During the height of the pandemic back in 2020, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros of America launched the “Day After Task Force” in order to identify and create resources that would help the clergy and leaders of the Archdiocese address the COVID-19 global pandemic, specifically the emotional and spiritual struggles that could come as result of the various challenges facing people on the front lines, including parish priests.
The Task Force is Chaired by Rev. Andreas Vithoulkas, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, with the added guidance and counsel of Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco and Rev. Costas Sitaras. It is composed of professionals from Holy Cross Hellenic College and Saint Basil Academy as well as clergy, presvyteres, professors, physicians, and others from across the globe.
The Task Force was asked to address the spiritual wellbeing of the following unique constituencies:
-Parishioners that are front line workers or medical professionals that have had daily contact with the virus or people that are infected with the virus.
-Parishioners that have lost people during the pandemic without being able to properly say goodbye or have any sort of formal closure.
-Clergy self-identify the trauma and stresses that they may be dealing with as a result of an adapted ministry and an increase in parishioner deaths.
After much hard work and dedication, the Task Force came up with a two-pronged approach towards providing resources.
1.Expanded Clergy Peer Learning Group Program
This program is currently being run on a small scale with Father Alexander Goussetis and the Center for Family Care. The goal is to greatly expand the program so as to include as many clergy as possible. These groups are designed as more than social groups, but as a way for them to be able to address issues amongst peers.
2.The CUE Series: Helping Our Clergy Connect, Understand, Equip
The CUE Series of videos have been created to CONNECT clergy to other clergy and professionals, help clergy UNDERSTAND specific issues that have arisen at this time, and EQUIP clergy with specific resources to minister to their congregations. Each of the three videos is approximately one-half hour and starts with a five-minute informational lesson, followed up by a video interview with professionals. Each episode deals specifically with the areas of concern identified by the task force:
While this video series was initially intended for the members of the clergy, it is recommended for anyone experiencing difficulty with the fallout of the pandemic. COVID-19 has presented a very special set of circumstances that face the faithful. The seeds of grief are being planted across the Archdiocese, and as the pandemic continues, these very serious mental health issues will continue to manifest themselves. For more information and to watch the videos, click here.
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