His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos

On Monday, April 11, 2005, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, sent a letter of condolence to His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America upon learning of the death of His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos, retired primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

“It is with great sadness that we have learned of the falling-asleep in the Lord of the ever-memorable Servant of God, His Eminence, the Most Reverend Iakovos, former Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America,” Metropolitan Herman wrote. “Throughout his life, Archbishop Iakovos served Christ and His Holy Church with deep faith and great devotion. We are confident that the Lord will now reward him for his dedicated archpastoral service by granting him eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“In expressing our sadness at this loss, I ask that you please accept the heartfelt condolences and prayerful support of the Hierarchs, Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,” Metropolitan Herman continued. “May Christ Himself comfort you as you mourn the loss of a dearly-beloved archpastor who served his flock in imitation of the One True Shepherd, who came ‘not to be served, but to serve’ [Matthew 20:28].
Be assured of our fervent prayer that the Lord will grant rest with the saints to His newly departed servant, Archbishop Iakovos, and make his memory to be eternal!”

Archbishop Iakovos, who served the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese from 1959 until his retirement in 1996, passed away April 10 in Stamford, CT, at the age of 93.

Born Demetrios Coucouzis on the Island of Imvros, Turkey, he graduated from the Ecumenical Patriarchal Theological School at Halki, after which he was ordained to the diaconate in 1934, taking the name Iakovos. Ordained to the priesthood in 1940 in Lowell, MA, he held several pastorates. He also taught and served as assistant dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School, then located in Pomfret, CT. In 1945 he earned a Master of Sacred Theology Degree from Harvard University.

In 1954, he was consecrated to the episcopacy by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. On February 14, 1959, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected Metropolitan Iakovos as successor to His Eminence, Archbishop Michael as the archdiocese’s primate.

In addition to his archpastoral duties, Archbishop Iakovos worked tirelessly in the areas of ecumenism and human and civil rights.   He was well known for courageously walking with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, AL, an historic moment captured on the cover of LIFE Magazine on March 26, 1965.

In his desire to promote closer ties among Orthodox jurisdictions, he founded the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas in 1960. He also called a gathering of North American’s Orthodox Christian hierarchs at Antiochian Village, Ligonier, PA, in 1994, the first such gathering of its kind, to share and discuss the life and future of the Church on this continent.

May his memory be eternal!