The new Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Chicago, Nathanael, was enthroned at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Saturday, March 24th at a ceremony with hundreds of faithful in attendance.
The Greek-born clergyman who spent many years studying, ministering and researching matters pertaining to young people, addressed the matter of youth involvement in the Greek Orthodox Church during his enthronement address.
Specifically, Nathanael referred to the marches taking place throughout the nation, including a few miles from the Cathedral where the enthronement was taking place.
Today, millions of young people are taking to the streets of cities and towns around the worlds, they have even gathered just a short distance from our Cathedral. The young people are marching in the streets because they demand that their lives and safety become a priority for those in positions of authority. It is daunting to consider that these young people, our young people, are not marching to church to find refuge or a place to voice their concerns. They sadly take to the streets because they feel that no one cares about them in their homes or in their schools, or other familiar places, yes including the church. I know that we all desire to do the best we can for our youth, but as a unified Metropolis family, we must find new ways to engage them. It is not enough for us to issue invitations and passively wait for them to arrive at our doorsteps, it is our responsibility to go to them, yes even if it means joining them in the streets.
Born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1978, Metropolitan Nathanael is the third child of Irene and Vasilios Symeonides. He is graduate of Hellenic College (BA, 2000) and of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (MDiv, 2003). He also earned an STM (2003) and a ThD (2007) in Bioethics from Boston University. Metropolitan Nathanael has also studied the history and ethics of public health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He is a guest professor of Christian ethics and bioethics at Fordham University, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and Saint Vladimir Theological School. He has authored numerous articles in theology and bioethics and served as Director of the Archdiocesan Committee on Science and Technology (AACST).
Metropolitan Nathanael was ordained a Deacon in 2003 and a Presbyter in 2010. His ecclesial and pastoral work includes service as the Deacon to Metropolitan Methodios (2003 – 2006); Deacon to the Archbishop (2006 – 2010); Pastor of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, NY (2010 – 2013). During his time as a parish priest, he developed an urban ministry, Orthodox Professionals in Action (OPA), which harnessed the gifts and talents of more than 400 young professionals of Manhattan, offering them opportunities to create meaningful change in the lives of those most vulnerable in society. He also served the pastoral needs of the Holy Resurrection Church of Brookville, NY and the Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY.
In September 2013 he was appointed Director of the Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. In that position, he managed and directed the relationships between the Archdiocese and numerous religious organizations, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and Permanent Missions to the United Nations. As the Director of the Department, Metropolitan Nathanael was best known for promoting cooperation and inclusivity. In 2015, His Eminence coordinated the Archdiocesan commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma, and represented the Archdiocese on the National Council of Churches (NCC) Special Task Force to End Racism in America.
More recently, he convened a colloquium entitled, Orthodoxy and Humanitarianism: Ideas and Action in the Contemporary World, which provided experts from around the world the opportunity to meet and consider ways in which the Church may help respond to humanitarian crises and promote sustainable development in post-crisis regions.
Metropolitan Nathanael became Metropolitan of Chicago following nearly four decades of leadership by Metropolitan Iakovos, who died in June 2017. The Metropolis of Chicago oversees all Greek Orthodox Parishes within Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota as well as eastern Missouri and northwestern Indiana.
Photo credit: Dimitrios Panagos/Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
This article appeared originally on March 24 on The Pappas Post. Republished with permission.
Gregory Pappas publishes The Pappas Post, writes for The Huffington Post, and produces independent films on Greek and Greek-American themes. He founded and serves as president of the Greek America Foundation.