At Christchurch, in the context of my first informative episcopal journey, I met Kyriakos, a person with rational thinking, businessman, energetic and active member of the local Greek Orthodox community, who spends a considerable amount of his own personal time participating in civic life, providing aid and assistance.
In his own straightforward way he gave a vivid description of the exceptional experience he had when he met with the former Metropolitan of New Zealand and current Metropolitan of Ganou and Chora His Eminence Amphilochios and heard from his own lips about his thoughts and plans for the beginning of the missionary effort on the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
The Elder left determined to pursue his vision. Time passed and Kyriakos traveled to Fiji on business. He went to have a close look at all those things that until then he had only heard about. And O Lord! What did he actually see? A most beauteous and clean Church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, standing there as a white dove in the green rural landscape of the island. From there he could hear beautiful byzantine ecclesiastical hymns of reverence sung in Greek out of the mouths of the young children of the Orphanage and of local Fijian nuns (Sisters Melania and Anysia) in a way that many people would envy.
He started watching them. He enjoyed what he was listening and did not want to finish what he was living. The Divine Liturgy was about to finish, though. 30 children and all attendees responded to the call of the officiating priest Fr. Bartholomew, «Approach with the fear of God, faith, and love.” Eveyone without exception partook of the Holy Communion. Only Kyriakos stood in a corner dumbfounded and stunned by what he was experiencing.
As soon as they came out of the church, the peaceful and full of reverence atmosphere of the service gave way to smiling faces and to the happy sounds of children’s voices. Joy was obvious on their faces, in their movements, in their speech, in their behavior towards the others. Kyriakos gave them four balls, two for football and two for rugby, which he had brought for them. It is practically impossible to describe their joy for these little presents. Before long the whole place was filled with children running, playing, having fun; trustful children feeling safe and secure, knowing that they were surrounded by people who loved them and cared for them. They thanked him in a very polite and mature way, with beautiful words in Greek. However, what pleased Kyriakos the most was their smile and the expression of their joy. “This state of existence is rare in our western rationalistic societies”, he thought to himself. We do not teach our children how to be truly happy, how to live and enjoy life.
Kyriakos also visited the monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos, the Safe Home, the guesthouse of the older boys. He was enthused, touched, and felt deep inside the nature and importance of the work of the Church, her role, her mission in the world. He regretfully remembered his former reserved attitude to the Elder’s dream, and tears came to his eyes. He went to buy a big amount of food, new beds and mattresses and lots of toys for the children. He wanted to contribute himself and feel like a member of this joyful community. Since then his respect, gratitude and admiration for Elder Amphilochios and the accomplished work have been evident and continuous and the only words he has been saying are words of gratitude and admiration. Finally, he has been encouraging all of us to continue and enhance the great, God-pleasing and «crazy» vision of Elder Amphilochios.
† Bishop Myron of New Zealand