Words of Wisdom from the Heart
This message is to all Greek Orthodox faithful. This is not about just St. Athanasius, or even Father Nick Kastanas. This is about how important the role of a good priest plays on attracting its youth and retaining its membership.
As a mother and grandmother in the Greek Orthodox Church, I know full well the importance of having a priest who welcomes young people to his parish of all faiths and creed. A priest that will remember your name. A priest who will take interest in your life. A genuine true soldier in Christ that cares about his parishioners.
In a moment's notice all this has changed. Our priest is dismissed for no real reason, he is banned from performing any sacraments and treated unfairly.
Now what happens....our youth are disheartened. They say they will either never attend church again or attend a church of a different faith. Parishioners stopped sending their stewardship, and young children just don't understand why their beloved priest was sent away. How could this be, many ask.
What has this man done? Father Nick just turns the other cheek and refuses to speak ill of those who are against him, the small band of parishioners and the leaders of the Diocese who have done this.
But what about the 2200 signatures on an online petition, or over 1,000 signatures on a hard copy petition to bring back Father Nick. Does this not count? Or how about a gofundme fundraiser for Father Nick that had raised over almost $35,000 and rising- does this not matter? How about the turnout at Father Nick's last sermon that filled the church beyond capacity, or the candlelight vigil, testimonies and protests from parishioners? What is going on?
Is this how we retain our members. Every Greek Orthodox in this Diocese should be outraged because yes....this is not just about St. Athanasius and Father Nick Kastanas. This is about our faith, our youth, our Greek heritage! If we let them do this then what will stop them from destroying another parish or priest that doesn't obey their every whim. Even criminals have the right to a fair trial!
What is Father Nick's wrong doing? He didn't obey the hierarchy!
To all priests and brothers in Christ who know what a good man Father Nick is, I say stand up for your brother! To all Greek Orthodox in this Diocese, I say write letters to the Bishop-to the Patriarchate and to anyone who will listen.
This article from Saint Nectarios says it all! May God help us all.
Note: This article was contributed to the OSJRnow.org blog by a long time parishioner of St. Athanasius, Arlington MA, Mrs. Despina Makredes