On Friday, 2 February 2024, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Saviour in the Temple, the Episcopal ordination of His Grace Metropolitan-elect Iakovos of Mexico took place with particular splendour at the Phanar.
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided over the Divine Liturgy which was also concelebrated by the Holy Hierarchs, His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi, His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatius of Dimitrias and Almyros, His Eminence Metropolitan Irenaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis, His Eminence Metropolitan Nektatios of Anthidon, His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos Selyvria, His Eminence Metropolitan Andreas of Forty Churches and His Eminence Metropolitan Theodoros of Seleucia.
The Ecumenical Patriarch addressed to the ordinand paternal words of edification and admonitions for the new mission of ministry assigned to him by the Mother Church.
“Through your solid theological and secular education, your study of languages, your hard work, your organisational and administrative abilities, your dynamism, your zeal for the performing of your sacred duties and your other virtues, you are most worthy of promotion to the high office of Hierarch, and you will receive in a short time the fullness of priestly grace through the hands of my humble person and the co-ministering priestly brother Hierarchs. We congratulate you, Your Grace, on this great honour for the Mother Church and we pray that the Lord will always strengthen you, so that even as a Bishop you will never deny your good personal reputation as a modest and good cleric, nor the good hopes with which the Mother Church sends its new Hierarch to the Lord’s fields for cultivation on the American continent.
According to the word of Christ, the harvest is great, but the labourers are few. And because they are few, their work is great! Great, full of responsibility and requiring hard work. ‘For this reason, O Bishop, study the works clearly, knowing your place and value, as God’s representative among the people…And so in the Church preach the word well. ‘If you do not declare and testify this to the people, the sins of those who are ignorant of it will be found upon you.’
To the pious Christians, our spiritual children in Central America, to whom you are travelling to from today, speak in their language and explain to them what the holy Ecumenical Throne is and what it represents, “this great thing and name”; for its universality, for the breadth of its horizons, for the far reaching rays to all the ends of the earth, for the respect and honor that it enjoys.
You know a lot about all these things, not only from your place of study, the Holy Cross Theological School of Boston, but also from your blessed Shepherd, His Eminence Metropolitan Maximus of Pittsburgh, who raised you spiritually, as well as from the late Metropolitans, John of Pergamon and Gennadios of Sassima, with whom you have been connected for a long time. Proclaim, therefore, the ideals of which the Great and Holy Church of Christ is the bearer and exponent and announcer, so that our faithful may feel proud that they belong to that Church, to this great institution, which for centuries now, from this blessed and consecrated holy see, continues to nourish the Orthodox around the world with the divine manna, “which sweetens the senses of the faithful”.
May this manna nourish them and never run out, “ever eaten, yet never consumed, but sanctifying those who partake”, support and strengthen the Orthodox faith, in patience, in hope, in love. Yes, in love, O God-loving holy brother, which our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to nurture and show both to our enemies and to those who persecute us: “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse”!
In the dolichon (the long race) of your Hierarchical ministry, take care to find many and bring them close to Jesus. And when they doubt whether anything good can come from Nazareth, you should invite them with the words of the Apostle: “come and see”! If they come and see what treasure, what happiness, what blessedness there is near Christ, be sure that they will follow Him, that you have won them over, that you have done your duty as a Bishop and that there is joy in heaven”.
The Ecumenical Patriarch then referred to the young age of the Metropolitan-elect of Mexico, and the reasons why he was qualified to shepherd this ecclesiastical Province of the Mother Church.
“The missionary character of the Metropolis of Mexico led us, in the 84th year of its life, to walk forward with a pastoral imagination and to plan along with our Holy and Sacred Synod the future of this Province, choosing you, a young cleric, as its Shepherd, in order to run forward with desire, vitality, enthusiasm and fervent zeal to all its lengths and breadths and radically renew it.
Therefore, on this holy and great day of your life, let us remind you of the exhortation of the Apostle of the Nations to his disciple Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Tim. 4, 12). As for Timothy, so also for you, youth becomes the golden chariot, which will safely and firmly pull along the heavy office of the bishop, and the wisdom of the shepherd. Go, therefore, with unwavering trust in God and do not be afraid! After all, as the Holy Bible points out, ‘For old age is not honoured for length of time, or measured by number of years; but understanding is gray hair for anyone, and a blameless life is ripe old age” (Wisdom of Solomon 4:8-9)
And we continue with a second Pauline command again to Timothy: ‘Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’ (2 Tim. 2, 3). ‘Hardship’, because the high priesthood, with which you will be endowed with in a little while, is not ‘purple and scarlet’, clothed with which the Bishop has the right to rejoice day by day, like the rich man of the Gospel, but it is the garment under which struggles and trials are hidden and the restless and tormenting concern for the consistency of his life and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The office of the Bishop is a path of martyrdom, just as the entire life of the Church of Christ is a path of martyrdom. Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “our flesh has no rest, but in everything we are grieved; outside are battles, inside are fears” (2 Cor. 7, 5). And become an example from the example of the Crucified Great and Holy Church of Christ, in whose Hierarchy you have the privilege of being included from this moment on.”
Concluding his speech, His All-Holiness paternally blessed and congratulated the parents of Metropolitan-elect Iakovos who were present, “who willingly offered their child to the Church to become a minister of it and of the faithful people of God”. Afterwards, he made special reference to the spiritual father of the Metropolitan-elect, His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece, who, despite his intention, as the Patriarch said, was not able to attend the Episcopal ordination of Metropolitan-elect Iakovos, and was represented by a three-member delegation, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatius of Dimitrias and Almyros, whom he welcomed and thanked for his participation in the concelebration of the Divine Liturgy, together with Archimandrite Ioannis Karamouzis, new Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.
“And to the His Beatitude, Brother Archbishop Ieronymos, whom we feel at this holy moment praying in our midst, we wish, from this place, to express the gratitude of the Mother Church of Constantinople for his decisive personal support at critical moments for the Orthodox Church during his sixteen-year Primacy on the Throne of Athens.
And we are not only referring to his constructive partnership for the implementation and conducting of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church in Crete (June 2016), but also in his decisive and unconditional accompaniment with the Mother Church in the case of the granting of autonomous status to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, as well as the most recent generous grant of a Church in the centre of Athens, of the Holy Church of Saint Nicholas ‘The Almshouse’, for the liturgical needs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
It is considered, however, that it was emotionally more difficult for the much-loved brother to agree to the proposal offered by my humble person regarding your candidacy for the Metropolis of Mexico. And this because the acceptance of this proposal by His Beatitude would mean his separation from one of his closest and most devoted collaborators, especially during the later period of his life.
It is true that you, Your Grace, were a staff and a support for our brother Archbishop of Athens and we congratulate you for that as well. And this fact makes his positive response to today’s proposal all the more important, demonstrating his great respect and devotion to the Mother Church of Constantinople, as he preferred to deprive himself of the valuable services of an absolutely valuable colleague for the sake of the imperative needs of the Great and Holy Church of Christ.
May God grant him every blessing from above in his responsible ministry and long years to rejoice in the spiritual progress and advancement of the Metropolis of his spiritual child! And it is possible that perhaps His Beatitude and my humble self will not have time to see the end of your pastorate, which begins today with great hopes, be sure, however, that from the beyond we both will bless you with our hands and in full spiritual rejoicing for all the admirable things you will have achieved”.
Present also for the Divine Liturgy and ordination were His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, and Their Graces, Bishop Adrianos of Halicarnassus, Bishop Smaragdos of Daphnusia and Bishop Paisios of Xanthoupolis, clergy, Lord Archons of the Great Church of Christ, the US Ambassador to Greece His Excellency Mr. George Tsounis, the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Mexico in Greece Mr. Edgar Cubero Gómez, the former Minister Mr. Markos Bolaris, the General Secretary of Public Property of the Ministry of National Economy and Finance of Greece Ms. Naya Kollia, the parents and relatives of the new Metropolitan, who travelled from the USA, faithful from Constantinople, but also pilgrims from Greece and other countries abroad.
Immediately afterwards, in the packed Throne Room, in the Patriarchal House, the new Metropolitan’s speech took place, who once again expressed his gratitude to His All-Holiness and to the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod for his election, while he also thanked His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece, for the paternal love and support he has offered him until today.
Subsequently, the Ecumenical Patriarch, in his brief greeting, expressed his joy for the ordination of the Metropolitan of Mexico, while he thanked the Greek-American Ambassador of the USA in Greece, Mr. Tsounis, for his presence, whom he received a little later together with his wife Olga, at the Patriarchal Office. The joy of the Church of Greece was conveyed by His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatius of Dimitrias and Almyros, who spoke with warm and heartfelt words about the new Hierarch of the Ecumenical Throne.