Case studies often involve painful incidents of real people suffering because of some stimulus. It is no different within the Church. In his article in the Greek News (page 38), Mr Bill G. Stotis, a proven and successful attorney, business man, and long time servant of the Greek Orthodox Church (at the local parish level as well as the Archdiocesan level), offers his insightful reflections on the sad state of affairs within the Metropolis of Chicago.
Ignoring the Laity, Again.
by Yianni Pappas
It is no wonder that when the voices of the laity are routinely ignored and looked upon as foolish disruptions coming from the presumed unlearned, non-elite class (i.e. non-clergy) of Orthodox Faithful, some parishioners are starting to be more vocal and outspoken. Who is doing the ignoring? Our Hierarchs. While we should respect the office of the Hierarchy, it would seem to be in the best interest of the Church that Hierarchs should give evidence that they indeed hear the “Voice of the People”. The voice of the people sometimes brings with it the wrath of God.” Φωνή Λαού, οργή Θεού. The video below shows the fervent love a community has for the priest, Fr. Nicholas Kastanas. It also shows their anger toward their ruling Hierarch, Metropolitan Methodios, for removing Fr. Nick.
It is not known why Fr. Nick was removed after 28 years of faithful service. There are no known whispers of any kind of indiscretions. The only suggested “issue” is that Fr. Kastanas was too popular and too powerful. No Hierarch would want that of course – in spite of the fact that perhaps that particular Priest is so loved because he is actually doing a good job. As far as Ephraimite fundamentalism, it is not known if Fr Kastanas subscribed to this type of Orthodoxy.
In the video above, Fr. Nick Kastanas spoke lovingly and with class. Once upon a time, older generations grew up in a culture that believed that all Bishops and Priests were good and wise men. It seems that the good and wise clergymen are now the exception to the current standard. No wonder Fr. Nick was so loved. He gave that very impression of being a good priest. He was so loved that people had an outdoor vigil, in the rain, to show their love for him.
The parish has over 800 families and is considered one of the best parishes of New England, and even the entire Archdiocese of America. In 2005 the parish moved to its current location after an entire hill of buildings including the church was purchased from the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
The parish has taken a big loan that it repays every month. Is the loan perhaps a ploy to hold back revenues from the Archdiocesan assessment? Is this the petty reason Fr Nick was removed?
No matter how gracious Fr. Kastanas was in his last message (encouraging people to still support the Bishop and the St. Athanasius community), we can promise you this: the community of Arlington, MA will not recover from this anytime soon. The next decade or two will show a drastic reduction in Stewardship and attendance. This has happened in many other Greek Orthodox Churches across the United States. It will now painfully inflict the St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox Church of Arlington, MA.