5th Conference of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Network for Health Ministry

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Βy Father George Liangas

From October 5-9, 2022, the Greek island of Rhodes hosted the 5th Conference of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Network for Health Pastoral Care.

The Patriarchal Network brings together Orthodox Christian clergy and a variety of health professionals from around the world. It is made up of representatives of the Archdioceses and the Metropolises belonging spiritually and administratively to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of representatives of other jurisdictions. The aims of the Patriarchal Network include providing spiritual support and guidance to sick people and their families, promoting a high standard of health care, assisting and supporting those who care of the sick and contributing to continuing education in caring for the sick.

It also has a task force that can help clergy, medical professionals, and health care workers deal with challenges that may arise in their ministry. As Patriarch Bartholomew said, “Caring for the sick knows no geographical boundaries. It makes no distinction of race, people or language, but is addressed without discrimination and without exception to all human beings created in the image of God, as God himself did and does, the Physician of souls and bodies.

Representatives at this year’s conference were (1) the Reverend Father George Liangas, parish priest of St Nectarios Burwood and child and adolescent psychiatrist, and (2) Presvytera Catherine Constantinidis, social worker and counsellor/psychotherapist.

This year’s conference was titled Serving Humanity Today; We take care of the humanity of tomorrow. As we emerge from COVID-19 which has affected people’s health in so many ways, it is important to reflect on how best the Church can respond, through its pastoral ministry, to the needs of those who are physically affected, psychologically and spiritually. in many ways.

Some of the presentations at the conference included:

  1. Difficulties of pastoral formation: how best to accompany priests in carrying out their pastoral work.
  2. Meeting the Challenges of Religious Education Today; for example through the catechism of people of all ages.
  3. Reconcile health and religion in a mutually uplifting way.
  4. Addressing the reach of different age groups: For example, there was a forum where young people from around the world joined the conference via video link and expressed their concerns for the future. One of these young people was Nathan Politis from the parish/community of St Nectarios Burwood. Due to time zone differences, Nathan got up after 2am and contributed to the forum in a very thoughtful and articulate way.
  5. The discussion focused on navigating through rapidly changing family composition and dynamics, and how the Church can help support young people without judgment, but rather by showing the embracing love embodied by Christ. himself.
  6. Discuss ways to further develop the patriarchal health ministry network.

During the conference, there was the unveiling of a new feast day (October 17) for the Synaxis of All Holy Doctors. These saints included non-mercenary saints, church fathers who also studied and practiced medicine (such as Saint Basil the Great), and other healers, both male and female. There was an unveiling of the icon, as well as a new service written by the conference’s host bishop, Metropolitan Kyrillos of Rhodes, who is also a distinguished hymnographer.

It was rewarding to mingle with so many people who were using their God-given gifts to support their fellow human beings in times of need. We look forward to the next conference, scheduled for 3 years.

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