Wishes from the Ecumenical Patriarch
4 April 2018 4 April 2018
We joyfully received the wishes of the Ecumenical Patriarch on the election of the new BoD of our Fraternity.
We joyfully received the wishes of the Ecumenical Patriarch on the election of the new BoD of our Fraternity.
We joyfully received the wishes of the Patriarch of Alexandria on the election of the new BoD of our Fraternity.
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 Patriarchate of Alexandria
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”!
† Panteleimon of Brazzaville and Gabon
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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!
We wish you all a brightful and joyous Pascha.
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Dear Friends of the Mission,
Christ be with us all! I feel greatly honored to contact the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity in order to express my sincere gratitude for the support you have given to our new Diocese, which actually promotes the spirit of brotherhood and Orthodoxy that exists between us.
The Lord continues to work wonders in our new diocese. Not at the fast rate one would expect of course, but we have already gone a long way. I will mention some of our achievements. We have completed 90% of our office construction. Fortunately, we no longer have to pay rents as we have already moved into our new offices.
With the blessings of our Patriarch, we have got a monastery dedicated to St. Cleopatra, and soon Saint Anthony’s monastery is going to be completed. We already have five nuns.
Finally, we managed to get a car to visit the far reaches of our diocese. This enabled us to perform several baptisms and church inaugurations. As regards drillings, we have purchased a good drilling rig.
We are currently building the St. Athanasius Middle School at Nandi, which has about 140 students. It is a building that belongs to the Sts. Paul and Dionysius parish, the first Orthodox Church in the Busia district. In our schools we were running a feeding program for poor children, but for the time being we have stopped it due to lack of funds. Unfortunately, our education support program is not going well as we have many children and young people whose education has been discontinued due to lack of funding. We also made a lot of ecclesiastical gatherings, in which we taught them about Orthodoxy.
Unfortunately, we still have many more problems to deal with and we need your prayers as well as any other form of assistance. Nevertheless, it gives us a great joy to know that there are many people who still pray in the province and that the number of our parish communities is growing! Now we have about 300 parishes, half of which have permanent buildings. We need about 10,000 euro for a simple, plain Orthodox church that holds 50 people and about 5,000 euro for the completion of each incomplete church.
Then, we have the Saint Tabitha Orphanage, for which I have a dream: to see it growing, to see all the children there have food, clothing and uninterrupted education. The amount of money required for each child is about €1 a day.
Another challenge that we have to face is the stipend of our priests. We would like to be able to pay them with at least € 190 monthly, but so far we haven’t got the luxury to give them even € 50. Bear in mind that we have 110 clerics in our diocese.
This year, I hope, God willing, to have the construction of the classrooms at St. Athanasius School completed so that next year we can go on with the construction of the next school. We need three classrooms, which will cost 1,800 euro each.
I also want to share with you, my beloved brethren, the miracles that our Orthodoxy works in our continent. In our diocese the people are flocking into our churches. To my great surprise, many people have embraced monasticism.
This good news is partly due to your own help, this is why I share some of our anxieties with you, since I know that with your wisdom, guidance and prayer we will overcome the difficulties in the years to come, and thus, the light of Orthodoxy will shine in all the corners of the world, especially in Kisumu.
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, brethren, for your unconditional love and support. I particularly want to express my sincere gratitude to all the Greeks who help spread our honored faith in Africa. We all thank you wholeheartedly because you have changed our lives here in Africa, despite all the difficulties you have to face in your own country. Thank you for standing by our side, not only by providing us with material assistance but also through prayer and companionship.
Please remember us in your prayers, especially me, the unworthy Shepherd of the Holy Diocese of Kisumu and all Western Kenya. May the blessings of our Lord be with you.
† Bishop Athanasios of Kisumu
My beloved brethren,
With feelings of sincere gratitude and deep emotion I would like to thank you for the donation of the amount of € 5,000 to my humble Diocese in support of the operation of our medical clinic in our missionary center in Kidamali, Iringa. It is an undeniable fact that without your moral as well as material support in my first steps in my Diocese, it would be impossible to move forward, due to urgent needs and insurmountable difficulties.
In this beautiful but extremely poor corner of the earth, in every step we take we encounter human pain. The people, poverty-stricken but happy, always with a smile on their faces, live in simplicity the hardness of their daily routine, being totally deprived of the most basic necessities, but always calling upon God and worshipping Him. It is a marvel to experience a Divine Liturgy in Africa. How much attention and devotion they all show, even small children, in chanting and in partaking of the Holy Communion!
At a height of 1500 meters, on the huge Rift Valley plateau, lies the area of Iringa, which is generally assumed to be the poorest and toughest area of Tanzania. For six to eight months every year it is plagued by extreme drought, with the winds blowing through the bare trees and drying up the already arid scenery.
In this tough area, there is a great need for providing health care to our brothers. Our fellow-humans there are suffering from hunger, malaria, typhoid and many other diseases. As a result, the number of orphaned children is growing every day.
With our humble abilities and with timid steps, we began operating the medical clinic in our missionary center in Kidamali, Iringa, which was rebuilt thanks to the donation of Theodoros and Melpomeni Geraki’s family from Thessaloniki and to which crowds of ailing people arrive on foot from the surrounding areas. It is evident that it must be organized in the form of a polyclinic, with a variety of specialties, due to the large number of illnesses and the rudimentary state health care. The current cost of running our Clinic for doctors’ salaries and free medicine amounts to € 2,000 per month. Despite the difficulties, we got started with the hand on the heart and in the hope of your loving contribution!
Dear brothers in Christ, please pray that the Word of the Gospel will be spread with good words and acts of true love, and that the bells of Orthodoxy will ring in every corner of Africa. Amen.
† Agathonikos of Arusha
The new spring issue of our “Orthodox Mission” magazine is now available online with news from 11 missionary divisions, an annual report and wishes from two Patriarchs.
Browse through it, read it, share it with your friends.
Since all of us have tasted the sweetness and uniqueness of the Orthodox Church, it is only natural as well as our duty to want to pull into the Orthodox Church those who are currently out of it, regardless of whether they are idolaters or heretics! How then will we draw the heterodox into the Church of Christ?
The answer is given by Christ Himself on the Cross with His sacrifice. The sacrifice of the leader of our faith is His only sermon against worldly logic/reason since the early Christian period. The sacrifice of the contemporary priest, who is duty bound to perform the bloodless sacrifice of Christ again and again in the history of the world, gives the opportunity for salvation to each one of our fellow human beings by enabling them to have a personal relationship with Christ, which makes him a beacon in the darkness of our time…
When we priests live a pure and holy life, when we know and respect the rules, teachings and doctrines of our Church as well as the commandments of God, when we shed tears of repentance and we humbly call for the mercy of God, when we are suffering for our brothers in other confessions that live in error, then holding the prayer rope, we fervently pray that all the people of the earth will know our Faith, which is the only true faith!
Great and true missionary is not the one who conveys faith with words, but the one who lives it. The one who prays with tears in front of the icon of Christ and the Virgin Mary that God will enlighten all people to return to the Mother Church. The Orthodox Church is open to all people. It embraces and expects everyone to move forward and respond to the call of Christ Himself, thus becoming partakers of this heavenly calling: «Come and see!»
If we pray to Christ this way every day, our churches will be full. It is through repentance and a mighty warm prayer that we will bring them all to Christ. If we live our life partaking of the Holy Mysteries, with sincere confession and Holy Communion, then we will achieve our purpose: to help all people know the true Church.
Unless we have a spiritual father, we will not be able to succeed pure prayer and repentance. We will lose the path that leads to Christ and salvation. It is absolutely necessary for us to go to our spiritual father quite often and honestly confess our sins, our mistakes and our queries. The spiritual father has a threefold role: to hear our sins, to solve our questions and to give advice, guidance and counsel as well as his blessing for what we do in our lives.
Next I will refer to the priest’s duty to his parishioners. It is our big responsibility to keep those who have shown interest in Orthodoxy and to do everything in our power so that those who are inside the Church and are lukewarm, will acquire a living spiritual consciousness.
How, then, can we win souls from the world’s tempest and lead them to the safe harbor of the Church? All the Orthodox priests in our parishes must be active. The morning and evening services (the Matins, the Vespers, the Supplication Canon) should be conducted every day if we want to attract the grace of God. Every night, if every one of us, each one according to their own penance, dedicates two hours praying the rope and making prostrations, this will draw the grace of God. It is this very Grace that will help us and provide solutions to our problems, not our mind or our actions!
Another very important thing is for the priest to have a strong interest in the parish. He should run to the sick, read Orthodox books and have a steady seminar attendance every month. He should neither improvise in his sermons, nor express divergent new opinions that sound good and modern. He should only preach what is confirmed in the conscience of the Orthodox Church and comes from the Holy Fathers; only this can be taught by the Orthodox priests.
Finally, a priest should preach in catechetical schools, organize sports events, games with children as well as various activities, show love and affection to children, be close to the people, comfort and help his flock, and then, the miracle will come and our parish will be full of conscious Orthodox Christians! Amen.
Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou
Now that I am writing these lines, I am in a remote area near the borders of Tanzania. For days now, our Maasai Priest has been urging me to visit their region to see with my own eyes the horrible situation not only of our faithful, but also of the entire population of the region in general. And naturally, I thought to myself: «Is it possible in the 21st century to have people starving to death because they do not have the necessary daily bread in order to survive?»
Without any delay, along with my usual team, we filled our small mission van with all sorts of food and set off for our destination, where we finally arrived after a six-hour journey. You can imagine the joy of our priest when he saw us. He could hardly find any words to thank us, knowing why we had gone there. Instantly, the priest got onto the mission van and gave us instructions on where to go and what to do. We were all very curious to see what we would meet. After a while, having previously traversed areas dug into the soil due to the drought that has been going on for several years, we entered an area literally nestled in the huge rocks.
Indeed, the whole sight reminded of a biblical disaster, since there was neither a green leaf in the surrounding trees nor any other vegetation. When we arrived, we stood in front of the Maasai huts, made of dry grass. The first to come out were the women followed by the little children. The whole spectacle was shocking. The people were really starving. If it is ever possible, in the century that we live in, to have people, especially little children, all skeletal, who do not have a little food to feed on! Fortunately though, thanks to what our priest had told us, we brought plenty of food supplies. The priest spoke to them about our visit and the reasons for our meeting. The tribal chief gave us a warm welcome and expressed his gratitude for the philanthropic feelings of the Orthodox Church, particularly stressing the undeniable reality of the famished little children.
So we saw with our own eyes how much these people are suffering, literally starving and lacking all the basic essentials for survival. It is a sin in our century to let these children undergo so much suffering while we live in our comforts, and yet, we are not content and complain about not having enough goods. We, by comparison, have a lot of material goods whereas others living next to us are dying of hunger.
Unfortunately poverty and misery abounds not only in the Maasai region but also in the capital city of Nairobi. On a daily basis 350 children, orphaned or abandoned, ask for our protection. We give them breakfast and a hot meal, cooked with sympathy and love. The whole program only costs € 1,000 per week and relieves all these little children who otherwise, could not survive under any other circumstances, would have no protection, no care from anyone. We should never abandon this God-pleasing work, which, from our experience, saves lives and gives hope and a message of joy and optimism for the future. Let us hope that God will send forth kind-hearted people who will support it so that we can keep it running.
We earnestly thank the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity, who for decades has been conveying these messages to the broad public in order to raise their awareness and, if possible, to find supporters.
† Makarios of Nairobi
Every Divine Liturgy is a synopsis of the Life of Christ. A synopsis that is not symbolic but real. What we have seen, what we have touched, we receive it. It is the Body of Jesus Christ. Thus, through the Divine Liturgy, we participate in the Life of Christ, which for all of us is called Church Life, while partaking of the Body and the Blood of the Lord, we are integral members of the heavenly One, Holy, Indivisible, Catholic Orthodox Church.
The earthly Life of Christ ends with His promise to the Apostles to go to the ends of the world to preach the Gospel to all nations baptizing them in the name of the Holy Trinity. At the dismissal of the Eucharist Gathering Rite, the last words of the priest give us «Blessing of the Lord and Mercy», since we have tasted the Heavenly Bread. We come out of the Church filled with the overflowing blessing of God, undeniable witnesses to His Mercy.
It is the «Blessing of the Lord and Mercy» that we carry on with the Mission to our African brothers. We came to their hospitable land and established local Churches by the Grace of God and with the support of the Greek brothers so that the Holy Spirit comes down and enlightens this thirsty for Eternal Life land and the Light of Truth shines for every man who comes into this world whether that place be Greece, Russia, Ecuador, the distant countries of Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon, Central and West – Equatorial Africa…
There is no Orthodox church in the center of Congo-Brazzaville. Yet, the state has already offered a large plot of land to the Orthodox Diocese, requesting in the most formal way the establishment of a place of worship of the Triune God! «Come over into Macedonia and help us!» Brothers, help build a Church, ring other orthodox bells on the continent of the future and dissolve evil darkness. “Let the light of Christ shine before men so that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”!
A similar problem exists in Gabon, even though Orthodoxy was officially recognized there a year ago, an act necessary for our Church to operate freely in that place. The absence of a sacred church prevents the establishment of an Orthodox parish community, which will be the nucleus for spreading the message of the Resurrection across this country.
Gabon is particularly plagued by emerging religious movements and neo-Protestant organizations of American origin, by heresy and fallacy, by superstition and fears cultivated by the spiritual leaders of traditional religions with the aim of manipulating people through their subjugation to them. The necessity of establishing an Orthodox parish in the country of Gabon raises a spiritual alarm for everyone. Without the worship of God, everything is done in vain, precisely because every work has value when it is sanctified. Besides, from the earliest Christian years we see that the place of worship of the Triune God and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy was a fixed point of reference among early Christians. It was in those holy places that the Apostles performed the Divine Liturgy and the faithful communion partook of the Body and Blood of Christ. This is the heritage of Orthodoxy.
If the purpose of the Church is the sanctification of man, then there are roads that lead to it, which our Lord Himself has inaugurated. Therefore, no one can claim that he was saved by Christ, that he is in the Church, that he has lived his personal resurrection, and turn his back on those whom Christ called the least of His brothers. The more humble one is in this world, the more elevated he is in the eyes of God, and this is something that the Church of Christ never forgets. If the purpose of the Church is the sanctification of man, then the path to sanctification is the healing of the fellow human being who is suffering. “Church” cannot possibly be understood without practical love!
The protection and care of orphans is not alien to Orthodox tradition. From the age of the Holy Apostles and the later period of the Great Fathers of our Church to this day, the Church of Christ has covered spiritually as well as materially the children without a family not only by helping them survive, but by bringing them up with spiritual values so as to make them useful Christian citizens in the society, equal to the rest.
This is the Church tradition, which we, the contemporary, cannot possibly leave in oblivion. Since 2007, when with the blessing of our Patriarch Theodore II the «Saint Eustathius» Orthodox Orphanage opened its doors, it has embraced «the little brothers of Jesus», children without a family, becoming itself a large orthodox family so that these children grow up like all the rest of the world, with safety, proper nutrition, orthodox upbringing, equal education, decent living.
It is said that «the soul of a man is more valuable than the whole world.» This is the worldview of our Holy Church. Thus, she stands separately to each one since she is responsible for the Salvation of everyone. I appeal to your loving heart for help, brothers! The joy on our children’s faces is the greatest promise that the word of Savior Christ on this land bears fruit. We are all responsible for this joy and the continuity of the great work that is taking place. Let us struggle on this road, aiming not at the earthly but at the heavenly.
After all, the Homeland is one and the same for all of us. This is theso-called heavenly Jerusalem, which the Lord promised to us. Indeed, on world maps the Congo and Gabon are quite far away from us. And yet, Christ brought us all together, made us a family. How can I watch my brother suffering without feeling for him since we are parts of the same Body? Let us respond to this question through the attitude we are going to keep in life.
† Panteleimon of Brazzaville and Gabon
I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I dare appeal to the charitable feelings of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity, wishing its members and friends good health by the grace of the Holy Triune God.
As you certainly know, the economic problems we have to face are many. We struggle hard daily in order to be able to meet our current needs…
We are unable to pay the salaries of the teachers at our Orthodox schools. There is no public education here and our needy brothers could not possibly afford to pay the tuition fees. It is also absolutely necessary that we cover inpatient hospital care. There are many poor indigenous brothers in our region who come in tears asking us to pay the costs so they can go to hospital. Also, we should not forget the medical clinic you funded in the Shamana area, the heart of the Congolese jungle, which may be a caring nest for our brothers who live isolated there, but naturally, it has its own operating expenses. It is imperative that we find the amount of € 10,000 in order to cover the cost of the aforementioned needs.
We wholeheartedly thank all of you for your unconditional love, and humbly we pray that the Good God will always give you His abundant blessings.
† Nikiphoros of Kinshasa
Dear friends of the Mission,
Firstly, once again I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude for your undivided material, moral and mainly prayerful support to the missionary work of our Holy Metropolis. I wholeheartedly thank you for your love and your noble donation of 7,500 euro to our Metropolis to meet the multiple functional needs of maintaining and continuing our missionary work in this fertile missionary province of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
With this letter, I hereby wish to ask for your assistance for the drilling of a water-well in Empremai village in Ghana. In this village, we have just completed the construction of a new elementary school, which will offer free education to the children in the area, who would probably otherwise remain uneducated. The building complex is ready, but we need to drill a borehole so that students can have access to clean and safe drinking water. The total drilling cost along with the equipment is estimated at 4,000 euro.
I am well aware of the fact that the current economic conditions are extremely unfavorable and most often prohibitive. However, I draw courage from your love for the Mission and look forward to your positive response to our request for helping the young school children.
With love in Christ,
† Narcissus of Accra