Eulogy of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
For Paul Melis
Kimisis tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church
Brooklyn, New York
July 26, 2022
Beloved children, Nicolas and Marianna,
Dear family and friends of Paul Melis,
Beloved Community of Kimisis tis Theotokou,
The sudden passing of Paul Melis, a loving, caring and philanthropic pillar of his family, this wonderful parish and the Omogeneia, touches us all to the very heart. He was a son of this parish, who attended this parish school. When I heard of his passing, I made sure that I would be able to come today and pay my respects, and offer a few words that I pray will be of comfort.
A eulogy is a form of blessing – εὐλογία – a way of remembering the goodness and beauty of a life well lived. Paul’s life was a eulogy – a blessing to everyone he met. When such good people pass suddenly, and seemingly before their time, it always raises doubts and questions in our minds. We often see – especially in world affairs – people who act wickedly and live for many years. It doesn’t seem fair that those we love and do good in the world are passing away so soon. And yet, as we read last night at Great Vespers of Saint Paraskevi, whose feast day is today:
But the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God,…. To the eyes of the unwary, they seemed to die… but they are at peace. … their hope is full of immortality. And they will be greatly rewarded, for God has tried them and found them worthy of Him.*
I pray that you may draw some comfort from these prophetic words of the Great King Solomon. I know you are in pain – in pain of loss – the absence that stings your hearts. Really, it couldn’t be otherwise. When a person like Paul leaves this world, the imprint of his life on yours is as wide as it is deep.
But he is at peace, resting in the eternal heart of God and waiting for you all there. His passing reminds us of the inevitability of our mortality, but it also reminds us of the lasting value of the good we can do on this earth.
One of Paul’s lasting contributions can be found just across the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan – St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. Along with his partner, John Vasilantonakis, their company donated all of the cement needs for the sanctuary, a major contribution to the success of this national enterprise now flourishing at Ground Zero.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, John was a pillar of this community of Kimisis tis Theotokou.
But he also established himself as a pillar of the national shrine of Saint Nicholas. I hope you all remember him and think of him when you visit the Sanctuary.
Moreover, he is now a true στῦλος ἐν τῷ ναῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ, a pillar in the Temple of God, as it says in the Book of Revelation (3:12):
I will make the overcomer a pillar in the temple of my God, fixed and unmovable, one on which I will write the name of my God, and my new name, and the name of the city of my God – new Jerusalem, which shall come down of my Heavenly God. †
Therefore, let us remember Paul as an overcomer, as one who overcame many in life and, as the Apostle says, who overcame even in death:
Through all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. ‡
May the Lord grant you all his ineffable consolation and comfort to your hearts and souls, and grant to the servant of God, Paul, eternal rest in the Land of the Living, the Bosom of Abraham and the Abodes of the Righteous .
May his memory be eternal.
Αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη αὐτοῦ.