Father Alexander Karloutsos has served the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in various capacities for nearly 50 years, with 21 of those years in Southampton—and he is not slowing down anytime soon. Father Karloutsos, 74, pastor of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons in Shinnecock Hills, and known to many as “Father Alex,” was recently appointed to the national position of vicar general of the archdiocese, serving as an assistant to Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.
The archbishop is the highest-ranking official for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, overseeing about 600 parishes and 900 priests across the nation from its headquarters in Manhattan.
“I have to say, it scares me a little bit, because it means a great deal of work to be done,” Father Karloutsos said. “I’m honored to work by and under somebody of such great strength and vision for our church in America, but it is very challenging. I’m humbled by it, very humbled by it, and honored by it.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros had assumed his role less than two weeks ago, on June 22, filling the seat of Archbishop Demetrios of America following his resignation in May. He immediately appointed Father Karloutsos as vicar general two days after his installment—a familiar role, given that the pastor was the assistant to Archbishop Demetrios.
Father Karloutsos said he met Archbishop Elpidophoros—known at the time by his birth name, Ioannis Lambriniadis—when he was a doctorate student in Germany in the 1990s, and they have maintained a close relationship ever since. In 2012, the archbishop visited the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons to celebrate the Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary with the congregation.
“He has seen me work, and he said, ‘I want someone near me whom I can trust and who has worked tirelessly for the church. You have a proven record, and so I would like you near me,’” Father Karloutsos said.
The longtime Southampton pastor said he will still serve at the parish on weekends, the same arrangement that he already had in place with Father Constantine Lazarakis, and spend more time in Manhattan on weekdays for his new role.
One of the major projects he and the archbishop will oversee is the reconstruction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero, which was destroyed during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Father Karloutsos has been one of the religious officials in charge of rebuilding the church, which began in 2015, and completing the project is now the archbishop’s “number one priority,” the pastor said.
Father Karloutsos has led a distinguished career with the church over the years. In addition to the roles mentioned, he also serves as director of public affairs for the archdiocese, handling protocol relations with the White House and organizing all patriarchal trips to the United States. He said he has stood on the platform during many presidential inaugurations and has met Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.
“I think that I have 74 years of experience, but if you looked at it in my life, I feel like I’m 47 years old, because when you have meaning and purpose in your life then you have everything that gives a person substance and relevance,” he said.