The first camp session of our Holy Metropolis, along with the Youth Assembly, the Philoptochos Assembly, the Clergy-Laity Assembly and the Clergy Retreat were all very successful.
The number of participants was greater than in any previous year as proven by the photos. There was full cooperation and understanding. All decisions were made unanimously, which proves the unity, understanding and cooperation of all.
The great surprise was the participation of the Greek Community of Greater Montreal (HCGM) and the admission of its President, Mr. Nikolaos Pagonis, that “We have all entered the sheep pen.” The HCGM signed a financial agreement with the Metropolis and now only the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) remains outside, since, despite signing an agreement with our Holy Metropolis, does not adhere to its conditions nor respect it. As is well known, there are sixteen (16) Greek Orthodox Communities in the Greater Toronto Area and the GCT is but one of the sixteen.
The Assemblies of our Holy Metropolis concluded with a Divine Liturgy which Metropolitan Sotirios presided and which included the participation of forty seven (47) priests.
The Clergy Retreat was of essential importance because many topics were discussed and important decisions were made including the following two:
A) Youth Assemblies have been scheduled for 2016 in Vancouver (British Columbia), Edmonton (Alberta), Winnipeg (Manitoba), London (Ontario), Toronto (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec) and Halifax (Nova Scotia). Summer camps have also been scheduled in 2016 in these same cities.
B) It was decided that the first part of the Divine Liturgy up until the scriptural readings will be chanted by the students of the Sunday and Greek schools and efforts will be made that the remainder of the Divine Liturgy will be chanted by all parishioners.
Participating in the official events of the Assemblies were: Mr. C. Menegakis, MP, representing Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Ambassador Andrew Bennett, Director of the Office of Religious Freedom of Canada, representing the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Rob Nicholson; and Minister Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board. Mr. Ioannis Amanatidis, Chairman of the Special Permanent Committee of Greeks Abroad and Alternate Secretary General of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, had committed to come from Greece to represent the Greek Parliament, but at the last minute, due to recent developments in Greece, cancelled his trip and the Consul General of Greece in Toronto Mr. A. Ioannidis represented Greece.
We thank the organizing Committee for the excellent organization and especially thank the Community of St. Katharine of St. Catharines Ontario; Fr. Demetrios Tzaneteas, Parish Priest; the President of the Community, Mr. H. Korosis, Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; the Community Council; the Philoptochos Society; the Youth and especially Mr. Stavros Lalos and Vasilis Makris; and, of course, the Elias and Dimitroula Dritsakis family who donated the food for the Grand Banquet for all 350 delegates. In addition, we fervently thank the Nitsopoulos Family in whose hotel the Assemblies of our Holy Metropolis took place — the service and amenities were excellent for which we especially thank Ms. Stella Nitsopoulos and her five sons.
The Assemblies of the Holy Metropolis of Toronto began with the extension of the paternal and patriarchal wishes and blessings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew by Metropolitan Sotirios, and by the singing of the pheme of His All-Holiness, and ended with the pheme of His All-Holiness.
Metropolitan Sotirios stated. “I’m delighted because our Assemblies were so successful. This is real progress. Every present year be better and every future year even better. I raise my mind, soul and heart and praise the Thrice Holy God and I thank Him for the many blessings He has reserved for our Orthodox Church in Canada. I also thank the Most-Holy Theotokos. I entreat that the love of God and the Theotokos will accompany us always. I submit to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the respect and filial devotion toward our Mother Church from us all.”
Video: 2015 Clergy-Laity Assembly Address by Metropolitan Sotirios