Interview with Gail Sheppard: Part III

Well folks, our dear sister-in-Christ, Gail, was quite distraught a few days ago and asked me to bring this entire interview to a close. Actually, she asked me to take the entire thing down. I asked her to reconsider; to sleep on it before we discussed it further.

So why didn’t I immediately accede to her wishes? Frankly, I hoped she reconsider. After all, the initial purpose of the interview was to offer her some level of protection from further harm.

For the record, Gail reached out to me several years ago and sent me documents (which I still possess) because she had concerns about her physical safety. I wish I could say she is safer now than she was then but certain incidents in the recent past call that into question. The documents she sent me are a type of insurance policy as it were, but an interview in a very public forum such as this adds an extra measure of protection (or so I believe) and I think she needs it.

To be honest, I was honored that she chose me some seven or so years ago to help her out. Helping her was and is my first priority but I also feel her story needs to be told, not because of any desire for yellow journalism on my part but because we need to hear it. Gail has repeatedly said, “This is not about me. It’s about us.” In saying this (“us”) she means the Church; Gail has no delusions of grandeur nor does she seek martyrdom. She does not view herself as an cause celebre in any way, shape, manner or form. Nor is she out for posthumous vengeance against those who abused her in the past. In fact, repeated incidents of vandalism (some of it extreme) have continued and she wants it to stop. She also wants to prevent something like this from happening to someone else. This is not unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination.

What Gail has recounted is scandalous, pure and simple. It is wrong and more importantly, it is dangerous. This is no longer Metropolitan Philip we’re talking about. We’re talking about people who may not share his same sense of propriety with respect to how far is far enough.

Having said that, I’m also concerned for the Church. As long as we avert our eyes from such incidents, as long as we mollify our consciences by saying “it was in the past, why bring it up now?” then we will never be mature enough to have an American Orthodox Church. Instead, we will continue to skulk around timidly, burying our talents in the ground, continually kicking the can down the road, ever hoping that “someday, we’ll be ready” and as long as we excuse such actions and consign them to the memory hole, we will continue to see more such stories. We’ll continue to hemorrhage people and more souls will be lost, more unpleasant incidents will take place and more parishes will close their doors, while the bishops who sit on the Episcopal Assembly continue to bicker over really important things like seating arrangements or whether neo-papalist claims of Constantinople have merit because America is one of the “barbarian lands”.

Not that there aren’t any heroes in our present story. Among them, I list Gail’s priest back in California, Fr Wayne; more recently Fr Philip in Tucson; and of course His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, who was then her bishop and is currently the primate of the Antiochian Archdiocese. There are other priests on the West Coast who have come to her defense and warned her about certain rogue elements who remain angry with her to this day.

Even so, there is grave doubt that the hierarchy can stop these incidents from happening. As already stated, most of what has transpired against her happened after Metropolitan Philip reposed. This is most worrisome.

It’s times like this when I ask myself whether I’m doing any good at all. Her story after all, speaks for itself; it’s clear that there are no hidden agendas. As such, I was shocked at some of the criticisms leveled against her. Certainly, it was not my intention to hold Gail up to scrutiny or put her into a box where she has to choose between being damaged as a result of her life experiences or labeled abnormal because she isn’t. (The joke, “When did you stop beating your wife?” comes to mind.) Given what has transpired, I fear an even greater backlash against her, so much so that I’ve given serious thought to taking down Monomakhos once and for all. To say that I’m disappointed in some of the comments posted here would be an understatement. The only thing that should be in our minds is Gail’s safety and that something like this should never happen again. Period. End of story.

Whether I continue the blog or not is unimportant, however. What is important is that you pray for Gail Sheppard, for her safety and her well-being. Please.

And if you learn anything from her story, learn this: we need to take control of the Church. We can start by manning up and making sure that our womenfolk aren’t abused. Nobody should ever have to suffer what Gail did. Not ever. She went through the proper channels when she raised her troubling questions, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, to the degree that circumstances would allow. If she was out of line, she should have been called on the carpet through the proper channels. But she wasn’t. Instead, terrorist tactics were used against her to intimidate and silence her.

It’s not good enough just to pray that nothing like this ever happens again because it did and it is. Saying, “I don’t want to see it, hear it or talk about it” is unconscionable. As long as something like this is happening to a member of the Body of Christ, a woman no less, with no father, no husband and no son to protect her, it might as well be happening to a member of our own family and we wouldn’t be sitting around praying and talking about it . . . we’d be doing something about it.

And so, keeping all this in mind, I ask you to listen to the final installment of my interview with Gail.


About GShep


  1. Greatly Saddened says

    Once again, Gail, I commend you for coming forward and sharing this terrible and tragic situation of yours with us.
    It is really difficult for me to get over all that has happened to you and especially from people within the Orthodox faith. I hope and pray that all this has finally come to a close and a new dawn is upon you. God bless you and your family and thank you for sharing your story with us. You are forever in my prayers.

  2. Dear Gail,
    I am very moved by your extraordinary courage and resolve. You have taken action on issues that so many others could not…..or would not….and you have paid a price. I left the Antiochian Archdiocese in no small part because of many of the things that you have brought to light. I am now with ROCOR.
    May God bless you abundantly. You are in my prayers and I will light candles for you. Thank you for your courage.

  3. Stephend says

    The main point I think is that no jurisdiction is above any of this type of foolishness and we all need to help and support each other. I did my best to help Gail back then and I hope she knows that.

  4. M. Stankovich says

    Your introduction convinces me that, by blending and weaving a kettle of criterion of your own choosing, you can transform any one of us into, as Fr. Alexander Schmemann said, “good people.” And why not? But just don’t touch that house of cards, right? You must remember the story: “And you shall set bounds to the people round about, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves, that you go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whoever touches the mount shall be surely put to death.’” (Ex. 19:12)

    So, check this out. Let’s say you and I are hiking. It’s 1115 on a warm, sunny July day. We come up to man, and by my observation, he’s pallid, anxious, you know, inattentive, nervous. He’s breathing hard, and when I ask, he says he has a tightness in his chest, “pressure,” he says, that restricts his breathing. Any chest pain, I ask him. Some, in his chest, into his back, in his jaw, in his shoulder, but it stops after 5-minutes or so. Does it come back? Yeah. I feel for his pulse, close to 200 BPM. You see that a few people have stooped to see what’s happening. As we talk, he’s increasingly nauseous and the pain has returned. I have a bag with me, only rudimentary supplies. I’ve called for help, but no one will reach us for 30-minutes. I am concerned that if we don’t do something preemptive, he’ll crash right in front of us. What do you think is happening and what should we do? I have 3 good ideas and 2 standard responses. I hope you are thinking, “I’m a pharmacist, and I am not qualified to make these decisions.” And that is exactly what you should have stopped and considered before you chastized George Osborne; before you not only questioned my judgement, but openly challenged my integrity; and have now embarked upon a mission of preemptive shaming:

    “To say that I’m disappointed in some of the comments posted here would be an understatement. The only thing that should be in our minds…” Wait, you would now direct the content of my thoughts? And what, exactly, is the consequence for not sharing your opinion?

    “This is not unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination.” In the “real world,” we depend upon others to provide us with a context for what is and is not “reasonable.” When you obliterate the “new eyes,” you are Oedepus, blindly stumbling through self-created “conflict” and lashing out at self-created enemies. When I step back and think about the wonder, thoughtful people who once were at the core of this site – with no pejorative intended to the current crew – particularly the ordained clergy, I have to think, was there seriously no lesson learned?

    And finally, this whole business of “sweeping things under the rug” and ““I don’t want to see it, hear it or talk about it” is unconscionable,” you either employing some political mind game and purposely twisting both the intent of the question “Why now?” and the “cost-to-benefit” ratio, or you clearly don’t get it. In either event, it has gone too far to even care.

    I am on the record to say that I do not regret a single thing I have said in this whole situation. Factually, had they not been deleted – and I openly challenge you to post my email to you and allow anyone to judge if it was either “over the line” or “full of anger,” as you would berate me – I would have said considerably more. And with that, brothers and sisters, I am OUT of HERE. I won’t be a party to this manipulation.

    You would’t censor this, would you, Mr. M.? Ha! I’d believe anything at this point…

    Bon Soir et Bon Chance

    • Bonsoir monsieur.

    • M. Stankovich,
      If you leave now, you are a fool, and not what I believed you to be.

    • Mikey S., once again pontificates.

      • Constantinos says

        If a man wants to be called by his real name, what is that to you? Mikey S.?! That’s kindergarten nonsense. What has the man done to you that warrants such blatant disrespect? Dr. Stankovich would never stoop to the level of your childish discourse. I’m calling on you to publicly apologize to him. He’s not pontificating; he’s stating his opinions. And you have a problem with that?! Whether you agree of disagree with him, the man brings a lot to the table.

        • Mikey S. does bring many valuable opinions to the table. If he could only understand that his posts are his opinions and not absolute truths. Furthermore, Georgie M. has the right to censor whomever he wishes. I have had several offerings that were not posted. Dr S seems rather childish to not play when he doesnt get his own way.

          • M. Stankovich says


            Let me conclude all the acknowledgement you deserve from by simply saying that my posts to you were rarely, if ever my “opinions,” but were simply direct quotations, verbatim from either 1) Migne’s Patrologia Graeca, the single greatest collection of the writings of the Holy Fathers in existence; 2) from the New Testament of the Septuagint, the version of the Old Testament, quoted by the Apostles and by the Holy Fathers, and constituting half of the soul of the Liturgical Canon of the Orthodox Church; and 3) the Greek New Testament, and the only version of the New Testament acceptable to the Orthodox Church. On top of that, I carefully and precisely took the time to provide you the Greek annotations so you could understand exactly why the Evangelists and the Fathers specifically chose and used the the words and phrases they did to convey to us the “mysterion,” those things that the initiates into the Faith now needed to know, “having put on Christ.” Let me be absolutely clear to you: these are not my opinions. These are absolute truths of the Orthodox Faith. I did not ever, even once, post a comment to you to “chat,” or make small talk. I addressed you only when your emphatic and overbearing comments were so wrong, and so offensive that I brought the Truth to you to Shut. You. Up. You got it, Johnkal? Read it again: you twisted or misquoted the Holy Scripture, or you misstated the Fathers, or claimed they said something I knew they did not say and I Shut. You. Up. And who better to do so than me? You are a deceiver, Johnkal. I sat you down with the direct words of the Holy Fathers and the sacred words of the Holy Scripture itself, for which I don’t have an opinion, I have faith. And trust me, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    • C’est “bonne chance.”

      • M. Stankovich says

        Merci beaucoup, Antonia. Vous avez corrigé ma même erreur d’orthographe avant! Dyslexique en deux langues!

        • A. W. C. says

          Just passing through. A friend thought that I was the “Antonia” who posted that. I was not. This is not a website that interests me. Thanks!

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      I’ve never understood why Michael Stankovich kept casting his pearls here.This has developed into little more than a cooker of a potpourri of church politics. The silence relative to our government’s abuse of refugees and their children witnesses to a kind of spiritual bankruptcy.
      How is it that the pagan Egypt of Our Lord’s infancy was safer for refugee families than America under President Trump’s administration?
      “Johnkal” seems to think that Mr Stankovich didn’t “get his own way” for the first time!!!!!
      What an idea!

      • Your Grace,
        Save your spiritual bankruptcy, guilt and shame upon us , for the abuse of children, to your Orthodox brother bishops and most especially your Roman Catholic cousin bishops!

        Trump may be a jerk, but at least when the issue is brought forward he acts to solve it, regardless if you approve of his methods, he does not stick his head in the sand, or make like the three monkeys covering their mouth eyes and ears, like your brothers and cousins.

        You honestly do not give a lick about Gail’s story but in identical fashion just like Mr. Stankovich wish to direct and divert the conversation to Trump. Classic liberal and indebted bishop.

        • Hear hear Dino. This is why I object to retired bishops using their former titles, or any bishops using their titles for matters other than directly related to their episcopal duties.

          George does not sign his posts the pharmacist George. Mr. Fitzgerald does not bring credit to himself with silly posts like this. But it is his own business if he wants to sully his own name. Please don’t sully my Church.

          • If I recall correctly……the bishop had promised that he was retiring from this forum more than a year ago. Oh well.

          • V. Rev. Andrei Alexiev says

            I’m sorry,calling a retired bishop “Mr.” is way out of line. Futhermore, His Grace is also a veteran of the Armed Forces. I might also object to His Grace’s politics. However, I respect him both as a bishop and as a veteran.

          • Michael,
            I get no pleasure speaking to the retired bishop in that manner, but it frustrates me, when they turn a blind eye to their fellow bishops, simply because they are fellow bishops.

            • Dino I agree with you completely And I too derive no pleasure or joy from my post.
              I have said in the past and I say again I respect the retired Bishop’s military service. We are a three generation military family. I can’t say what kind of bishop he was but I respect the office and knowing nothing to the contrary assume he was a fine bishop. I do not disagree with George or Father Andrei on either of these points.
              But I believe he is way out of bounds to make such political statements and to call our country less safe for children than pagan ancient Egypt. If he wants to make outrageous political statements, or any political statements, he does not need to use his former title and imply the imprimatur of our faith on his silliness.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Yeah, hear, hear. Mr. Fitzgerald happens to be the anointed of the Right Hand of our God Himself; certainly not “titled,” and certainly not “limited” to what you imagine are his “episcopal duties.” Speaking to your despicable blindness and breathtaking ignorance of the theology of “your Church,” please allow me to quote St. Ignatius (Branchianinov), himself a Bishop:

            If you could actually see the holiness that God has bestowed upon a Bishop, you would fall down.

            Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) served in vineyard of our Lord as the OCA Bishop Of San Francisco and the Diocese of the West, having assumed this position in a time of great conflict and distress. He administrated and served this diocese faithfully and without scandal for nearly a quarter of a century. His writings regarding liturgical order and the proper manner by which the services are to be conducted remain on the site of the Diocese of the West, and are consulted by clergy from around the world to this day. This site is a festival to hierarchs who cannot manage this primary responsibility: faithfulness to their confession at the time of their consecration. For this reason alone, Bishop Tikhon deserves your respect. More to the point, he does not deserve the musings of some anonymous creeps too cowardly to use their own names when accusing the very anointed of our God. Shame on you.

            • Dr. Stankovich you are very smart and gifted but blinded by your own arrogance and smugness in your belief that you are infallible. I respect your opinions but not how full of yourself you are or how you think you are the only entitled to express your opinions and receive respect. You keep saying goodbye and keep coming back. If you want to live in your own little word where you alone are perfect and the authority on everything you talk about, why do you keep coming back? Show respect for the people who show you respect even when you disagree. I didn’t agree with the poster who called you Mikey but I can sure understand his reflexive response given your unbridled arrogance.
              I think it was Chrysostom who said the road to hell was paved with skulls of bishops. I don’t say this at all with regard to the former bishop, as I said he may have been a Fine bishop, I just don’t know, but I do quote this to point out that the office is not automatically an entitlement to infallibility.
              You are a smart guy no doubt about that and I usually enjoy reading your posts but you really should come off your high horse once in a while a respect views you disagree with. I am sure this will set off a huge tantrum. The former bishop likes to dish it out, often in a manner unbefitting his former office, he is a big boy and I am sure can get as well as he likes to give. I dont see him asking to run and hide under your skirt.

              • M. Stankovich says

                I will say to you exactly what I have said to many over the course of my participation here, or anywhere I chosen to comment, from this site, to Wapo, to the NY times, to the NEJM: If I am mistaken; or if I have presented a statement as fact when it is, in actuality, erroneous; or even if you have good reason to suspect something I have stated demands citation, I have invited you correct me. Why? Because I have no investment in being “right” over presenting what is the truth. None whatsoever, and I will acknowledge my error & correct it. And if my error was somehow offensive, I will repeatent before this forum.

                But if your complaint is that you don’t like my “attitude” or my aggressive style, or my arrogance, or whatever words you may wish to employ to describe my intolerance, that is entirely different. Had Bishop Tikhon confessed heresy, this is one thing. But to be the recipient of your cheap attempts to embarrass & shame him, a Bishop of the Church whom our God has bestowed 8-decades of longevity, because you disagree with his politics? It was simply my NY instinct to, as we say, “hand you your hat.” And you would cite Johnkal as “reactionary reference” to my arrogance and “pontification?”

                Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth. (Jer. 9:24)

                Modern translation: “It’s not about me. “As it is written, Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:31, cf. 2 Cor. 10:17).

                And finally, you say tantrum? For as much as Johnkal complained about “language,” there is an important lesson here. You will – or should – recall that in the Gospel of John, the event described immediately after the wedding at Canna of Galilee is Jesus angrily emptying the Temple of the merchants and the sellers. As this was occurring, the Lord’s Disciple’s were frightened by His uncharacteristic behaviour, by His “uncontrolled outburst of anger & frustration,” the definition of a “tantrum.” But was it? Not according to the Evangelist. He wrote that the Disciples recalled the words of the Prophet, “Zeal [ζῆλος] for Your Temple has encompassed me [καταφάγεταί – literally, “eaten me up”].” (Jn 2:17) wow. Who knew?

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Dino, I AM a liberal, and I AM indebted to God. As for “the three monkeys covering their mouth eyes and ears, like your brothers and cousins,” re you referring to contributors to Monomakhos? I do wonder why they prefer to discuss Antiochene and GOA hierarchs, rather than refugee children. Perhaps if you let us know why you do, it’ll help explain the rest… Oh, tell “Michael” that I also sign some correspondence, “Lee R.H. Fitzgerald, Capt., USAF (retired)” because I’ ve never been demoted, just as I’ve never been deposed! I can still dedicate Churches and ordain Priests and Deacons, etc. and serve the Divine Liturgy.
          I’ve never understood why Michael Stankovich kept casting his pearls here.This has developed into little more than a cooker of a potpourri of church politics. The silence relative to our government’s abuse of refugees and their children witnesses to a kind of spiritual bankruptcy.
          How is it that the pagan Egypt of Our Lord’s infancy was safer for refugee families than America under President Trump’s administration?

          • Your Grace,
            This blog, which George runs, decided to do a three part interview with Gail, which coincided with the refugee crisis(were they not safe in Mexico?). Do we not have a slight obligation to respect the time George put into Gail’s story and interview, and keep on topic, especially since Gail has paid a price, not many of us would dare do, by speaking up to a bishop?

            Instead we saw a manipulation, by you and Michael, to turn the story to Trump, and his cold hearted ways. I’m sure sooner or later the topic will turn to your favorite bad guy, as if there was not a president before Trump, ignoring the problem at the border. Does your heart not cry for our Orthodox children, whether abused by clergy, or so many others leaving The Eucharist forever, because…….

            Respect George, Gail, and your Church, and explain why our bishops don’t care, or are you just too afraid to speak up. If you don’t want to speak up, on the topic at hand, hold your peace until the next one come upon us.

            • Dino I hear your criticism of me, but respectfully I did not turn the attention to Trump. I only responded to the former bishop’s unprovoked attack on who I believe to be the man appointed by God to be in his office at this moment in history to lead us through very difficult times. When someone is unfairly attacked, why is it unfair to defend them in the same space?

              • Michael,
                I’m sorry, but my criticism was for Michael Stankovich, not you “Michael”. You have nothing to apologize to me, but perhaps you should to Bishop Tikhon.

                We may disagree with Bishop Tikhon’s political views, but retired or not he is still, and will always be a bishop. He should not be called Mr. Fitzgerald, and if I ever met him in person, I would kiss his hand, and ask for his blessing. Debate him all you want, but he should be addressed in a proper manner.

                • Dino I humbly accept your brotherly correction, and while I still disagree furiously with his political views, this is my public apology to Bishop Tikhon for allowing my anger to cloud my judgment and not respecting his person as a bishop. May God grant your grace many years in health. And I would respectfully suggest that your grace perhaps temper some of the most extreme of your political statements. You are entitled to respect by virtue of your former offices, both military and ecclesiastical, but I believe that comes with a responsibility to also speak temperately, for the same God who saw fit to have you annoited a bishop has ordained that our President be in his office at this time. We pray for him at every Divine Litugy. You and he should both be accorded respect even when disagreed with. That is why I became so upset with you. I respectfully ask you to consider this.

    • I have sometimes put my thoughts in from Bulgaria. I am greek as u know. I am now in Uk in Canterbury, beautiful Cathedral city, where my niece and family are,visiting here for month. Her daughter attending King’s School founded 597 by St Augustine. And sings in Choir who did Monteverdi vespers in the Cathedral. Very upper english society.
      I went on tour of Cathedral and its history has relevant aspect to events with you.
      A history, and I am not just refering to medeval times, of sckullduggery and incest and sexual grooming and etc etc. But also great good and amazing cultural activity.
      Also beautiful worship.
      As i read especially about Gail, one has to wonder, especially with all current Politics and Trump etc, what the HELL the Orthodox church has to offer USA?? Mostly not even authentic worship but a pseudo kitsch western version. I am TOTALLY SURPRISED no one addresses this on this post. PERHAPS ITS A GIVEN.
      I am Orthodox but often I think, all these bishops, etc, living well, whst the f… Do they have to do with Christ.??
      Whst the f. can they say to my niece and family?. As it happens as a Dr she flies to USA next week but not husband who is Christian syrian. HE REFUSES TO VISIT YR COUNTRY. Detests it. THANKS GOD FOR THE RUSSIANS . But to get back to main point. U may ask why haemorage from the Church of millenials.? Because they simply see nothing spiritual or even in the worship, just Politics by Men unrelated to God or man or woman or child or relevant issues. AND GOD HELP ME I AM ORTHODOX

  5. Stephend says

    He will be back. He craves the attention.

    • M. Stankovich says


      If you read this, stephend, take a knee, bro’ because I crave your attention in specific. Aren’t psychologists supposed to point out that this is “false world,” and if you need “attention,” or if you need an “ego-boost,” get it from the real world?. You know, not sit at home in your Superman Underalls© and shoot arrows? I have been nothing but respectful to you for years, bro’. I’ve openly invited you to correct me if I have presented something that is incorrect. How much more open can I be? You’re “weary” of me and my “expertise,” wonder if I am really open to being taught when I openly invite your correction, stephend? Seriously, what would a psychologist say at a time like this? There’s something else going on here… Am I right? There are several ways to approach this, as I see it: 1) I can presume the literature is correct and being a typical psychologist, you don’t even understand the neuroscience I present; 2) There is something counter-transferential going on here, and you need to deal with it; or 3) Pardon me, but who cares. Where’s your money on my vote? When I said I need a break from this, bro’, trust me.

  6. I imagine a back stage pass with The Imperial Margarine Hats is of more value, to Michael Stankovich, than free speech, and open books. Yes he may speak of the dead, no harm there, but what if the line is crossed to the living. Big NO NO!

    You see we are fools, in his eyes, to speak of things that do not cure the blind and BLAH BLAH BLAH! At least twice now, Michael believed he and the crowd years ago were the betters of today’s crowd here on Monomakhos. Many of the clergy have left, in disgust and disappointment of the directions the discussions lead. Yet Michael remained, until today. The real question, for the men in black, long gone is, WHY HAVE THEY REALLY LEFT. My opinion, for most, it is not because they thought they were of higher calibre than the rest of us, and conversation beneath them, like Michael hints. It is because they fear losing their livelihood, homes, and pensions, by their bishops.

    Michael’s beef was that HE could not direct the conversation on George’s blog.

    But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca’! Shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.-(Matthew 5:22)

    • M. Stankovich says


      Last night I received what I would term a most magnanimous & encouraging email from Mr. Michalopulos. As a side note, I mentioned to him that, to date, I had received eight email basically saying, “Have you read what so-and-so is saying about you?” and as of 0100 when I was responding to him, I had read some of the responses. I mentioned I was ambivalent. You understand that, Dino? Having two oppositional feelings at exactly the same time. Now for me, this is complicated.

      In the first place, this is a totally fraudulent world. It’s the internet. You can be totally anonymous (or so you imagine), and be everybody you are not in the real world: bold, confrontational, decisive, and respected. So, if I need “ego-boosts,” if I need “attention,” if I need comfort and support because I’m lonely and alone, if I need a “following” or a “fan club,” I’ll get it from the real world, not this sand box fantasy world. Am I mistaken, but isn’t this what a psychologist is supposed to say?

      I would also point out to you, Dino, that the internet is the loss of the ordinary, subtle and nuanced “ques” we pick up from anyone with whom we inter into a discussion: attitude, demeanor, level of attention (e.g. direct eye-contact), warmth, “playfulness,” respect, sobriety, and so on. You know the expressions, “I just didn’t have a good feeling about him”; obviously with caution, we can be incredibly intuitive about someone just by being in their presence, and the simple decision, “I’m uncomfortable,” is enough at times for us to step back and reconsider. In effect, we are consciously or unconsciously looking for congruence: words match actions. In the criminal world, predators “groom” victims relying on the internet disconnect. So, put this all together and I think you know where this is leading. I noted to Mr. Michalopulos, short of clairvoyance, how is it possible to read – and judge – a man’s thoughts, motivations, and in fact, his heart, from the internet?

      Dino, I can’t even ask you, “Who am I to you?” because I am only “What am I to you?” and the answer is typed words on a video monitor. Have you even heard me speak one word? Is my voice deep, or shrill; am I warm and receptive or harsh & judgmental; and did I make direct eye-contact with you, or did I avoid it, making you feel suspicious? The list could go on and on, could it not? The honest truth is that you wouldn’t know me if were bagging your groceries, delivering your mail, or changing the oil in your car. You have alternately fallen all over yourself praising my “insight,” or cautiously challenging me, only to quickly backtrack; you have called me a “fool” for leaving, and only five or so posts later in this post quote me the Scripture condemning calling anyone “raca.” Ultimately, you don’t have a clue as to my thoughts, motivations, and especially, my heart. I reset you wildly “guessing,” or worse, projecting your own business at me. You are either patently malicious, or really dumb to speak about and for someone you don’t know. As I see it, the only honest statement you made in all this was your first: “You are not who I thought you were.” My, friend, you need to check your receipt. There was no implied warranty or guarantee. Before God and you, I am what I am. I am sorry you are disappointed.Dino,

      Last night I received what I would term a most magnanimous & encouraging email from Mr. Michalopulos. As a side note, I mentioned to him that, to date, I had received eight email basically saying, “Have you read what so-and-so is saying about you?” and as of 0100 when I was responding to him, I had read some of the responses. I mentioned I was ambivalent. You understand that, Dino? Having two oppositional feelings at exactly the same time. Now for me, this is complicated.

      In the first place, this is a totally fraudulent world. It’s the internet. You can be totally anonymous (or so you imagine), and be everybody you are not in the real world: bold, confrontational, decisive, and respected. So, if I need “ego-boosts,” if I need “attention,” if I need comfort and support because I’m lonely and alone, if I need a “following” or a “fan club,” I’ll get it from the real world, not this sand box fantasy world. Am I mistaken, but isn’t this what a psychologist is supposed to say?

      I would also point out to you, Dino, that the internet is the loss of the ordinary, subtle and nuanced “ques” we pick up from anyone with whom we inter into a discussion: attitude, demeanor, level of attention (e.g. direct eye-contact), warmth, “playfulness,” respect, sobriety, and so on. You know the expressions, “I just didn’t have a good feeling about him”; obviously with caution, we can be incredibly intuitive about someone just by being in their presence, and the simple decision, “I’m uncomfortable,” is enough at times for us to step back and reconsider. In effect, we are consciously or unconsciously looking for congruence: words match actions. In the criminal world, predators “groom” victims relying on the internet disconnect. So, put this all together and I think you know where this is leading. I noted to Mr. Michalopulos, short of clairvoyance, how is it possible to read – and judge – a man’s thoughts, motivations, and in fact, his heart, from the internet?

      Dino, I can’t even ask you, “Who am I to you?” because I am only “What am I to you?” and the answer is typed words on a video monitor. Have you even heard me speak one word? Is my voice deep, or shrill; am I warm and receptive or harsh & judgmental; and did I make direct eye-contact with you, or did I avoid it, making you feel suspicious? The list could go on and on, could it not? The honest truth is that you wouldn’t know me if were bagging your groceries, delivering your mail, or changing the oil in your car. You have alternately fallen all over yourself praising my “insight,” or cautiously challenging me, only to quickly backtrack; you have called me a “fool” for leaving, and only five or so posts later in this post quote me the Scripture condemning calling anyone “raca.” Ultimately, you don’t have a clue as to my thoughts, motivations, and especially, my heart. I reset you wildly “guessing,” or worse, projecting your own business at me. You are either patently malicious, or really dumb to speak about and for someone you don’t know. As I see it, the only honest statement you made in all this was your first: “You are not who I thought you were.” My, friend, you need to check your receipt. There was no implied warranty or guarantee. Before God and you, I am what I am. I am sorry you are disappointed.

      • Michael Stankovich,
        Glad to hear you enjoyed George’s email, and found it encouraging. I hope it gave you a reason to return to the sandbox. Thank you for your concern that I may not know the meaning of the word ambivalent, or too dumb to Google its meaning. Also please forgive me for overstepping into maliciousness. You did not deserve that, but I was angry at the time, for I perceived you were attempting to steal Gail’s story and spotlight, and at the same time, change the topic, to protect your friends who happen to be bishops. Yes we are what we are, and disappointment is part of life and yes you disappointed me. Yes that is possible in this fake world, you spend so much time in.

        Sorry to characterize you again but you are very complex, and confusing to me. On one hand you characterize the internet, which includes this blog as a totally fraudulent world, and one where everybody can be, what we are not in the real world. Yet you are here nearly day, after day, in this fraudulent world daring all to prove you wrong, spending a great deal of time here, debating, lecturing, yes enlightening, and what seems to be everyone’s favorite target, for about seven years now.

        Now you seem quite the charitable person, but you must also get something out of this blog, or you would not waste so much of your precious time here. Perhaps the high, and reward for you is to challenge others to prove you wrong? Before this week, I believed it was to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and The Resurrection, to reveal the teachings of the Holy Fathers as it applies in todays world, and to promote the spread of Orthodoxy, even if it would offend scandalous, and not so scandalous men in high places within Orthodoxy, and the politicians they play game of thrones with.

        Now you also go on and on, with the obvious, about face to face, eye to eye, etc. contact, as to whether one can judge one’s heart, ok, and what? Even then would we really know, or it would take months, in one’s presence? No I get, but I’m sure you’ve been fooled by some good liars and conmen in your life, right? No we don’t have the luxury, of expressions and tones, in the internet/blog world. But its a give and take world, the speed in which so many can share news, and person stories, that apply to Orthodoxy is unmatched for us in laity, in ant other way. Now, have you not expressed your love, and devotion to some on this blog, without actually meeting them in person?

        From what I understand, Peter Papoutsis is the only one person, on this blog, you have actually met in the real world, in seven years. Does that mean you do not feel you have a real relationship with others here, that you have not met face to face? And, so that you are perfectly clear, please clarify, if you suspect I am grooming, or why you state, “You can be totally anonymous(or so you imagine)” Do you know my true identity, and is that suppose to mean something to me?

        While you have enlightened me with your learned wisdom, your shared charitable giving, and because you have moved me with scripture and quotes by our Holy Fathers, shared personal stories about your life experiences and your acquaintances in Orthodoxy. Naturally that would move me, and others, to like you as a person, and love you as a brother in Christ, regardless if we’ve never met. Same I feel for Gail, and others on this blog, who try to inspire all of us, or in individual fashion, how can one not care for that person, and not be disappointed, when they cross a line, or offend.

        For the most part we try and minister to one another, which can get very personal and endearing. Yet you now have lowered this ministry fashion to one that is fraudulent and fake. I’m sorry you feel that way. Over the last 2 1/2 years, I have bonded with most of you, even in disagreement, in what this internet world offers. I felt I knew you, but as you have corrected me. Really don’t. Again you are right, my not so real friend. I have apologized in the past, to you, and I do again, but you can be a rude and condescending person at times. No matter, I love you for what you have brought to the table.

        You crossed a line in my opinion with Gail story, and while I don’t know the true reason why you wanted no part of it and pleaded for Gail, and George to quit, you left me with the only speculation I could put together. Protect the bishops. Then of course you bailed on us, and the rest is history. Perhaps you thought you knew George and Gail, more than you really did. Perhaps you should heed your own advice, before dwelling into the heart of George and Gail’s motivations.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Apparently, Dino, because I didn’t happen to run every thought and motivation by you first, this is license for you to “speculate” as you will, whether it is wildly inaccurate, speculative, foolishness, or dangerous conjecture. And what do I mean conjecture: the OED defines it as “To form an opinion or supposition as to facts on grounds admittedly insufficient to furnish proof; the action or habit of guessing or surmising; to guess.” This is extraordinarily important. Let me share a little story with you.

          I am something of an amateur photographer, particularly evening and night photography; this allows for capturing the contrast of light and shadow, and so on. One night, I was taking photos at Qualcomm Stadium, the home of the former San Diego Chargers, which is located at the interchange of three major highways, as well as the junction of the local transit trains. It’s a very busy, very congested, and an especially heavily trafficked area. At one point, as I came to the street, I saw these beautiful cream-colored storage tanks – massive and easily 100-feet tall – illuminated by subdued, opaque light. They each had a stairway that wound itself like a circular ribbon around the tank from the top to the bottom. And amazingly, they nearly abutted the overpass of I-8 East heading to Arizona. I started taking pictures as I walked toward it, and when I noticed joggers and several bikers on a paved path along side the tanks, I followed the path as it circled around, and in my opinion, I took some incredible shots. Now Dino, I want you to pay particular attention to the next sequence of events. Exactly four days later, I had just gotten home and there was a knock at my front door. I opened the door and standing there were two nicely dressed individuals – a man and a woman – who introduced themselves as agents of the FBI/Homeland Security. You will pardon me, but I thought, “WTF?” They wanted to come in and ask me a few questions, and under the blanket of, “I have nothing to hide,” I allowed them in. They initially would not tell directly me what brought them, but after asking a million questions, from I figured out what they inference. The man was very respectful, the woman was not. He was “engaging” me while I could she her in my peripheral vision looking at my mail, then she was at a table and actually picked up my medical school ID. I asked her to put it down and she sort of snapped at me, “Is there a reason you don’t want me to look at it?” Typical cops. Really, lady? In the end, it was reported “someone” was photographing a secure fuel storage site; I was photographed by a security cameras, and my license plate was picked up on a security camera. Again, I emphasize the details: I am no one to Homeland Security. I have never traveled to the Middle East nor any country that sponsors terror. In fact, in order to enter CA state correctional institutions, I have already been fingerprinted, background-checked, and received clearance from the US Dept. of Justice and the CA Dept. of Justice. I was taking photos openly in a heavily trafficked area with, at least from a legal perspective, the presumption that I was being “electronically observed.” Yet, Dino, agents of the FBI/Homeland Security were standing in my living room in matter of four days.

          So I ask you, am I “crossing a line” to say I find it ridiculous to imagine that Philip Saliba carried a veritable ton of US currency (“cash”) into the Middle East; distributed it to known terrorist networks; openly associated himself with terrorist networks; was apparently a party to such horrendous crimes as assasination/murder; and being the psychopathic, and vindictive despot that he was, personally ordered & orchestrated a terror campaign relentlessly for a decade gainst Gail Sheppard, all of which was occurred completely unbeknownst & beneath the radar of US intelligence? The same US intelligence who tracked me down in a matter of four days, telling me, “Are you aware of how phony your excuse would sound in front of a jury?”

          Dino, this entire story is based upon conjecture, “grounds admittedly insufficient to furnish proof.” Even conjecture that is “reasonable” or even “likely” is nevertheless still conjecture. Am I denying that bad things happened to Gail? Certainly not. Am I sympathetic? Of course I am sympathetic. But the very first comment posted to Part I of this interview (it has since moved down to 4th) was from Greatly Saddened who said, “I found the interview amazing and quite shocking. Especially, as you stated, you really did not [have] to dig too far to find the information you uncovered.” Doesn’t this, then, beg the question as to the reliability of data solely derived form the internet? Isn’t it the least reliable as it is rarely vetted, rarely attributable, easily manipulated, and frequently fraudulent? And of all ironies, as near as I can tell, so far I am the only first-hand reporter of Met. Philip’s character, as I see it, as evidenced by his actions with St. Vladimir’s seminary, that is not conjecture. To make this level of accusation – outright support of world terrorism and the actual sanctioning & orchestration of domestic “terrorism” against a US citizen – demands a level of scrutiny and evidence far beyond what is offered here. And personally, watching Met. Philip for as many years as I did from across the Hudson River, frankly, I believe he simply was too much of a pathological narcissistic to be threatened by any letter “exposing” him or calling on him to resign. He was a “Major League” player who, for example, looked a world-renowned theologian & equally astute, Alexander Schmemann, in the eyes, and with a smile on his face told him to back off. And Fr. Alexander did. Yet, in his eulogy, Met. Philip, with tears on his face, praised Fr. Alexander as a father of our generation, and as someone he admired and respected as his teacher. And he meant every word of it. Met. Philip was not to be brought down by little league tactics.

          I didn’t ask to be brought into this argument, and particularly an already “finished” story. As I have said previously, I believe the threshold for truth has fallen to an all-time low – even lower than the days when whomever “Sons of this” and “Wives of that” came on this site and threatened to “hold the Church in abeyance” before the OCA’s All-American Council that elected Met. Tikhon as the new Primate. Everyone was to wear a big “button” with Met. Jonah’s picture… which led me to ROCOR.

          You always know better than me, Dino. And apparently, you know me better than me. All the better for me. Come on, man. You had to see this coming.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Michael, perhaps if you were a principal of a Church (501C3) who had an audience with every sitting president since President Eisenhower you might have been afforded more respect than some guy taking a bunch of pictures of what. . . 24 combustible fuel tanks in the vicinity of 3 freeway intersections???! Background checks notwithstanding, the FBI probably made a house call to discourage you from going back.


            With regard to the “ridiculous” assertion that Philip Saliba carried a veritable ton of US currency (“cash”) into the Middle East; distributed it to known terrorist networks; openly associated himself with terrorist networks,” even George reported it. He pulled it from “The Word” Magazine Volume 49, No 3, March 2005.

            I never said Metropolitan Philip had anything to do with “assassinations,” but you’d have to actually listen to my story and read what I published to know that. This idea came from something Jane said which is amusing considering how often you’ve gone after her. I’ll tell you what I told her: High dollar ($500,00 to $1M) donors to the Balamand University were assassinated, like Rafic Hariri.

            I never said Metropolitan Philip was “threatened” by my letter. The information in my letter wasn’t proprietary and many people probably had it. I wrote the letter to throw a monkey wrench into the meeting he had called to get the bishops to sign away their dioceses. I copied a few of the bishops, hoping it would give them further reason to back away from the table. Who knows, maybe it worked and THAT’S why he was so angry with me. It’s hard to say. What can be said is that two respected chancellors, who had faithfully served the Archdiocese 40+ years between them, quit because THEY had concerns.

            The “vindictive despot” didn’t “personally order & orchestrate a terror campaign relentlessly for a decade against me.” Metropolitan Philip launched the first campaign 10 years ago after verifying my address. The last two years was orchestrated by someone else, as Metropolitan Philip passed in March 2014. I suspect it was an old friend from his Chicago days.

            As far as being “unbeknownst & beneath the radar of US intelligence,” I talked with the FBI, Michael, and they told me he WAS on their radar, as were the two felons on our Board of Trustees.

            George asked me if I would mind if he closed these threads to discourage this “tit for tat” kind of thing. My story is my story, Michael. It happened and I don’t want to have to repeat it for people who don’t care enough to pay attention the first time around. – George, thank you for helping me with this. It’s fine with me if we close the threads.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Pardon me, but in all this bluster, you continue to offer nothing more than I have asserted: “an opinion or supposition as to facts on grounds admittedly insufficient to furnish proof. And I am sure you would like to to close these threads after I stated my opinion. I found myself in this public forum, accused as a soviet-era psycho-terrorist, elbows-deep in your head stirring up your limbic system and exacerbating your suffering. wow. And not by one of you, but two of you. Then the whole business about “It’s my party..” OK. The obvious message was you do not need my opinion. Fair enough. It isn’t the first time, and certainly won’t be the last time. But people leave here all the time, yet I have never seen anyone accused of “bailing,” of cowardice for leaving; or accused of “pouting” at not being able to “dictate” to George the content of his blog. You seem to be the only one I am aware of with the authority to determine content other than him. And I have never seen someone so dogged in abstentia! Anyway, I’m telling you flat out, I do not give a rat’s ass one way or another. But it is because of this that I listened to your “story” in total, and it changed my mind. And you read the result of that change in the post above to which you responded. And you reinforce my argument now with your comment: “The last two years was orchestrated by someone else, as Metropolitan Philip passed in March 2014. I suspect it was an old friend from his Chicago days. Gail, this is, par excellence, a demonstration of your justifications. And it is improper.

              Close the threads, don’t close the threads, but in my opinion, if you do, it is again another manipulation of the narrative. Mine are legitimate, cogent, thoughtful observations that do not deserve your sarcastic, caustic response, as one would speak dismissively to some dumbass from the street. This is not tit-for-tat. If you are so defensive at my opinion that you have improperly made assertions based on conjecture, than you are not as confident as you claim. They may well be reasonable, they may well be likely, but they are conjecture, plain and simple. And I believe you need to backtrack and make that point crystal clear to anyone who would come upon these interviews later. They are not based on fact nor proof, but solely on speculation.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Dr S, the “narrative” is closed. There is no manipulation of anything. Gail presented several facts. None have been disputed. Many have been given the chance to come forward and contradict Gail. No one has. Indeed, Gail has been contacted by several priests from her jurisdiction who have thanked her for her courage. That pretty much says it all as far as I’m concerned.

                I’ve given you every opportunity to rhetorically restrain yourself. I’ve personally apologized to you because of affronts made against you and/or because of my editorial lapses.

                I can do so no longer. Until further notice, I ask that you refrain from posting anything at all if it you can’t tone it down.

                Thank you for understanding.

      • Constantinos says

        Dr. Stankovich,
        I’m glad you are back because you have entertained and educated me. I don’t mean any disrespect by this, but I was surprised by the way you handled the situation with the drunk lady in the club. I thought to myself, “That isn’t what I would have done. I would have called the lady a cab, paid her fare, and told the cab driver to make sure she got home safely.” You were safe for her, but how did she know that? Also, I felt you took an unnecessary risk. In her state, she could have claimed you tried to rape her, and subjected you to criminal charges or blackmail.
        I’m reminded of when the summertime before my senior year in high school. My father was out, my mother was sleeping on the couch, and I was watching the news when a lady knocked on our door. I went to the door and naked woman standing there. I woke my mother up and said, “Mother, wake up, there’s a naked lady standing in the hallway, then got the woman one of my mother’s bathroom. She went skinny dipping down the pond near my parent’s home with some friends, they tried to get frisky, took her clothes, and left her there. Now, my grandmother woke up and said to me,” Gus, why don’t you give her a ride home.” I looked at my grandmother and said,” No way!.” By this time, my father was home, and offered to give the lady a ride home. My mother said,” Oh, no you won’t.” The police were called and when they found out a report of a naked lady was at our residence, several of the officers immediately fought over who would come to our house. As it turned out, three cruisers showed up in a matter of seconds. Gee, the way they responded, you would have thought there was some kind of emergency.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I wish I could have seen your face when you opened the door, Costa! I imagine all the “naked lady reports” go to the head of the queue at the police station and it becomes an “all hands on deck” situation. In other words, any cop within a 10 miles radius is called for backup.

          • Constantinos says

            Yes Gail,
            I think you hit the nail right on the head. The biggest surprise was when I saw six police get rush out of three cruisers

            • George Michalopulos says

              Ok, I’ll take the bait and go ahead and ask: was she at least nice looking?

              • Constantinos says

                Why do you think I said, ” No way!” Just kidding. To be honest with you, I was too shocked to notice. The reason I woke my mother up was because I thought I was having deja vu or something like that. Also, I was pretty frightened because I though there was a maniac out there.

                • Fr. George Washburn says

                  Good morning friends:

                  Dr. Stankovich has seemingly gotten a couple of goats with his peppery prose, so much so that there’s a threat to the threads that the proprietor and Gail cooperated to start in the first place. Why?

                  I’m afraid The findamental reason is that Dr. S has had the temerity to question the evidence cited to support the GS/GM feelings and onclusions. I don’t mind saying I agree with George M that some deductions from Dr. S’s final grade are in order because of word choice and overall vibe.

                  On the other, I fundamentally agree with Dr. S that this whole biz, buzz or whatever it is, rests on a tissue-paper-thin set of connections, inference and innuendo which does not stand up tomcloser scrutiny. It has been cobbled together, with basic good intentions, no doubt, to fit their narrative of anti-hierarch, gotta-have-a fully-American, Old World-free Church.

                  But it does not bear closer scrutiny. At some risk to my old age equilibrium, I hereby offer George, Gail and the readership some analysis of their mistakes free of emotion-laden language and insults. You can expect a bumpy ride, but not a nasty one. Give it a couple of days thought, please, and let me/us all know Tuesday or Wednesday what you conclude!


                  Fr. G

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Thank you Fr.

                    For what it’s worth, I’ve spoken to Gail off-line and she is not antagonistic to the Church’s traditional ecclessiology. Neither am I for that matter. Where we differ is that she is shocked by the various Old World pathologies that came into play here.

                    I’m not shocked; saddened but not shocked. I imagine partly because I’m Greek and have seen far worse in the GOA (nationally as well as locally). Therein lies the problem, wouldn’t you say? Regardless, it’s time to get the American Orthodox Church up and running. We’ve got enough problems of our own, let’s try to “leave the dead to bury the dead”.

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      Greetings again, friends:

                      I am confident that neither Gail nor George are consciously against the traditional ecclesiology of the Church. Me either, I hope.

                      But the qualifier or stumbling block, if you prefer, in the above sentence is the word “consciously.” The voice in our heads almost always tells us how very, very right we are. Often when we are really rather wrong!

                      I am willing to engage in a civil discussion here (but only with people using their real names) of some of the flaws I think are endemic to both their critique of Sayidna Phillip and the drumbeat for prompt, autocephalous American Orthodoxy.

                      But not if you are just going to pull the plug if (when) I graciously but firmly say things you mightn’t want to hear. It is not a subject that can be done justice (for Christ’s sake, in the sacred sense of that expression) with a few sound bites any more than by tooth bites, and I don’t feel like gearing up only to be cut off at the pass halfway.

                      Your call!


                      Fr. George

                  • Constantinos says

                    Father George,
                    I was thinking about your idiotic comments. First of all, what prose? I had better judgment than Michael Stankovich when I was all of seventeen years old. He has no credibility because he defends the imbecilic Father Robert Arrida. He’s a blustery blowhard. Tissue thin evidence? That proves to me beyond all doubt that you are either disingenous or are as thick as a brick. Why should I listen to a lazy priest? If I were to give you a job, I would start you off at one of my new car and truck dealerships as a lot person. That means you would be washing cars and trucks. If you did a good job doing that, I would promote you to gopher. If you need well at that, I would allow you to be an oil change monkey, but you wouldn’t last one day because you would have to actually work for the first time in a long time. Instead of being a burden to your congregation, you should have a full time job along with your priestly duties. Basically, what I’m saying to you is get a real job instead of being a parasitic leech.

                  • Constantinos says

                    Father Washburn,
                    I’m much more intelligent than you, and I believe Gail and George 100%. George has more integrity than you will ever have in ten lifetimes. Why should anyone listen to your blather? An intelligent man keeps his mouth shut, listens and learns. Go and do likewise.

                    • Constantinos says

                      Father Washburn,
                      First of all, George has integrity second to none. It’s not an insult to suggest that no person has his integrity. Secondly, if anyone questions Gail’s story after listening to it and reading George’s commentary, they should be convinced of Gail’s story beyond all doubt. Notice I didn’t say beyond all reasonable doubt, I said beyond all doubt. If a person doesn’t believe her, in my opinion, I don’t believe that person is very smart.
                      As far as Dino’s insults directed toward me, he is no one to accuse one of childish boasting. I remember when Dino was supposedly “repenting of his past, it came off as boasting of his sexual prowess with women, which I don’t believe for one second. He made sure to remind us that his sexual sins were not homosexual in nature. In other words, Dino has no credibility. If you notice Dino’s writing skills are childish at best. I would say it is safe to assume he was a poor student in school.
                      What I’m saying is that George and Gail have proven the veracity of her experience has been proven to any reasonable, half way intelligent person. There is nothing more to be said,and I believe you can’t contribute anything worthwhile. George owns this post, he has never once asked anyone to help him out financially once which he would every right to do. I’m sure running this page is not inexpensive, to say the least. To me, your credentials are most unimpressive. Gail told the truth, and that’s it. Case closed. This is George’s site, and he can do whatever he wants. He doesn’t answer to you, me, Dino ,Dr. Stankovich. or anyone else.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I appreciate the compliment but I’m not worthy. Thanks anyway.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Fr, I would like to know as well.

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      George M. would like to know why he or the readership should listen to me on the questions raised by the Gail interviews.

                      1. I worked with Met. Phillip on a couple of difficult problems.
                      2. I have served 31+ years in the Antiochian Archdiocese.
                      3. I took a trip to Lebanon and Syria at Met. Phillip’s request.
                      4. The two former Chancellors to whom Gail refers are valued friends and colleagues of some 30 years standing who discussed with me in detail their reasons for taking the positions they did.
                      5. I have worked closely with the current Cahancellor of the Archdiocese on 3-4 problems in recent years and have much love and respect for him too.
                      6. I have 40 years legal experience in analyzing people, arguments and evidence, including perhaps 100 cases as a pro tem judge and about 100 civil trials.
                      7. I share Gail’s pain. False accusations, nasty invective, three children who do not attend church largely because of misguided conduct by supposed brethren.
                      8. About 7 years experience as pastor of very ME parishes.

                      Daniel Goleman and others since have highlighted the notion of many different kinds of “intelligences” – emotional, artistic, musical, mechanical, linguistic, etc. I do not claim to excel at any of those, but in this one arena of endeavor, on the national LSAT that predicts one’s ability to sift evidence and arguments effectively, I did manage a 99.9 percentile score.

                      This blog is in serious danger of becoming so narrowly self-affirming (not to say congratulating) that it needs a solid dose of analysis every once in a while that doesn’t peddle the party line.

                      George has permitted Constantnos to belittle my intelligence and integrity, but has muzzled Dr. S for rhetorical excess. We will see if I get invited to speak! Single standard, double, or more?


                      Fr. G

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Fr George, there is no doubt in my mind that you are an honorable man and have wide experience as both a priest and as an insider within the AOCNA. I would like for you to consider doing an interview so that you know that I am now (and always have been) acting in good faith. Gail can certainly speak for herself but I can assure you that from what I know of her she’s not one of those “krazy konvertsy” who want to remake the Church in some happy-clappy Americanist image. (For the record, Gail is more conservative/traditionalist than me when it comes to certain Church canons.)

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Father George, our other George has given me some freedom with respect to who posts what with respect to these interviews and I have to take responsibility for the fact that I have allowed virtually everything to go through except that which George tells me could be construed as libel, i.e. someone mentioning a certain name and saying something like, “We know so-and-so lied about XYZ” or unless it’s really over the top. There were some comments you didn’t see that fit into the latter category, BTW. I tend to err on the side of posting everything because I think people reveal themselves through their writing and if it’s ugly, it hurts them more than it hurts me. I don’t mind the “you’re evil” and “you’re vile” stuff, as much as I mind the personal stuff where people who know you twist things they shouldn’t or challenge your intent or integrity. When you say your property was vandalized, you kind of wish people would just take your word for it. But that’s me. Clearly, other people, like Dino, agree with you about the ugly posts so I probably should have taken a different approach. I apologize. George is much better at this than I am. It’s not an easy job.

                      I certainly would like to hear what you have to say in a context where you feel you’re being heard and I have been talking to George about how to do that. I would rather not have an exchange in separate posts because I think too much would be lost.

                      I am interested in where to go from here, not with my story, but as a Church. That’s not to say I think my story should be repeated. Perhaps some time should be spent talking about how to rectify a situation like this the “right” way because I spoke with 3 priests and none of them felt like they could help me in this regard. You DO know far more than I know about the workings at the highest level and hearing from you would be an immense help in understanding what happened. If you want to comment on my story, you certainly may, but the way I laid it out was pretty much how it unfolded. I don’t pretend to know everything that was happening behind the scenes because I was not privy to it.

                      Thank you for your input and your willingness to discuss this further, Father. I truly appreciate it.

                    • Gail,
                      From the very beginning of this trilogy, all I asked was that all sides were heard, but it never turned out that way. I accused Michael Stankovich of trying to ambush your story, but now I see it went both ways with him at a disadvantage.

                      This has now become the Jerry Springer show, directed toward a humble, wise priest, who out of the blue is verbally attacked by a man who might be better educated than myself, but as you correctly state, their ugly comments reveal themselves. As we have seen I pointed out his uncivil behavior towards a a priest that did nothing, nor said anything against you or him, if fact, nothing said by Father George was anywhere near as vile as he has been with you Gail. He must believe his personal ugly words towards me, hurt or anger me, but as you say only hurt him and his character.

                      I beg you and George, if I ever respond to this man again for what ever reason please, PLEASE! Do not post it! I’m done with this man. I’m done with topic as well.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Father George Washburn, I have a question for you. You’re part of the West Coast Deanery. Would you concur with Fr. Philip that as a group you discussed my safety with respect to Antony Gabriel and that the consensus was that I be warned that he was here when I moved back to Tucson?

                    George wanting to close the threads had nothing to do with Michael Stankovich. If it had, I wouldn’t have been able to REPLY to Michael Stankovich and tell him of George’s intentions, as his comments wouldn’t have appeared.

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      Good morning, Gail:

                      I will answer that question in due course if we are going to have a discussion of the (real) issues. If the curtain is already about to cone down on the whole three part interview series, I prefer not to have piecemeal exchanges on questions that take us away from what Insee as the heart of the matter.


                      Fr. George

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      Seeing that Gail is attempting to “prolong” the narrative after you emphatically declared to me it is “closed,” I would suggest that nothing new or helpful will be gained by extending the narrative further than the three dedicated threads you have already devoted to her story. This is simply baiting Fr. George into responding.

                    • Father George,
                      I suspect you will be disappointed Father. Yet interesting enough Monomakhos moderators allow pointless insults, and juvenile boastfulness directed towards you. I now fully understand Michael Stankovich’s protests, and appreciate his and your points of view.

                    • Constantinos says

                      I unreservedly, completely, totally renounce, condemn and repudiate the vile, disgusting, disgraceful, malicious, evil posts that I directed toward Gail. I feel deeply remorseful, repentant, ashamed, embarrassed and sorry for hurting a dear sister in Christ. I was one billion percent wrong in my reprehensible behavior. I sincerely wish I could take every sinful word back. Gail was completely correct in saying my words said more about me than her. It put a mirror up to my ugly reflection- and I have profusely apologized to her. To my astonishment and deep appreciation she has forgiven. It is more than I deserve- and I will be forever grateful to her for showing me a living example of the deeply loving Christ. I didn’t deserve it, but she forgave me. I feel worse than King David for my sins against her. She has shown me the true love of Jesus Christ- and it feels good.
                      Now, what you have done is a very malicious thing, You deliberately tried to poison Gail’s heart against me by reminding her of my sins against her. That malicious intent comes right from the pit of hell. It is demonic.

                    • Pete Shrillman says

                      07/09/2018 3:30pm:
                      Gail said:(Quote)..I think people reveal themselves through their writing, and if it’s ugly, it hurts them more than it hurts me.(End Quote)

                      Dino repeated Gail’s comment, a comment said, after she accepted yet another mea culpa, no poison. Father George never addressed you, but you spew out he should wash your cars, and be your grease monkey! Who is poisoned? You should apologize to Father George!

                  • Beryl Wells Hamilton says

                    Hello Father George,

                    Do you think that there is a chance that the situation in Syria had a lot to do with what Metropolitan Philip did and said, and why he had to put his foot down, regardless of how it looked to the flock in the United States? I realize the question is vague.

                    I am hoping you will post some information or insights that will help us understand what you, at least, know about, and can safely post about.

                    There are so many unanswered questions about what we have been told during these interviews, and so much that does not make sense, and yet, I feel that if I ask any questions that are too pointed, this won’t even get posted.

                    Ah well, maybe it’s best to lay it all to rest. Nevertheless, if we assume that a person is innocent until proven guilty, then we need to continue to assume that Metropolitan Philip was innocent. He has not been proven guilty, has he? I am sure he had to lead with a very strong arm, indeed. Not because he was a tyrant, but because he cared for the people of Syria.

                    I feel that the Orthodox Christians in Syria, as well as all the innocent people who were in danger in the Middle East because of what was about to happen (and was happening, and still is happening) completely overshadows any concerns or discomfort we American Orthodox might have had at the time about Metropolitan Philip and what he was doing. Americans tend to believe the news, and the news has been lying. It’s very difficult to accept when cognitive dissonance sets in. I am as culpable as any one else. It wasn’t until about four years ago that I realized we have been duped, and started finding out the truth.

                    Thanks for posting your thoughts, if you decide to do so. I trust George will post them.


  7. After reading so much here I am beginning to understand the origins of the Protestant movement.

    I have a friend who is Lutheran and in her branch, a bishop is elected for six years and then returns to parish ministry. I was educated in a Quaker school and I learned about sitting in silence and listening, waiting upon God. I learned about not using titles.

    Which brings to memory a story I was told years ago about an Orthodox lady of nobility who died. As the story I was told went, when her casket arrived at the church, a mourner knocked at the door. The priest inside asked who wanted to enter. The mourner responded with the whole list of titles and names of the lady. “I don’t know her,” came the response. The priest asked again. This time the response omitted the titles but gave all of her names. Once again, the priest answered, “I don’t know her.” In answe to the question the third time, the mourner responded, “Elizabeth.” Her baptismal name. Ah, ” Come in,” was the response.

    I have learned that God does not know us by our titles. He knows us by our hearts.

    Jesus said, that a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. Matthew 10:24. The only crown that Jesus wore during his sojourn on earth, was a crown of thorns.
    Yet we put crowns on bishops and address them as royalty. As I often said, long before I even heard of the Orthodox Church, ” When we dress a man up as an emperor, what should we expect? ”

    Having spent most of my life in a Protestant church, though I never questioned what I was protesting, I am beginning to see that what many have done is to throw out the hierarchical system of government, at least as in contrast to what I have seen in the Orthodox Church. In my short 8 years in Orthodoxy, I have lived through the OCA debacle, now the Greek debacle, and you are telling me about the problems in the Antiochean Church.. Most of the messes seem to be focused on the abuse of power by the leaders. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. As the saying goes.

    I am not sure what the answers are, especially in light of the fact that I have been told that Orthodoxy doesn’t need reforming.

    Lord, have mercy.

    • Gail Sheppard says


      Sadly, you’re not alone. It’s especially hard to see our children, covering the eyes and ears of our grandchildren, as they quietly spirit them away to a church (any church will do) down the street because it’s more “Christian.” These old world ways are turning away young people. If we don’t fix this, we will have no legacy to leave for future generations in this country. My own daughter wants nothing to do with the Church because of the private detectives that leered at her when she’d return home from her dates all those years ago. She thinks our Church is filled with a bunch of thugs.

      Metropolitan Joseph says we’re in the business of saving souls. What about the soul of my daughter? She won’t step foot in an Orthodox Church because of what she’s seen and heard. To say I’m angry is an understatement.

      • Gail,
        Maybe your daughter, and the sons and daughters of their invested Orthodox parents and grandparents are wiser than us, and/or because not that invested, see thru the hypocrisy for what it is, and want no part of it. Easy to tell a battered wife to leave her husband, but not easy for the battered to leave.

        Not easy to finally come to the conclusion that a bad investment/relationship
        is just that. Throwing good to bad hoping for change, but it never comes. At some point we must count our loses, and move on.

        The youngsters are not impressed by crowns and robes. They respect and are attracted to visible good works, hope, forgiveness , and love. NOT, foreign languages, and most ironically foreign even when spoken in their own language, by long winded bishops to unconnected masses.

        I personally have written half a dozen letters to my Metropolitan/bishop, in the past 20 years. Never once was I given a response, and the letters were not critical of him. One way relationships are not healthy, and will not last.

        Happy Independence Day Gail! God’s Speed! You are always in my prayers. I believe peace will come to your long life in Christ now, and most importantly your blessed heart will be rewarded in the next eternal life. God Bless you!

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Dino wrote: “I personally have written half a dozen letters to my Metropolitan/bishop, in the past 20 years. Never once was I given a response, and the letters were not critical of him. One way relationships are not healthy, and will not last.”
          Sa’di, the great Iranian poet, wrote: “The best thing for an ignorant man is silence. If he knew that, he wouldn’t be ignorant.”

          • Bishop Tikhon!
            Well what a turn of events! Are you breaking ranks, and code of honor with your brother bishops!?

            This is the first time I have ever heard one bishop call another ignorant.

            No wonder he never called me back, he must have known your friend Sa’di the Great’s writings.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              Yes, Dino! “Sa’di, the great Iranian poet, wrote: “The best thing for an ignorant man is silence. If he knew that, he wouldn’t be ignorant.” Your Metropolitan Bishop obviously thought silence would be the best thing for you. And so that’s what he gave you! [“Never once was I given a response.”]

              • Touche’, Bishop Tikhon! I sure did step into that paradox of a poem, but I’ll get you next time, Your Grace! So help me Sa’di the Great!

    • William L Harrington says

      If we look at the scandals that have popped up throughout Christianity lately, it should be apparent that it doesn’t matter what kind of structure you employ, authority always comes with temptation and the greater the authority, the greater the temptation. Is there a solution? No. Sorry, this is simply the struggle everyone has to face writ large. By all means, we should hold our clergy accountable as they hold us accountable. The only thing I think that would help (and not just in Orthodoxy) is the humility to involve civil authorities when crimes are committed. To often, clergy want to hide misdeeds, even if they were committed by other clergy, for the sake of the Churches image. Too often, the laity do the same thing. It is not the crimes or abuse of authority by a few that cause the real damage, it is the complicity of the many who turn a blind eye to it.

    • Lina was your friend by chance Lutheran Church Missouri Synod? The more I see of other religions in America, I think they may really have something biblical and workable on how they pick their bishops. Our goal should be the early Church, the catacomb Church, not the glory days of Byzantium.

    • Lina,

      The problem is the mixing of Old World patterns of behavior and New World expectations of the laity and some clergy. What constitutes corruption? Who says so and by whose standards? I’ve watched the sad opera unfold in the three largest American jurisdictions but notice that these types of matters much more rarely come to public light in the Old World.

      It is only money and one can quit giving until consciences are satisfied, so why the theatrics? Bear this in mind especially since the culture in the West is dedicated to destroying trust in the Church. Meeting the culture half way seems to open the door to its destructive influence.

    • Constantinos says

      Pete Shrillman,
      I apologized to Gail because I was 100% wrong. I frequently am, however I have done much studying about many subjects such as thermodynamics, physics, math, electricity, people who are geniuses, intelligence, all things pertaining to mechanical engineering, construction, creativity, financial acumen, all the hard sciences, logic, and many other subjects.
      As I stated previously, my writing is a stream of consciousness. I write what I am thinking at that particular time unfiltered. When I believe I am wrong which is often, I admit it and apologize to the person I have hurt or offended. and with God’s help, repent, and make restitution. I’m a million miles from perfection just like you.
      I think a lot of clergy try to control other people. Just because a man is a priest doesn’t necessarily mean I hold him in high esteem. When a priest lectures me about financial matters. I disregard his admonitions. I have financial advisers to assist me in my pecuniary decisions. Pedestals are not for the clergy; no man deserves undue respect because he has the word father, very reverend, or any other exalted title before his name. Exalted titles are reserved for freemasonry. The great St. Peter said he was just a fellow servant like the rest of us. He didn’t go around calling himself “Prince Peter” or ask people to kiss his hand, and say “Master bless.” I strongly object to this kind of crap.
      As far as Father Washburn is concerned, there will be no apology forthcoming. I see no reason to apologize to him or to you. When I want your advice, be assured I will ask you for it.

      • Pete Shrillman says

        Your prerogative, do not apologize to the priest. You might consider Gail, and the blog. Your boorish behavior repels men of dignity, laity and clergy to engage. You lower the potential of this blog. The heretic Roman Catholics are a perfect for you.

        • Constantinos says

          Pete Shrillman,
          What do you have to offer by way of intelligent discourse? Dino, don’t make me laugh when you talk about boorish behavior and dignity. You’re not intelligent enough to converse with anyone on this platform. Your writing is completely incoherent. Don’t you think it’s time for your GED?

          • Pete Shrillman says

            Sorry my name is Pete. I prefer you call me Mr. Shrillman. I’m rich like you! Retired financial advisor. Town knows me by the Rolls Royce I drive. Would you like to know where you should stick all your money.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        “Exalted titles are reserved for freemasonry.”

        Except for Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!

        • Michael Bauman says

          The exalted titles come in part from the Ottoman Empire. The simony, flattery and silk chokehold on the Church for 500 years did a lot of harm.

  8. Greatly Saddened says

    Lina … so beautifully said. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Both the story and about the hierarchal system.
    Nor do I know what the answer is. All I do know is, unfortunately, this present hierarchal system doesn’t seem to be working out so well. To be truthful, perhaps a combination of hierarchal and congregational may be the answer. Who knows!

    • George Michalopulos says

      GS, the present hierarchical system might work better if we chose our bishops from the monastic orders.

      • George Osborne says

        Or, perhaps, George, the people chose their own bishops as back in the early days (“Ambrose for bishop!”) rather than bishops who were chosen by each other choosing yet others of their own ilk as replacements. Think the shenanigans that happened multiple times on the DOS. If we elected our own bishops I certainly don’t think we could do worse, do you?

        • Antiochene Son says

          St. Ambrose was a special case. We do not need more democracy in the church, especially today.

          • George Michalopulos says

            AS, we need more “clergy”, that is to say men chosen by kleros (ballots or ostraka) rather than bachelor with MDivs who chose the administrative path.

            • Years ago I was at an event at the US Capitol with a longtime Greek-American congressman. A Greek Orthodox bishop spoke followed by a Roman Catholic bishop . Afterwards the congressman asked me, why are their bishops so much more dynamic and charismatic than ours? When I explained to him the small odd pool of candidates from which we pick our bishops he couldn’t believe. I think we need to go back to the early Church model of married clergy eligible for selection and active involvement by the laity.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              GEORGE M.!!!! “clergy”, that is to say men chosen by kleros (ballots or ostraka)? ??? In the Great Church in Constantinople, there came a time when there were so many men tonsured as readers/taper-bearers, that they could not all fit in the space provided for singers! So a system of casting lots (a LOT is a kleros) was instituted. Those so chosen by lot at any given Liturgy to stand and sing in the place alLOTted were called “klerikoi.” That is the etymological basis of our words “clerics” and “clergy.”
              As for the comparison of RC and Orthodox hierarchs, the RC hierarchs are indeed chosen from a larger pool but of only one “type.” NONE of them, for example, are widowers. I apologize for posting once again, That’s it.

              • Constantinos says

                Bishop Tikhon,
                I love you. Why do you have to leave? You are a good, kind, humble man with a marvelous sense of humor. We can all learn a great deal from you. Please reconsider and stay. We are blessed to have you.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Agreed. I still think we’d be better off if our bishops were elected directly by the people and the patriarch (or metropolitan) selected by the drawing of lots.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald says

                  George, you are at odds with one of the most ancient parts of Holy Tradition. The oldest practice of this Tradition is that ALL the Apostles/Bishops must elect a new bishop. The Apostles in ACTS chose to elect a replacement for Judas by casting lots. The horrible process by which St Ambrose was selected was by popular ACCLAMATION (making the most and loudest noise). St Ambrose was a master politician and his selection by the loudest mobs was what led to a reinforcement of the original practice of election by the bishops of the province or Local Church. If bishops were to be elected “directly by the people” the present Metropolitan Jonah would never have become a bishop.

              • Monk James Silver says

                Some of this clerical selection by lot is just one aspect of our Orthodox Christian inheritance from Jewish practice. There are many others, and we need to be aware of them in order to make sense of what we traditionally do.

  9. jim of olym says

    I think that the ‘best’ hierarchs are those who braved the rigors of the monastic life for most of their ‘careers’, rather than those who just remained ‘single’ in order to get the crown. Humility and obedience are learned in a community with those virtues in place. Perhaps the monasteries of Fr. Anthony, and his ilk have something to say to us?
    Just a stray thought here……

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Jim, Metropolitan Leonty of blessed memory never “braved the rigors of monastic life,” He only braved the rigors of standing in line with his pious spouse in the soup kitchens of the Bowery while serving as a parish priest there. On the other hand, ask Metropolitan Jonah how he “braved the rigors of monastic life” at Valaam. Never happened, Jim. I asked him how in the world he put up with the cuisine at Valaam, notorious for its monastic strictness. He laughed and said, “I didn’t have to: I had a special table of my own!” Neither were there any “rigors” at his very idiorhythmic monastery of St John! When he was there, he and the rest had their laptops, cell phones, and CREDIT CARDS. Yes, Metropolitan Tikhon is a genuine monastic. And, Jim, I don’t know of any hierarch in America who remained single in order “to get the crown,” Do you? I know of two priests who became bishops who were maligned by whispers they had murdered their wives in order to become eligible to take over this or that diocese. Bishop Boris Geeza, like Metropoltan Leonty, Metropolitan Ireney, Archbishop Kiprian. was a widower and never was “single in order to ‘get the crown.” Why ignore or give a pass to those who were tonsured monastics in order to become bishops some day?

  10. Former Tucsonan says


    Thank you for your courage in telling your story. It needs to be aired. Many people can only deal with so much reality when it comes to their ecclesiastical organizations, so of course some will vilify you to no end for telling your story. More on that later.

    Your story pained, moved, and intrigued me, partly because I lived in Tucson for a while — it’s been at least 15 years or so now. I also worshiped at Holy Resurrection Church there, but back when it was in the small church on the west side of town on W. Vanover Road. The only two options for Orthodox Churches in Tucson (then) were the Antiochian HROC and the GOA church. If you wanted church in English, the Antiochian parish was it. Not sure what the Orthodox Church landscape looks like there now. I do know that there is a wonderful women’s monastery (St Paisius Monastery) not far from Tucson in Safford, as well as a Serbian Orthodox Church down in artistic Bisbee!

    I was certainly never involved in any of the parish leadership when I was at Holy Resurrection Tucson. I do remember that it was a “difficult” parish, having gone through 3 priests within the span of 3 years in the late 1990s – early 2000s. For a couple years, each year a different priest came and then left. Fr John (something) was there for just about a year — he seemed a good man, not sure what happened to him. And then a Fr Justin McFeeters was there for a year, and then he left too. I heard he went to Oklahoma and was deposed from the priesthood in Oklahoma just a few years ago. Not sure of any of the circumstances were around that. I moved away before Fr Philip Nixon ever arrived there.

    And Antiochian Orthodox Montreal where Fr Gabriel comes from — ooh, that’s a doozey. I know of a wonderful AOA priest who got run out of Montreal because of his apparent inability to deal with the “influential” (let’s say) Antiochian families there.

    Anyone with an internet connection can see the grand building that is now HROC in Tucson. It seems beautiful, though I have never been back to see it. Compared to the small building where we used to worship on W. Vanover Road, the new building seems like Hagia Sophia. It certainly does not look cheap. The reason I say this is that, when I was there, it seemed clear that a certain percentage of the parish seemed to foot most of the parish bills, that is, some of the connected Arab-American families. Nothing against them, it just seems how it was.

    Now with the new Holy Resurrection Hagia-Sophia-esque temple in Tucson, I can only imagine how expensive it was to build and what sort of mortgage the parish must hold. If only a few families are footing most of the bill for any such a project, then must not the priest and diocese be beholden to these families? I don’t think this is a wise situation to be in, but the fact of the matter is that a couple of jurisdictions (the GOA and the AOA) come to mind for allowing a small fraction of wealthy parishioners to foot the bills for some grand edifices, and then the clergy and bishops become beholden to these parishioners.

    I don’t know your priest Fr Philip at all, but if some wealthy Arab-Americans are footing the bill for the beautiful massive building in Tucson, maybe he is caught between keeping them happy and protecting his parishioners. I do not think this is a good situation to be in, since it is the priest’s job foremost to nurture the families and parishioners in his flock in Christ, and this involves calling a spade a spade when needed.

    But your story, Gail, will be met with resistance because many people can only tolerate so much reality about their religious organizations, especially if they have donated large sums of money or rest some of their life’s foundations on such organizations. Otherwise, it causes too much cognitive dissonance they they cannot bear it, and it becomes easier to ignore the reality. To wit:

    The GOA: So much evidence of financial mismanagement and incompetence, yet no one thinks anything will really change. If most laity cared where their money went and how it was spent, then yes things would change. What is going on at the GOA conference in Boston as we speak?

    The OCA: The financial problems of the early/mid 2000s resulted in shuffling a few people around and then trying to make Metropolitan Jonah in charge to get the heat off the backs of many other bishops who were responsible. Then when Met. Jonah actually tried to be a bishop and walk the walk, people got scared and canned him. More than a decade later, little has probably changed. Yet if most faithful were attuned to reality, things would have changed.

    The AOA: Your story exactly. It’s clear irregularities abound in the AOA. It is amazing to me how such a jurisdiction can produce luminaries like Fr Josiah Trenham and concomitantly support organizations on the terror watch list. Yet many don’t want to hear these realities. It is easier to live in la-la-land.

    The American Roman Catholic Church: The Catholic Church in America is in dire straits. For people who like our fellow Orthodox journalist/commentator and cultural observer Rod Dreher, read some of his recent posts on “The American Conservative” website about the Catholic Church’s latest gay scandal. It is worse than a porn filmmaker in California. The widespread knowledge that in so many Catholic seminaries, gay sex is rampant, which many Catholic cardinals participated in their youth and even in their older years. That gay-sex-for-clerical-advancement is everywhere, and no one wants to root it out since so many of the senior leadership are involved and would then be “outed” and compromised as well. It is terrible. We really need to pray for our Christ-believing Catholic friends who may feel stuck. What I found particularly alarming is the video that Rod posted of a Ukrainian Catholic priest in Ohio who was arrested for drunk driving and then propositioned a cop in jail as a way to get out of serving time. And people go to this man for confession.

    As the beatitudes say, we must “put not our trust in princes, in sons of men, in whom their is no salvation.” That is not to say that I do not believe in our Church or in the priesthood or the episcopate or any other part of the hierarchy. I most certainly do. But we all answer to Christ, and in the words of an American president of recent memory, “Trust, but verify.”

    Believe in our Church. Believe in our hierarchy. Simply because it produces some bad apples, our church hierarchy also produces St John Maximovitch, St John of Kronstadt, Metropolitan Filaret, Metropolitan Laurus, Metropolitan Jonah, Archbishop Michael (GOA in the 1950s), St Raphael (Hawaweeny), and many others. Get to know your spiritual father who hears your confessions. Make him be a man whom you trust. Don’t be bullied by those who fancy themselves as the “church mafia” (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Trust but verify.

    • Dear Former Tucsonan,

      This is the Fr. Philip whom you do not know, but if you would like to know me I am happy to make your acquaintance. And, if you would like to “verify” some speculation, assumption or innuendo regarding the life of our Holy Resurrection parish I am ready to respond.

      Our present church was built with the loving, sacrificial donations of many of our parishioners as well as the sale of our previous building to the Ukrainian Catholic church. The finances of our parish have been completely transparent, including the cost of our church. We built our church in 2010, while construction was slow and construction work was needed. This helped keep our costs low. Decisions were made by the entire parish under the direction and with the blessing of Metropolitan PHILIP and then Bishop JOSEPH, now Metropolitan. The entire church building and infrastructure(grading, paving, required brick wall, major electrical, landscaping, etc), save the educational building, were built at a total cost of $1,850,000. With the sale of the prior building and the composite donations of all our parishioners we were able to raise $1,050,000, leaving us a mortgage of $800,000, of which we now owe approximately $450,000. Near the end of primary construction our educational wing was donated and built on adjacent land previously donated by a separate, unrelated parishioner. These are the facts.

      Brother, your speculation and negative innuendo are completely false and do no service to the faithful and those who are seeking the True Faith who may read your characterizations. You are very welcome to visit your former parish and, with us, worship and give thanks to God for His Grace and Mercy despite our many sins and failings.

      In Christ, Fr. Philip

      P.S. At my and my wife’s request, due to health issues, I have been given the blessing to retire effective Aug 1 this year. We will remain at Holy Resurrection, our home parish. Some of what you wrote above paints a very negative picture of our beloved brothers and sisters at Holy Resurrection, where it has been our privilege and blessing to serve the past 16 years. Forgive me for responding, but I had to choose between allowing such negative implication against my spiritual family to persist and “protecting (the good name and sacrifice of) my parishioners”, whom I love in Christ.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you Fr for your response. I pray the Lord rewards you during your much deserved retirement.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Former Tucsonan,

        Holy Resurrection is indeed beautiful. Father Philip is absolutely one of those people you can trust. He has been very kind to me.

        I visited St. Paisios several years ago. I really enjoyed it. Out of the blue, a Gila monster ran across my path when I was there. I had no idea their chubby, short legs could carry them so fast!

      • Former Tucsonan says

        Father Philip,

        Thank you for posting and for the clarification. It is admirable that you protect the good names and sacrifices of your parishioners and flock. I never had any challenging interactions when I used to worship at HROC back in the day, though I did think it odd that the parish seemed to burn through clergy fairly quickly at that time. It is heartwarming to hear that with your tenure there, there has been some good stability.

        I would say that in the three interviews with Gail which George posted to his site, it is obvious that significant questions come up as to who may have been or may still be involved as some of those “out to get her.” I don’t think it is being presumptuous or inappropriate to point out that elephant in the room. Indeed, I think we need to talk about it. It is reassuring to hear that, as far as you are aware, none of your parishioners are/were involved in the drama that she went through and that she says that she continues to go through.

        I greatly admire her strength, courage, and boldness in speaking out and telling her story — yet I still do believe that there are many who are angry that it is being told.

        If God ever takes me back to Tucson, even for a visit, I do plan to visit the new HROC. From the website photos, it does look beautiful. Congratulations on your sacrifices and the temple that you and your parish built, with glory to God!

        In Christ,

        • George Michalopulos says

          To all: I’d like to point out that in addition to Fr Philip’s recitation of the history of Holy Resurrection, he said nothing which contradicted what Gail recounted.

  11. Reader John says

    I appreciate everyone’s posts. Thanks to Former Tucsonan for reminding us of the good fruit that has come from the Church, even in recent (and troubled) times. There is hope and our efforts must always begin at home. We must clean our personal house so that 7 demons don’t return. Our focus must always be our personal struggle to follow Christ. That is, again, clean our own house first. We all know this, yet, it is easy to let own prayer life slip. Having recently completed a study of the Book of Acts, it is wonderful to see the witness of St. Paul who didn’t let the outer circumstances impact his focus or his inner condition. Trust but verify, yes. But, let each of us, before we speak, insure that we daily seek that inner verification that comes from Christ. As St. John of Kronstadt recommends, don’t leave your daily prayer until something in your heart is changed. Also, let us insure that we are submitted to a spiritual father or, at least, a spiritual brother. And when we speak, let us speak as the first of sinners. Fr. Stephen Freeman explains well the paradox of our life in Christ in which we have to be conscious of being both the first of sinner and a called and adopted child of the Most High at the same time. We always have struggle. We always have hope. Glory to God.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Indeed. We should redouble our prayer lives and not cease praying until something in our heart changes. Thank you for these words of wisdom.

  12. Michael Bauman says

    Ah, the end result: change the Church and all will be better. Anathema! That way of thinking is of the spirit of the age. It is not the Church that is at fault unless we adopt Sartre’s dictum: Hell is other people.

    It would be nice if we had more bishops and they came from the populace so that our axios or anaxios meant more but guess what: we would still be dealing with lust of power, unjust actions, cabals and other sins.

    Each one of those rests in my heart and unadided I would not be able to resist their temptations. It would be nice if we had holy men as our bishops but we have no right to expect much less demand that when our own level of holiness is so low.

    Look around you in your own parish. Which man would you curse being a bishop in such a time as ours when every action large and small is recorded in human memory and cannot be erased. When we all think so highly of ourselves that we are each the Pontiff. That is the fruit of the Protestant revolution and Rome’s arrogation of supreme authority before that. Who would survive with their souls intact? How many would be willing even if we opened up the Episcopate to married men. Which woman do you hate so much. That some men survive is a miracle of God’s Providence and mercy.

    What happened to Gail is despicable but rage and
    anger just add more despicable. As a recovering angerholic I can tell you that the first step in my recovery was to stop blaming others even where there was palpable actions on others part that deserved sanction, criticism and censure. Why, because I am 100 percent responsible for my rage and the shame, desire for control and lack of love and trust in God that induces it.

    The fatal flaw in this whole drama was suggested early on by another poster. Gail was faced with an autocratic bishop entrenched in a culture that supported that approach. She demanded that Met. Philip retire. Even if she was right, it was a horrible strategic move unless you are Joshua or Gideon. Even if right, she had no standing to make that demand.

    The response, wholly disproportionate and unjust, was quite perdictable if she was anywhere in the ball park of accurate–even if she was wholly wrong.

    None of it however means the Church should be changed, it simply means I need to change.

    Bishop Tikhon is right. Church politics does nothing to lead anyone to repentance.

    Gail, forgive me. I refuse to get angry. For me that is like an alcoholic taking a drink. It does show me how far I am from the Kingdom.

    Christ’s call to repentance is a perfect personal and intimate. It is twisted beyond recognition and lowered into Satan’s realm when when we even glance at the splinter in another’s eye. Sin is general in nature, repentance is not. Any splinter I see in my brother’s eye is a log in my own.

    Forgive me Gail for wishing you harm to cover my own sins.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Michael, your words are both loving and wise. I must add this proviso: to say that Gail “had no standing” is wrong. She did. She’s an Orthodox Christian. Now, I realize that it might not have been a prudent thing to do (but that’s arguable) but as a sister-in-Christ, as an American, she had the right –and I would say obligation–to ferret out possible corruption.

      I realize this sounds bold. And I also realize that we should always take your bishop’s (God grant him many years!) advice to “always hold your peace”. But as we can see from the scandals that are presently engulfing the GOA, too many of us have “held our peace” for too long and now it is in the process of a
      spectacular implosion. The GOA is well on its way to losing numbers that will place it among the second-tier of Orthodox in America. Outside of the Athonite monasteries, there is absolutely no growth whatsoever. People are leaving in droves.

      I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but the numbers speak for themselves: Holy Cross had to delay issuing paychecks to its employees recently. The Chancery at 79th St had to take out yet another mortgage to fix its roof and simply make the minimum payments necessary to its creditors. It will take at least another $40 million to finish St Nicholas MosquShrine and Reflection center. In the meantime, some parishes are withholding their assessments to 79th St. Some are taking this time to undertake an “overdue” building project (which will allow them to keep two sets of books). Many priests are thinking about a class-action lawsuit against the pension fund which, while not technically “raided”, was not replenished. And so on.

      To all, I ask this question as I sit here on the veranda listening to the birds chirp. Is it possible that Gail started a process which, though it did not have pleasant consequences for her presently, put Met Philip on notice that he could not go on as before? More generally, that the Antiochian jurisdiction would have to come to terms with the various Old World pathologies that led to the scandals that Gail uncovered?

      Think about it. The Antiochian jurisdiction presently is not beset by any scandals that we know of. It’s possible that the overwhelming number of people in that jurisdiction have seen the errors of the past and have cut their ties with the Old World. This includes not only the “convert” cohort of the AOCNA but the Arab-American cohort as well. (I actually have heard from several quarters that these people –both Arab-Americans as well as converts–will never allow things to go back to the way they were.) None of the present AOCNA hierarchy is interested in playing the game that Philip was so adept at playing. Indeed, thanks to the Russian incursion into Syria as well as Trump’s destruction of ISIS, it can no longer be played.

      As Gail commented to Joseph Lipper, she took a bath on the sale of her parents’ home and she lives in a tiny studio apartment. At the same time, I told her to “count her blessings”. This is perhaps God’s way of opening a new door for her. In this light, we should think I believe. If anything, I tell my Antiochian brothers and sisters for them to count their blessings as well. Gail set in motion a chain of events which have allowed the AOCNA to purge itself of the usual pathologies of the past.

      That’s not nothing. If anything, had somebody had spoken up 20+ years ago in the GOA and told the EP that he could not force Iakovos to resign we would all be in a far better place. How much better off would we –all of us–be today had the Greek-Americans risen up en masse and said “OXI!” to the Phanar and stood their ground at Ligonier? That we weren’t going to continue to sweep things under the rug, to continue to kick the can down the road because we have compromised bishops (and only more on the horizon).

      Think of all we have lost in the interim. Not the money (God ain’t broke). But the souls. The people who have left the Church and those who never joined the Church because the GOA buried the talents given to them, blew out the light of Christ and descended into a racket. And likely for the same reasons that many of the old-guard Antiochians did as well: “Shhh, keep quiet!” “It’ll be over soon.” “We have to do this, shunt money overseas or else Hamas will destroy us”. “We need to ‘play the game’, what’s a few thousand dollars greasing the palm of President X going to hurt, no one will miss it, in the meantime, nobody will die.”

      Make no mistake: Met Philip was a masterful chess-player. He played the Great Game well. But in the end, it was untenable. Yes, let’s acknowledge that Philip in playing the game did what he felt was necessary. And yes, let’s assume that he was an asset for the CIA in this regard. Having said that, it could not go on. I think my Antiochian brethren need to see the bigger picture and thank Gail for helping to create a newer, more Americo-centric paradigm in your jurisdiction. One which will no longer be beholden to the pathologies of the past.

      What’s past is past. What was done was viewed as necessary at the time. It no longer is –at least for you all. Get down on your knees and thank the Good Lord for it. Learn from the nonsense that we Greek-Americans seem unable to learn from (if anything, the indications from Boston look like we won’t learn our lesson).

      And yes, keep Gail in your prayers. Because I now believe that she helped get the ball rolling in the right direction for you all.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I really mean that. All of it.

        • Greatly Saddened says

          GM … I couldn’t agree with you more. And as for the GOA and the Clergy-Laity Congress presently being held in Boston. I too am afraid it is, unfortunately, business as usual. Some things, no matter what, do not seem to change!

      • Michael Bauman says

        My Bishop’s advice was “Hold my peace. That does not mean shut up. It mean’s do not let them take your peace.”

        Lest we forget he was one of the one’s being demoted at the time and was in the midst of the conflict.

        She had responsibility to bring it up but none to even suggest Met. stepping down.

        As a side note, the sins of others never drive anyone from the Church. People leave because of a refusal to face their own sins.

  13. Gail Sheppard says

    I hate to quibble, George, but if my recent experience is an example, the AOCNA hasn’t purged itself of anything. I know, I know. These recent events are probably my fault, too, as I had the audacity to attend Church. – I’m not sure I’ll be needing the prayers of those who wish me harm, George. I already have so many.

  14. Gail Sheppard says


    There are some major disconnects here and I’d like to address them.

    No one is trying to “change the Church.” I’m trying to sever ties with outside entities that have nothing to do with the Church.

    I certainly don’t expect bishops to be holy. For me, the bar is pretty low. I just don’t want them to lie, cheat or steal.

    I did not do anything in anger or rage. I wrote a letter. It was Metropolitan Philip who responded in anger & rage. Apparently, you think I’m accountable for his actions.

    I was not “blaming others even where there were palpable actions on the part of others that deserved sanction, criticism and censure.” I was concerned about terrorist ties within our Archdiocese and felt I had to bring it to the attention of the authorities so they could sort it out.

    Although you’re acknowledging there have been times when you have felt “rage and the shame, desire for control and lack of love and trust in God that induces it,” I am baffled how you could know if I have failed in this regard. Interestingly, you seem to hold me to a higher standard than you do a hierarch, who was responsible for the spiritual well-being of an entire continent.

    It wasn’t only me who was faced with “an autocratic bishop entrenched in a culture that supported this approach.” It was you and everyone else in our jurisdiction. I also did not “demand that Met. Philip” retire. I told him what *I* needed to do if he didn’t protect our consecrated bishops and step down. There is a difference.

    I was not wholly right or “wholly wrong,” as neither applies. Frankly, I wasn’t in a position to determine right from wrong which is why I felt the need to call in the authorities. Our chancellors were, though. It was THEIR JOB to protect the Archdiocese from the “wholly wrong” and they quit because Metropolitan Philip wouldn’t allow them to do it.

    What I did had nothing to do with Church politics. It had to do with those who put their political interests above the interests of the Church. The Church isn’t “political,” Michael. It’s Catholic. Politics divide, the Church embraces.

    I’m kind of shocked that you would “wish me harm” but I absolutely forgive you. I will also pray for you; not that harm befalls you, but that it releases you.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Gail, I believe that you have pretty much summed it all up very succinctly.

      Apropos of nothing at all, I’d like to add this angle as to how a hierarch should behave when confronted with evidence of his misdeeds (real or perceived): when St Sergius of Radonezh was confronted by his brothers at the monastery, who for some reason had a wild hair about something and demanded that he step aside, you know what he did? He stepped aside. His brothers acted unjustly towards him and he accepted it.

      • George,
        Gail has laid it on the line, and other than hurt feelings, all around, mostly crickets. So now where are the voices of concerned Orthodox learned men to at least attempt to explain how we attempt to save the Titanic. The GOA. And benefit from lessons learned from the other jurisdictions, brought forward. Be sure all jurisdictions will not be far behind. Nothing, not even a voice from an anonymous clergy member. Such fear even from the anonymous lest they be recognized? What a disappointment and waste of time for Gail. Don’t look at me I’m just the village idiot. And you George, no essay, no solution? Maybe there isn’t one and like the rest simply waiting for the Titanic to sink, and hope the survivors in the life boats can carry on. Perhaps because Michael Stankovich knows the likes of our bishops, and their minions so well, he knew there would be no benefit to Gail or organized Orthodoxy in America. We are held hostage by the men in charge of giving out the Eucharist and there is nothing we can do and nowhere to go. Right brothers and sisters!?

    • Gail,
      What most of us hate/fail to understand, and admit is that the majority of us, if German, and living in Nazi Germany 1935-1942, would not be part of the resistance, but Nazi’s, full fledged or tag alongs, not much difference, still Nazis. So long as the Nazi party kept the masses fed, all aboard. The tune changed when the money and food ran out by mid 1940’s, but by then it was too late. They made their choice, and will have to pay the consequences.

      The money has not yet run dry for The Greek Orthodox Church in America, but it will if things remain the way they are. No matter what millionaires do, they cannot fill churches. Making excuses and speaking from both sides of our mouth does not fly anymore, even for the devout Yiayais and Pappous, they have eyes, churches once full on Sundays no more today.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Gail, forgive me for the confusion. Anger is a pretty non-specific sin and I struggle with anger which this whole conversation roused in me. So I largely withdrew. The only cure I have discovered is to repent and take full responsibility. So, while I never actively meant you harm, anger always hurts anyone involved. It’s a hand grenade. Simply by its existence in my soul, it was definitely part of the load directed at you in the past though without my intent or specificity. I know that had I been in Met. Philip’s position and situation, I likely would have reacted in much the same manner, perhaps worse. So, the request for your forgiveness.

      I have a proto-icon of Matuska Olga on my wall. She was gazing down on me as I wrote that line the first time and I experienced a remarkable response of love which I have come to recognize as coming from her. Certainly beyond anything I am capable of. I hope this makes my words more clear. It is something I am new to and it is awkward to articulate.

      God grant you peace and I pray for Mat. Olga’s intercessions for you.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Gail, to your credit you do not call for changing the Church. However, others in the thread did. That is a fruit not of you, but of bishops behaving badly and the cultural expectations of many in the US. When I approach this topic, Bishops behaving Badly, I always think back to the time of the Arian heresy. As far as I can determine no one in the initially small opposition called for a restructuring of the Church or leaving the Church or anything like that.

      St. Athanasius was run out of his diocese like what, five times? St. Basil had a confrontation with an Arian Emperor in his own Cathedral.

      The Church is not a sylvan meadow, it is an arena where there is a continual fight going on. Occasionally, the fight becomes evident. Even so, it is still the Ark. One of those many logic defying realities.

  15. Darthbarnabas says

    I don’t understand all of this. Can someone please explain why she is being threatened and what the issue is?

  16. George Osborne says

    Dear George,
    In my small Orthodox world, The Arena by St Ignaty Brianchaninov is second only to the Gospel when it comes to spiritual instruction and I am often convicted by its admonitions. Doubly so this morning. When I complete the book, I always turn back to page one and start over. Inevitably, something new comes to my attention.
    In a recent post, I caused Gail to become distraught. I have also “smarted off” as we Southerners say, many times in a misplaced effort – I suppose – to make a quip. In respect to Gail, that was not my intent at all. And I profusely ask for forgiveness. I still admit I do not quite understand all the ramifications of the issue discussed, but that is very much besides the point.
    If I may, I’d like to share this admonition I read today from St. Ignaty:
    ” If you want to be a true, zealous son of the Orthodox Church, you can do so by the fulfillment of the commandments of the Gospel in regard to your neighbor. Do not dare to convict him. Do not dare to teach him. Do not dare to condemn or reproach him. To correct your neighbor in this way is not an act of faith, but of foolish zeal, self-opinion, and pride. Poeman the Great was asked, ‘What is faith?’ The great man replied that faith consists in remaining in humility…. Leave the work of judging and convicting people to those persons on whose shoulders is laid the duty of judging and ruling their brethren.”

    Meal culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maximum culpa. Forgive me, everyone!

  17. Gail Sheppard says

    At the very end of this clip with Father Earl Cowan from the local Greek parish, who was saying goodbye after 9 years, having been reassigned to parts unknown, the mystery of where my detractor is serving has been solved:

    • Estonian Slovak says

      After reading filth from an alleged Greek American on this blog, it’s pleasant to hear a Greek American priest speak in this manner. Gail, I hope the people who wronged you come to their senses.

  18. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    A parting word of teaching: The exclamation “axios” is NEVER uttered before a man is ordained/consecrated.. It is only pronounced AFTER he is consecrated, when the presiding hierarch, has invoked the Holy Spirit Who heals the infirm and supplies what is wanting. The word “axios” is an AFFIRMATION of what the Holy Spirit has DONE! The hierarch pronounces it and the rest of the Church repeats it AFTER the ordination only.
    Neither does the word “Command” have anything to do with electing or casting a vote. It is a word (“befahrmaid”) used in the Persian imperial court and copied into Byzantine Imperial ceremonies. Even today, Iranians use this word “command” (be-fahr-ma-id) as it was used in the ancient Persian court, It should be translated as “If you please.” It may be found in the Byzantine Book of Ceremonies. When it came time for the court to move from one room to another—from the Purple to the Golden room, for example, the Chamberlain would bang his staff and say, “Command!” and everybody took this as a signal to get up and move. Even in the Divine Liturgy today, the Deacon says to the Priest during the Trisagion, “Command” whereupon the Priest moves to the High Place.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fascinating. I didn’t know that. Thank you, Your Grace for sharing your knowledge with us.

    • Monk James Silver says

      This is a bit confused and logically indefensible.

      It especially neglects to explain the reasons why the deacons’ cry ‘Give the command!’ is expressed first in the singular, then in the plural, and lastly in the singular.

      The practices of the Persian imperial court are probably not at issue here, especially since the practices of the imperial court at Constantinople had minimal effects on Christian worship.

      Please note the word ‘minimal’.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        James, it’s neither confused nor logically indefensible, though YOU may indeed be surprised and confused about something you’d never seriously researched. When I broached the topic Ever-memorable Serbian Patriarch Pavle during his visit to L.A. some time ago, he was pleased when I mentioned this. He said he himself had written a dissertation on the topic. [Obviously, he had omitted defending his dissertation before that would-be authority, Monk James Silver!] I’m glad to to hear it affirmed that linguistic usage in the Byzantine Book of Ceremonies was only minimally reflected in the language of the services books of the Byzantine Church! Why in the world Monk James would translate Church Slavonic “poveli” and/or “povelite” as the (wooden & clumsy) “give the (sic) command”, rather than the simple” command” remains a mystery of the pedantic. I forgot to mention that the Deacon also says “Command” (“If you please”) to the Priest to signal that the latter should leave the front of the altar table and move out onto the soleas to give the light from his candle to the Catechumens, at Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts.

      • anonymus per Scorilo says

        It especially neglects to explain the reasons why the deacons’ cry ‘Give the command!’ is expressed first in the singular, then in the plural, and lastly in the singular.

        Because it is first addressed to the bishop:
        if you (the bishop) please,
        then to the whole congregation: if you(plural),(congregation) please
        and then again to the bishop

        So if the congregation opposes the ordination it is rather here it should intervene (after all, the ordinant is brought in from the back of the church, thorough the congregation, and they are asked to agree, so they could just stop him).

        Crying anaxios after the ordination does not help too much

  19. Dear Antiochian Lay People,
    Please understand that your Priest will not be able to stand and address even obvious wrongs or challenges without the potential for severe backlash, including reassignment and/or the complete loss of a pension. If you desire change and accountability you are going to have to stand up for your parish, your Priest, and for more transparency. You have the “amen” at the Eucharist. You have the “anaxios” at ordinations, you have the right, as the people who write the checks, to know “who, what, when, where, why, and how.” Your voice matters, so use it.

    • Greatly Saddened says

      So well said, FYI, and this applies to the other Orthodox jurisdictions as well.

  20. Solitary Priest says

    As Bishop Tikhon himself pointed out, it is the deacon who says the triple amen at the consecration not the laity. The notion that the laity have to “affirm” the consecration is Modernist crap. I’m sorry, I didn’t want to post here anymore, but here it is.

    • George Michalopulos says

      SP, I bow to no one when it comes to my contempt for modernism in all its forms. Having said that, I very much respect your opinions but on this matter I believe we have to “agree to disagree”. The people (admittedly a godly, properly catechized and sacramentally active people) must give their assent. The Church in America is too beholden to credentialism and this is one method that has led us down this declinist path.

      Again, this is my opinion. I don’t mean to offend.

      • Michael Bauman says

        George and there is the rub. Do we control anything? I think not. It is the same fallacy that got it into this mess. A chiliastic reverie if the Kingdom of God built with our own hands.

    • Thank you, solitary priest! The people shouting out the “Amens” drives me nuts! It is modernist garbage. It always sounds like a protestant revival when it happens. The silent prayers are also meant to be silent… is part of the mystery of the Liturgy. The Liturgy penetrates the heart…..we do not need to hear everything……or shout out the “Amens.”
      I am also very disturbed by the those jurisdictions who have decided to interrupt the Liturgy in the middle while the people start shaking hands! Thank God I have not seen these things in ROCOR.

  21. Leo Lazaris says

    FYI, the priest Gail was warned about, Antony Gabriel has a book out called Silence: A Diary Of Suffering And Redemption which he does mention in chapter 5 some of what she says. He does not name her but says a difficult period of his life was when Metropolitan Philip was attacked by a vocal minority who challenged him to disclose complete information about the finances of the archdiocese as well as his personal wealth. He says among the complainers were converts who had not fully integrated into the ethos of the churches hierarchical structure. He also goes on to mention the demotion of bishops who tried to show their independence by instituting old traditions like long beards, wearing cassocks outside chuch and lengthening services; things anathema to Metropolitan Philip. The book is about his own health struggles of the last 20 years which he believes were brought on by the pressures of being a priest. I thought i would bring this to your attention.

  22. Gail Sheppard says

    Michael S.,

    I did not emphatically declare these threads were “closed.” I told you George wanted to close them and that was fine with me. He didn’t. Your comments are getting posted like everyone else’s. If you’re bored, the surest way to shut down a thread is to quit commenting on it.

    Why are you being so cantankerous? Way more than usual. You are fighting with virtually everyone on this blog, with the exception of Bishop Tikhon and Fr. George. There is really no reason for this. People are reacting negatively to you because you’re being so difficult. It isn’t like you to be doing this with so many people. It certainly isn’t like you to do this with me but you have been nonstop rude to me for I don’t know how long. This is kind of hard to take from people you consider as friends.

    • M. Stankovich says


      I will say nothing differently to you than I’ve said to anyone who has seen me as “fair game” for interpreting my thoughts, behaviour, motivation, and ultimately my heart: With all my failures, before God and you, I am what I am. I said to you very specifically that I am not angry, but very hurt. I do not blame you for how I feel; I am fully responsible for my own reactions & emotions, and I will neither melt nor wither because of what I feel. George said to me the “narrative is closed,” and for me, this is my last word on the matter.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Michael, the last thing I want is for you to be hurt. I am genuinely sorry for what I did to contribute to that. Please forgive me.

  23. Gail Sheppard says


    I hear you. As you can see, *I* am not attacking Father George nor have I *ever* attacked Father George. I am fond of him, as he knows. I want to hear what he has to say.

    • Gail,
      I would as well like to hear out our well meaning Father George, who selflessly goes forward without promise of indemnity. At the very least you and George might give your word not to cut him short nor censor, which is hard to imagine, would be the case with him.

      I hope and pray this will satisfy and help end another chapter in your book of life, and will bring you peace. Until the next chapter of our book of life. Your on my parish prayer list, but, I will no longer post on this topic, only listen.

      And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.(Revelation:20:12)

      • George Michalopulos says

        Dino, for the record, I have no desire, nor willingness, nor inclination to censor Fr George. While I do (on occasion) “edit” laymen –and again: very rarely–my respect for the clergy would preclude me from doing so.

      • Gail Sheppard says


        You say, “at the very least you and George might give your word not to cut Father George short nor censor.” George has never cut Father George short or censured him that I can recall nor is he doing it now. Father George could have had the entire floor had he wanted it but he changed his mind.

        • Gail and George, I love you guys and believe you, but I’m done with this topic. It just gets more strange everyday! First Father George disrespected and now spooked?

    • George Michalopulos says

      As do I (and perhaps several other people on this blog as well).

  24. Gail Sheppard says

    I just thought I’d post this. . .

    MONDAY, JULY 9, 2018
    “And such were some of you.”
    St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 5:9-13; 6:1-11
    Brethren, I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.” When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that even your own brethren. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

  25. Fr. George Washburn says

    Greetings to George and all:

    I thank George for the invitation to,do an interview, and respectfully decline it. In my opinion that is not the format that best fits the limited number of issues I feel capable of addressing….with my limited skills and knowledge.

    I also politely reject the suggestion that I am or was an “insider.” My attempts to serve other than in parish assignments have been task or situation specific. Sometimes many months or even years between them. I am in a middle ground of more experience and insight, I hope, than the average commentator, but not behind the scenes knowledge.

    And to the extent that I may have learned confidential information as priest or attorney, there are some very tough and important duties of confidentiality. Not the sort of territory an old man wants to navigate in the spur of the moment mIlieu of an interview.

    Probably best to just write it up once, if I get the time, and then offer it as a guest commentary.


    Fr. George

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr, thank you for getting back to me. Having said that, the question which Gail asked you is still on the table. Off-line, she has told me that you’re a stand-up kind of guy. Because that’s her heartfelt opinion, I feel I must concur. Hence, I ask you to reconsider doing an interview.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        As a sign of good faith, here’s my reply to the question I think you mean. Fr. Phillip is part of the “Desert Deanery.” I am in the NorCal one. I have never attended a Desert Deanery meeting.

        The time when he and I have been in joint clergy meetings since he left Ben Lomond over 20 years ago have almost always been either at Feb or July meetings of the entire W Coast clergy, and I have only attended about half in recent years. No recollection of the mention of Gail by anyone.

        • Fr. George Washburn says

          Perhaps I should have also said “that I recall from any meeting.” I am sure there must have been references to the frictions at that desert conference I missed in later clergy meetings and/or references in conversations among colleagues, but nothing at all to my old man’s memory about Gail and protection from anyone.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Father George, this was not a “Desert” meeting, as Fr. Wayne was also there. It was a West Coast meeting which you later acknowledged you don’t regularly attend.

          I’m curious why you said you wanted to have a discussion of the “(real) issues.” You mention how you prefer not to have piecemeal exchanges on questions that take us away from what you see as the heart of the matter. You outlined how uniquely qualified you are to speak on the subject, giving the following reasons:

          1. You worked with Met. Phillip on a couple of difficult problems.

          2. You have served 31+ years in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

          3. You took a trip to Lebanon and Syria at Met. Phillip’s request.

          4. The two former Chancellors to whom you refer are valued friends and colleagues of some 30 years standing who discussed with you in detail their reasons for taking the positions they did.

          5. You worked closely with the current Chancellor of the Archdiocese on 3-4 problems in recent years and have much love and respect for him too.

          6. You have 40 years legal experience in analyzing people, arguments, and evidence, including perhaps 100 cases as a pro tem judge and about 100 civil trials.

          7. You share my pain. False accusations, nasty invective, three children who do not attend church largely because of misguided conduct by supposed brethren.

          8. You have about 7 years experience as pastor of very ME parishes.

          After all that, you say you have,”a middle ground of more experience and insight than the average commentator, but not behind the scenes knowledge,” “politely rejecting the suggestion” that you are or were an “insider,” and don’t want to comment, but may “write something up if you get the time.” You effectively did a 180.

          What was the point of entering into the conversation making it look as if George wouldn’t give you an audience when that wasn’t the case at all?

          Contrary to what you believe, we WANT to hear from the clergy. As our “front line of defense,” the laity NEEDS you to give us direction with respect to how to handle these situations. To date, no priest I’ve spoken to (you are now the 4th) has been willing to offer me any insight with respect to how one is supposed to deal with these things.

          I find it ironic that you complain about George, who has been completely respectful and accommodating when I have literally gone through hell in this Archdiocese and I don’t even warrant a few minutes of SOMEONE’S attention with respect to what one is supposed to do when confronted with old world tactics where one’s person and property is threatened. Seems to me someone in a position of authority could find the time to comment on this, as it has happened to many, many people and is STILL happening.

          • Fr. George Washburn says

            To the extent that I might have anything to offer you personally concerning the cumulative pain you feel, it would be better attempted in person, and certainly out of an internet spotlight. I am sorry you found yourself in that situation and still carry it with you so heavily. This crazy arena is no place to get relief, and to me is one of the best places to etch one’s soul even more deeply with what hurts .

          • George Michalopulos says

            Brava, Gail! Indeed, we desperately need to support our clergy as they are in fact “the first line of defense”.

            This is what I see on the horizon: the dissolution of the “national churches” (read: HQs such as 79th St, Englewood, Syossett) and the strengthening of the local parishes. This is what I see happening sooner rather than later with the GOA. It’s clear that the concept of a “national church” is rather tenuous at best. Maybe the silver lining of this most recent, regrettable CL Congress for the GOA is that the reality of the corruption/depletion of the pension funds is going to force GOA priests to take matters into their own hands. Perhaps more “tent-maker priests”.

            More later. Forgive me for hijacking your thread.

  26. George Michalopulos says

    Fr, forgive me, but I believe you’re being disingenuous. Or at least you are muddying the waters as this is the first time —ever–I’ve come across the term “desert deanery”.

    Gail’s question was directed to the fact that the deans of West Coast had considered her plight and that her priest in Tucson brought it to her attention. If you were there then please help set the record straight by simply answering her question. If you weren’t there and/or have no information about what was discussed (if anything) there about Gail’s situation, then I would kindly ask that you not insert yourself into this discussion.

    I mean no disrespect but these are extraneous comments and they lead us down rabbit holes that are not germane to the story.

    If however you wish to be interviewed, then I ask again a third –and final–time.

    • Fr. George Washburn says

      Hi friends:

      Gail’s original question was asked in a way inconsistent with normal Antiochian parlance. Deanery refers to a more or less small geographic area and the churches and clergy in that area. The Dean is the senior clergyman chosen by the bishop to be a sort of clergy team captain in that area.

      W. Coast is sometimes used to refer to the entire body of clergy and parishes governed from Los Angeles. Clergy gather annually in February for instruction and fellowship and the clergy and laity have a Parish Life Conference together in the summer and a “fall gathering” in, yes, the fall.

      That covers churches from Alaska to,the Mexican border, and Salt Lake City to the Pacific. The Desert Deanery, of which George M now indisputably has heard, includes churches and clergy in Las Vegas and Arizona.

      So when Gail asked about a “W Coast Deanery” meeting at which Fr. Anthony Gabriel’s retirement to Tucson was discussed, and Fr. Phillip was supposed to have been present, I guessed that she meant to refer to a meeting of the Desert Deanery clergy, where the arrival of an important new, if retired, member would be of natural interest. . I replied that I am not a member of that Deanery and have never attended their meetings.

      Later, suspecting that certain folks might not find that true enough, or even think disingenuous, my choice to guess that is what was meant, I added the afterthought that I could not recall any discussions about Gail and Fr. Anthony among the entire assembled W. Coast clergy … which I don’t attend a lot( and tend not to recall the details of the business meetings which I did attend)

      It would have been pretty anomalous if the question of Fr. Anthony’s arrival in Tucson had been discussed in a meeting of all W. coasters rather than just the clergy of the small Deanery where he landed. George alludes to a possible meeting of W.Coast deans, but I have never been a dean, let alone participated in one of their meetings if they even have any.

      Which adds up to more time wasted by everyone who has read these questions and comments about “W Coast Deanery” and those who have written on it, inclsuimg me. But since George had anointed himself to call me ‘disingenuous,’ (perhaps to discredit me to readers who might have had an open mind?) I yielded to,the temptation to explain.

      And that is one of the trouble with this forum as usually operated. Extraneous junk swarms to the center of our attention here from all quarters and all manner of participants, real, fake or unsure.

      It is at the heart of my complete and final refusal to be interviewed by George, frankly. In addition to “not” being a percipient witness to almost all the factual assertions being made, I don’t want to spend the rest of the summer straightening out misunderstandings sure to crop up when someone quick to say “disingenuous” is the cross-examiner, I mean interviewer. .

      To the extent that Ihave anything to offer about what is troubling Gail it will be basically along the lines of issues analysis, and in writing. And kind to her, since I believe mistakes she may have made were the mistakes of a good person.


      Fr. George

      • Constantinos says

        After all the crap Gail has gone through, and further research I’ve done into Metropolitan Philip, and my disdain for Orthodox clergy, I have decided to leave the Orthodox Church, and join the Catholic Church. I completely object to married clergy, their arrogance, abuse toward parishioners, pomposity. and attempts to control their parishioners by having their hands kissed, their expensive arraignments, and their fancy titles like “His All Holiness.” In my opinion, Orthodoxy has been tried and weighed in the balances, and found wanting. I believe that Orthodoxy is a toxic faith, a faith that is mentally harmful, and a faith that is dying out in America. In another thirty years, if the Lord hasn’t returned, Orthodoxy will not exist in America, and will be totally irrelevant. It’s totally irrelevant now.

        • 1 John 2:19 says

          They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Costa, while your observations regarding the decrepitude of Orthodoxy in America are more than wrong, I cannot recommend your remedy.

          The mythic power of the papacy is not without it’s allure but thanks to the incumbent, it’s becoming even more attenuated by the day.

          Roman formalism still exists but that’s about all and it can’t hold the RCC together. In my estimation, the RCC is entering into Episcopalian territory.

        • Anna Hathis says

          Costaki, why you say the church is no good toxic? Me old enough to be your mama maybe yaya. Never good to talk esti you may catch to mati be careful pedaki. Catholic no good we say Oxi! To dem. I think you need some fake. Nea good hot soupa and no stay up late agori Mou

        • Constantinos,

          Whether you go or stay, please remember that you cannot avoid taking yourself with you. Or, to put it another way, if we are prone to finding fault, we will find it wherever we go.

          I’m not being critical, as there is plenty of fault to be found no matter where we go. It cannot be escaped. Not by leaving the Orthodox Church, and not by jumping jurisdictions.

          God bless you in your journey wherever it leads you. Just remember that the only journey that matters is the one within. Something tells me you already know this. Forgive me, but I know that I myself need to be reminded from time to time.