Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fr. Eusebios Vittis

Today our parish here in Panorama organized a "spiritual symposium" on the life of the recently reposed Elder Eusebios Vittis. Our parish took this on because several of his spiritual children as well as his nephew attend the parish.

Fr. Eusebios was a hieromonk who lived in a small hermitage in Sweden for 20 years, where he cared for the Orthodox there, without pay. To support himself, he worked as a janitor.

He had many, many spiritual children, including several bishops. Two bishops who were very close to him parish this morning to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and a memorial service for him before we began the symposium.

Above, censing, you see Metropolitan Makarios of Sidirokastron, the metropolis to which Fr. Eusebios belonged here in Greece.

From the Liturgy, during the Creed. Besides two bishops, we had five priests and three deacons. Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki and five other priests joined us for the memorial service at the end.

Metropolitan Makarios to the right, with Metropolitan Pavlos of Sisanion and Siatista to his right. To his right is Fr. Philotheos, an Athonite hieromonk who came to represent the Holy Monastery of Grigoriou in paying respect to Elder Eusebios.

Metropolitan Makarios with two deacons.

The symposium began around 11:30 with introductions by our proistamenos (rector), Fr. Alexios, and all three hierarchs, whom you can see seated in the front row.

Then followed three talks by professors from the university. The first professor was not a theologian but rather one of elder's spiritual children. He spoke from his experience living and studying in Sweden, where he first came to know the elder, and relayed some stories about the elder's time there.

The second talk was by Professor Anestis Keselopoulos from the School of Theology. His talk was entitled "The Quest for the Absolute" and it explored some passages from Fr. Eusebios' writings, examining the elder's thirst for God.

The third talk was by our parish's own Professor Dimitris Tselingidis, one of the most well-known Orthodox theologians today. His talk was entitled "The Ecclesiastical Mindset (Phronema) of Fr. Eusebios Vittis," and in it he explored many of the elder's writings, showing how they were deeply rooted in the tradition of the Church.

The symposium then concluded with a few words from the elder's sister.

Above, the photo of Fr. Eusebios displayed at the symposium. He wrote quite a bit, but unfortunately none of it is (yet) translated into English. In the symposium he was frequently included in the ranks of Elder Paisios and Elder Porphyrios (i.e., as saintly contemporary elders), so I predict that the English-speaking Orthodox world will be (or should be) hearing more about him soon.

On that note, my friend Michael Tishel, another American studying here, has really taken to the elder, having discovered some of his books a few months back. He attended the talks today and he has already offered a small translation of his own of one section from the elder's writings. Stay tuned to his blog there for more.


Stephen said...

Fascinating. I'll look forward to more of his works being translated.

In the meantime, do you know if there is any information about his life available in English? Particularly his time in Sweden? As one with some Sweden ancestry, and an interest in missionaries and those serving in non-Orthodox countries, I would be very interested in learning more about fr. Eusebios. Thanks.

Fr. Gregory said...

Thanks for the comment, Stephen. Excellent blog, by the way! I encourage others to take a look at it.
As to your question, unfortunately, from what I know (which is not much), there is literally NOTHING available in English; I couldn't even find a blurb on the internet. But there's plenty in Greek, so look for translations soon. Also, leave a message for Michael Tishel over at his blog:
He probably knows more and perhaps could be encouraged to translate something himself.

Anonymous said...

Okay. That is too bad, but thank you for looking. I'll wait then and perhaps in the meantime I should learn Greek myself, eh?

And thank you for the kind comment about my blog. Much appreciated.

Torsten Kälvemark said...

I knew Father Eusebios during his time here in Sweden. I first met him in 1964 when he came to Uppsala to study at the university. He soon became involved in helping the Greek immigrants who came to this country in the 1960's. He assisted his compratiots in many ways, both practically and spiritually.

The lack of Orthodox priests in this country at the time made him decide to become a priest. I took part in his ordination i Stockholm. He then travelled all around the country to serve the various emerging Greek communities.

The lack of understanding from the ruling hierarch at the time forced him to abandon his mission as a parish priest and after a short stay outside Sweden he returned to the country and led his life as a part-time janitor in a retreat house and diocese center belonging to the (Evangelical-Lutheran) Church of Sweden.

He bought an old house in the forest a few kilometers away from his work and turned on of the rooms there to a chapel.

In 1980 I made a radio programme with him. That was just before his departure to Greece and the Holy Mountain. Since then we have been in contact every now and then.

You will find information (in Greek and Swedish) about the Fellowship who preserve his old home here: