On January 27, 30 years will have been completed since the unexpected departure for the Lord of the pioneer missionary priest Fr.Cosmas of Gregoriou, who with his unparalleled diligence watered the roots of the Orthodox Mission and made it grow deeper and settle in the land of Katanga, in Southern Congo.
From the very first moment, the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity stood by his side and published his letters regularly from the day he went to Africa in August 1975 to the end. We regularly sent him financial assistance and listened to his concerns.
To honor his sacred memory, we publish in our magazine one of his letters that dates back to 1985.
Kolwezi, September 24, 1985
Dear Doctor, rejoice in the Lord along with Mrs. Elli and your good associates.
As you know, in our area, AIDS has afflicted 10% of the population. About 60% suffer from venereal diseases, tuberculosis and so many other epidemic diseases, such as cholera, etc. Therefore, no matter how many measures one can take, one will not be able to escape the nets of the epidemics unless God protects him.
This week we are struggling to cope with a heavy workload in all fields. Yesterday I was in Likasi to serve our faithful there. From there, I sent Father Petros to Lubumbashi, along with other priests, to baptize about 80 children of Christians. I have sent you the two names you asked for. Apart from the heavy workload, we are confronted with temptations from the devil, who follows us in close pursuit in order to tire us and be able to move unhindered. The day before yesterday, while the boarding school children were on the way to the boarding school, they were attacked by tramps that threw stones at them and ripped apart their coats.
Within the precincts of Saint Nektarios church, which is located in the suburb, we began an effort to start a convent with seven girls as novice nuns. The girls are struggling, but Satan is furious and has launched a terrible war against us. These days, we are enclosing the monastery with a stone wall. It has been three days now that tramps have been hanging around the wall in the evening hours, as in the case of Lot when they were asking for the angels, and have been calling us names, because, according to them, these girls are supposed to be free to go with them and not be closed in like European chickens in a poultry farm, and other things like that.
Two days ago, the truck with the workers from the forest was late to come. So, at about 10 o’clock in the evening, on our way there with Fr. Cyril and two young men to see what was happening, we had a puncture. At that time, the one lad, Alexis, started to walk in the night, crossing 12 km of forest to get the spare wheel with another car and return. Fr. Cyril stayed inside the car, and the writer along with the other young man, Andreas, walked 7 kilometers in the forest to find the truck. I do not mention all this stuff about the forest for the adventure, but because such incidents comprise a part of our everyday life. What I want to emphasize here is the temptations of Satan. In both the first and the second youth that I sent to the premises of a company to make a phone call (if there was a telephone), a column of fire («Tshiyeye») appeared 3 times to the first and 4 to the second in order to scare them and intimidate them. They prayed the rosary and continued walking trembling. Scared though they were, they took up prayer again.
It was past midnight when I reached the area of temptations. There was a nearby village where live magicians, who do terrible things!
Such incidents that last for three to four days need to be dealt with promptly. Besides these, there are other urgent matters, like the orphans, the flock of faithful, conducting worship services, our missionary journeys, damage and machinery repairs, all issues that cannot be postponed, therefore, it is only natural that we are exhausted. That’s why over exhaust has become a permanent situation in our everyday reality.
Thank you for the two million drachmas that you sent us, one for the poor and one for the boarding school.
With love in Christ,