Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
By the time you read this, I will have served my first liturgy as priest of this wonderful parish and partaken of the Greek Festival. I also met some of you June 28-29 for the parish feast day including members of the parish council and Philoptochos. I wish to thank Metropolitan Nathanael for entrusting to me the care of such an important and vital community in the Metropolis of Chicago. I am also deeply indebted to Fr. Panagiotis Boznos for his gracious help during this time of transition and especially for his faithful shepherding of the parish for the last five years. I look forward to working with him and all of you to continue the impressive ministries and outreach that were begun so many years ago by Fathers Latto and Scoulas of blessed memory. I also thank everyone for the most generous gift of the pectoral cross that I received after liturgy on June 29th.
I know many of you from my time serving in Chicago at Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Westchester (1995-1997) right after I graduated from seminary. But certainly, not everyone knows me or even much about me and Presvytera Jane. Please allow me to share briefly. My full name is Fr. Richard Demetrius Andrews. My parents gave me the somewhat unusual spelling for my patron saint. You can call me Fr. Rick or Fr. Demetri, I’m comfortable with both. I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a seven-year stint in Montana when I was an elementary school student. My family were active members at St Mary Greek Orthodox Church under the pastoral care of Fr. Anthony Coniaris.
I graduated from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management where I met Jane during our senior year. After two years of work, we married and moved to Boston to attend Holy Cross Seminary, graduating in 1994, the same year that our son Theodore (Teddy) was born. He now lives and works in Los Angeles, California. After our time at Holy Apostles, I was assigned to Kimissis tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox in Racine Wisconsin for two years. We just completed twenty years of service at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where we were very blessed to be back near family and friends.
During that time, we did extensive renovations to our entire facility including a near complete remodeling of the sanctuary. We installed a brand new Iconostasi with Byzantine-style carved wood and icons, new altar table, new prothesis tables, six new mural icons of the major feasts, numerous festal icons of the saints, new stone flooring for altar and solea, and several new pieces of sacred furniture (kouvouklion, chanter stand, and icon stands).
I also guided the parish through an extensive renovation in 1999-2000 that included installation of a new elevator, new main entrances with canopies, new bathrooms and new administrative offices. In 2001 we purchased two sizable lots next door to the church on historic Summit Avenue and developed it in 2007 expanding our parking lot with extensive landscaping.
In 2000 we started a Lenten lecture series. On Wednesdays after Presanctified Liturgy and a community meal, I gave lectures on various topics. On Fridays each year, I invited local Orthodox priests to talk on a separate theme. In 2005, we started an annual Lenten Retreat inviting a nationally recognized Orthodox Christian speaker, that included clergy, monastics, men and women lay theologians.
In 2009 we co-hosted the Archdiocese Youth Oratorical with our sister parish of St Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis. They are also co-hosting the Metropolis Clergy-Laity Assembly this September.
During my time in Saint Paul I also served as a Frontline Chaplain doing disaster response for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) since 2013 and as a volunteer chaplain for the Saint Paul Police Department (SPPD) 2005-2019, spiritual advisor for the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry of Minnesota (OCPM-MN) 2010-2019, Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) campus ministry 1999-2019 including starting the OCF chapter at St. Thomas University in Saint Paul, coordinator for the Minnesota Eastern Orthodox Christian Clergy Association (MEOCCA) Cooperative Catechism program, 2002-2019, and presiding priest of the Greek Orthodox Spiritual Court in Minnesota, 2006-2019.
This past March I received my Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University. Since before seminary, I had a keen interest in psychology and counseling. At seminary I took elective courses in Religion and Psychology, Psychopathology and Systems Theory and Family Therapy. After our son graduated from high school, I began the program. It took six years to complete but included multiple courses on systemic theory, assessments, ethics, academic writing and research. As well, the program required practicums/internships in counseling, supervision and teaching. My final dissertation topic was on clergy stress and burnout. From its beginning, the doctoral program helped me improve my pastoral skills in the parish and I’m grateful for the support I received throughout the experience.
Again, I look forward to getting to know all of you and working with you and helping you incarnate the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. May the Fast of the Panagia be spiritually fruitful as we approach the Feast of Her Dormition.
Blessed Fifteen Days of August!