On Saturday, April 21, 2018, the first priests of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico are in Ixcan region, right on the Mexican border with Guatemala. At the military outpost of the area there is an uphill muddy path that leads to the Church which is dedicated to the Nativity of St. John the Honored and Glorious Prophet, Baptist and Forerunner, whose consecration was to be performed on the following day. Emotions become more intense when the priests see more than a hundred faithful Mayans of various ages, ministering for the last preparations before the great day, smiling despite the fatigue and chanting “Christ is Risen”.
Thus we arrive at the blessed morning of the church building consecration. The Mayan faithful were all there, even those from the surrounding areas. The forest with the lush vegetation resounded the speeches and their joy for what was going to follow. Hundreds of Mayan believers, the priests of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico, representatives of the St. John the Baptist Church of the Metropolis of Chicago, which sponsored all the costs of the building materials required for the construction of the new church, but also devout US and Panama citizens, awaited the arrival of His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras, Venerable Shepherd of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico and Exarch of Central America. On hearing that their Metropolitan and Father was to arrive in a few minutes, all the faithful Mayans within a five-hundred-meter-distance rushed to welcome him. Our Metropolitan arrived accompanied by a revered delegation of the Romanian Patriarchate, His Grace Bishop Petronius of Salaz and his entourage. The faithful Mayans embraced him one by one and took his blessing. The eyes of our Metropolitan and of the faithful Mayans were filled with tears of joy.
Next, they moved to the church for the Consecration Service and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy singing “Christ is Risen” on the way. The moments we all experienced could hardly be described. The faithful Mayans actively participated in chanting and singing “Lord have mercy”, “Grant us, O Lord”, “Amen” and “Christ is Risen”. The foundations of the church were shaken by the dynamic expression of their Orthodox faith. We all experienced this “evolving miracle” by seeing Orthodoxy declaring its explosive presence and grandeur through the humble and genuine human beings called Mayans. Words are too small and weak to express the miracle that is taking place in Guatemala. These moments will remain forever imprinted on the hearts of the attendees. How could we possibly forget those faithful souls, who, despite their sleeplessness and utter fatigue of the last few days, were full of liveliness, expressing dynamically and angelically the source of their power, which is none other than the Grace of the Triune God, in whom they firmly believe?
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan addressed a speech which thrilled the faithful Mayans and made them applaud enthusiastically several times. Then the Metropolitan thanked the church priest Fr. Evangelos Pata Tuctuc. The consecrated church will serve thirty-two “comunidades”(community villages). However, Fr. Evangelos serves seventy-two Orthodox villages, meeting the needs of the faithful tirelessly and fervently; thus, it is only natural that on his face our Metropolitan sees the future of Guatemala. Our Venerable Father also wished that the Holy God strengthen the pious pastor in his difficult work and help him increase his flock with His power, despite the endless difficulties and the continuous deprivation it faces due to lack of material goods. In his turn, Fr. Evangelos expressed his gratitude to the Triune God and to our Metropolitan, who, as he said, supports him like a father. Closing his speech, Fr. Evangelos stressed the fact that the 1,500 people of Ixcan would soon embrace the Orthodox faith, following the example of the already 500 orthodox Christian Mayans.
Then our Metropolitan thanked those who participated in the glorious paschal day of the consecration of the new church. The program proceeded with a communal meal prepared by the Mayans, who had been working all night to please all the faithful present. On the following day, April 23, 2018, our Metropolitan along with the Bishop of Salaz and his entourage, the representatives of St. John’s Church of the Metropolitan Church of Chicago, the visitors from the USA and Panama and the priests of the Metropolis of Mexico, visited the clinic of the Metropolis of Mexico in Aguacate, Guatemala. Next, our Metropolitan expressed his gratitude to those who participated in the establishment of the clinic, stressing the fact that the clinic serves not only the inhabitants of the surrounding areas but also those of the remote ones, since the Mayan people of Guatemala are abandoned by the government as well as by the Roman-Catholic Church, even though the latter is the prevailing Church in Central America.
The Guatemalans have hope and faith in the work of the Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico. The work undertaken is huge but so are the needs for its successful accomplishment. Our Metropolitan talked about the urgent need for the establishment of a clinic in Ixcan in order to provide medical care to the surrounding areas of the abandoned Mayans. He also referred to the need for printing catechism books and for educating new priests, adding that the salaries as well as the needs of the priests are covered by the Metropolis of Mexico. Moreover, he stressed the necessity for the establishment of new Charitable Institutions. Closing his speech, our Metropolitan thanked wholeheartedly the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity for their selfless love and support of the work of the Metropolis of Mexico, and also all those who are actively participating in this evolving miracle in Central America.
From the Holy Metropolis