The launching of The Society of Medical Professionals and Health Care Providers “St. Luke the Evangelist and Physician” of the Holy Metropolis of San Francisco
In an atmosphere of Christian fellowship, His Eminence Gerasimos, Metropolitan of San Francisco, blessed the formation of The Society of Medical Professionals and Health Care Providers of the Holy Metropolis of San Francisco dedicated to St. Luke the Evangelist and Physician. The new Society was launched on Saturday February 4, 2018 at a special event that took place at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross in Belmont, California. Attending the event were medical and health care professionals and others that care for the sick and their families in the Bay Area. His Grace Apostolos, Bishop of Medeia, Assistant Bishop and Chancellor of the Metropolis, was also present at the event.
The event began with the Service of Great Vespers presided by His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. After the service, the invited guests gathered in the special dining area of the parish hall where they were welcomed by Protopresbyter Peter Salmas, Vicar of the Church of the Holy Cross. Fr. Salmas thanked everyone for their presence, stating that the dinner was given to honor medical and health care professionals in thanks for their many services. Fr. Salmas, who is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care, said that the newly formed Society of St. Luke will be directly associated with the Patriarchal Network. In addition, he thanked Executive Chef Christos Tsardoulias for preparing an elegant menu and the Philoptohos Ladies Society for sponsoring the event.
His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco greeted all in attendance and spoke about the significance of the Church’s ministry to the sick and how everyone has to work together in providing the necessary care on all levels of human existence. In praising the work of the Patriarchal Network for Pastoral Health Care, he said that he will make all efforts in expanding the Society of St. Luke in other parts of his Holy Metropolis.
The guest speaker of the evening was the Reverend Protopresbyter Stavros Kofinas, Coordinator of the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care. Fr. Kofinas relayed the greetings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who had been informed of the formation the new Society. In turn, he thanked His Eminence Gerasimos for his brotherly support of the Patriarchal Network from its founding to the present. Congratulating all present for the new Society of St. Luke, Fr. Kofinas presented an honorary plaque with the logos of the Patriarchal Network to the new President of the Society, Dr. Tanya Spirtos. Dr. Spirtos is the Vice-Speaker of the California Medical Association’s (CMA) House of Delegates, a distinguished obstetrician-gynecologist practicing in Redwood City, California and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area. Dr. Spirtos was one of the main speakers at the First International Conference of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care that took place in Rhodes in 2008. She is also a Grand Steward of the Patriarchal Network for Health. Fr. Kofinas explained how the Society of St. Luke will be part of the global fellowship that has been formed within the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care. It will also be a guiding light to other Metropolises to form similar societies and fellowships that will be affiliated with the Patriarchal Network.
In his presentation, Fr. Kofinas explained that “we have lost the real meaning of the words “healing”, “life”, “human dignity” and the importance that pain and death have for the salvation of the human race. In our post-modern world, a sharp separation has developed between professionalism and the quality of human existence, as has also developed a separation between professionalism and faith.” In posing the question, “Where are we going?” he pointed out that the direction the world has taken has led to a depersonalization of the healing process, which is the tragedy of modern health care and society at large. The challenge we face is how to restore care back to its relational character. One of the main ministries of the Church has always been to care for the sick within a relational context. To further cultivate this ministry, The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Mother Church, with the blessings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, formed the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarch for Pastoral Health Care in 2008. Fr. Stavros continued his presentation, presenting the aims and goals of the Patriarchal Network, its conferences and activities, together with a view of its future goals.
Following Fr. Stavros’s presentation His Eminence Gerasimos once again expressed his enthusiasm that his Metropolis is a vibrant participant of the Patriarchal Network and again promised to support the Ecumenical Patriarchate in this effort. He expressed his hope that the newly formed Society of St. Luke will play a significant role in the Metropolis of San Francisco and the greater communities of Western America.
February 19, 2018
Network of the Ecumenical Patriarch
for Pastoral Health Care