Metropolis of Sweden Holds 3rd Annual Clergy Seminar

Seminar held at the St. George Cathedral in Stockholm

With the blessings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Holy Metropolis of Sweden held its third annual Clergy Seminar at the St. George Cathedral in Stockholm. The seminar, which lasted three days, from October 6-8, 2017, was attended by the clergymen of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden. The topics on the agenda involved seminal aspects of pastoral ministry for the contemporary clergyman, including the translation of liturgical and theological texts into various languages, the engagement of the youth in parish life, parish fundraising and philanthropy efforts, social media literacy, and issues pertaining to rites and rubrics. Attending the seminar as guests of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden and serving as keynote speakers were the Very. Rev. Spencer T. Kezios, of the United States, and the Rev. Economos Fr. Michael Prevas, of the Holy Metropolis of San Francisco. Fr. Kezios has translated and published many liturgical services into English and is the founder of Narthex Press – one of the foremost religious publishing houses in the United States. Rev. Prevas serves as the Presiding Priest of the St. Nicholas Parish in Northridge, California. His Eminence Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden called the seminar to order by thanking the prominent guest speakers for accepting his invitation and coming to Stockholm to discuss their multifaceted pastoral ministry in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The Metropolitan began by first presenting the lengthy list of publications undertaken by Fr. Kezios, who recently donated a collection of deluxe liturgical Greek-English publications for use in the parishes of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden, and expressing his deep gratitude for this touching gift to this missionary Metropolis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. On Friday, October 6, 2017, during the delivery of his introductory address, Metropolitan Cleopas stressed the importance of good parish organization and outreach towards all members of the faithful, including utilizing each parish member’s unique talents to strengthen and support a multifaceted parish ministry. He encouraged the clergy in attendance to develop their missionary ministry because in today’s day and age, missionary work is not conducted solely in third-world countries or developing nations, but extends to an ever-changing society throughout the world, since the Church itself has missionary and universal dimensions, which expand to “all the nations.” Revs. Kezios and Prevas subsequently thanked Metropolitan Cleopas for his hospitality and invitation. In his introduction, Fr. Kezios discussed the issue of “The Priest as a Pastor,” and had the opportunity to share experiences from his 40-year tenure as a clergyman in the United States with the audience. He reminded seminar participants that they should stand out for their spirit of modesty, and orientate themselves and their ministry with the needs of their flock in mind, serving their people with devotion and love. “Pastoral ministry must embrace everyone without exception and without discrimination, because discrimination against individuals creates division,” he noted. On Saturday, October 7, 2017, the agenda for the second day of the seminar involved pastoral outreach to the youth, the utilization of social media by the parish for the promotion of its work, and support of parish ministries through fundraising. Rev. Prevas noted that young people today rely predominantly upon social media to communicate with each other. “We can reach out to the youth and spread the message of the Gospel to them through a parish website, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.,” he stated. According to Rev. Prevas, a modern way of engaging the youth is to give them responsibilities, such as managing the parish website, considering that they possess the necessary skills and knowledge, ensuring however, that this is always done under the supervision of the parish priest. He also noted that the clergy have a duty to lead our youth into a new lifelong relationship with the Church, through activities, camp retreats, trips, athletic activities, etc. Metropolitan Cleopas underscored the fact that the clergy must possess a vision, goals, prospects, and a future reference-point. Moreover, they have an obligation to encourage volunteers to actively and dynamically participate in parish activities. Within the framework of the seminar, participants visited Stockholm’s Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities and toured the historic city center. On Sunday, October 8, 2017, the Archieratical Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the St. George Cathedral in Stockholm, presided over by Metropolitan Cleopas, with clergy from the United States and the Holy Metropolis of Sweden con-celebrating. Participants included the V. Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Sosipatros Stefanoudis, parish priest of the St. George Cathedral in Stockholm, the Rev. Protopresbyter Fr. Ierotheos Gountroumbis, parish priest of the St. Paul the Apostle Parish is Uppsala, the Rev. Economos Fr. Michael Prevas of the U.S., the Rev. Protopresbyter Fr. John Nicolaides, parish priest of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple Parish in Borås, the Rev. Economos Fr. Christos Letsios, parish priest of the St. Cleopas the Apostle Parish in Kalmar, the Rev. Presbyter Fr. Petros Moralis, parish priest of the Holy Trinity Parish in Gothenburg, and the Rev. Presbyter Dr. Nicholas Rigas, parish priest of the Sts. Constantine and Helen Parish in Jönköping. The Very Rev. Fr. Alexandros Loukatos, parish priest of the Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Oslo, chanted the hymns along with Messrs. Andreas Selamsis, Elias Gergis, and Dr. George Sidiras. The Very. Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Spencer Kezios delivered the sermon in Greek and English, speaking on the Gospel reading of the day and placing particular emphasis on the power of Christ’s miracles and their impact and edification on the religious fervor of the people. The seminar came to a conclusion with a luncheon that was held on site at the Cathedral. Metropolitan Cleopas expressed his gratitude to Messrs. George and Demetrios Vassiliou, the owners of Mykonos Restaurant, Messrs. Athanasios Kalpakas and Nicholas Athanasiou, owners of Cyprus Restaurant, Presvytera Ourania Gountroumbis, and Mr. Angelos Exadaktylos for the luncheons and dinners prepared and offered throughout the duration of the seminar.