With the participation of academic associates of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies
On October 11-15, 2017 the 4th conference of the Network of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Pastoral Health Care was successfully held in the island of Rhodes (Greece) on the general theme “Rekindling Hope — Finding hope in the difficulties of life.” The Ecumenical Patriarchate holds a conference every three years (2008, 2011, 2014), organized by the Patriarchal Network. These conferences give the opportunity for local Churches, medical professionals and health care workers to share their experiences and to discuss their difficulties on an international level. In addition to this, the Conferences serve as a support setting and bases upon which Holy Metropolises and health care professionals can organize similar events to provide training and ongoing education. The Network is coordinated by Rev. Stavros Kofinas.
Those invited to the Conference were representatives of the Metropolises belonging spiritually and administratively to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, representatives of the other Patriarchates and the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, those that are responsible for pastoral education in the Theological Schools and Ecclesiastical Academies in Greece and abroad, representatives from other Christian Churches, international organizations, as well as others that serve and are related to the pastoral care of the sick and medical care.
The 4th conference was attended by the associates of the training group for teachers of Religious Education of the Volos Academy of Theology Studies, Apostolos Barlos (MTh) and Vaso Gogou (BA, Theology and Philosophy), while the 6th session was joined by Katerina Pekridou, Secretary for the Theological Dialogue of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and academic associate of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies. Apostolos Barlos chaired the 1st session on the topic “My power is made perfect in weakness,” with main speaker, the Rev. Dr. George Parsenios, Associate Professor of the New Testament Hermeneutics at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
During the opening lecture of the conference entitled “An Anatomy of Hope,” Stavros Zoumboulakis, Chairman of the Executive Council of the National Library of Greece and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Biblical and Charitable Foundation “Artos Zoes,” raised key issues around the topic of Christian hope, stressing how much it relies on God’s promise, being connected, therefore, with faith that stems from love. Christian hope is a difficult path and a constant struggle even in the silence of God, so it needs to be constantly kept alive with prayer.
Speakers of the conference included bishops, priests, university professors, theologians, teachers, doctors, nurses, psychologists and psychoanalysts from the Orthodox Patriarchates, from the Holy Metropolises of Greece, Europe and America, as well as from universities and hospitals from all over the world.
The conference concluded with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, at the Rhodes Holy Cathedral of the Annunciation. The Liturgy was presided by Metropolitan Anthimos of Alexandroupolis, co-celebrated by Metropolitan Gregory of Cameroon, and Bishop Kyrillos of Olympus, along with several priests, from various countries of the world. Metropolitan Cyrillos of Rhodes, and Metropolitan Pavlos of Glyfada were also attended the Liturgy.
In the last session, it was unanimously made clear that the “Patriarchal Network” conferences are characterized by a high level and are generally appreciated by the Orthodox world, as they provide valuable means and tools to those who want to perform their health ministry responsibly and supply them with interdisciplinary material approved by distinguished scientists. The Network’s coordinator, Rev. Stavros Kofinas stressed the great need to continue the expansion of the “Network” and to further strengthen the ties of cooperation, mutual assistance and love among those who participate in the “Network” conferences, but also of those inspired by his work.
For more information on the Ecumenical Patriarchate Network for the Pastoral Health Care and the 4th Conference in Rhodes, please visit its official website http://www.pastoralhealth-ep.com/?lang=en/, upon which much of the information of the present press depends.
Photos courtesy by Vaso Gogou