New York.- All soccer and basketball games of the Greek Orthodox parishes’ athletic leagues in the Archdiocesan Direct District were expected to be cancelled last weekend, following the acceptance by the head of the Youth Office, Deacon Evagoras of the resignations of all lay officers that run the leagues. At the same time, a letter was posted on Friday, at the District Youth Office’s web site, presenting the Athletic Ministries Rules and Guidelines Manual, to be implemented immediately.
“We made it clear that we cannot stay if our role is demoted to an advisory one”, one of the co-signers of the letter (published two weeks ago in the Greek News) said.
Following the letter of the 33 lay people, many of them received phone calls by the Archdiocese or parish priests to recall their signatures.
Deacon Evagoras, who is the godson of Chancellor Bishop Antonios of Fasiani, in his announcement speaks about “many false statements and rumors circulated, as to what is, or is not in this Manual” and denies that the role of the lay men will be advisory.
“I think that after a thorough and complete reading of the Guidelines, after prayer and meditation, you will confidently join me in knowing that these changes are for the best and represent the next step in the natural growth of our Leagues and Athletic Ministries”, Deacon Evagoras says.
Following is the text of the announcement, posted on October 28, 2011
“Dear Faithful of the Direct Archdiocesan District,
Today, on behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, it is my honor to present to you the Athletic Ministries Rules and Guidelines Manual, to be immediately implemented in every athletic league of the Direct Archdiocesan District. As many of you know, this Manual is the result of an effort of a dedicated group of lay people and the Youth Office with the joint goal of ensuring that our beloved athletic leagues run equitably, transparently and with financial responsibility. Most importantly, this Manual places the needs, cares, concerns and safety of the young people participating in the District’s athletic leagues as its first priority.
Unfortunately, in recent days, there have been many false statements and rumors circulated, as to what is, or is not in this Manual. I would like to take a brief moment to address these:
1. The League Directors and Steering Committees (formerly executive boards) of each league will continue to administer their respective leagues, and they are not, nor ever have been, nor ever will be, considered advisory. Without the hard work of our dedicated volunteers, these leagues would not exist. We thank Almighty God for these wonderful volunteers. While there is now a clear reporting procedure for accidents and other such things, the leagues will still administer themselves, with oversight and guidance provided by the Youth Office, as has always been the case.
2. The positions of Athletic Delegate and Youth Commissioner are important for the way our Athletic Ministries work. However, during the course of the preparation of this Manual, the position of Athletic Delegate far surpassed its original intentions as outlined by the “Mandate and Purpose” of the Youth Commission at its inception in the Spring of 2010. This Mandate, which clearly spells out the purpose and goal of the Youth Commission, as well as the function and role of each member thereof, is also included in the Manual. Never during this process has there been the intention to unfairly exclude any individual, but rather to remain true to the purpose and structure of the Youth Commission as established by His Eminence and to clarify the appropriate and correct relationship between the Youth Commission, the Youth Office, and its Athletic Leagues.
3. Decision making does not solely lie with the Youth Office. As described above, and as you will find in the pages of this Manual, there is a very simple and efficient way for decisions to be made that includes both the laity who administer the leagues and our Youth Office that oversees and provides guidance for our leagues. Never should any person feel that their voice is not heard or their opinion not valued in this process. As you will see outlined in the guidelines, we all work together for the growth of these ministries and the betterment of our young people.
I encourage you to take a moment and read through the entire Athletic Ministries Rules and Guidelines Manual. As you will see, it is absolutely going to enhance the way our Athletic Ministries run, and I think that after a thorough and complete reading of the Guidelines, after prayer and meditation, you will confidently join me in knowing that these changes are for the best and represent the next step in the natural growth of our Leagues and Athletic Ministries.
I thank you for your patience and your dedication. I know that with dedication comes passion, and I have felt the passion of so many people throughout this process. It is that same passion that we must harness towards improving these Athletic Ministries for the benefit of our young people. We must use this passion to encourage our young people to participate actively in Church and to live lives worthy of Christ. After all the hard work, dedication, passion and love that has been poured into the production of this Manual, it is now our mission to work together in order to carry out our shared goal of placing Christ at the center of the Athletic Ministries of the District.
This Manual will not only benefit our children this year, but will furthermore benefit future generations of youth in the Direct Archdiocesan District as they grow up within the framework of the Church and experience our Athletic Ministries. Let us all join together to follow the rules and guidelines set forth in this Manual to not only ensure uniformity and transparency, but also fairness and love. I firmly believe that this Manual will keep both the interests of our beloved Church and our children who participate in these ministries as our first priorities.
I look forward to another amazing year of Youth Ministry here in the Direct Archdiocesan District, to another season of fun and energetic Athletic Ministries, and most of all, to continue to get to know and work with all of you.”