The American Helleic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) has released a statement on the occasion of the retirement of Archbishop Demetrios of America.
Here's the full statement, by AHEPA Supreme President George E. Loucas:
"Since 1922, the Order of AHEPA has forged a strong relationship with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. This relationship has often been described as embodying 'The Twin Pillars of Hellenism' in America. For the last two decades, with the wisdom and guidance of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, AHEPA's relationship with the Archdiocese has grown even stronger.
"Since the moment of His Eminence's enthronement, he has walked side-by-side, hand-in-hand, with AHEPA family leaders at significant, even historical occasions for the community. His Eminence graciously and warmly received each newly-elected Supreme President for a private audience at the beginning of their respective terms.
"We cannot recall a major national AHEPA family event that His Eminence has missed-whether it was a Supreme Convention in Puerto Rico or Athens-or a Congressional Banquet in Washington. His Eminence also made it a priority to participate at events hosted by our junior auxiliaries, the Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena, investing the time to learn about the activities, projects and programs of our young leaders.
"His Eminence has provided the AHEPA family with many special moments, including when he accompanied His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on their historic first-ever visitation to AHEPA Headquarters, in Washington, D.C., in November 2009. Or when he humbly revealed to our audience at the 2000 Congressional Banquet, where we honored our veterans, that he too, was a veteran. We will always cherish these moments.
“Moreover, we were all proud to see Archbishop Demetrios comforting our fellow citizensof all faiths, races, and backgrounds, helping them to heal from a devastating event in our nation's history on September 11, 2001. He offered prayers and blessed the ground where so many innocent persons lost their lives. The image of His Eminence blessing a soldier amid the rubble, debris, and destruction comes vividly to mind whenever we think of this time. He conducted memorial services and funerals for the victims, and he met with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders at an international conference convened by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to discuss the impact of September 11.
"Archbishop Demetrios has our sincere gratitude, appreciation, and love for his 20 years of untiring service to His Flock. He was an erudite Spiritual Leader. Our best wishes are with Archbishop Demetrios as he enters his well-deserved retirement."