ATLANTA – Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta is shocked by the strange behavior of Rev. Anastasios Gounaris presiding priest of the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Theofany City of Tarpons Springs who abandoned the parish and the active priesthood and fled to Greece alone. Gounaris notified Metropolitan Alexios via an e-mail the night before his departure, on Wednesday June 10th.
In a telephone interview to TNH Metropolitan Alexios said that “it cost me a lot. When I first learned about it I was petrified because I didn’t know what to make out of this. I was thinking a number of things if for example did something serious down there.”
Metropolitan Alexios accepted Gounaris under his omophorion and appointed him Dean of the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpons after the turmoil at the Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral in New York when no Metropolitan was willing to give him a parish.
Metropolitan Alexios said “he was doing well at the parish; he was praising the parish, the Metropolis, it was good, I don’t know what happened. He must got sick or probably he hasn’t overcome the problems of New York.”
Gounaris did not notify Metropolitan Alexios prior to his decision. The Metropolitan said “he didn’t even make a phone call. He sent me an e-mail late on Wednesday night June 10 which I read the next morning. I called the president of the parish council who told me ‘I don’t know anything, I received the same e-mail that you received.’” Metropolitan Alexios also said that “I wrote him back but he didn’t reply to me. After many hours he wrote back telling me ‘I am in the airplane.’ On Monday I received another e-mail telling me that I am in Greece, I apologize for causing problems for you, but I had to leave because I was extremely tired. For an entire year I didn’t have not even one day off.” The Metropolitan told TNH “this is how much I know.”
Gounaris didn’t tell Metropolitan Alexios his whereabouts in Greece: “He didn’t tell me where he is, or what he is going to do. He simply said that ‘I need time to see what I am going to do with my life’ which means that he doesn’t want to be appointed anywhere.”
The Metropolitan communicated immediately with presbytera Maria Gounaris but he didn’t want to tell TNH what they discussed.
Asked if the parish had reduced his salary Metropolitan Alexios said “coming from his previous parish in New York yes, but he was getting what was agreed to at St. Nicholas.”
As to why and how a priest communicates with his Metropolitan the way Fr. Gounaris did the Metropolitan said “that is why we say that what he did was unorthodox.”
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