One “thank you” is not enough
Dear friends of the Mission,
Rejoice in the Lord always.
Twenty years have passed since the Benevolent God led me to the Mission. 1996 was the year when the late Metropolitan of Kampala and All Uganda Theodore Nankyama came to Greece gravely ill. When I went to see him, he asked me to go down with him to Uganda to help the Overseas Mission. I was really at a loss because the late Metropolitan was everything to me. He had practically collected me from the streets of Kampala, where I was wandering around like a stray dog, and took good care of me. “What should I do now that he is sick?” I thought to myself. “I’ll go for a while and as soon as he gets well, I’ll come back to Greece”.
Unfortunately the late Theodore did not recover, but fell asleep in the Lord. At his funeral I saw something that shocked me. It was the children who the Bishop had gathered close to him, orphaned, poor and stray. They all had one question: “Who will take over us from now on?” Then I heard a voice inside of me saying, “I will” and indeed, it was that day that I decided to stay close to these children.
The same year 1997 His Eminence the new Metropolitan Jonah of Kampala and All Uganda appointed me rector to the historic parish of the Transfiguration in the village of Degeya. Historic parish indeed, because this was the first parish of the local African Orthodox Church. I wrote my first letter to Panagiotis Papadimitrakopoulos –eternal be his memory! In a few days I received a considerable amount of money for the orphanage. Since then, the Fraternity has not left my side.Until today it has repeatedly helped us with programs like the soup kitchens, the reconstruction of two primary schools in the region and educational sponsorship. Two children have studied at University, a health clinic has been built in memory of unforgettable Panagiotis, a mill and a tractor have been acquired, and the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen is being completed. We are deeply grateful to you!
Fifteen children from the orphanage have been ordained priests led by Father Paul Nzalambi, the new vicar of the Metropolis of Kampala and All Uganda, and the priest monk Father Prodromos, abbot of the first Orthodox male monastery in Uganda. Six girls from the orphanage have become priests’ wives. Three girls have become nuns led by Sister Maria, abbess of the first female monastery of Saint Mary. In a few weeks, three other girls are leaving for Rhodes to be tested in a nunnery and get properly prepared for establishing the second female monastery. Many others, male and female, have become professors, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, police wardens and catechists.
We expect your humble contribution so that we can keep these centers of humanitarian offer running as much as possible.
We wish you all of the Lord’s grace and blessings unto you and a good missionary year.
Fr. John Kibuuka