed Demetrius as commander in his place.

As he appointed him, Maximian, an opponent of Christ, particularly recommended that he persecute and exterminate the Christians in Thessalonica. Demetrius not only disobeyed the emperor but openly confessed and preached the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Thessalonica. When the emperor heard of this he became furious with Demetrius. Then, when he was returning from battle against the Sarmatians, Maximian stopped at Thessalonica to investigate the matter.

The emperor summoned Demetrius and questioned him about his faith. Demetrius openly acknowledged his Christian Faith to the emperor and also denounced the emperor’s idolatry. Maximian cast Demetrius into prison. Knowing what was awaiting him, Demetrius gave all his goods to his faithful servant Lupus to distribute to the poor, and joyfully awaited his imminent suffering for Christ the Lord. An angel of God appeared to him in prison, saying: “Peace be to you, O sufferer of Christ; be brave and be strong!” After several days, the emperor sent soldiers to the prison to kill Demetrius.

The soldiers found the saint of God at prayer and ran him through with lances. Christians secretly took his body and honorably buried it. Healing myrrh flowed from the body of the martyr of Christ, curing many of the sick. Soon, a small church was built over his relics.

An Illyrian nobleman, Leontius, was afflicted with an incurable illness. He hastened, with prayer, to the relics of St. Demetrius and was completely healed. In thanksgiving, Leontius erected a much larger church on the site of the old church. The saint appeared to him on two occasions.

When Emperor Justinian wanted to translate the relics of the saint from Thessalonica to Constantinople, flaming sparks sprang from the tomb and a voice was heard: “Stop, and do not touch!” And thus, the relics of St. Demetrius have remained for all time in Thessalonica. As the protector of Thessalonica, St. Demetrius has appeared many times, and on many occasions has saved Thessalonica from great calamity. His miracles are without number. The Russians considered St. Demetrius to be the protector of Siberia, which was conquered and annexed to Russia on October 26, 1581.

From the Prolog of Ochrid

Weekly Bulletin for October 25, 2020

Weekly Bulletin for October 25, 2020

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message October 18, 2020

Apostle and Evangelist Luke of the Seventy

Saint Luke is commemorated on October 18.

St. Luke the Evangelist

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, was a native of Syrian Antioch, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil.1:24, 2 Tim. 4:10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. Hearing about Christ, Luke arrived in Palestine and fervently accepted the preaching of salvation from the Lord Himself.

As one of the Seventy Apostles, Saint Luke was sent by the Lord with the others to preach the Kingdom of Heaven during the Savior’s earthly life (Luke 10:1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saints Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.

Luke accompanied Saint Paul on his second missionary journey, and from that time they were inseparable. When Paul’s coworkers had forsaken him, only Luke remained to assist him in his ministry (2 Tim. 4:10-11). After the martyric death of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, Saint Luke left Rome to preach in Achaia, Libya, Egypt and the Thebaid. He ended his life by suffering martyrdom in the city of Thebes.

Tradition credits Saint Luke with painting the first icons of the Mother of God. “Let the grace of Him Who was born of Me and My mercy be with these Icons,” said the All-Pure Virgin after seeing the icons. Saint Luke also painted icons of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul. Saint Luke’s Gospel was written in the years 62-63 at Rome, under the guidance of the Apostle Paul. In the preliminary verses (1:1-3), Saint Luke precisely sets forth the purpose of his work. He proposes to record, in chronological order, everything known by Christians about Jesus Christ and His teachings.

By doing this, he provided a firmer historical basis for Christian teaching (1:4). He carefully investigated the facts, and made generous use of the oral tradition of the Church and of what the All-Pure Virgin Mary Herself had told him (2:19, 51).

In Saint Luke’s Gospel, the message of the salvation made possible by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the preaching of the Gospel, are of primary importance.

Saint Luke also wrote the Acts of the Holy Apostles at Rome around 62-63 A.D. The Book of Acts, which is a continuation of the four Gospels, speaks about the works and the fruits of the holy Apostles after the Ascension of the Savior. At the center of the narrative is the Council of the holy Apostles at Jerusalem in the year 51, a Church event of great significance, which resulted in the separation of Christianity from Judaism and its independent dissemination into the world (Acts 15:6-29). The theological focus of the Book of Acts is the coming of the Holy Spirit, Who will guide the Church “into all truth” (John 16:13) until the Second Coming of Christ.

The holy relics of Saint Luke were taken from Constantinople and brought to Padua, Italy at some point in history. Perhaps this was during the infamous Crusade of 1204. In 1992, Metropolitan Hieronymus (Jerome) of Thebes requested the Roman Catholic bishop in Thebes to obtain a portion of Saint Luke’s relics for the saint’s empty sepulchre in the Orthodox cathedral in Thebes.

The Roman Catholic bishop Antonio Mattiazzo of Padua, noting that Orthodox pilgrims came to Padua to venerate the relics while many Catholics did not even know that the relics were there, appointed a committee to investigate the relics in Padua, and the skull of Saint Luke in the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Vico in Prague.

The skeleton was determined to be that of an elderly man of strong build. In 2001, a tooth found in the coffin was judged to be consistent with the DNA of Syrians living near the area of Antioch dating from 72-416 A.D. The skull in Prague perfectly fit the neck bone of the skelton. The tooth found in the coffin in Padua was also found to fit the jawbone of the skull.

Bishop Mattiazzo sent a rib from the relics to Metropolitan Hieronymus to be venerated in Saint Luke’s original tomb in the Orthodox cathedral at Thebes.


Weekly Bulletin for October 18, 2020

Weekly Bulletin for October 18, 2020


Weekly Bulletin for October 11, 2020

Weekly Bulletin for October 11, 2020 Bible StudyOrthodox Inquirers Class

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message October 4, 2020

Wherever there are spiritual melodies, there does the grace of the Spirit come, sanctifying the mouth and soul.

 St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday is dedicated as National Church Music Sunday. This observance of our chanters and  choir members falls on the Sunday following the Feast of St. Romanos the Melodist on October first.

Saint Romanos the Melodist was born in the fifth century in the Syrian city of Emesa of Jewish parents. After moving to Constantinople, he became a church sacristan in the temple of Hagia Sophia. The monk spent his nights alone at prayer in a field or in the Blachernae church beyond the city.

Saint Romanos was not a talented reader or singer. Once, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, he read the Kathisma verses. He read so poorly that another reader had to take his place. The clergy ridiculed Romanos, which devastated him.

On the day of the Nativity, the Mother of God appeared to the grief-stricken youth in a vision while he was praying before her Kyriotissa icon. She gave him a scroll and commanded him to eat it. Thus was he given the gift of understanding, composition, and hymnography.

That evening at the all-night Vigil Saint Romanos sang, in a wondrous voice, his first Kontakion: “Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One…” All the hymns of Saint Romanus became known as kontakia, in reference to the Virgin’s scroll. Saint Romanus was also the first to write in the form of the Oikos, which he incorporated into the all-night Vigil at his places of residence (In Greek, “oikos”).

For his zealous service Saint Romanos was ordained as a deacon and became a teacher of song. Until his death, which occurred about the year 556, the Hierodeacon Romanos the Melodist composed nearly a thousand hymns, many of which are still used by Christians to glorify the Lord. About eighty survive.

This Sunday we will pray for and acknowledge the dedicated people who sing praises to God at our St. Anna Church. We honor those who chant the services today. And we support and pray for the members of our choir who patiently await the day we are permitted to utilize the choir in the church once again. To all of you, I offer my sincere thanks and the blessings of God.

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas


Weekly Bulletin for October 4, 2020

Weekly Bulletin for October 4, 2020 Sunday School 2020 Handout