Join Archbishop Cordileone and Metropolitan Gerasimos March 16 for Lenten Salutations to the Holy Cross

By Christina Gray

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone will be the homilist for an ecumenical prayer service at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross, Belmont, on March 16 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The service includes an opportunity for Catholic and Orthodox communities to join together in prayer and to venerate a relic of the True Cross of Jesus.

The origin of this ecumenical tradition began in September 2006, when the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross received a relic of the True Cross from the monks of Mt. Athos in Greece.

This led Father Peter Salmas, pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross, to invite his neighbors at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Belmont and Catholics in Central and Southern San Mateo County to share in the veneration of the relic through an ecumenical prayer service.

Beginning in Lent 2007, the Greek Orthodox Church has hosted Salutations to the Holy Cross. For the first seven Lents, these services were coordinated by Father Peter Salmas and Father Stephen Howell, then-pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Since Lent 2014, Father Salmas and Father Howell have invited Metropolitan Gerasimos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco and Archbishop Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to be involved.

The success of these Lenten ecumenical prayer services at the Greek Orthodox Church led to Solemn Vespers being celebrated during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January, first at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and then at St. Pius X Catholic Church, Redwood City, again involving the Archbishop and the Metropolitan.

“When these ecumenical prayer services are held in a Catholic Church, Archbishop Cordileone presides and Metropolitan Gerasimos gives the homily,” said Father Howell, Vicar General at the Archdiocese of San Francisco. “When hosted at the Greek Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Gerasimos presides, and Archbishop Cordileone gives the homily.”

This marks the 17th consecutive year for this special Lenten service, which will be live streamed at For more information, visit the website or call (650) 591-4447. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross is located at 900 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont, CA, 94002.

Christina Gray is the lead writer for Catholic San Francisco.