A Tribute to Fr. Alexander Goussetis
Fr. Hector Firoglanis
When I was ordained as a deacon 12 years ago on August 27, 2005, I delivered a message before Metropolitan Maximos and all the priests and people who filled the church that day. In that message I publicly recognized all the incredible priests who had shaped and influenced my life in different and dramatic ways. That list began with Fr. Alexander Veronis, my life-long parish priest who first planted the seeds of faith and a love for the priesthood into my heart, and included all the other spiritual mentors of my life: Fr. Nicholas Palis, my spiritual father who keeps me grounded; Fr. Luke Veronis, my friend and koumbaro who always inspires me with his passion and energy; and Fr. John Reeves, my “OCF” priest at Penn State who himself converted to Orthodoxy and taught me to cherish and dig deeper into the Faith I was born into.
Although I didn’t know Fr. Alex Goussetis well at the time of my ordination to the diaconate, after nine years of serving as his assistant at Annunciation Church, he will always hold a permanent place on this list of priests whom I admire and who have shaped my own life and priesthood.
When Metropoltan Savas called me last month to inform me about the transitions our parish would be undergoing, he lauded the relationship Fr. Alex and I have shared over the nine years I have served under his direction at Annunciation Lancaster. The reason we have worked so well together is that Fr. Alex is first and foremost a kind, humble, and gentle man — a true shepherd of the Lord. Some of Fr. Alex’s God-given traits that I admire are his intelligent mind, his organized thought process, and his hearty laugh that fills a room with joy. But what I admire ever more are the virtues he has cultivated through a spiritual life of systematic prayer, fasting, study, self-reflection, and regular confession with his own spiritual father. These virtues are the fruits of his spiritual life, and they include his humility, his gentleness, his goodness, his patience (which he uses to be an excellent listen- er), and his discernment (which he uses to give excellent advice). For all these reasons, Fr. Alex was a perfect spiritual mentor for me, and it was truly rewarding to be his assistant and to have my priest- hood formed under his guidance. Over the years, he has become more than just my proistameno (my boss and head priest); he has become my confidante, my spiritual brother, and my friend.
For this reason, while I am sad that we will no longer liturgize at the same altar and work day-to-day in the same office, we will always be partners and fellow co-workers in the Lord’s vast vineyard. I know that his gifts will be greatly utilized and will be a blessing to many in the Church on an Archdiocesan level as he leads the Center for Family Care ministry. And I know, based on the spiritual bond we have formed over the years, that we will work together — Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission — to help make Orthodoxy more visible and more accessible to the 550,000 residents living in the county. On behalf of the entire parish, we thank Fr. Alex for his many years of faithful service and leadership. May God continue to richly bless his life and his ministries always.