New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America held on Saturday a Virtual Town Hall meeting with the Metropolitans of the Eparchial Synod, the Bishops, and over 325 members of the National Clergy, organized by the Archdiocese Presbyters Council (APC), in order to discuss the magnitude of the Pandemic crisis and took questions from the clergy.
The Archbishop briefed the clergy on last night’s discussion that he had with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, where they identified two areas in which the Church can especially assist the wider community of each parish:
1) Organize support around the families of doctors, nurses and health care workers who now have to spend time away from their homes.
2) Organize support to provide meals and nutrition to children experiencing scarcity.
Speaking to the Secretary, the Archbishop said: “Mr. Secretary, the Headquarters of the Archdiocese is at the epicenter of the crisis, but please remember that we are a nationwide Church. We are here to help and we will help. I pray that God will continue to give strength and courage to you in your efforts and to the heroic doctors and healthcare professionals who are saving lives every day.”
In the course of the call with the APC, His Eminence updated the clergy on the tools and practical solutions that the Archdiocese is providing, and pastoral guidelines that apply during this pandemic.
In his introductory remarks the Archbishop spoke about the measures taken during the pandemic.
“We have taken extraordinary measures – and I do mean the restrictions about limiting our public assemblies. But never forget, the Ekklesia extends far beyond the four walls of any church building. We are celebrating the Divine Liturgy for the life of the world, and whether your service is live-streamed or not, it is vital that it take place”.
He advised the priests to show great care with how their live-streaming service is shown on video.
“Better not to present the Liturgy in a format with poor audio and bad camera angles than to broadcast it at all. Remember, the Divine Service is not a show; it is worship, and the Faithful are edified just knowing that the Liturgy of the Church continues. They will pray and chant, light candles and burn incense, venerate icons and even relics in their own homes.”
He said that this season of fasting from the Divine Services is creating the holy desire for the Banquet of the Liturgy.
“The faithful will be even more hungry for the tangible experience of worship once the danger has passed. In the meanwhile, our conduct as clergy, and how we bring the value of our ministry to the faithful, is more important than ever.”
We told the priest to “be a model pastor” and ask their faithful for their needs.
“Ask them for names to pray for, and assure them of your prayers for them. Your parishioners need to know that you are commemorating all of them by name in every Proskomide, aloud and with a particle for each name. They need you to communicate with them regularly and frequently. Reach out personally across all communication platforms: From the traditional telephone, to digital on social media and video conferencing.”
He also advised them to make home visits and bring Holy Communion to them as they request, and offer the Sacrament, even if they do not request. But take every necessary precaution for your own health and the health of your faithful.
In addition, to help the efforts to collect donations, he said that “over the coming days, the Archdiocese will support your efforts by providing you a “digital tool box” that will cover needs ranging from online donations to ministry resources to parish “streaming kits,” to keep your parish running both financially and liturgically.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros told the priests that he does not yet know whether we shall be able to celebrate with the Assembly of the Faithful, and we are preparing, if necessary, recommendations for how to observe this most sacred Week of the year without the participation of your parishioners. These guidelines will come as suggestions so that your people do not feel utterly left out of the Holy Services.
Finally, in regards to the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Elpidophoros said that it “is in doubt as I speak, not only because venues will be closed off and others may be cancelled, but because we have to take into consideration the time it will take to restore social confidence after the crisis has passed.”