NEW YORK – When he was ordained a Deacon at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul in 1994, the 27-year-old Elpidophoros Lambriniadis couldn’t possibly dream of the day the Greek Diaspora of the Americas would salute a new era in his person. Born in 1967 in Istanbul, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America bears the burden of huge expectations, as the primate who will incarnate Orthodoxy’s Renaissance in the US. It was not a coincidence that he used this word, resurrection, in his first press conference on American soil.
In his splendid enthronement at the Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral, the new Archbishop appeared calm and determined to fulfill his duty.
The long red carpet had been put in place already from dawn yesterday, a Saturday, and a police patrol car had cut access to the block of East 74th St where the Cathedral rises. The crowd started coming early, but only those with special invitations had access to the church. For the rest, and they were many, a giant screen would have to suffice. On entering the Cathedral, the Faithful tossed flowers at Elpidophoros.
On his way to the Archbishop’s throne, Elpidophoros stopped and warmly embraced Lakis Vigas, one of the emblematic figures of Istanbul’s Greek community. He also warmly embraced a lady, his mother, Nadia, her face beaming with pride. Elpidophoros’ father, Vassilis, died an few years ago.
Among the officials seated up front were distinguished members of the Greek-American diaspora, such as billionaire businessmen John Catsimatidis and Dean Metropoulos, Greece’s and Cyprus’ ambassadors to the US, Greek Foreign Minister George Katrougalos and regional governors Giorgos Patoulis of Attica and Apostolos Tzitzikostas of Central Macedonia.
In his enthronement address, Elpidophoros acknowledged the contributions of his predecessor, Demetrios, a passage that elicited spontaneous warm applause, a scene repeated at the dinner that followed. Demetrios departs having gained the Diaspora’s love as an ethical and devoted leader of the Orthodox Church.
Elpidophoros was presented with the insignia of his office by Metropolitan Augoustinos of Germany, appointed by Patriarch Vartholomaios as his Personal Representative to the Enthronement. Augustinos remarked that the new Archbishop had been the “bearer of hope”, the translation of his chosen name, from early on and that his God-given gifts ensured the success of his mission.
The new Archbishop of America, seventh in the line, will conduct his first mass at the Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral Sunday, in the present of all the Metropolitans, members of the Holy Eparchial Synod. The Orthros Service will start at 8.30 a.m., local time and the Liturgy at 10 a.m.