A Priest’s Departure Leaves a Mystery
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The surprise announcement by Rev. Demetrios Recachinas during a Sunday service on June 6 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church here that he would be leaving immediately after 29 years of service, citing health and personal reasons, astonished many church members and created a storm of speculation if there was more behind his decision. Fr. Recachinas said he was going for medical treatment, but did not specify for what, and said that after he becomes well the Archdiocese will appoint him to a smaller parish to continue his ministry. Many parishioners began crying and asked how serious Fr. Recachinas’ illness was and offered to support him in any way possible including financial. The Archdiocese appointed Fr. Joel L. McEachen as interim priest. On Palm Sunday Bishop Andonios of Fasianne, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, visited the parish and during his sermon praised Fr. Recachinas. He also blasted “those who created problems to him.” Andonios also urged the parishioners not to pay any attention to what he said were rumors about Fr. Recachinas but wouldn’t say what they were, which just sparked more of them. Bishop Andonios of Fasianne did not respond to The National Herald’s telephone message.
Fr. Recachinas is married and father of three adult children. He is considered one of the most successful and prominent priests of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The Holy Trinity parish consists of 650 families and belongs to the Direct Archdiocesan District under the administrative and pastoral jurisdiction of Archbishop Demetrios.
In a telephone interview, Fr. Recachinas verified he is ill and said that, “I am on a leave of absence for reasons of health and for personal reasons,” but repeatedly refused to discuss what either problem was, other than to say his health problem was, “Serious enough but finally thank God I will overcome it.” He said only that the personal issues “are personal issues and I would not want to go into.” He said whether he serves in another parish “depends on the Archdiocese when the time comes, now I am on a leave of absence. When the time comes the Archdiocese will discuss the issue with me and it will be taken care of properly as the Archdiocese sees it.”
He also wouldn’t elaborate why the decision was made so suddenly and repeated that, “The issue is personal and I want to leave there and I want the issue to end here at this moment.”
He acknowledged the mystery has divided the parish and said that, “When a priest leaves after so many years there are people who are siding with the priest and there are others who are not with him. It is natural to have this type of dispute.” He said, however, he expects his leave of absence will last only three or four months, and, when pressed by The National Herald to explain further about his decision, said again that, “These are personal issues I want them to remain personal. I thank you for your concern but I want the issues to remain personal.” Asked if there were ethical issues, he said: “I wouldn’t say of ethical nature, but as I told you they are personal and I do not wish to say anything.”
Parish Council President George Mourizakis was equally evasive in an interview with The National Herald and said all he knew was that the leave was, as stated, for health and personal reasons, although the refusal to reveal more has upset many church members who want answers. He also wouldn’t say whether the alleged health issue is serious. “I do not know what he has told you, but the man is sick and he preferred to resign to take care of himself and also for personal reasons which do not concern me, neither will we get involved … I heard a lot but they are rumors, I do not want to go into anybody’s personal life. It is a big responsibility for me now that we do not have a permanent priest; I have my hands full at this moment.”
He said when Bishop Andonios visited the parish on Palm Sunday that the assignment of a new priest was already being discussed. As to whether Fr. Recachinas would return, he said, “I do not know that is up to him. I do not know how these things are done; this is my first time that I deal with such issues.” When told that many in the church were crying at the announcement, he said, “We had Fr. Demetrios for 30 years; many were married by him; many children and grandchildren were baptized by him and you understand when a priest resigns or leaves after 30 years, it is a big thing for the people.” He wouldn’t say why the announcement was made so suddenly or why there wasn’t a farewell dinner, he and added that, “Everything is in the plan we are going to organize a dinner, but as I said for personal reasons he wanted to resign. Sometimes if an issue procrastinates for a long period of time things become mixed up.” He said he would not be more specific. “The man decided to resign and he resigned,” he said, but added he would be welcome back and, “We have a petition out to convince him to return.” He said the parish is doing well despite the news. “The rumors that some people spread have to stop; they are malingerers. When a change happens, the people unfortunately begin the rumors. There are people who live for the rumors. Thank God the festival went very well, very smoothly. My wish is the parish to continue as it is, to find a good priest because we are a big parish and we have many good people. We have at least 650 families who pay their stewardship; thank God we doing very well.”