The Ecumenical Patriarch called on the Slavic-speaking faithful of Antalya to remain united around their prelate, the Metropolitan of Pisidia but also their new Bishop, and expressed the hope of returning love and peace to relations with the Church of Russia
A special splendor took place on Sunday morning, July 21, at the Holy Church of St. Alypios in Antalya: the Episcopal ordination of the elected Bishop of Evdokias, Ambrosios.
The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, assisted by the Metropolitans Sotirios of Pisidia, Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Athenagoras of Kydonia and Maximos of Selyvria. Also participating was the Protosynkellos Andreas.
Prior to the ordination, the Ecumenical Patriarch addressed paternal and constructive words to the chosen Bishop Ambrosios, and admonitions for his new mission of ministry commissioned by the Mother Church.
“The Holy Great Church of Christ is happy and rejoices over the elevation and ordination of one of its devout children, who is called upon to minister to the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia and its God-protected congregation as an Auxiliary Bishop of our venerable and beloved brother, Sotirios of holy Pisidia, who has a great appreciation for you and for your current contribution to this Christian people, for your many pastoral and communicative abilities, for your devotion and holiness, and for your respect for the Ecumenical Throne.
We praise the Master of the Church, because he was given to holy Pisidia as apostle and missionary, the self-sacrificing and loving man, the lover of the holy and philanthropist, the ascetic and man of prayer, the spiritual father, who is the loving caretaker for his children, the one who knows their real needs and carries and cares for their illnesses. Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia is the glorious preacher of the Gospel, who conveyed and transmitted “words of eternal life” (John 6:68) to the depths of souls and to the ends of the world. He emphasized and gave testimony “about the hope within us” in the manner proposed by the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church (Crete, June 2016), “not aggressively through various forms of proselytism, but in love, humility and respect for the identity of each person and the cultural specificity of each people” (“Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World,” Preamble). Follow the shining example of your Metropolitan, inspired by his spirituality and his apostolic zeal and illuminate the minds and hearts of men, young and old, cultivating in them the sincere desire for eternity.”
In his address, His All-Holiness referred to the extensive theological education of the new Bishop, who studied in Thessalonica, Boston and St. Petersburg, but also to his dedicated and exemplary ministry in the Holy Great Church of Christ, from the position of Great Synkellos, as well as his concern for the Slavic-speaking Orthodox living in Turkey, especially for those who live within the boundaries of the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia. Indeed, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the recently departed Metropolitan Paul of Sisanion and Siatista, “the charismatic shepherd, the lover of God and lover of mankind, the lover of worship and asceticism, who lovingly cared for the youth and their growth in Christ,” who in the venerable Center had granted to the Russian clergyman of his Eparchy, then-Archimandrite Ambrosios, to minister to the Russian-speaking people living in southwestern Turkey, as well as in other parts of the country.
Addressing the new Bishop, His All-Holiness emphasized, among other things:
"You are called to minister to the Church of Christ in a place with particular characteristics. You have to be simple, meek, sensitive to human pain, loving. ‘Demonstrate the love of a true shepherd. For by love the Great Shepherd was crucified’ (Climacos, 6). Whatever you do must be for the glory of God and the strengthening of the faithful. In fact, your voice ought to be that of the only name under heaven 'by which we are saved' (Acts 4:12), the 'name above every name' (Philippians 2:9), of the Savior Christ. Whatever we are and whatever we have is a gift of His grace. What we do is the work of the Lord, that is done through us in His Holy Church.
“We have repeatedly indicated, and we repeat the statement at this sacred moment, that the Bishop of the Church is primarily a ‘minister.’ The presider at the eucharistic conclave. All his work and his ministry, his sanctifying and pastoral work, is an extension of the grace and blessing of the eucharistic experience, deriving from that inexhaustible source from which is nourished the entire ecclesiastical life. Let us pray, most holy brethren and beloved children in the Lord, the God of mercy would guide the new Bishop in the work of ministry to His people.”
After the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia, whose Auxiliary was made Bishop of Evdokias, spoke briefly. “It is not an exaggeration if we characterize today as a historic day for our local church. Exactly 100 years ago, the renowned Bishop Meletios of Patara was installed in Antalya as Auxiliary Bishop, an historic ecclesiastical institution, where he illuminated the Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Throne,” said the Metropolitan of Pisidia, adding: “Today Divine Providence, through the holy hand of Your All-Holiness, installed here the God-loving Bishop of Evdokias, our beloved brother Ambrosios. This godly action of yours, Your All-Holiness, is added to the countless other beneficial actions of yours for our Eparchy and for Orthodoxy around your world. To this end, I submit to Your All-Holiness the most cordial thanks of the entire congregation of our local church, for accepting our common request, and after the unanimous vote of the holy and venerable Synod of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, you have given us today your eminent Great Synkellos, the beloved Ambrosios as Auxiliary Bishop.”
"Staying Connected Around Your Metropolitan"
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, after His All-Holiness gave the new bishop the episocpal staff, he addressed the Slavic-speaking faithful who reside in Antalya, and are a flock of the Metropolitan of Pisidia.
“It is an historic day for the community of Antalya and for the whole region. My visit today and our common prayer coincide with an unfortunate situation of Orthodoxy in general and particularly in the relations of the Mother of the Church of Constantinople and the daughter Church of Russia. Unfortunately, the sister Church of Russia wanted to break communion with us, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in order to show its dissatisfaction over the subject of the Autocephaly of the Church in Ukraine. We have not followed, we have not broken communion with her, she is a daughter of Constantinople, we always love her whatever happens, and today you heard in the Diptychs that I commemorated the most blessed Patriarch Kirill. It is a temptation for all of us and a difficulty, about which we will all pray. But, unfortunately, the Russian Church does not help, but it creates additional problems by sending priests irregularly and by parish, operating in various parts of Turkey. The same thing is done here in your own area. Here comes a priest and he works in Belek, and you know that Turkey is the canonical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate alone,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch, and he continued:
"I urge my brothers, all of you, to stay united around your Metropolitan, our brother Sotirios, and the new Bishop Ambrosios, and listen to their advice. We desire for peace and love to return quickly to our mutual relations. What I ask of you, as your Patriarch, is to have unity and obedience for your own Bishop, who has been struggling for eleven years despite his advanced age, and serves your religious needs in all languages. We thank Lambros and Vladimir, who are ministering to your needs on a permanent basis. Our Ecumenical Patriarchate in the City is always ready to cope with and respond to all the needs of the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia, and particularly of your community here in Antalya. I was glad that I also saw today Constantine from Alania, with his faithful; I bless them and greet them all, and those in this community.
“We are pleased that far from your homelands, where you are here for better living conditions, you are not deprive of the good things of our Church, our blessings, but you have all your interest in your spiritual progress in Christ. I bless all of you with all my heart on behalf of the Mother Church of Constantinople, and especially bless your cute children. You have all the good things of God, I greet you paternally.”
There were present clergy, Athonite Fathers, relatives of the new Bishop, and many faithful from the city, but also Russians, Ukrainians and other Slavic-speakers living in southwest Turkey, as well as a large number of pilgrims from Greece and abroad.
Immediately thereafter, in the official record it was noted that the newly-ordained Bishop Ambrosios expressed his gratitude and thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Metropolitans who constitute the holy and venerable Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as to the Metropolitan of Pisidia, for his election as Bishop of Evdokias.