After being granted his release from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Fr. Gregory was determined to find a suitable home for his spiritual flock and place them under a bishop who first and foremost upheld the practices and dogmas of the Orthodox Church and who also had a unique sensitivity for mission. Through Divine Providence, Fr. Gregory was led to the Omophorion (a liturgical vestment unique to the bishop that metaphorically provides pastoral shelter and clerical obedience) of His Eminence, (affectionately referred to as "Vladyka" in the Slavonic tradition) Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York and First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad (or ROCOR: "The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia"). In Vladyka Hilarion, Fr. Gregory identified a bishop that embodied all the virtues of a hierarch: irenic, pastoral, and a steadfast guardian of Holy Tradition. When sitting with Vladyka Hilarion, knowing of Fr. Gregory's Greek background, Vladyka suggested a newly canonized saint of the Greek Church to be the guiding force behind the new mission.
However, Fr. Gregory, foreseeing an Orthodox communion free of any ethnic bias, was hoping to find a patron Saint with universal appeal so that all peoples would feel at home at the mission. This was one of the compelling reasons in selecting the Evangelist Luke as the patron saint of this new American Orthodox mission church; yet, there are more:
For one, given the emphasis on evangelism, having one of the Evangelists to inspire us was important.
Second, as Holy Orthodoxy is the only authentic source for healing of the many grave ailments of body and soul afflicting humanity and particularly striking the health of the American people, having a saint renowned for his healing was important: and certainly, as a physician, the Evangelist Luke is a blessed source of healing.
Third, the Evangelist Luke is a man of many talents: physician, evangelist and also "artist" as he is acknowledged as the first iconographer of the Church having painted holy icons of the Mother of God, Mary the God-bearer ("Theotokos" in the Greek) that exists to this very day. This meets our desire at the ELOMC to cultivate and nurture all our God-given gifts and talents as God is the source of all our gifts and blessings.
Lastly, as stated at the onset, it was important for the mission to select a patron saint that would have universal appeal and who transcended ethnicity. In the Evangelist Luke, we have a patron saint that, as one of the first disciples of Jesus Christ, truly belongs to all peoples.