Pastoral Care Forums Held At Clergy-Laity Congress

Dr. Trent Orfanos,cardiologist, addresses "Stress & Resilience in the Family" Forum with panel (L to R) Presvytera Kerry Pappas, Fr Alexander Goussetis, Fr. Constantine L. Sitaras, Dr. Georgette Constantinou and Dr. George Stavros.

Leadership 100 has supported the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Center for Family Care with $866,660 in grants for a variety of ministries through 2014. The Center for Family Care is part of the Department of Marriage and Family which has received $581,330 directly in grants, bringing the total to $1,447, 990.

A recent activity of the Pastoral Care Ministry of the Center, at the 42nd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress in Philadelphia on July 8, 2014, was the presentation of two forums, “Stress and Resilience in the Family” and “Family and Faith: Building Generations of Faith.” The sessions dealt with compelling topics the Orthodox Church faces in contemporary society, through a combination of individual presentations from distinguished panel members and audience interaction. 

The first forum focused on the pervasive subject of stress and how families might best approach its potential effects from spiritual, mental, and physical perspectives. The panel consisted of Fr. Jerry Hall, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Akron, Ohio; Dr. Georgette Constantinou, Administrative Director of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology of Akron Children’s Hospital; Dr. Trent Orfanos, a cardiologist from Crown Point, Indiana; and Dr. George Stavros, Director of the Danielsen Institute of Boston University—a mental health clinic.

Dr. Constantinou offered a working definition of resilience  as “a God-given inner capacity that when nurtured, facilitated, and supported by others, particularly in the community of faith—by the grace of God, empowers all members of the family and the family unit to successfully meet life’s challenges with faith and hope.”

The second forum allowed audience members to hear from clergy, professionals, and family members about building faith in families. The panel included His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco; Fr. Lou Christopulos, St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Greenwood Village, Colorado; Dr. Anton Vrame (MDiv.), Director of the Department of Religious Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese; Dr. Andrew Walsh, Associate Director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and Cindy Karos, mother and parish ministry leader from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The forum’s panelists offered personal stories of faith, practical strategies, and presented statistical data in recognizing the struggles families face in perpetuating the life of the Church. In summarizing the idea that faith is modeled through examples that are seen, heard, and—in short—experienced, Dr. Vrame plainly said, “Orthodox Christianity is a verb,” stressing that it needs to be lived in order to be passed on.

Each forum concluded with the understanding that the complications corresponding to the respective topics are not expected to ever be entirely solved.  The primary benefit of the forums derives from the conversations they have brought to light. “By giving these topics a venue to be addressed, there is greater hope for healing and growth through the community in our parishes,” said Melissa Tsongranis, Associate Director of the Department of Marriage and Family.

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