Dear friends of the Mission,
The last period has been very difficult due to the various distressing events that have occurred, especially in the inland areas of the country, the large number of deaths, a feeling of intense insecurity, population displacement and the economic crisis that has further impoverished the already poor. The economic situation is also difficult to be dealt with; the low wages that the natives receive in the local currency do not suffice to meet their basic needs. Things are getting harder and harder.
Thankfully, the love and care of our gracious Orthodox Missionary Fraternity sent us food with the last two containers, and so we can face the feeding as well as the other needs of the dorm of our Theological School.
Now we are in the final examination period and at the end of the month we are going to award the degrees to our new graduates. Young men full of fervent zeal and ready for action, prepared to go back to their regions and minister the Church as teachers, catechists, choristers, and those of whom that God wants, as priests.
This year we had a great blessing of God: the creation and operation of the Sewing School. That was something completely new for our Mission. There are thirty girls attending it tuition-free. This School helps these young women acquire sewing skills in order to be able to find a job and provide financial support for their families.
The pastoral journeys into the province were continued, despite the fact that many new difficulties have arisen. Mbuji-Mayi, Kabinda, Nkanka, Mbanza-Ngungu, Kikwit. The ones into the interior of the Congo helped us keep abreast of the efforts of our priests and catechists as well as of the possibilities and problems of our Mission, and made us rejoice and pray with our faithful to the Lord to send out workers loyal to His Gospel.
With the blessings of His Beatitude our Patriarch Theodore, we had the ordination of the Professor of Kinshasa State University Photius Kimpabala. He was appointed to the city of Mbaza-Ngungu, 150 km away from Kinshasa. Since his appointment there, he has been struggling to organize as well as possible his parish and the church mission not only in that city but also in the surrounding villages. The city of Mbaza-Ngungu is at a focal point on the route from Kinshasa to the Atlantic Ocean. There are prospects for its becoming a missionary center of key importance in the upper Congo.
Another great blessing of God was the progress of the Byzantine School. The young people’s choirs in the capital have been reorganized, and it gives us so much joy to hear them sing enthusiastically and harmoniously the hymns and troparia of our Church. Naturally though, the lack of music books makes their work much harder.
A new prelatic region has been formed in the interior of the Congo, in the city of Mweka, with a radius of more than five hundred kilometers. If one wants to visit this area by boat, they have to travel through rivers for a whole month. The Mweka Reverend, Fr. Alexander Minga, was appointed Vicar, and in collaboration with the other three local priests, he moves forward with the missionary work. By the order and blessings of His Eminence, immediately after Easter his Deacon Fr. Chrysostomos was sent for a month in his support. The latter oversaw the continuation of the works at the Holy Apostles Church in Ilembo, helped with the catechesis and organization of seminars for young men and women, and visited several parishes.
We received considerable help from the visit of the Chancellor of the H. Metropolis of Ierissos Fr. Chrysostomos along with the 4 ladies that were accompanying him – the two nuns, Sisters Akylina and Paraskevi from the H. Monastery of St. Kosmas in Arnaia, and the two laywomen, Ms. Venetia and Ms. Stella. Two of them, Sister Paraskevi and Ms. Venice, undertook cooking duties at the Theological School’s dorm. Sister Akylina, hematologist doctor, and Ms. Stella, nurse, undertook running the University’s surgery. Three offices were made into surgeries, and apart from the university students, the St. Barbara parishioners as well as all the local residents were examined. Soon, another person was added to that team: Rev. Dr Michael Dandoulakis, who had come as a Professor of Medicine to teach at the Theological School. Blood tests and other medical exams were made, and free medications and medical advice were given to those present. Approximately five hundred people were examined. Fr. Chrysostomos taught at the Theological School the subjects he teaches every year. The visitors collaborated with the catechist of the Metropolis Ms. Stella Papadopoulou in the catechetical work and visited several parishes.
A great crusade must begin for the acquisition of a building plot and a church in the neighborhood where the disabled live. They continue to gather together on the sidewalk of their neighborhood, to conduct sacred services, and to be catechized. It breaks your heart to see them all in such gatherings. We visit them regularly, catechize them and conduct the services. We all pray that with God’s help, there will be donations for the land purchase. Unfortunately, this parish is in the center of the capital, where building plots are really expensive to buy.
A new group in another district of Kinshasa gathers in a house, chants and is catechized; this is the beginning of the creation of a new parish.
There are many calls for the Mission from the various parts of the Congo, but there are many difficulties as well. We are few, we are not enough, despite the fact that all our partners work with all their power.
Please pray to our Lord to bless our Mission.
From the Holy Metropolis