The Feast of Saint Paisios in Arusha

My Dear Brothers in Christ,

I would like to contact you in order to share with all of you the great blessings of God we have experienced in the blessed field of Mission in Central Tanzania.

Last May we welcomed to our Diocese His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II with feelings of great enthusiasm and joy. As part of his pastoral visit, the Patriarch laid the foundation stone of a new church in Masenge, a village in the Dabanga region, Southern Tanzania, in honor of the Holy Elder and God-bearing Father Paisios the Athonite and of our Holy Father St. Luke the Physician of Symferopol. This church, which is situated within a lush green forest at an altitude of 2,000 meters, is the fruit of your own love for the progress of the missionary work here, since all the expenses for its construction were covered by blessed members of your Fraternity.

On July 12, at the church under construction, the first Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was held on the day our Church commemorates the memory of Holy Elder Paisios. It was at the crack of dawn that we left our Mission Center in Kindamali, Iringa, in order to arrive at the unfinished church early enough to make the necessary preparations for the Divine Liturgy. Despite the adverse weather conditions and the low temperature (3 degrees Celsius due to the winter season), the faithful came to the Divine Liturgy to honor the Holy Elder and cast their personal material as well as spiritual problems upon him. What gave us great joy though, was the attendance at the Liturgy by a teacher from the adjacent school along with his students. By the Grace of God, we are planning to drill a borehole in the school yard for the needs of the school children.

Faithful at the Saint Paisios church construction site

During the Divine Liturgy, when the sun rays were penetrating the dark clouds and warming the atmosphere, I thought to myself that the same thing happens in our relationship with Christ. When we are close to Him, our heart is warmed, when we walk on paths away from Him, it becomes cold and we are spiritually frigid. May our Lord, through the intercessions of Holy Elder Paisios the Athonite, come and warm our hearts so that we all work together for the salvation of our souls and the redemption of mankind. And then … As Saint Paisios used to say, «The merciful Father listens to His diligent children and grants their requests!» Amen!

With sincere gratitude and paternal wishes † Agathonikos of Arusha

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