Letter From Fr. Michael Pappas to Faithful of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Holy Trinity Church
Fr. Michael G. Pappas, Economos
999 Brotherhood Way
San Francisco, CA 94132
21 August 2007
Faithful of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
San Francisco, California
Beloved Spiritual Flock,
In the fourth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, the Lord admonishes, ”Physician, heal thyself. (Lk 4:23).” Never have these words borne greater personal significance than at this moment, as I pen this most difficult letter of my ministry.
Preparing young couples for married life, I use the metaphor of marriage as a garden that God gives us on our wedding day. Not only does He give us fee garden, but also plants the seed and gives us the tools to cultivate that garden. He only asks that we water that garden and keep the weeds out. Do that and the garden will grow. Do that and we will never grow hungry. Neglect the garden, however, and nothing grows. Neglect the garden and our hunger leads us to find nourishment elsewhere.
Over these last 15 years, in my zeal to excel in ministry, I have neglected the garden of my marriage and as result; it has withered on the vine. In those moments of hunger, I have sadly strayed from faithfulness and dishonored the sanctity of the gift of a precious wife and treasured children. Today I am haunted by the Lord’s words, ”Physician, heal thyself.” Had I listened more carefully to the words I preached, perhaps the irreparable damage done to my marriage and the divorce which now will sever an almost 20 year relationship might have been avoided. For this painful reality I take full responsibility.
I am writing today with a heavy heart and with great humility to inform you that I have petitioned Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, to be released from my priesthood. I realize that the repercussions surrounding the broken state of my marriage make it impossible for me to serve Christ’s Church with authenticity and legitimacy. This physician needs time to heal himself.
Saint Paul, tells us, ”When one member of the body suffers the entire body suffers (1 Cor. 12:26).” I realize the consequences of this departure will impact many fragile souls. To these many, I appeal that faith in the True High Priest Jesus Christ sustain you in this hour of spiritual pain. As I seek to heal my broken soul, I will continue to pray for yours. We have labored hard in this precious vineyard. We have accomplished much in these three short years. There is much yet to be done. I am confident that the Lord will send you a shepherd worthy of your trust.
As I have asked God’s forgiveness for this state of affairs, I humbly beseech yours and the Church’s. Pray for my family and me.
With much love in Christ,
+Fr. Michael Pappas, Proistamenos