Athenagoras (Aneste) of Mexico
His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Athenagoras of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico, Central America, Columbia, Venezuela, and the Caribbean Islands was born George Angelo Aneste in Chicago, Illinois. On September 17, 1941. Upon completing elementary and High School education in Chicago, His Eminence entered Hellenic College/Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Mass. Following his first year of studies, he transferred to the Theological School of the University of Athens, Greece (1959-1965) where he received his Masters of Theology Degree. His Eminence also pursued graduate studies at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor Campus) where in 1973 he received a Master Degree in Russian Literature.
In 1965, His Eminence was ordained a Deacon at the Annunciation Cathedral of Chicago, receiving the ecclesiastical name, Athenagoras, (Dec. 19, 1965) and Priest at the Parish of St. George Toronto, Ontario Canada (July 21, 1967).
In 1966 His Eminence was appointed as Deacon and Secretary to His Grace Bishop Timotheos of Rodostolon, in Toronto, and upon his ordination to the Priesthood he served the Parishes of: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, London Ontario Canada (1967-1970), St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan (1970-1963), St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, Niles, Illinois (197 6-1978), St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing, New York (1979-1982).
In August of 1973, His Eminence was appointed as Chancellor of the Diocese of Chicago, where he served until January 1979. In his capacity as Chancellor of the Diocese, His Eminence represented the Greek Orthodox Church in the midwest in a number of capacities, assisted in administering the vast region of the Diocese, and served as General Secretary of the Clergy Laity Congress of the Archdiocese of North and South America, which convened in Chicago in July of 1974.
Upon the direction of His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, the then Fr. Athenagoras chaired a Committee of Clergy and Young Adults and restructured the Senior GOYA (Young Adult program) of the Archdiocese, establishing in 1975 the YAL (Young Adult League) and writing the YAL Manual which defines the work and activities of the YAL to this day. In that same year, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos appointed Fr. Athenagoras to be the first National Director of the newly established Young Adult League. In this capacity Fr. Athenagoras covened the first YAL Conference in Philadelphia, July of 1976.
On August 22, 1982, Metropolitan Athenagoras was consecrated at the Holy Trinity Cathedral of New York as an Auxiliary Bishop to His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, assuming the title of Bishop of Dorylaion. In his capacity as an Auxiliary Bishop to the Archbishop, Metropolitan Athenagoras represented the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese at numerous civic and religious functions. He served as General Secretary of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas; he was the Official representative of the Archdiocese to the National Council of Churches and also served as national coordinator of the three major dialogues between the Orthodox Church in America and the Roman Catholic, the Anglican and the Lutheran Churches. In 1987 and In the presence of numerous Cardinals and Roman Catholic Hierarchs and many of the Orthodox Hierarchs in America, Bishop Athenagoras was the guest speaker at St. Patrick’s Cathedral of New York, on the occasion of the celebration of the 1200 anniversary of the 7ht Ecumenical Council. As an Auxiliary Bishop to the Archbishop, Metropolitan Athenagoras also administered the Greek Orthodox Parishes of Connecticut and Up-State New York and served as the Overseer for St. Basil’s Academy.
In 1996, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew asked Bishop Athenagoras to go Hong-Kong and in behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to pursue the establishment of a new Metropolitan Archdiocese of Hong-Kong and all of South East Asia. In November of that year, Upon accomplishing this task, Metropolitan Athenagoras was directed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to officially enthrone the newly elected Metropolitan Nikitas as the first Metropolitan of this newly established Metropolis.
On December 2nd , 1996, Bishop Athenagoras was unanimously elected by the Holy and Great Synod of Constantinople to the newly established Metropolitan Archdiocese of Central America and the Caribbean. He was enthroned on January 25, 1997. The jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Archdiocese includes the Countries of Mexico (where His Eminence resides), Venezuela, Colombia, all the Countries of Central America (Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador) and the Islands of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
Since then, His Eminence travels unceasingly to the various Countries of the region, bringing the message of the Orthodox Church to an ever growing number of individuals and groups, seeking to embrace the Orthodox Faith.