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The sick woman who was healed

In Zomba, the old capital of the state, there is a church that was built in honor of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril.

Recently we had another marvelous event there, which strengthened our faith and made us love, honor and revere more the saints of God, who are always by our side, and help us in a scandalous way, as a holy man said.

The Church of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril is situated in a conspicuous position, on the main road, opposite a large hospital.

Indigenous Fr. George, both priest and pastor, spends many hours in the church dedicating them to prayer, so many passers-by find him on duty there, diligently performing his ministry, when they seek support and help from Heaven for anything that troubles them.

That morning a taxi brought a sick Malawian woman -accompanied by her good-hearted husband- from her village, to the city hospital due to a health problem that she had. Let’s say how things happened, though.

Devout Fr. George with his family

Mrs. Nefi, is a Malawian woman around the age of 40, married and mother- of -four. She and her husband are educated. She works in the hospital while her husband is a head teacher in a local school.

The woman was in her village and she was feeling very sick. The pain was acute and was coming down to her stomach and to other parts of her body.

Her condition was getting worse and worse, so she decided to go to hospital. However, she had the feeling that she could hear a voice that was telling her: «If you want to be saved, go to the Greek Orthodox Church, not to hospital.» She said that to her husband, but although he would always listen to her, that time he said, «No, we will go to hospital”. They took a taxi to go straight to hospital.» While the taxi was passing outside the Church of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril though, the woman heard the same voice say the same words: «If you want to be saved, go inside this church and do not go to hospital.» Once this happened, the woman lost her senses and collapsed. She seemed to be nearing death. Her husband had no other choice but to tell the taxi driver to stop at the Church. Without wasting time, he carried his almost half dead wife inside.

They got into the Church and found the indigenous priest Fr. George. The husband explained to the priest what they had lived at home and outside the Church and begged the Orthodox priest to pray for his slowly dying wife.

The priest’s first reaction was to say that the woman was not Orthodox, therefore, he could not possibly pray for her. The husband continued to beg him to pray in the name of the Orthodox Church. Then the priest, out of brotherly love for every human being that is suffering, yielded to his entreaties and said he would pray but he would not be wearing a stole, neither would he touch the woman with it since she was not Orthodox, and so he did.

The priest prayed wholeheartedly for long, and suddenly, the woman who was almost dead, stood up completely healed.

Their gratitude was indescribable! They left the Church praising and glorifying God, but on Sunday morning, they were both in the Church again. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, they confessed to everyone present there the miracle they had experienced and said: “From now on, we belong to the Orthodox Church, and when the priest decides to baptize us after our catechesis, we will be ready. We firmly believe that here is the only true Faith, and that the Triune God has called us personally to it, which makes us be eternally grateful to Him.”

When Fr. George told us all this, we marveled at the infinite love of God, Who works miraculously on His humble creatures and Who thus draws them close to Him and helps them become acquainted with His One, Holy, Apostolic Church.

We also marvel at the attentiveness of the native priest and his respect for the rules of our Church, which say that we must not pray with people of other faiths or other denominations, neither must we administer the Holy Sacraments or put the stole over people who have not entered the baptismal font of the Orthodox Church. Even if our brotherly love is big, we still do not betray our Faith, and as Fr. George has proven with his stance, especially in the hard and confusing times we live in, we are impressed by his zeal and enthusiasm to keep the Tradition of the Holy Fathers of our Church to the letter.

In our humble opinion, the attitude of the native priest, whose encounter with Orthodoxy took place just 8 years ago, is particularly noteworthy; and yet, he is humble in his work and sets a very good example to us who were born in Orthodoxy and who sometimes feel “over confident” about violating the rules established by the Holy Fathers, the Holy Tradition and the 7 Ecumenical Synods.

Equally remarkable is the virtue of the priest’s humility, which makes him attribute everything to the Triune God. He confesses everything to his spiritual father, and is thus covered by temptations on both the right and the left hand.

Among others, he narrated the following incident. An acquaintance of his, an orthodox parishioner, lost his cell phone and was deeply sad. Then he went to the priest and begged him to pray for his cell phone to be found. Indeed, Fr. George fell on his knees and prayed for this little matter, since love in God does not differentiate between small and big matters. God instructed us to always love and help our neighbor. What happened next made us marvel at God’s prompt responsiveness. A man very hurriedly went past the house from which the cell phone had been lost, and with quick moves he pulled the missing phone out of his pocket, threw it onto the porch and vanished. Someone forced him to do that. Prayers have a lot of power and can even defeat passions, make thieves return the things they stole, but the most amazing thing they can do is to make people believe in the Holy Orthodox faith. Such experiences are quite common here.

Dear brothers and sisters, our Orthodox Faith is alive, true and unique! Let us hold it as a treasure to be cherished, as a valuable gift from Heaven, and be steadfast in it.

Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou

And, lo, I am with you always…

Light of Light shined onto the world with our Lord’s Resurrection! Light of Light also shined here, on the equator of Africa, so far from homeland. Christ has risen! This world-redeeming news is the truth, it is the glad tidings which we live and convey. The Holy Light is a fact that invites us to see the faces of the others in the Light of Life and not in the shadow of death. As Christ was revealed to us after the Resurrection, so we are revealing the Risen Christ in the exercise of love.

Only someone who lives here can understand what it’s like to be in a community that is newly planted in time, which is persistently seeking to escape the futility of the old error/fallacy, to which it has been chained for centuries. In these places, being Orthodox is first of all a revolution against the enemy of habit. When we say in the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, in these places, the phrase “releasing us from the delusions of idolatry «, we are talking about something daily, something that exists around us!

Under these circumstances, we once again arrived in the land of the Pygmies in the joyous atmosphere of the Easter week. It was a pastoral visit to the northernmost point of the Congo-Brazzaville, on the border of our country with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire) and the Central African Republic.

The tranquility and beauty of the tropical nature is the first welcome after the two flights required from the seat of the Holy Metropolis to this place. After a short pilgrimage to the Holy Parish Church of St. John the Forerunner and St. Nicholas, which completed its first year of life since its construction and consecration, with a heart full of enthusiasm we rushed to the bank of the River Oubangui. The twenty-two catechumens were patiently standing there in anticipation of the Holy Baptism! Christ’s mandate for peoples’ evangelism is a timeless one,» Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world» (Matthew 28:19-20).

Members of the two sovereign tribes of the north, the Pygmies and the Bantu, receive the Holy Light in the waters of their own river, which thus becomes their own Jordan River! Glory in the Most Holy Name of the Triune God! «Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost».

But baptism is only the beginning of the spiritual and redemptive course that the newly-baptized people are starting today. «.. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”. What follows is the constant teaching and preaching, the evangelization of the faithful, and the application of the evangelical mandates to our daily life, the «good alteration», which results in the formation of Christians who not merely bear the name but who first and foremost bear Christ in them.

So, on the Sunday morning of Doubting Thomas, we performed the Holy Eucharist in the newly-built church, thus becoming all brothers of the Master Christ, older and newly-illumined Orthodox! And with this power of unity in the Resurrection, we rushed to the settlement of our Pygmy brothers, in the rainforest, in their own homeland.

The Pygmies are noble people. Although they used to systematically avoid contact with other tribes, particularly with the white race since they had suffered from them during the years of colonialism, they are sociable people with values, principles and secrets of their tribe which they preserve vigorously, consciously refusing to abandon their ancestral homes and embrace the modern «western» way of life. They owe their name to Herodotus (5th century BC), who named them “Pygmies” because they have a small body «like the size of a punch» (“pygme” in the ancient Greek language). They were also known to the ancient Egyptians, who called them “Aka”. This is one of the oldest human tribes that have survived to this day. They are considered to be the best trackers and hunters in the world. Consequently, they are constantly on the move after herds of wild life, depending on the annual migratory movements of the African prey during the rainy season.

It is this people that the Light of Christ has already reached! Salt, soap, matches, toothpaste and toothbrushes, antipyretics and analgesics were our humble gifts, but the joy of our African brothers was great, because these are the things they need and live with. With the salt they will preserve the wild game meat, with the soap they will be washed and cleaned, while the matches will enable them to cook, light up their dark nights and keep them warm; as for the other gifts, they will help them take care of their health.

And if with the goods mentioned above our African brothers are practically relieved, with the Holy Communion they are spiritually shielded. This purpose is served with the construction of a traditional for them hut, which will be the Orthodox «Shrine» of the forest! Our spiritual children observed the apostolic request of their Shepherd a year ago and prepared their own sacred space so that the good and hardworking priest from the north, Fr. Timothy, can go every month to those who cannot possibly move to the Central Parish Church, in order to perform the Divine Liturgy there, always preach the word of God, illuminate souls, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever the Lord hath commanded us”.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ invites us to a triple process which involves: seeking souls and teaching faith (Go ye therefore, and teach all nations), baptizing (baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost), and faithfully applying His words (Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you).

And since baptism has already been performed and the teaching of faith as well as catechism and evangelism are continuous, «and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world»(Matthew 28: 19-20), what is left, O Lord, is the accomplishment of our ultimate purpose, our encounter with You! Meeting and being united with You, regardless of race, nation or language. Come on, brothers, let us continue the Mission work of the Apostles! All together, united, with each one of us practicing generosity and selfless love and giving our offering, whether it be a material good or a spiritual gift! The Lord, «the One who trieth the hearts and reins», awaits our good intentions!

† Panteleimon of Brazzaville and Gabon

Patriarchal Visit to Cameroon

This year, the Church of Cameroon had the exceptional blessing to receive for the third time – since his accession to the Apostolic Throne of St. Mark – His Beatitude Theodoros II Patriarch of Alexandria. His Beatitude chose that period to visit Cameroon because at that time twenty years had been completed since his enthronement as Metropolitan of Cameroon.

Thanksgiving to the Triune God, cordial fulfillment of his eucharistic desire to meet with old associates and friends and also to be found- even for a while- amidst the flock which the Lord of the Vineyard entrusted to him for the first time in the sub-Saharan Africa twenty years ago … all these characterized the eucharistic atmosphere of his visit, in which he was the Initiator and all of us his «followers» … the initiate.

This festive journey started on Saturday, November 25, 2017, in the Greek Community of Douala, where His Beatitude officiated the Divine Liturgy at the Greek Community Church of Sts Constantine and Helen, accompanied by His Eminence Narcissus Metropolitan of Accra, the local Orthodox Metropolitan and clergy from all parts of the Holy Metropolis of Cameroon.

What followed next was a commemoration event in honor of H. B. in the Community premises and a joined feast. The event was attended by the members of the Greek Community of Douala as well as members of many ecclesiastical communities who went to Douala to honor the Alexandrian Prelate.

On Sunday, November 26, His Beatitude and his entourage celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in the capital of Cameroon Yaoundé. Several honorary events were held by the various Church groups (women, youth, children) in honor of our Patriarch.

On the occasion of the anniversary, the Holy Metropolis of Cameroon produced a commemorative bilingual pamphlet with distinctive photographs, which was distributed to everybody, and whose text explained the reason and the cause of the events.

His Beatitude attended all the events and thanked all those present for their love and sacrifice to come close to him at that important moment in the course of his life, wishing them all every blessing in their life.

On Monday the 27th of November, His Beatitude, accompanied by two Prelates, His Eminence Narcissus Metropolitan of Accra and His Eminence Gregory Metropolitan of Cameroon, arrived at the Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos “of the Myrtle Tree”, where he was warmly welcomed by a large number of Orthodox faithful and students from the adjacent schools.

Subsequently, assisted by the two Prelates, he performed the Consecration Service of the newly built Church of the Monastery and pronounced God’s blessing of grace upon the devout donors.
After the end of the Consecration Service, His Beatitude ordained the first (to be called) Abbot of this Monastery the Very Reverend Archimandrite Prodromos Katsoulis, current Chancellor of the H.M. of Cameroon.

On the Monastery premises, His Beatitude spoke in a Clerical Assembly and addressed paternal admonitions and blessings to priests and deacons.

On the evening of the same day, His Beatitude and his revered delegation departed for the Venerable Center of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

The visit of His Beatitude was short in terms of time but rich in blessings and support for the «little flock» of the local Orthodox Church of Cameroon.

May God grant you many, many years, Your Beatitude!
From the Holy Metropolis

A new church in Guatemala

On Saturday, April 21, 2018, the first priests of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico are in Ixcan region, right on the Mexican border with Guatemala. At the military outpost of the area there is an uphill muddy path that leads to the Church which is dedicated to the Nativity of St. John the Honored and Glorious Prophet, Baptist and Forerunner, whose consecration was to be performed on the following day. Emotions become more intense when the priests see more than a hundred faithful Mayans of various ages, ministering for the last preparations before the great day, smiling despite the fatigue and chanting “Christ is Risen”.

Thus we arrive at the blessed morning of the church building consecration. The Mayan faithful were all there, even those from the surrounding areas. The forest with the lush vegetation resounded the speeches and their joy for what was going to follow. Hundreds of Mayan believers, the priests of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico, representatives of the St. John the Baptist Church of the Metropolis of Chicago, which sponsored all the costs of the building materials required for the construction of the new church, but also devout US and Panama citizens, awaited the arrival of His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras, Venerable Shepherd of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico and Exarch of Central America. On hearing that their Metropolitan and Father was to arrive in a few minutes, all the faithful Mayans within a five-hundred-meter-distance rushed to welcome him. Our Metropolitan arrived accompanied by a revered delegation of the Romanian Patriarchate, His Grace Bishop Petronius of Salaz and his entourage. The faithful Mayans embraced him one by one and took his blessing. The eyes of our Metropolitan and of the faithful Mayans were filled with tears of joy.

Next, they moved to the church for the Consecration Service and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy singing “Christ is Risen” on the way. The moments we all experienced could hardly be described. The faithful Mayans actively participated in chanting and singing “Lord have mercy”, “Grant us, O Lord”, “Amen” and “Christ is Risen”. The foundations of the church were shaken by the dynamic expression of their Orthodox faith. We all experienced this “evolving miracle” by seeing Orthodoxy declaring its explosive presence and grandeur through the humble and genuine human beings called Mayans. Words are too small and weak to express the miracle that is taking place in Guatemala. These moments will remain forever imprinted on the hearts of the attendees. How could we possibly forget those faithful souls, who, despite their sleeplessness and utter fatigue of the last few days, were full of liveliness, expressing dynamically and angelically the source of their power, which is none other than the Grace of the Triune God, in whom they firmly believe?

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan addressed a speech which thrilled the faithful Mayans and made them applaud enthusiastically several times. Then the Metropolitan thanked the church priest Fr. Evangelos Pata Tuctuc. The consecrated church will serve thirty-two “comunidades”(community villages). However, Fr. Evangelos serves seventy-two Orthodox villages, meeting the needs of the faithful tirelessly and fervently; thus, it is only natural that on his face our Metropolitan sees the future of Guatemala. Our Venerable Father also wished that the Holy God strengthen the pious pastor in his difficult work and help him increase his flock with His power, despite the endless difficulties and the continuous deprivation it faces due to lack of material goods. In his turn, Fr. Evangelos expressed his gratitude to the Triune God and to our Metropolitan, who, as he said, supports him like a father. Closing his speech, Fr. Evangelos stressed the fact that the 1,500 people of Ixcan would soon embrace the Orthodox faith, following the example of the already 500 orthodox Christian Mayans.

Then our Metropolitan thanked those who participated in the glorious paschal day of the consecration of the new church. The program proceeded with a communal meal prepared by the Mayans, who had been working all night to please all the faithful present. On the following day, April 23, 2018, our Metropolitan along with the Bishop of Salaz and his entourage, the representatives of St. John’s Church of the Metropolitan Church of Chicago, the visitors from the USA and Panama and the priests of the Metropolis of Mexico, visited the clinic of the Metropolis of Mexico in Aguacate, Guatemala. Next, our Metropolitan expressed his gratitude to those who participated in the establishment of the clinic, stressing the fact that the clinic serves not only the inhabitants of the surrounding areas but also those of the remote ones, since the Mayan people of Guatemala are abandoned by the government as well as by the Roman-Catholic Church, even though the latter is the prevailing Church in Central America.

The Guatemalans have hope and faith in the work of the Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico. The work undertaken is huge but so are the needs for its successful accomplishment. Our Metropolitan talked about the urgent need for the establishment of a clinic in Ixcan in order to provide medical care to the surrounding areas of the abandoned Mayans. He also referred to the need for printing catechism books and for educating new priests, adding that the salaries as well as the needs of the priests are covered by the Metropolis of Mexico. Moreover, he stressed the necessity for the establishment of new Charitable Institutions. Closing his speech, our Metropolitan thanked wholeheartedly the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity for their selfless love and support of the work of the Metropolis of Mexico, and also all those who are actively participating in this evolving miracle in Central America.

From the Holy Metropolis

Ivory Coast or Coast of Orthodoxy?

By the grace of God and with the blessings of His Beatitude, after a long time I was made worthy to visit the neighboring to Ghana country, called Ivory Coast. That name had always aroused my interest and curiosity. Why “Ivory Coast”? Who called it by that name and why?

Living in West Africa and studying the history of the region, I discovered that Ghana as well had other names in the past; it was formerly called “Gold Coast” and sometimes “Slave Coast”, and there I understood that the colonists then named these coasts and later the countries after the products they obtained from these areas.

This realization made me wonder how much we Orthodox people differ from the colonists! They would take the most precious things from these people, whereas we Orthodox people bring to these coasts the most precious thing that we have, Orthodoxy, that’s why we call them “Coasts of Orthodoxy.” Therefore, each one of us ultimately names and characterize these coasts, those by means of abstraction, we by means of addition.

We celebrated this Easter in Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast, and in our parish of the Lord’s Resurrection. Father Jeremiah, the priest and «pillar» of the church, had been ministering alone for many years until this Easter, when he got two new brothers in the priesthood, Fr. Sebastian and Fr. Deacon Albert. It is a great joy and blessing to have two priests and one deacon; together we are called to proclaim and spread the Orthodox faith in this country, where the Orthodox Church enjoys the respect and appreciation not only on the part of the rulers of this country but also of the whole of Africa because the Orthodox Church has always been a force of unity and has (always) had a purely missionary presence without any interference in matters of power, politics or racism.

However, now there is an immediate need for a new church in the nearby town of Agboville, 70 kilometers away from the capital city of Abidjan, where there is a small parish community without a church. They only have a straw hut used as a church building when the Divine Liturgy is performed, but whenever there is heavy rainfall, it crumbles and has to be made again from the beginning. The existence of a church building will give impetus and growth to this community. Fortunately, we have secured the land from a faithful native sponsor, and we pray that God will breathe into the heart of a believer among you who are reading this article and are interested in the Mission in Africa, so that this sacred dream will come true.

The Orthodox Missionary Fraternity has given many samples and examples of sacrificial offering for the creation of new Orthodox Coasts in this world so that people will find a haven, a joyous place, a place of rest and encounter with Christ. I wish and pray that our Lord will bestow every blessing upon you in abundance.

† Narcissus of Accra

Paschal farewell

“Rejoice O ye peoples and be glad!” This is the timeless Paschal message of the holy Angel we experienced on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing women in our beautiful and picturesque Monastery of the Holy Archangels in Levin, New Zealand.

«Peoples, races, tribes and languages», faithful children of our most holy Orthodox Church in this country. More than ten priests, Greeks, Russians, Serbs, Romanians, New Zealanders, headed by the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of New Zealand, sang the greatness of our Lord’s Resurrection. The overflow of light inside the church, the melodious chanting in various languages… The representation of our parishes and Communities with massive attendance from Levin, Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and others set the tone, not the one of the weird and undesirable globalization, but that of the blessed universality of our Church. «The Lord hath made known his salvation. (Psalm 98:3).

It is difficult for one to describe the beauty and the theological character of this Eucharistic assembly. “Christ is risen from the dead. Rejoice O ye peoples and be glad! Receive the Body of Christ, Taste Him, a fountain of immortality”.

All the faithful draw near «With the fear of God, faith and love» in order to partake of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Risen Christ.

Everyone’s face lights up with joy. The communal meal that followed with food and sweets made by all the Christian sisters (of every nation but of an Orthodox identity), confirmed St. Paul’s saying,» There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28).

Finally came the time of externalizing feelings with the simple but vivid in content addresses of our siblings in Christ, clergy and laity, through which they expressed their feelings of love as well as their sadness for their Shepherd’s falling asleep in the Lord due to bad health and old age, but for another more important need as well . But soon enough, our Venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate will send the new Shepherd, who will be younger and worthier, and « sorrow shall be turned into joy” (John, 16:20-22).

Our Holy Church does not rely on human beings but on our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is her head and glory.

«Christ is risen from the dead, the Savior of the world, and hath filled the universe with sweet fragrance. Rejoice O ye peoples and be glad!»

† Amphilochios of New Zealand

A New Parish is Born

Dear Friends of the Mission,

Christ is Risen! I pray that the Almighty God gives you health and joy throughout your life. We would like to thank you very much for your financial assistance, intended to be used for printing Orthodox books. This gift is very important for us. In fact, printing has already begun.

By the grace of God, we spent the Holy Easter period with devout reverence. A large number of our faithful attended the sacred services unfailingly. At the end of Easter Sunday, we celebrated the Vespers of Love and after that we all participated in a communal meal in our parish hall, where we stayed and conversed until late in the evening.

On April 12, 2018, we performed the marriage of my daughter Soteria Manalu at the St. Demetrius Church in Medan. Our Metropolitan in person presided over the Holy Sacrament and conducted the wedding along with all our priests who are serving in Sumatra. His Eminence said that the specific marriage was the wedding of the year!

After Soteria’s wedding, I left for Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia in order to perform the wedding ceremony of a parishioner. The following Sunday we celebrated the Divine Liturgy at our parish in Jakarta along with priests from other regions, and then I went to the Island of Timor for a week to preach.

As I have told you before, there is a young man from Timor who came near me in Medan for studies. Meanwhile, I performed his wedding and I ordained him to the priesthood. Now he is a deacon and his wife is pregnant. She is due to give birth in July. As you are well aware, priests in Indonesia do not get a salary. After childbirth, Deacon Savas will return to Timor. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to assist them on our slender means.

I would also like to mention something important. A Roman Catholic pastor came to our church in Medan six months ago. He left his parish and his priestly vestments and came as a layman to be taught about Orthodoxy. He is currently learning about the Orthodox faith close to me and eventually he would like to create Orthodox parish-communities in other regions. His name is Josephin. Of course, I have tried to help him both spiritually and financially, but more often than not, I cannot afford it. In order to enable our Mission here to make such an opening, we need a considerable amount of money in our fund. This is why, my beloved brothers, I make an earnest appeal to your kind heart to help our Mission in this little effort to the glory of the Holy Triune God.

Closing the briefing on the Orthodox Mission here in Indonesia, I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your great love and support.

Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu

Mission in North Kenya

Dear Friends of the Mission,
Christ is Risen!

Startling and pan-Orthodox the Paschal message of the life-bearing Resurrection of our Lord, which empowers us spiritually to serve our sacred purpose. The Holy Diocese of Nyeri, like every diocese on the African continent, is confronted with big challenges on a daily basis. The divine grace, “which always heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking”, is the driving force in our lives every day.

Our missionary work is tough! Every day we must support our clergy both financially and spiritually. Then, hundreds of orphans struggle for a better future. We see them full of zeal build churches to the glory of God, which makes us seriously consider the great challenge of learning. With the little that we have, we struggle to educate and equip them with knowledge and skills in order to give them hope for a better future.

Our diocese is in great need of more prayer and support as well as laborers so as to be able to cope with the missionary work here and do its best for all those who the Lord has entrusted to us. Every day, ensuring transparency, we make the best use possible of any kind of contribution, whether small or big, in order to turn the dream for life into reality.

May the Risen Jesus Christ bless you all and grant you health, blessing and His infinite mercy.

† Neophytos of Nyeri

The Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa visits our Fraternity

Τhe new “Panagiotis Papadimitrakopoulos” permanent African Art Exhibition, where one can see works of sculpture and painting, tools and musical instruments from the countries of Africa, was inaugurated on Friday, 18 May, in an ambience both celebratory and intimate. The inauguration was blessed by His Beatitude Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, who was proclaimed Honorary President of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity and deeply touched, he addressed our members and friends who had gathered.

My dear president, I would like to express my great joy for your effort to prepare this beautiful event in order to inaugurate the handicraft exhibition. How can I start speaking theologically when my heart rejoices in emotion seeing this place, the Hagia Sophia Church, this street, these stairs that I climbed up! How many memories! How many hardships! But still the only thing I can say is Glory to God!

My children, I want to tell you when I first heard about the Mission: It was from my spiritual father Bishop Theodoros of Lampe and Sphakia. He was a disciple of the holy elder bishop Augoustinos. His home in Heraklion was so humble! Elder Augoustinos named him “the aged youth”. He was greatly blessed and spiritually benefited by father Augoustinos, he was a classmate of father Epiphanios Theodoropoulos and dreamed of a Church that would revive the order of the fervent in spirit Holy Fathers of Saint John Chrysostom, where each would take on a single domain of ministry.

In 1975, when I was a monk here at Saint Theodora monastery, he was ordained a bishop and told me “child, we are setting off for the Diocese of Lampe and Sphakia.” The first one we founded when we reached Spili was the Foreign Mission Association.

“Theodoros, I want an active and striving Church.” I remember him saying that the Church triumphs when in prison, and loses face when in the palace. He said that financial reliance brings spiritual enslavement. And he knew about these African peoples. So, for the first time we communicated to the people that beyond Crete, beyond Greece, there is another continent, Africa, the “continent of the future” —that was the first time I had heard this phrase. How could I know that someday God would ordain me humble father of this Africa!

I am glad that you mentioned Fr. Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos, the founder of your Fraternity, and I remember that late Parthenios was the chief secretary of the Holy Synod when he first met an old priest in the courtyard of the Patriarchate. He asked to be received by Patriarch Christopher. Initially they paid little attention to his request, but the Elder insisted and finally they received him and listened to him. He took the blessing of Patriarch Christopher and travelled down there and commenced his great work. When I visit his tomb, I kneel down, kiss the cross and say, “Elder Chrysostom, I thank you, for you believed”. If he had not had faith in what he was doing, he would have born no fruit.

This is how the story of the Mission started. And little by little the Patriarchate came to realize that apart from the land of Egypt, there was also another world, large and beautiful, which was athirst. And this is how the first missionary teams started going down.

I thank God, that, after my long journeys in the Northern Thebaid, for years and years in the frozen steppes, He illumined Patriarch Peter, who called me that morning: “Theodore, come, make the sign of the cross and go to Cameroon as a bishop.” I remember him vividly: the only thing that I said was “may it be blessed, Your Beatitude.” This is the starting point of my own course in those French-speaking regions.

For a while I want to recall those beautiful years, when I climbed up these stairs to your Fraternity. My only equipment was a small bag, my short cassock and a small prayer rope. How many times I sat tired here in this corner, to see our doctor, late Panagiotis Papadimitrakopoulos—may God rest his soul—, who would listen to me for hours and hours! Today, God blessed me to come here as a Pope and Patriarch, but above all as a humble missionary. I would to like to say a very big thank you to your Fraternity! Thank you for keeping your door always open for me. I was in great need of it…

Tonight I am not here to preside over a beautiful ceremony, to say beautiful words but I came to express my deep gratitude to you because after a few days I restart my long missionary journeys so as to meet my children again. I have missed their soulful eyes. I know that they can spend hours and hours awaiting me in the dust in order to welcome me with dancing and palm leaves in hands.

His Beatitude the Patriach in the African Art Exhibition

I dance along with them because I want to show them that I respect their traditions, their manners and customs, but above all I try to give them the crystal clear water that is called Orthodoxy. And they understand that we are not like the other denominations, we do not have money to offer them, we have limited possibilities, but whatever we give them comes from our hearts.

I thank God, for he gave me good bishops. I thank God for the hierarchy of my throne, who share my agony and understand that the future of our Patriarchate is Africa. That’s why I ordained African bishops too, so as to show them that Africa is a matter of theirs as well as our Patriarchate’s. Now we can work with our own children doing the best we can in order to educate them and let them carry on this magnificent, this great work called Mission.

It was God’s will and St. Mark theEvangelist, sent by St. Barnabas the Apostle, toured Ethiopia, toured Libya but blessed the whole of the African land, from Alexandria to the ends of Africa, to the Cape of Good Hope. And now, the entire continent of the future is a construction site.

I would like to congratulate you, but also bless our late doctor, who believed. If he had had no faith in this institution, nothing would have been accomplished. And these people gave a lot, for by their side they had spiritual people who started this endeavor. The doctor used to tell me “you are in the vanguard, we are in the rearguard.” But everyone is necessary.

Thus, I would like to express the gratitude of our Patriarchate, our Church. Thank you for not forgetting us and thank you for honoring me with this plaque. Mr. Nostis, I know that this poem was written by you with whole lot of love, and today I name you “poet of the Mission”.

My dear president, on behalf of our Patriarchate, I would also like to offer you the Winged Lion of St. Mark the Evangelist. His symbol is a lion, for his gospel is mighty. This is the preaching of the Holy Fathers, this is the preaching that came to elate people’s hearts, and in this we are ceaselessly helped by people and fraternities that believed in the institution of preaching. Therefore, I award you this Lion of Saint Mark, so that you will have leonine health and keep on helping us in this struggle of ours.

The President of our Fraternity awards the title of Honorary President to His Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria