I believe that these words of St. John Chrysostom are more relevant and appropriate as regards the case of my departure from the New Zealand missionary sites and the Islands of the Southeast Pacific Ocean, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
I found myself in these places obeying the invitation of our Holy Church that was made to me by the mouth of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
By the grace of God and despite my sinfulness, a great work was done without any specific financial resources. The Metropolitan Church of St. Andrew the Apostle was refurbished both internally and externally. Protestant temples were purchased and transformed into Orthodox churches.The construction of the Greek Orthodox Cemetery chapel in Wellington in the name of St. Lazarus of the Four Days was finally completed. A wonderful representation of “Christ Pantocrator” (i.e. the Almighty or the Lord Omnipotent) was made in the dome of the Annunciation Cathedral. The Holy Monastery of Taxiarches (the Archangels), along with the chapels of Sts. Basil and Amphilochios, both Bishops of Iconium, was built anew.
The churches of St. Andrew in Wellington and of the Holy Trinity in Auckland and Saweni, were inaugurated. This beautiful big church in Fiji along with the orphanage, were made thanks to donations coming from the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessaloniki. The Mission Center in Sabeto, Nadi, is a remarkable building with a chapel dedicated to St. Paraskevi, donated by the Orthodox “St. John the Theologian” Missionary Society of Aspropyrgos. It is in the same place that the first Sacred Baptistery was made and the first Baptisms were performed: that of Fr. Bartholomew Senibulu, who was named after our Venerable Ecumenical Patriarch, and that of his wife Lydia, who took her name in honor of St. Lydia, the first Christian woman in Greece and Europe.
Other Holy Baptisteries were made at Taxiarches Monastery in New Zealand, at the Churches of St.Nicholas in New Plymouth, the Holy Trinity in Saweni, the Sts. Nicholas and Athanasius on the island of Vanua Levu, a project funded by an anonymous sister in Christ from Macedonia, as well as at the Church of St. George on the island of Tonga, where also lies the chapel of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
On the island of Samoa a plot of land has been bought with money from the Missionary Society of Aspropyrgos with the prospect of the construction of a Church in the name of St. John the Theologian, Apostle and Evangelist.
In Saweni, Fiji, and near the Holy Trinity Church and the Orphanage, a women’s Monastery was established in the name of the Dormition of the Mother of God with the first two Fijian nuns, Melanie and Anyssia.
The Holy Metropolis of New Zealand has also been staffed by good priests, six of whom in New Zealand and five natives in the Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Islands.
Thus, we can gladly say that Orthodoxy has been established in these places and will spread even further with the all-worthy from the Great Island of Crete new Metropolitan Myron, who has succeeded my unworthiness.
As for the question of how I left such a nice work and a much-loved flock and returned to my beloved homeland Greece, the answer is twofold: firstly health and age reasons and secondly the fact that the New Zealand Foreign Ministry did not grant me a visa for further stay, which was definitely done by God’s concession, for reasons only He knows.
I thank and glorify our Venerated Lord not only for the good moments of such a missionary work at the edge of the earth but also for the moments of anguish, tribulation and sorrow.
I would like to thank our Patriarch, who supported me from beginning to end with his prayer and understanding.
I would also like to express my deep gratitude to all the good friends and associates from Greece, America and Australia for supporting this missionary work.
I have nothing more to say, but will only repeat the wise words of the “golden-mouthed” St. John: “Glory be to God for all things. Amen”
† Amphilochios of Ganos and Chora