The future [[patriarch]] was born Nikolaos Choreftakis on the island of Crete in 1954. Nikolaos completed his early education in schools on Crete. Continuing his education, he graduated from the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens and earned a degree from the Theological Faculty of the Aristotelian University of Thessalonica. He also studied the history of art, literature, and philosophy in Odessa.
Having taken [[monasticism|monastic]] vows and receiving the name ''Theodoros'', he was [[ordination|ordained]] a [[deacon]]. From 1975 to 1985, Dn. Theodoros served as archdeacon and chancellor of the holy Metropolis of Lambis and Sfakion in Crete. Here he developed significant preaching and philanthropic activities, such as at hostels for needy youth. From 1985 to 1990, during the tenure of Patriarchs [[Nicholas VI of Alexandria|Nicholas VI]] and [[Parthenios III of Alexandria|Parthenios]] as Patriarchs of Alexandria, he served as Patriarchal [[Exarch]] in Russia, based in Odessa, Ukraine. There he established the Institution of Hellenic Culture and the Philiki Eteria Museum where 600 children were taught a thorough knowledge of Greek.