Beloved in the Lord,

“Lord of the powers be with us: for in times of distress, we have no other help but you. Lord of the powers, have mercy on us.” Hymn of Great Compline, Plagal Fourth Tone

One life lost is too many. Yet today we mourn the tragic killing of 13 young people who were enjoying an evening at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California when gunfire erupted. A nightclub full of college students and young adults quickly turned into a crime scene with dead and injured people, and people literally running for their lives.

We grieve with the families and friends of all those who are suffering from yet another senseless act of violence. There are no words that can adequately provide solace and comfort, especially with the loss of young life. The bright future of these 13 people has been snuffed out like a candle, and the flame extinguished by the tears of those left behind who will forever have a void in their lives.

One of those killed was 27-year old Telemachus “Tel” Orfanos, a member of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Northridge, CA. Orfanos’ family has been active in the parish for many years, and Tel served as an altar boy in his youth. This young man was a veteran of the United States Navy, and was a survivor of the Route 91 massacre in Las Vegas in 2017. 

There is nothing more powerful than prayer, and we must come together as an Orthodox family, raising our voices and our hearts in collective prayer. This Sunday, November 11, I ask that all our communities offer a Trisagion for the repose of the souls of those who perished, and prayers for the restoration of the health of those who were injured, and for the families and friends who are suffering emotional trauma from this horrific ordeal.

The time is now for us to also raise our collective voices throughout this country to all civic and religious leaders that definitive and decisive steps must be taken to eradicate this kind of violence that continues to befall our nation. We must not allow this type of behavior to become commonplace; it is up to us as people of faith to act in unity to stamp out this evil.

Let us continue to pray for peace in the world, so that no more innocent lives may be lost through random acts of violence, terrorism and war. May God, the source of peace and unconditional love, sustain us all through this tragedy.

With Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco

Photo Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times