With a heavy heart and profound sadness, we report the passing our beloved Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago. He was 89 years old. May his memory be eternal.
His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos passes away
His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago
On Friday, June 2, the Metropolis of Chicago issued a plea for prayers for His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos. An unexpected illness sent him to the hospital on May 31. Following emergency surgery on the morning of June 2, we all prayed for his recovery. Last night, the Lord called his faithful servant home. In statements issued late in the evening of June 2, Archbishop Demetrios announced that our spiritual father, His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, had fallen asleep in the Lord. He was 89 years old and still active in his ministry. In fact, he’d just spent Memorial Day Weekend with our youth at the annual Metropolis Junior Olympics.
In a statement, Archbishop Demetrios spoke of the profound loss.
“With the falling asleep in the Lord of the late Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, the Church in America has lost a prominent Hierarch, known for his great and long service to the people of God…Metropolitan Iakovos served with faithfulness and devotion to God and His Church until the very last days of his long life despite the increased health issues he was facing lately. The high hierarchical offering of the unforgettable departed Brother Metropolitan Iakovos has been indelibly engraved in the collective memory of the Holy Archdiocese of America, which is fervently praying for the blessed repose of the soul of such a beloved and distinguished Brother Hierarch. May his memory be eternal as he rests among the just and the saints.”
About Metropolitan Iakovos
Born Michael Garmatis on April 4, 1928 in Athens, Greece, His Eminence began his higher education there, and continued his studies and service in the Boston area. In February 1968, Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America appointed him Archdiocesan Vicar of the Diocese of Detroit. Then in 1969, he was elected to the episcopacy of the Greek Orthodox Church by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and he took the name Iakovos. Consecrated Bishop of Apameia (an Auxiliary Bishop of Archbishop Iakovos) on Christmas Day 1969, he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Detroit.
In 1971, he was appointed President of Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, MA, and served in that capacity while he continued as administrative overseer of the Diocese of Detroit. During his 5-year tenure at Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology, he also served as the Bishop of the New England area.
On May 1, 1978, at the Annunciation Cathedral, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos enthroned him as the Bishop of Chicago. The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Chicago as the active Metropolitan of Krinis and Exarch of Ionias, in November 1997. In this capacity, His Eminence continued to serve the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Chicago as its Presiding Hierarch.
In 2002, His Eminence was elected the 1st Metropolitan of the newly-elevated Metropolis of Chicago. The Metropolis of Chicago is comprised of 34 parishes in IL, with another 24 parishes in WI, MN, IA, northern IN, and eastern MO.
Leading his flock
His Eminence was a dynamic leader, and during his archpastoral tenure, his ministry focused on numerous important initiatives. Under his leadership, the Metropolis has increased efforts to assist the homeless and those in need. With a strong commitment to our youth, he established many youth programs.
He felt that interfaith communication was vital in our society, and over the years, along with other faith communities, established Dialogue Commissions, to promote justice and truth. His Eminence was greatly admired and respected by civic and religious leaders alike. Over the years, he received many honors and accolades, all of which he humbly and reluctantly accepted, saying the recognition belonged to God.
On October 27, 2016, the City of Chicago honored His Eminence by renaming a portion of Burton Place, outside the general offices of the Metropolis of Chicago, as Honorary Metropolitan Iakovos Way.
Metropolitan Iakovos established countless programs, including the Bishop Iakovos Scholarship Assistance Program; the Bishop’s Task Force on AIDS, the 1st organized Greek Orthodox ministry for persons living with HIV/AIDS; the Metropolis Junior Olympics; and the annual Midwest Folk Dance Festival; as well as innumerable programs for religious and Greek education. Among these was the creation of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center, near Kenosha, WI.
St. Iakovos Retreat Center
His Eminence had long-dreamed of creating a retreat center, as a camp for youth and a home for Metropolis ministries. That dream became a reality in 2006, when 100 acres were purchased in Southern WI. The retreat center was named for our beloved hierarch, and lives on in his name. His Eminence oversaw construction at the retreat center, when the first phase of building commenced in May 2013. The facility now includes a 26-room main lodge and two cottages, plus indoor meeting and gathering rooms, more than 2 miles of walking trails, a campfire pit, an outdoor pool, and space for various outdoor activities.
Metropolitan Iakovos celebrated his last Liturgy on May 24 — the leave-taking of Pascha — at The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Demetrios in Elmhurst, IL. Of this, in a tribute on Facebook, Father George Lamberis of St. Haralambos Church in Niles wrote:
“How fitting this was for him as he always served the Divine Liturgy with passion and dignity. He leaves the earth singing Χριστός Ανέστη and today he serves the eternal Liturgy with the angels and saints.”
A statement from the Archdiocese of America said that in accordance with article 12 of the Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Archbishop Demetrios in consultation with the Eparchial Synod has named His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit as locum tenens (Latin, meaning to hold the place of, to substitute for), until a successor is elected.
For 38 years, Metropolitan Iakovos was a faithful shepherd to our Metropolis. He touched all of our lives, in countless ways. We all have a story about His Eminence. We invite you to share a favorite memory in the comments. A kind and gentle soul, devoted in service to God, his legacy lives on. Metropolitan Iakovos left his indelible mark on all of us, and will forever be in our hearts. May his memory be ever eternal, and may the Lord welcome him into his heavenly kingdom. Καλό παράδεισο.
Visitation Thursday, June 8 at 4:00 pm at Annunciation Cathedral, 1017 N. LaSalle Drive, Chicago. Then at 7:00 pm, Archbishop Demetrios will chant the Trisagion. On Friday, June 9, the archbishop will preside at the funeral service, also at Annunciation. Divine Liturgy begins at 7:30 am, and the funeral service at 10:30 am.
Related: Metropolitan Iakovos on WindyCity Greek
UPDATED: June 8, 2017