As you know very well, my family and I have been here at St. George for nearly 18 years. I was only 35 years old when I took the helm of this parish but, despite my age, I had one goal in mind: to be an honorable spiritual father to all of you and to create a feeling of being a true family that worshipped our heavenly Father with one mind and heart. Over the years, like in any family, we have had our ups and downs but, I can honestly say, and many have told me over the past many years, that St. George really is like a family. For sure, you have become our family.
I’ve lived and breathed St. George for the past 18 years. I know its history and its people better than almost anyone. You became my life and I was the more blessed for it. You embraced us, all of us, especially our two girls as your own. You loved them, encouraged them, and gave them a wonderful example to follow. For this rock-solid foundation that you created, this feeling of being part of an extended family, a spiritual family, we will always be eternally grateful.
At the same time, some of you know that our situation in our biological family has changed substantially over the past few years. Our parents are not as healthy as they used to be and are in need of a considerable amount of assistance. This has created quite a burden on Penny and our siblings.
So, my beloved family, I can hardly believe that I’m about to say this but, after 18 years, my family and I will be leaving St. George at the end of September in order to move closer to our families and to have my father-in-law move in with us. This is the one and only reason for our move. My last Sunday liturgy will be on September 29. On October 1, I will officially become the pastor of St. Spyridon Cathedral in Worcester. I realize that for some, relatively few, this announcement may come as a shock. Please understand however, that my family has often taken a backseat to the parish – more times than I could possibly count – because I knew that someone else could fill in for me. That is no longer the case; I am needed by my family. Others may wonder if this move is a step up somehow. I assure you; it is not. As a priest, it is simply a lateral move closer to family. I have long said that St. George is one of the best parishes anywhere and I will continue to believe that as long as you, the faithful, remain committed to its success.
Over the next two months, I will continue to be actively involved in every aspect of the church’s life. I will not be taking any time off. I will assist the Parish Council, the office staff, and anyone else I can with the transition to another priest. At this point, I don’t know who the next pastor will be, but His Eminence is well aware of the qualities that you seek: a committed, faithful, loving pastor with a family. Of course, I hope that all of you will accept him, love him, and treat him and his family the way you treated mine.
As for the various commitments I’ve made for some sacrament and the trip to the Holy Lands, I plan to fulfill them and hopefully, many, many more over the coming years. I hope that you and your families will always think of us as part of your spiritual family. For me, I know that these 18 years will always feel like the glory days of my priesthood. The incredible things that we accomplished together – far too many to name here – will surely live in my heart and mind forever.