Father Pavlos Patitsas is a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New Zealand which is under the spiritual omophorion of the Œcumenical Patriarchate. He is originally from the United States of America. He grew up in the lovely parish of the Annunciation in Akron, Ohio and was one of the many priests who came from that vibrant and godly parish. He has served the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in many capacities since his youth, and was ordained to the priesthood by His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh in 1992. He served three parishes in the US (Ypapanti, East Pittsburgh, PA, St. Demetrios, Rocky River, OH, and St. George, Albuquerque, NM) and now serves the Holy Trinity Church in Auckland, New Zealand. He and his Presvytera Katerina have three children whom they love to distraction…
The work of those sent by God
I am writing to you from New Zealand. It may be that you did not know that the Orthodox Church does Ierapostolé in New Zealand and it is only recently that the Greek Orthodox Church, at the direction of the Œumenical Patriarchate has begun to do Ierapostolé in the Islands of Oceania, in Tonga, and Fiji and just now in Samoa as well. I am serving in Auckland at the behest of His Eminence Archbishop Amfilochios of New Zealand, who is the Œcumenical Exarch of Oceania and responsible to the Patriarch for establishing Orthodox Christian Churches in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa which until recently have not had an Orthodox Christian witness come to them.
Since we are just getting to know each other, dear reader, you may be unfamiliar with the word Ierapostolé. This beautiful word, which is part of our Orthodox Christian heritage, is often rendered in English from the Latin word meaning sent: missio. Of course, we generally translate Ierapostolé into English as “mission work”. But I think that if we recover this word which is such a beautiful part of our tradition we will see that the word Ierapostle (the person sent) and Ierapostolé (the work itself) include a very important prefix not present in the English language-that being Iero or Sacred, Holy, or even Saintly and, of course, the root word apostle which most English readers would recognize as meaning not only sent but sent to continue the work of the Apostles. Interestingly enough, the word apostle is actually from two Greek words: the prefix apo meaning from and the root word stelno meaning I send. So the Apostle is one sent out from Christ.
Being careful with words
Being careful with words is important to us the Orthodox because we remember that we will have to give an account at the judgment seat for every careless word. We want to be sure that the words that we pick to express our faith convey the full content and meaning of our apostolic inheritance.
If you are still reading, dear reader, then I thank you. I know that it is easy to be put off by words and perhaps my choice of words and odd spellings might seems to you pedantic or contrived. My hope, instead, is to engage you in a dialogue of faith that you will find ultimately enriching because it connects you to ideas and concepts that might also be foreign to you but which express the Orthodox faith which was once and for all transmitted to the saints.
Perhaps that is enough for now. Ierapostolé is a great privilege and I am privileged to be the witness of a great Ierapostle, His Eminence Archbishop Amfilochios, who is with great love seeking to implant the faith of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ into the lives of the people of Oceania. May God bless his work.
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