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,
As we see the tragedy and struggle of many people around the world who are being expelled from their homelands, forced to become refugees, and seeking the basic provisions of life, we call to remembrance the tragedy and struggles of our own heritage. This month we commemorate the 94th anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe. In 1922 tens of thousands of Greeks in Smyrna fled their homes and businesses as these together with churches were burned. Many lost their lives in the chaos and fires, and the remainder became refugees as their ancestral lands, livelihoods and well-being were taken from them violently.
In recognition of this and many related tragic events of that era, I ask the parishes of our Holy Archdiocese to have special observances and memorial services on Sunday, September 18. Together, let us remember our forbearers who perished and commemorate the valor shown by those who survived. Let us honor the memory and sacrifice of those who suffered. As we are confronted by the crises in our contemporary world, let us find strength and guidance in our Orthodox faith, just as many did in those dark days, placing their hope for deliverance and salvation in Almighty God.
Through our faith in God and our remembrance of our heritage, we are able to lead in offering comfort and assistance to those in need today. May the memory of our fathers and mothers who demonstrated great courage in the Asia Minor Catastrophe inspire us to offer hope, and may our experience of the grace of God lead us to show compassion to all.
With paternal love in Him,
Archbishop of America