By Amelia Antzoulatos
On the evening of Friday, April 22, 2022, after presiding over the Vespers of the Descent from the Cross at Astoria’s Saint Catherine Church earlier in the day, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America visited the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in Brooklyn for the Service of the Lamentations.
“Tonight’s celebration of our holy Epitaphios Service is an invitation to join in the procession of the numberless Christians who have come before us—across all the generations—in the Burial of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said the Archbishop in his Homily.
A number of honored guests also joined the community for the service and procession, including incoming Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso; incoming Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Diana Richardson; New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes; Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, His Excellency Robert J. Brennan; Consul General of Greece Dr. Konstantinos Koutras; and Executive Director of Leadership 100 Paulette Poulos.
As the congregation followed the Epitaphio out of the church and through the neighborhood, it eventually met with the procession of the nearby Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, led by Archpriest Thomas P. Zain, Dean of the Cathedral, and Archimandrite Jeremy Davis, who represented Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America that night. During a small joint prayer service outside, the two communities sang the first verse of each Stasis of the Lamentations in Greek, Arabic, and English.
Mr. Reynoso also addressed the Orthodox Christian community in Brooklyn for the first time ahead of his inauguration this Sunday, stating, “I’m happy to be celebrating this Easter and this Good Friday here with the Orthodox community. I want to say that the beauty and greatness of Brooklyn come from its diversity, its cultures, and its religions… May we continue to celebrate together.”
In his remarks, Archbishop Elpidophoros said, “I am so thrilled, so inspired, so moved by this common procession— that we had the two parishes, the two cathedrals tonight showing to the world that when we follow Christ, we are together; we are working to the same direction; we are all brothers and sisters…In this procession, everyone has a place because Jesus came to save the whole world…”.
The Archbishop presented an icon of the Hospitality of Abraham to Father Zain, “as a sign of our brotherhood in Christ.” Father Zain in turn presented the Archbishop with an icon of the Synaxis of the Saints of Antioch, commissioned by the St. Nicholas Cathedral.
Upon returning to the church after the procession, the Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral presented the Archbishop with a check in the amount of $10,000, in fulfillment of its 2022 commitment as Founding Members of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation.
Fr. Evagoras Constantinides, Dean of the Cathedral, also acknowledged the presence of several representatives from the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, including the Rev. Protopresbyter Andreas Vithoulkas, Archiepiscopal Vicar of Saint Nicholas, and Presvytera Anthoula; Presvytera Ourania Romas, widow of Fr. John Romas, the Proistamenos of Saint Nicholas on 9/11; and a number of Parish Council members.
According to Fr. Constantinides, since 2001, the Cathedral has become a kind of “adopted home” for the Saint Nicholas community, and the congregation continues to sing the Apolytikion of both Saints Constantine and Helen and of Saint Nicholas every Sunday until the Consecration of the new shrine.