His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatios of Pentapolis, retired Hierarch of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, fell asleep in the Lord today, 9th November 2017.
The late Hierarch, born George Mandelides in Edessa in 1930, where he completed his schooling. As a holder of a degree from the Theological Academy of Athens in 1952, he was ordained Deacon in 1968, Presbyter and Archimandrite in 1969. For forty years he served as a preacher (originally as a layman and member of the Brotherhood of Theologians “Sotir”, and then from 1969 as a priest in the Holy Metropolis of Larissa, until 1998, contributing a rich pastoral effort, as an assistant to his fiery missionary elder, Archimandrite Hariton Pnevmatikakis, in Kananga, Congo. In 1997, he was placed in charge of the missionary squad, by His Eminence Timotheos, Metropolitan of Central Africa. On 14th March 2003 (passing of the late Timotheos), he was elected by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, as Metropolitan of Central Africa, ordained in the Patriarchal Church of St Savvas on 16th March 2003, by the late Pope and Patriarch Petros VII of Alexandria. On 4th March 2010, he resigned for health reasons and His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, honorably elevated him on 23 November of the same year to titular Metropolitan of Pentapolis, given him for the first time the title of the Diocese of St Nektarios, the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis. From that time, up until the day of his passing, 9th November 2017, the day on which our Church celebrates the memory of St Nektarios of Pentapolis, he gave himself to the service of the Missions, remaining in the ramparts and giving himself for the glory of God and His Church.
His funeral service will take place on Saturday 11th November 2017 at 11.00a.m. in the Holy Church of St Nicholas Pefkakia, and the interment of the late Metropolitan will take place at the Zographos Cemetery. May the memory of the ardent Missionary and honest worker of the Gospel, Metropolitan Ignatios of Pentapolis, be eternal!
The main feature of water is the flow, and when the water flows, it can hardly be intercepted. Even the biggest dams people build may seem powerless to stop it. In the Old Testament, namely in the Book of Genesis, it becomes pretty clear what “deluge” means.
However, water has another feature, its unifying power. Seas, lakes and rivers unite places, allow the passage of vessels, transfer knowledge and goods and contribute to creation, progress and unity. Let us also remember the Book of Genesis, where God’s Spirit “moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1: 2), and the beginning of the world’s creation became a reality.
Epiphany means the time of the sanctification of all things, man and creation, by the Grace of the unifying Spirit. Experiencing this truth a few days ago we, the Orthodox Christians of the newly planted Church of Congo-Brazzaville, headed for the banks of the Congo River in order to participate in the blessing of creation. We went to the river, which on that day was a mental image of our own Jordan River, where we were all spiritually renewed and saw Christ, the True Light that enlightens and sanctifies every man who comes into the world. The “King-River Congo,” according to a native expression, is the biblical Jordan River that comes as far as the African equator, since the water does not make discriminations, to irrigate the land of this Orthodox community and give life to it. This is the way God “Who has revealed Himself” gathers His Church and strengthens her.
We went out of the church of the Lord’s Resurrection, located in the country’s capital city, having partaken of the Body and Blood of Christ our Lord, aiming to go in procession to the banks of the second largest river in the world. The processions of the Orthodox Faith have a confessional as well as a didactic character, let alone for us here in Congo-Brazzaville, since the period in which we have been living – from the establishment of the local Orthodox Church until today – might as well be characterized as “Apostolic”! Besides, it is only thirty two years since then. Thus we are experiencing our own first Christian century in the year 2017, that is, symbolically speaking, we are in our own “32 AD”, whatever that means in practice …
This is the glory of the Church: Christ and His “children of light”, who tirelessly confess Jesus Christ as the world’s Savior and Redeemer! Here, our processions differ from the respective ones of our blessed homeland, since there is no official religion in this country. Here, our procession passes through our fellow citizens, who either engage themselves in traditional religious practices and rituals, or practice sorcery, or belong to another Christian confession, or experience the chaotic delusion of a sect (a person-centered “religious” group with a Christian disguise) hurt just as deeply by prejudice. The Epiphany procession is a collective expression of the Truth of the Triune God in a society enslaved to superstition and inequality, in a society characterized by lack of opportunities, in a society where the human person is most often devalued.
We tossed the precious cross into the Congo River, our own Jordan River. We can see that both rivers, the Congo and the Jordan, vivify God’s creation with their waters and that they are flowing at the same time. On our return to the Capital Cathedral we sang the psalm “who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders”. Christ promised us that he would not leave us orphaned. We can see that in the Epiphany procession, which is growing year after year, increasing in attendance and participation.
Our brothers are seeking the Light! O Lord, keep Your Light shining for us, inundating with the momentum of the Holy Spirit not only the natives’ souls so that they can experience Your heavenly blessings, but also our Orthodox Greek brothers, so that they do not forget in the whirlpool of life the offer of actual love and help for these African souls who have just tasted the redemptive power of their own”Jordan River”!
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Thousands of people have been infected with Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. Pestilence and famine have taken over the country, since food prices are skyrocketing.
Responding to an urgent appeal by the missionary Fr. Themistoklis Adamopoulos, caring people from Greece and abroad financially supported our Fraternity’s efforts for one more shipment of humanitarian aid to Sierra Leone.
25 tonnes of rice, milk, oil, pasta, salt, clothes, toys and ecclesiastical items were bought, gathered and wrapped up at our warehouse in Philyron.
On Sunday, October 19, a notable turnout of young people joined us for loading the container that left for Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone.
We want to thank all of you for the immediate financial, material and spiritual support you provided for our suffering brothers, especially our donors from Florina and Australia who contributed richly.
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On August 2013, three members of our Fraternity visited Sumatra, Indonesia. There they were received by the Indonesian missionary Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu, who showed them around the places of Orthodox missionary and charitable presence.
Enjoy the missionary zeal and the proto-Christian experiences of the Orthodox community of Medan. This Pascha, let’s keep them in our prayers!
It is with great joy that I recall our meeting at the Fraternity Offices, in this blessed place where, armed with Faith, abundant Love and Zeal, you fight in the rear and support the Orthodox Mission around the world, part of which is our humble missionary effort in India.
I am well aware of the difficulties that our country is experiencing and the needs of our Greek compatriots and, to be honest, I find it really hard to ask for financial assistance from Greece.
We experience the results of the crisis in India as well, and despite our faith in God’s love and providence, it is humanly impossible not to feel anxious, since we are responsible for so many souls.
So far with the help of God, we have been able to keep the following programs running:
The Calcutta soup kitchens: Breakfast milk for homeless children and lunch for the blind and the disabled elderly.
Free medical and pharmaceutical treatment at the five Mission Clinics.
The operation of the five schools of the Mission in the villages where there are Orthodox churches and parish communities.
The operation of our two Orphanages, one for boys and one for girls, which we believe are the nursery of future Missionaries.
The smooth functioning of our English school on the premises of the Girls’ Orphanage, attended by our orphaned children and not only.
All of the above have resulted from enormous efforts and a great deal of concern and anxiety, as revenues are constantly falling, while needs and living costs are rising.
During this anguished effort, we received your donation of 13.300 euros, which will be used according to the purposes designated by the donors, whom we thank from the depth of our souls.
We were especially relieved by your donation for the soup kitchen for the less fortunate. I cannot describe it with words! We were about to discontinue this program due to lack of funds and our whole existence was suffering thinking all these blind, disabled and elderly people who for years survive only thanks to this little food that our Mission gives them every day. It grieved me but I had no way out. The solution was finally given by the all-merciful Lord through the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity that all these years stands by our side like Simon of Cyrene in the gloomiest moments of our cruciresurrectional course.
At the fish pond of our orphanage
All oceans have a bottom. Truly I tell you, however, that my gratitude to your Fraternity is bottomless. How could I reciprocate? I have no time to write long responses and articles. I only have a prayer from the innermost of my soul. May God grant health and strength to all of you, so that with the same zeal and sacrificial love you will keep on serving the work of God for the evangelization of the nations.
On Thomas Monday, April 24 2017, we traveled to Congo at the invitation of Metropolitan Nikiphoros of Kinshasa and with the blessings of Metropolitan Theoklitos of Ierissos, Mount Athos and Ardameri, along with our Elder, Fr. Chrysostomos Maidonis.
We settled at the Theological School of the Metropolis. The writer of this text (Sister Akylina), Hematology physician, along with Ms Stella Stephanis, nurse, organized a small clinic at the School of Theology for the School students just as much as for the Saint Barbara parishioners , who live next to the School, but also for all the residents of the surrounding area. Our goal was to create a general medical center with free primary health care.
On 28 April this community clinic started its operation, which only lasted for 18 days. The great needs of the local inhabitants were more than evident from the very first days. Daily there were over 70 people from all over the area, even from distant regions, queuing outside the clinic waiting to be examined. This made us appoint secretariat and reception so as to separate the urgent cases from the less serious or minor ones, which were distributed by appointment on the next days and the patients could be dealt with promptly and in an unhurried fashion. Here it is worth mentioning that whole families came to be examined, and in most cases, almost all the members were suffering from a disease requiring treatment.
We estimate that about 500 people were examined. We examined all patients, irrespective of religion. Most of them were Protestants, second in number were the Roman-Catholics, a lot fewer were the Orthodox, and some others belonged to various religious sects.
The organization of primary health care is of vital importance to the Metropolis of Kinshasa. A Health Center is already being built in Mont Ngafula area; its construction will have been completed by September but the structure needs to be equipped with medical supplies and staff.
Shortly before the end of the clinic’s operation, an event was organized, informing the residents of the area about prevention of ill health and hygiene measures. The event was attended by more than 300 people.
On our way back, we felt as if we were leaving behind us a major task: to do everything possible -always with the power of God- to help organize primary health care at the Diocese of Kinshasa, which will be based on volunteering, so as to be offered free of charge to all inhabitants regardless of religion or economic status. That’s why we are making an appeal for volunteer doctors of any specialty, especially pediatricians and general practitioners, but also for aid in the form of medical supplies and equipment.
With God’s help and the blessings of Their Eminences Metropolitans George of Guinea and Theoklitos of Florina , a journey to Sierra Leone in West Africa was carried out by a missionary team from the Holy Metropolis of Florina from May 23rd to June 9th, 2017. That team consisted of the writer himself, two nuns from St. Athanasius H.Monastery of Florina, and Mr. Constantine Christomanos, honorary professor at the University of Thessalonica.
The visit took place at the invitation of the missionary Rev.Themistocles Adamopoulos. The purpose of this mission was to offer assistance in a difficult and multi-faceted work that is carried out there, such as the clergy specialization or training in liturgical matters, given that in Sierra Leone there is no Orthodox ecclesiastical tradition, since the Orthodox Church has only had ten years of life there.
During our twenty-day stay there, we tried as much as we could to meet the purpose of our journey. Several lessons were given regarding issues on the value of the holy service, the performance of the sacred services of Vespers, Matins and of the Divine Liturgy, as well as the general order and the decency of the church. I must admit that the interest on the part of the indigenous priests was very big.
At the same time, the nuns tried to teach women how to knead prosphoro (altar bread) for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Unfortunately, several times the priests in the African Sea are forced toperform the sacred mystery using common bread (loaf) that they buy from a bakery! The women were also instructed how to make koliva (boiled wheat). A sewing machine was also bought , which enabled us to make covers for the Holy Tables, altar boy robes and other ecclesiastical stuff.
Moreover, other activities were carried out, such as church preaching, catechetical classes to youth gatherings and lectures given at the Orthodox Pedagogical College by Mr. Christomanos.
During our stay we were hosted at the Orthodox Mission Center, which is situated in Freetown, the country’s capital. In this compound, apart from the residence center where we stayed, there is a sacred church dedicated to Sts. Constantine and Helen, which was built through the sponsorship of the Missionary Alliance «St. Cosmas the Aetolian « in Thessalonica. The compound also houses the College (Pedagogical School) which we have previously mentioned, project funded by the generosity of the same Alliance, a notable institution of our Church offering a high level – study and being attended by some 135 students. Also under construction is a kindergarten along with a boarding house for destitute and deserted children.
In Syke Street, another area in the center of the capital, there is the second Orthodox Center, which includes St. Eleftherios Cathedral , which was funded with donations from the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessalonica, as well as a School for 2,000 Kindergarten and Primary School children. In the same premises there is a school building consisting of 16 rooms, funded by the generosity of a lady from Athens through the same Fraternity.
The third Center is located in Waterloo, 20 km away from the capital. Within its premises there is the church of the Resurrection of Christ and St. Moses the African, also sponsored by the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessalonica. There is the second school unit of our Orthodox Church, which is attended by another 500 children. In the same compound there are small houses hosting disabled victims of the civil war, which plagued Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2000.
During our stay in Sierra Leone we made two important visits. One was to the School for Blind Children, a state institution for blind kids abandoned by their relatives. Their children attend classes at the School there and are hosted at a boarding house which is within the premises of the institution. The boarding house is supplied with food by the Orthodox Mission, since the state cannot meet all its needs. We were deeply touched by the blind children’s beautiful singing and the expression of their gratitude to all those who send food from Greece. Rev. Themistocles suggested that the Orthodox Church should undertake the school’s running and maintenance.
Visit at the school for blind children
The other visit was to a district of the capital, Kroo bay, which is considered among the poorest and most deprived areas in the world. This visit was one of the most striking experiences of our lives. There are no words to describe the living conditions in that slum. Humans live in sheds most unsuited for human shelter, without adequate access to sanitation and health services or drainage system, resulting in the entire region giving off an unbearable stench. It is considered to be the «Africa of Africa «. With a lot of difficulty and precautions, we walked on the muddy and dirty paths and visited the school and the clinic only to find them in an awful condition. We couldn’t believe our eyes. What we saw was really incredible. When we left, we had the feeling that we had come back from hell. Rev. Themistocles is considering asking the state to concede the school’s maintenance and operation to our Church.
Our journey left us with a lot of indelible impressions and conscience-shattering experiences. We experienced the miracle of the creation of a Church. We saw how the grace of God, without the human means and facilities employed by other denominations, attracts the souls to the only true Church, Orthodoxy, overcomes all obstacles, and opens up streets to spread the Gospel.
When one is given the chance to have a close look at such difficulties, they feel it is their duty to pray more fervently for the work of our missionaries and support it in every possible way.
“And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42)
In the area of the Equator where we live, there are no four seasons as in Europe, but two major periods: the period of rainfall and that of drought, usually the latter being longer, and resulting in the suffering of both humans and animals. We should bear in mind that what is taken for granted in our country does not exist here. For example, when the people in Greece get thirsty, it is perfectly natural for them to turn on the tap to drink clean water, and when they get dirty or feel hot and want to have a bath, by just pressing a button there is plenty of warm water for them to wash… However, in most of Africa, and particularly here at the Rift Valley Plateau, the most impressive region of Central Tanzania, all of them are «unattainable dreams»!
It is a «dream» for thousands of children to run to the water-well near their village to wash and quench their thirst. The idea of obtaining a water supply system within their homes -at least for the next fifty years- seems to be a utopia!
It is with feelings of deep gratitude and emotion that I am writing these lines because thanks to the financial assistance of your Fraternity-the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessaloniki- we carried out two drillings in two extremely barren areas, where the people are really suffering. Thank God, we found plenty of clean water at a depth of more than 100 meters! It is very touching to see the tearful eyes and the chapped lips of the small children now in the dry season, but also the wild animals, all of which are suffering. Elephants, antelopes and giraffes, are approaching inhabited areas defeating their fear, in the hope of finding some water and quenching their burning thirst.
In this corner of the earth where we were sent by the grace of God and the love of our Patriarch, there is a great need for provision of medical care to our brothers. Many diseases, several of which weird, afflict young children and adults, which immediately raises the need for medical centers. Relying on our humble abilities and taking slow steps, we began operating a medical clinic at our Mission Center in Kidamali, Iringa, which is visited by a large number of patients from the surrounding areas. It should be organized in the form of a polyclinic with several specialties, as there are various diseases the people are suffering from and the state-run health care system is rudimentary. The current running costs of our clinic amount to € 2,000. Yet, we started this project being fully aware of its difficulties but we have faith in God and we hope for your love and support!
Undoubtedly, though, one thing is unquestionable: that the love of our Lord Jesus Christ is always present. One day we baptized a group of people, among whom a little girl with huge pus-filled pimples on her tiny head, all of which disappeared immediately after she had been baptized.
In July, we also held a Seminar for Clergy Candidates chosen among our already existing Catechists, trying to pass down to them pure, genuine love for the Tradition of our Holy Church as well as for Priesthood. Our flock is totally unaware of our faith; therefore, we must teach them everything, even the most obvious concepts of our religion. I also want to inform you that we have laid the foundation stone for the rebuilding of the old church of Saint John the Theologian in Ibongo village. This project is supported by your Fraternity in memory of our sister Parthena. We thank you wholeheartedly for that.
It is very important that our Church offers truth and love to our suffering brother anywhere in the world. We did not come to preach a Christ distant and apathetic to the daily needs of the people who are suffering but to bear witness to Christ’s presence, to proclaim that He is close to the “least” of His children, who we Christians call “our brothers”, but many times we become numb to their needs due to our complacency that derives from our participation in the long solemn services and the spiritual «garrulity» of our otherwise Orthodox experiences.
Africa needs hands and hearts that love through deeds, not words and theories, for «the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few» (Matt. 9:37).
With infinite gratitude and love in Christ † Agathonikos of Arusha
My missionary struggle began with the blessing of the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore four years ago in the Diocese of Burundi and Rwanda, these two long-suffering countries of East Africa. Our main concern has been to heal the wounds or rather the deep scars left by the fratricidal war, which lasted nineteen whole years and ended relatively recently, in 2006. We want to teach them love by treating them with love. Healing, giving love: words that are easy to say or good to hear, but very difficult to put into practice. In addition to the wounds, poverty, privation, the difficult conditions in which these poor people have to live without even elementary medical care, without organized education, make them unable to overcome these problems by themselves and look upon us as their support and spiritual prop. They thirst to experience Orthodoxy, to be baptized and regenerated. As for us, we cannot say “no” to them. There are plenty of objective difficulties that we are confronted with. For example, our moving from place to place is not easy at all. This has become even more difficult over the last year after an accident on a rough road of our Diocese, which resulted in the destruction of the old car that served us. Now we are examining the solution of the motorcycle, but I do not know if this solution could be implemented because its price is still prohibitive for our meager means. However, we are not disappointed and despite all the difficulties that arise, we always find a way to visit our brothers, baptize them and establish parishes and Christian communities.
In Rwanda in particular, we have fourteen parish communities, four of which are very well-off given the conditions there, and number five hundred members each. Unfortunately, there are only four priests, who have to go around the whole country. One can easily understand that they are definitely not enough. In addition, there are no churches. People’s worship needs are served in the countryside, under the trees, the African baobabs, which also serve the children’s learning needs, since they fill the gap caused by lack of schools.
People of faith, readers and catechists have undertaken the difficult task of catechism, which precedes baptism. Also, their help is valuable in our effort to translate ecclesiastical books into the local dialects. We already have the translations of the sacraments of the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil and that of the Presanctified Gifts , the Great Supplication (Paraklesis) and the Akathist Hymn, the Services of the Pentecost and the Epiphany as well as some occasional benedictions. We consider this work a great blessing of God, which fills the souls of the newly illumined with joy and happiness and encourages us to continue our struggle and try to imitate the work of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
As far as our missionary work in Burundi is concerned, it is generally the same as in Rwanda. Here we have eight parish communities and two deacons. Naturally, our moving from one parish to another is as difficult as that of the faithful. Therefore we consider church construction necessary for meeting the believers’ spiritual needs. One more dream which, up to a point, is about to be realized thanks to the kind hearted donations of anonymous brothers, is the operation of Middle and High School, the only one in Buramata region. We believe that by September we will have been able to raise the necessary amount for flooring, window frames, doors, plastering, the purchase of desks and other furniture and equipment that is necessary for the whole school process. Most indigenous children come from single-parent families, with the mother playing a dual role-that of the father too, struggling to make ends meet without any help from anywhere. Poor people, beaten by life and fate, who look upon us as their sole support .We try not to disappoint them, but at the same time we are careful to be sparing of our words and promise them every time what is feasible to be done. Arousing false hopes and expectations- especially in such poor creatures- is equivalent to frustration, which is something none of us wants, otherwise this whole effort could have disappointing results or be totally wasted.
Our daily effort to maintain what we so laboriously started is great. Experiencing, in our turn, the consequences of the crisis that has been tantalizing our homeland Greece in recent years, we are very often confronted with dilemmas and conflicts about how to manage the little money that comes to our hands, how to relieve and support our much-afflicted and long-suffering native Malawian brothers.
By the grace of God, so far we have begun many charitable efforts to alleviate the pain of the Malawians who live in this troubled country that has a load of problems and difficulties to face everyday…
Along with our incessant efforts to pass down our True and Living Orthodox Faith to our brothers here, we have launched a daily feeding program for 300 children.
This offering of love to the poor families of Malawi is really great, because our Mission is a daily concern for us and feeds a lot of children aged 3-5 with two meals, breakfast and lunch. This way, it relieves every poor parent who strives to fill their children’s hungry stomachs, but alongside, it takes advantage of the time that the children are under our protection so as to catechize them and educate them with the Orthodox faith.
In many parishes, the child-minding and feeding space is ours, thus the work is unhindered, with the exception of our permanent anxiety to be able to provide daily the necessary stuff for the food we promised to them.
However, in the parish of Saint Catherine, where the church has not yet been completed and the child-minding space is not ours, we have a lot of anxiety on a daily basis… Paying the rent, dealing with the services that visit us and are always trying to find anything that might serve as a pretext for imposing a fine, such as confined space, inappropriate toilets and many others. It is necessary to speed up the construction work and make this parish a privately-owned space that will house the 100 small children we host every day.
Our mind runs along with our imagination, and we have already started thinking about how to organize the new shelter, how to build the small toilets and the children’s wash basins with the little taps and how to make the playground pleasant so that the two or three years that the little African kids will live with us, be joyful, filled with sweet memories of the affection surrounding them on the part of the Orthodox Mission.
You cannot imagine the joy we see in the innocent faces of these little angels every time we give them food. They run longingly when their lunch is prepared and stretch out their weak hands to get their own dish. Very often we are told «more,» and we pray to God for this blessed soup kitchen program never to end.
Quite often, we are in great dilemmas, what kind of priorities we should put in our mission. However, these little kids hold such a special place in our hearts that almost always they come first. The wholehearted “thank you” often comes out of their lips and their hearts as they cry out «zikomo, zikomo», that is, “thank you” in their own language.
The person in charge of this ministry, Fr. Kallinikos, often tells us that we need to increase the quantity and quality of food so that the children can withstand hardships and the difficult environment they live in. We look at him uneasily and sadly. Everything requires sacrifice. The poverty that surrounds us prevents us from giving more. We do everything in our power, but we know this is not enough…
As long as the children are at the Mission, from morning till afternoon, they spend pleasant and blessed hours. But when they go home in the evenings, we know what awaits them. Their homes, made of mud and grass, are at risk of falling down in every strong downpour, especially during the rainy season. It is often the case that children are killed when the muddy brick- and -paper hut collapses onto them.
Other times in the evenings, when their parents have no food to give them for dinner, they tell them to be patient and on the next morning they will eat the blessed food of our Mission again. And that’s how these little children live, longing for the next morning, to come by our Mission and spend their whole day not only taking the two daily meals we offer them, but playing, laughing, singing beautiful children’s songs and at the same time learning short and practical prayers from our Church, such as «Holy God», « The Lord’s Prayer» and others. But they are really elated when we visit them and hand out to them a few little things that some good Christians have given us, like balloons, toys, candy… The biggest reward for us is when they embrace us joyfully, which is something words cannot possibly describe.
My brethren, we appeal to your kind heart for help and support and we earnestly ask you to pray to our Most Holy and Merciful Christ for the continuation of this noble work, and for making us worthy to humbly go on ministering to the needs of both these poor and needy children, and all our Malawian brothers in general. Amen.
First of all, I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for the sincere support of your charitable society to the needs of our Holy Monastery, which is mainly used for the purchase of garden essentials.
The cultivation of plants, vegetables, fruit trees in our nurseries, greenhouses and cultivated land, besides curing our own needs, is also a means of maintaining our Holy Monastery in order to make it self-sufficient as well as one of apprenticeship for the young indigenous novice monks of our Holy Monastery in the ministry of the gardener.
So once more I ask for your support for the purchase of plant genetic material and tools. The aforementioned stuff is worth about € 1,500 and will be sent over here in a shipping container, which is already being loaded.
We would be grateful if you could assist in this purchase, and on our part, we will commemorate you for good health and fruition of the God-pleasing work that you are doing, through the intercession of the Holy Apostles, in honor of whom our Holy Monastery is named.
Wishing in the Lord, Hieromonk Varnavas Gregoriatis
I would like to express my sincere gratitude from the distant and fast-paced growing Mission of Eastern Tanzania for your continued support of the missionary work of God.
I am pleased to inform you that the construction works of the first Orthodox Clinic in Morogoro, East Tanzania, are being carried out systematically and continuously. I am sending you the first photos of the progress of this project, which, hopefully and always with the help of God, will have finished by the end of the summer. Then a new «nest» of love and salvation for young children will have opened its gates to offer life to the children of Tanzania. So, with the help of God and your continued support, a total of 11 clinics will be operating in Tanzania.
In Morogoro region we have already founded four new parishes with about 2,000 catechumens, 450 of whom belong to the Maasai tribe. It is there that we will need to build four new churches.
We appeal to the kind heart of the devout readers and friends of the Fraternity for support and we would like to inform you that the building costs for each church -with wise money management and full attention and personal care- amount to € 25,000.
With missionary greetings † Dimitrios of Irinoupolis
The northern and western part of Tanzania constitute an ecclesiastical territory which is under the jurisdiction of the H. Metropolis of Mwanza, and covers a geographical area of approximately 430,000 square kilometers, that is, three times more than Greece. In this part of the country there are some water resources, such as Lakes Victoria, Malawi and Rukwa as well as the Rivers Kagera, Ngono, Mara, Simiyu and others. This water may not be absolutely clean, but at least the villages or cities adjacent to these resources have access to water, whether it be easy or not. The big problem though lies with those areas that are far from natural water resources and which, due to climate change, which has also affected the African continent, suffer from drought.
There, the lack of water is complete, with whatever consequences this brings to the lives of the people. The only consolation and not a solution to the problem is the occasional rains that fill up some puddles, from which people draw dirty water, contaminated with parasites and microbes. When it does not rain at all, the situation becomes tragic. Thus, the life of the people in the mainland unfolds in this suffering. Thirst, dirt, illness, death make up the scene of this deadlock. It is an open and throbbing wound that shatters the hearts and shakes the consciences of all of us.
It was in this context that the program for the supply of clean drinking water for the H. Metropolis of Mwanza began three years ago. With the help of St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox parish in Los Angeles, USA, we have acquired not only a new drilling rig but also other modern machinery and equipment. The goal was to provide solutions to this serious problem, which is affecting the people of Tanzania. The program staff consists of 6 young people, trained for 2 months for this purpose. We are seeking two more people to be able to be trained at a higher level.
If there is a qualified staff, the machine can drill 24 wells per year. We have been licensed by the state of Tanzania to operate the drilling rig all over the country and we are working with the Ministry of Water for the laboratory testing of the water quality of the wells that are being drilled. These are then recorded in the state’s general list of wells.
We have a sincere desire to offer dynamically as regards well- drilling. However, difficulties and challenges will always arise. For example, we need more complete staff- training, good planning, continuous funding, good roads for easier access to villages and raising awareness of the communities where the works are done. All this means good cooperation with all public authorities and bodies. It is imperative that the state make efforts to open roads in areas where access is impossible. All these as well as other factors affect the cost of a well.
Despite all the difficulties, we want to give the joy of presence of clean drinking water to as many areas as possible. In this way, we are given the chance to apply the command of love to the least of our brothers, and furthermore, we give testimony and the seal of the Orthodox Church of Christ, Who is interested in every single person, and Who approaches each one of them in a redeeming way, starting from their most tangible and urgent needs.
During these 3 years, 30 wells have already been drilled, which can serve approximately the needs of 100,000 inhabitants. It will be good for our poor brothers if we manage to continue this God-pleasing work. The machinery exists and can do this job, and we want to relieve these long-suffering people. We are really grateful to those who help us and those with whom we work together. We particularly appreciate the support coming from St. Paul’s parish in Los Angeles, the state of Tanzania, the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity and others. We hope to overcome the challenges that arise through understanding, patience and cooperation. Water is essential to life, let alone clean drinking water. May God make us worthy to offer it to those who have so much need of it. † Ieronymos of Mwanza