Bish. Anthimos Dies at 81

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 05/30/2015
Publication: The National Herald

BOSTON, MA – Retired Bishop Anthimos of Olympos died at age 81 at his home in West Yarmouth, MA on May 29, probably from heart failure.

Born as Georges Draconakis in Castelli, Crete on November 19, 1934 to Nicholas and Kalliope, he was drawn to the church from a young age and followed the calling of the Lord. He was a graduate of the Patriarchal Theological School of Halki where he received his Theological degree.

He was ordained to the Diaconate in 1954 and to the Holy Priesthood in 1956. He was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite in 1959. He served parishes in Belgium, where he studied at the Catholic University of Louvain. From 1960 to 1969 he was assigned to the Archdiocese of Germany in several capacities and served parishes in Berlin and Nuremberg before being appointed as the Archdiocese Vicar.

In July, 1969 he arrived in the United States as was appointed as the parish priest of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Clinton, MA. During that time, he continued his education at the Harvard Divinity School. In July, 1971 he was appointed Dean of the Archdiocesan Cathedral in New York City, where he served until his election as Bishop in 1977. From then through 1979 he served as Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese. Anthimos was enthroned as Bishop of the Diocese of Boston in April 1979 and served there until 1982. Due to accusations and articles in the mainstream media for inappropriate sexual behavior involving the young daughter of his chancellor, the late Rev. George Gallas, he was transferred to the Diocese of Denver in 1983 where he remained until his retirement from active ministry in 1987.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate granted him the title of the Diocese of Olympos.

Bishop Anthimos was a close friend of His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco, of blessed memory, both having been born and raised in Crete. Anthimos was a frequent visitor to the Metropolis of San Francisco. He loved attending the annual Folk Dance and Choral Festival and was a great supporter of Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center and the Monastery of the Theotokos the Life Giving Spring in Dunlap, CA.

He is survived by his brother, Rev. Konstantinos Draconakis, who had served as a priest in Germany for many years, and is now retired and resides in Crete.

Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, who was ordained to the Diaconate by the late Bishop Anthimos in a written statement stated that “upon learning of the passing of His Grace Bishop Anthimos, I could not help but reflect on our many years of friendship and collaboration, and especially on the day of my ordination to the Holy Diaconate at which His Grace Bishop Anthimos was the presiding Hierarch. He was a man of deep faith who was dedicated to our Hellenic culture, and loved his homeland of Crete. He was a devoted servant of the Lord for 61 years, and always remained focused on bringing the word of the Lord to everyone he served. It is my fervent prayer that His Grace Bishop Anthimos is now resting eternally in the loving embrace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Nondas Lagonakis from Salem, who was Anthimos’ closest friend for many years told TNH that “I spoke with Fr. Peter Giannakopoulos from the St. George church in Cape Cod, who told me that they had a luncheon arrangement for Friday afternoon (May 29), but the bishop didn’t show up and he didn’t call, which was not typical of him because he was always on time in his meetings. Fr. Peter called him but there was no answer and thus he went to his residence he knocked on the door and there was no answer. He contacted the authorities and when they opened the house they found the Bishop lying there dead.”

Lagonakis also said “we were very good friends for many years. I met him when he came to the United States as a priest. He was a very dynamic man, hard worker, and very learned. I spoke to him on Wednesday night, May 27th, and told him that I would be waiting him to have dinner together on Sunday, May 31st. He sounded well, he told me that he was going to go to Crete for the summer and that he was getting ready to send a container, which had some extra space in case I wanted to send something to Crete as well.”

Bishop Anthimos’s wake will take place at the Holy Cross Seminary Tuesday June 2, 2015 from 4 to 8PM and at 7PM Archbishop Demetrios will officiate the Trisagion.

The late bishop will be laid to rest in his village in Crete.