Andonios Defends Fr. Recachinas

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 07/28/2011

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Bishop Andonios, Chancellor of the Greek-Orthodox Archdiocese of America, has asked parishioners at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church here to refrain from what he said was gossip over the resignation of their priest, Father Demetrios Recachinas, who they alleged was cruising truck stops for sex with men, and who Andonios said is now seeking professional evaluation. He also said that the scandal could give pleasure to Satan. In a letter dated June 22 to the parish here, Andonios acknowledged difficulties surrounding Recachinas’ departure, but said: “I once again urge all of you to refrain from gossiping or judging anyone, both of which are most detrimental and have always been considered unacceptable behavior by the Church. The Archdiocese is continuing its investigation of those allegations. Please know that we take any allegation most seriously and will exercise appropriate action based on the results of our investigation.”

Recachinas, in a June 10 telephone interview with The National Herald would not explain why other than to say, “I am on a leave of absence for reasons of health and for personal reasons.” He 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 his problems “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.”

On June 16, TNH reported that, “The priest of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church here who resigned abruptly after 29 years of service for ‘personal and health reasons’ was caught by many of his parishioners soliciting truck drivers for sex at rest areas of an interstate highway, they have alleged.” Father Demetrios Recachinas announced his departure in March but refused to provide details, nor did the Archdiocese or Parish Council President George Mourizakis.

The parishioners who charged Recachinas with what they called inappropriate conduct unbecoming a priest told TNH that many of them had seen him in the rest stop areas of Interstate highway Route I-95 seeking truck drivers and other men for sexual purposes. They did not want their names (TNH has their names on file) used, but one said, “I have seen him in the car doing the act with men…” and another said the priest unwittingly tried to solicit him before realizing who he was. They said they hired a lawyer, Harold Pickerstein, who employed private investigators to follow Recachinas and that they had confirmed he was cruising the area for sex contacts. Pickerstein sent a letter to Fr. Recachinas on February 22 stating that: “Not only have our clients observed these activities, but investigators, retained by this office, have independently verified your activities.” The lawyer gave him one week to resign. On March 6, Fr. Recachinas, at the end of the Liturgy, suddenly announced his resignation for “reasons of health.” He is considered one of the most prominent and successful priests of the Archdiocese.

TNH is in a position to know that shortly after the newspaper broke the story that Andonios called into a meeting at the Archdioceses some of the parishioners who had spoken to the newspaper on the record about the actions of their priest. Andonios allegedly attempted to blame the parishioners, saying that, “You stultified your parish with your statements to TNH.” The parishioners told Andonios that, “The parish has been ridiculed by the actions of the priest and your attempts who are trying to cover it up.” Antonios reportedly told the group of the parishioners who made the revelations that Recachinas was sent “for evaluation,” and if he (Andonios) thinks that he is okay, he might reassign him back to the same parish.

Telephone messages to Andonios and Recachinas went unanswered. TNH was unable to communicate with the parishioners who met with Bishop Andonios because they had left on vacation. Shortly after breaking the story, TNH received a serious threatening message by e-mail, which was reported to the police.

SEEKING HELP

In his letter, Andonios also wrote that, “Please know that in response to our directive, Father willingly consented to see a professional for evaluation so that we can determine if there are
any issues which have arisen at this point in his life and what needs to be done to address them. Know that he is deeply pained by whatever has transpired and especially that the life of the community he served has been gravely affected. I ask that you keep him, Presbytera and their beloved children in your prayers, for as you can well appreciate, this is most painful and difficult time for the family. We fervently pray that the Good Lord will bestow upon all of them His healing grace and love.” He added: “We are all especially pained by, and are very
concerned over the divisions which have been created within the community as a result of what has transpired. We fervently ask that peace and harmony be restored. While there may never be agreement within the parish about what actually transpired and /or how the issue should have been addressed by those within the community, we strongly implore and ask that for the “good of the community”, everyone focus their attention and their energies on working together to rebuild the unity which has been shaken, so that you may be perfectly joined together.”

In another part of his letter, he added: “As members of a Christian Community, we cannot set our minds on earthly things and seek to satisfy personal agendas and selfish egos. We must always strive, to the best of our ability, to rise above and ever cognizant that we reveal our true spiritual state by our relationship with our fellow communicants. Inappropriate and unacceptable behavior manifested in a desire to ostracize certain groups of people from the parish, to seek revenge against individuals whether they be in leadership positions or regular
parishioners, to boycott events so as to undermine the parish’s financial stability, and to pass judgment on others can only result in worsening the animosities which threaten the unity of the parish.”

Andonios went on to state in his letter that “continuing this state of affairs would give great delight to the Evil One whose missions it is to sow dissension and division within the Body of
Christ. His desire is to distance people from God and their Faith and certainly to undermine the work of the Church. Therefore, as people filled with the empowered by the Spirit of God, let us rise above the controversy and let us all work towards restoring the loving, spiritual community which existed before this controversy “lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.”