CHICAGO – A funeral is planned Friday for the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in the U.S. Midwest who died last week at age 89.
Metropolitan Iakovos was still active in ministry when he died June 2 after an unexpected illness and surgery at a Chicago hospital. He oversaw 34 parishes in Illinois and two dozen others in northern Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, eastern Missouri and Wisconsin, along with two monastic communities.
Iakovos served in the Greek Orthodox Church for nearly 50 years and was the first metropolitan of Chicago. He was born in Athens, Greece, in 1928 and attended the University of Athens School of Theology after World War II. He served in the church in Athens until 1954 when he went to Boston for graduate studies. Iakovos also served the church in Boston and Detroit.
Iakovos was "ready to listen to the problems and the disappointments and the pain of countless people," Archbishop Demetrios of America said.
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune that Iakovos' family protected a Jewish mother and daughter during World War II.
"He said it was the human thing to do and these people were suffering and they need to be hidden," Bishop Demetrios told the newspaper. "It was at great risk. He spoke often about the occupation and not having proper food and shoes."
Church leaders said that under Iakovos' leadership, the church in the Midwest increased efforts to help the homeless, founded new youth programs, opened dialogues with other faith communities and started an AIDS task force.
Archbishop Demetrios of America will preside at Iakovos' funeral, which will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary in Chicago. The archbishop also will chant a service at 7 p.m. Thursday in the cathedral.