Chapter 3

by John Gavin Nolan

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Much depended on Monsignor Barry-Doyle’s success in America, for more than a million Greeks who had been Turkish nationals were forced to leave everything behind and return to Greece as refugees. With five million people of its own to care for, the war-impoverished government in Athens could give them no more than a place to stay. Appeals went out to the entire world for food, clothing, housing and schools. Somehow Bishop Calavassy provided food and clothing for 7,000 of these poor people. Despite the handicap of his Catholicism, his image as a Greek was enhanced by his services; and enhanced still further the following year, when he received from King George II the Cross of Gold of the Knights of Our Blessed Savior in recognition of his services.

The other reason Bishop Calavassy prayed for Monsignor Barry-Doyle’s success was much more personal; the exarch saw slipping away with the departing Greeks the Greek Catholic Church he had worked so hard to develop in Turkey. After returning from America in 1919, he founded in Constantinople a community of sisters he called “Pammarkaristos,”1 and a minor seminary to train his own Greek Catholic clergy.2 Because it was clear there was no future for Greeks in Turkey, he transferred both of these to Athens in 1922. The transfer was actually a prelude, for the Oriental Congregation’s letter in August adding “all Greece” to his exarchal jurisdiction simply authorized officially what was already taken for granted: that Bishop Calavassy would be forced to move his episcopal see to Athens,3 where most of his Greek Catholics already lived. This he did in 1923.4

Without mentioning these plans, however, in the summer of 1922 Bishop Calavassy sent a one-page mimeographed appeal to “my dear friends” in America, Catholics he had met there during World War I. Likely mailed from Graymoor by Father Paul, the appeal sought help for Bishop Calavassy’s seminaries through the Constantinople Daily Bread League. It deserves to be quoted verbatim because, despite the human needs on every side, it is strictly missiological.

My dear friends, Your kind answer to the appeal I addressed to you three years ago, while in the U.S. as an envoy of the Holy See in behalf of the Greek Missions in the East, gives me the assurance that this time too you will pay a kind attention to my humble request.

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