Fr Demetrius Nicoloudakis pastors St Matthew’s Parish (GOA) in Blandon (near Reading) PA. Married to his wife, Despina, (25 years), they have 5 children (ages 23 – 7). Originally set to study law, Fr Demetrius shifted to graduate studies in Scripture and Church History (Fordham University, Aristoteli Scholl of Theology, Butler University) with an eye towards teaching. A graduate of St Vladimir’s, he was ordained in 1995. Father Demetrius (having worked as a substance abuse counselor and great interest in family systems theory) and Presbytera Despina, are both involved in St Matthew’s ministries to the Prison and homeless in Reading.
The Local Eucharistic Community as the Relational Environment of Compassion
Parish and Prison Ministry
What is the “GOOD News and how is Israel re-born and invading the world in Christ by the Spirit lived out within and as the Church? Orthodox Christians see the local Eucharistic Community being the environment where the whole (catholic) of the risen Jesus, known and proclaimed by the Apostles and their Communities through the Spirit, inhabits and is lived by the people who deliberately/intentionally claim to ”sacrificially offer/surrender ourselves, one another and our whole life to Christ, our God.”
The local Eucharistic Community, where the risen Jesus lives and rules, is the embassy and base from we, in partnership with Him, continue the process of redeeming the world, integrating them into the life of the Kingdom.
I began going regularly to the jails about 15 years ago. The challenge really came when some of the inmates we ministered to in prison, upon release, wanted to come to Church. The Parish is more than a place where “religious services” and activities take place. It is to be a relational environment that, first of all, includes the Lord and all (not just a “pocket” of those) whose major priority is to synergize with the Gospel and share its healing grace wherever that community is located.
I see prison ministry as one of those areas where “the rubber meets the road” in terms of authenticity of our Faith and asks “How can/does the systemic relational makeup of the local parish integrate us into the healing, transfiguring forgiveness and redemption of the compassionate Christ?”
Ephraim the Syrian
Saints and Feasts Commemorated
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