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Answering the Call: Fr. John Kalantzis, US Navy Chaplain

The Hellenic College Holy Cross community was privileged to hear Fr. John Kalantzis, Captain in the United States Navy Chaplain Corps, in conversation with Fr. Christopher Metropulos at the Maliotis Cultural Center on November 9. The program was part of our “Answering the Call” speaker series, in which, as Fr. Christopher said, “we invite inspirational Orthodox Christian men and women to share the influence of their faith in business, ministry, and life.”

Fr. Kalantzis, a native of Texas, worked in business for a decade after college before deciding that the priesthood was his true vocation. He enrolled at Holy Cross in 1992, bringing his wife and young sons with him. Although most seminarians in those days were younger and unmarried, Fr. Kalantzis told the audience that “being an older student here was a fantastic experience.” After receiving his Master of Divinity degree with high honors in 1995 and being ordained soon after, he served as proistamenos of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons in the Archdiocesan District for two years before embarking on a long and distinguished career as a US Navy chaplain.

The life of a military chaplain, like that of any clergy, requires a willingness to move frequently—but also requires courage in the face of danger and a commitment to minister to all those in need, regardless of faith or the lack of it. “We provide for our own, the Orthodox Christians, but we are there for everyone,” Fr. Kalantzis explained. “We don’t judge anyone—we validate their humanity.”

Over the course of twenty years on active duty, Fr. Kalantzis has had a broad range of assignments all over the world, including in Iraq and aboard an aircraft carrier launching strikes against the Taliban after 9/11. “Being at sea is a profound experience in itself. You feel the power of God and the energy of creation so vividly.” With the rank of Captain and numerous service awards to his credit, he now serves at the Pentagon as Director for Policy and Strategy in the office of the Chief of Chaplains of the United States Navy.

Thanking Fr. Kalantzis for sharing his inspiring story with all of us, Fr. Christopher said, “As we celebrate Veterans Day here on the Holy Hill, we honor you, and we honor all the men and women in our Armed Forces. We realize that freedom comes with a price and requires sacrifice. All Americans should be unceasingly grateful for the service to which you and all our military devote yourselves so selflessly.”

In turn, Fr. Kalantzis expressed his thanks for the opportunity to return to his alma mater, praised “the generosity of heart…and gracious hospitality” shown to him by all he encountered here, and said, “I pray that the Lord will continue to bless your efforts…to properly prepare the future clergy of the Archdiocese. If I can help you in those endeavors, you have only to ask.”