New York – Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America described the Greek Orthodox faith in America through the four tenets of language, truth, spirituality and faith, during the inaugural event in the “Orthodoxy in America” lecture series held in the McGinley Center ballroom on Feb. 4.
This lecture, which was attended by nearly 400 people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, was the first in a series designed to strengthen the ties that bind the Jesuit and Orthodox communities. The series will address the history, theology, spirituality and worship of the Orthodox tradition, as it relates to contemporary American culture.
In his lecture, titled “The Dynamics of the Orthodox Faith in America,” Archbishop Demetrios discussed how the Greek Orthodox faith of Hellenic tradition has emerged in American society. “The Orthodox faith has been involved in long-term…developmental processes in new lands and countries and it has worked to maintain its identity at all costs,” said Archbishop Demetrios.
According to Archbishop Demetrios, the Orthodox faith considers theological works as “highly sophisticated linguistic achievements” that should convey the “vital expression of life” through language. More than 50 years ago, very little Orthodox theological research or texts existed in English. Most literature was written in the more rhythmic and lyrical Greek, Latin or Slavic languages, as opposed to the utilitarian English language. English theological writings have since flourished as the faith has gained a foothold in the United States.
“Greek Orthodox theological writing in America is immense and highly diversified, while still inspiring and beautiful,” said Archbishop Demetrios.
Archbishop Demetrios also said that in today’s world, faith can act as a healing commodity that promotes balance and contributes to a sense of wholeness. He further explained that despite a shift away from spirituality, the truth of the Gospel would always remain absolute.
“People don’t seem to have the time to deal with their spirituality anymore,” said Archbishop Demetrios. He added, “If God is the absolute priority, then any other priorities will follow.”
His visit to Fordham extends the University’s longstanding relationship with the Eastern Orthodox Christian community. The University offers courses that focus on the Eastern Christian tradition, and it sponsors a daylong Pan-Orthodox retreat each year. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated on campus monthly, and an Orthodox priest is available to all students for counseling and confessions. Fordham has chapters of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship and the Hellenic Society has been at the University for more than 20 years.
“For generations the sons and daughters of Orthodox families have come to Fordham to pursue their college degrees,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University before the archbishop. “They have enriched the life of our University with their serious approach to their studies and with their devotion to the University and its mission.”
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University, also welcomed the archbishop and offered the opening prayer.
Following the lecture, Archbishop Demetrios was presented with an icon of St. Demetrios from Fordham’s Hellenic Society and Orthodox Christian Fellowship.