Blog - Orthodox Missionary Fraternity

Metropolitan Ignatios of Pentapolis falls asleep

10 November 2017

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 River Congo, Our Jordan River

20 January 2017

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

A container of love for Sierra Leone

22 October 2014

Please, turn the subtitles on manually, if they don’t appear.

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.

Indonesia: Where smile blooms (video)

17 April 2014

Please, turn on the English subtitles manually, if they don’t appear.

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.

Relief Mission Aid

16 February 2018

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

Come Over into Brazzaville and Help Us

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

Let us not forget

28 December 2017

Dear Brothers,

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

A Thirst-Quenching Gift

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

The Orthodox Christian Youth Camp 2017

21 December 2017

Over 200 Orthodox youth between the ages of 12 and 22 gathered at the St. Peter’s College, Larteh, in a ten-day Youth Camp organised by the Orthodox Church, Ghana.

On Tuesday 22 August, the young campers started arriving in chartered tro-tros (the mini buses used for public transport here), in taxis and even some buses. They were registered and put into two main groups under their supervisors or Camp Guides. There was immediately a lot of bonding between the young campers and the camp staff. There was an infectious joy all around. Soon, there was a slogan ringing out from gathering to gathering, from class to class, from event to event:

Learn the Orthodox Faith!
Live the Orthodox Way!

The idea was to create and provide an atmosphere of complete immersion into Orthodox life as was possible. This would be one way of strengthening the faith of our young ones, and protect them against aggressive and harmful proselytism. Daily activities included Morning Prayer and Bible Study in groups, followed by Matins. Breakfast was then followed by two study sessions with a short break in between; and then a lunch break followed in the afternoon by afternoon activities that included crafts, sports and games, talks on life issues targeted to this age group and lots of play. There was barely enough time to freshen up before we all crowded into the now too small Chapel of the Resurrection for Vespers which, like Matins, the campers sang with gusto. At each of these services one of the leaders, a local pastor gave a pep talk on how to “live the Orthodox way” and be a better Orthodox Christian. Vespers was followed by supper and an evening programme of meaningful and educative entertainment. Evening Prayer followed in small groups before the campers retired to bed.

The campers received many great ‘take-aways’. Prominent among these were the eye-catching inflatable solar lamps that will surely make studying a bit easier for the young ones in their rural communities, or when power fails, as it still often does, for the few in urban homes. Many were those who were proud to show off their bright string back packs displaying the camp logo, and the gifts they had made for their mothers on their return home.

As a first, this was a great camp, a great success. The chant of the children on the last day of the camp said it all. As they gathered in the small hall for last instruction, and in the grounds in front of the Chapel for the closing ceremony, they chanted:

Yɛpɛ a yɛnkɔ!

This does not translate well into English. They simply meant: ‘We don’t want to go!’ That chant ebbed only when they were assured that this would be an annual affair and that next year they would have not less than two weeks. That news was greeted with loud cheers of joy.

From the Holy Metropolis

All to the glory of God

Dear brothers in Christ,

By the Grace of God we have completed 29 years of ministry in the black continent, the vast Africa. The lot given to us by the Lord is, as you already know, Kolwezi and the whole of Katanga province. All this time our eyes have seen a lot of things. Naturally, we have faced numerous difficulties and plenty of adversity, we have lived unequalled moments of sorrow, grief, anguish but joy as well, through which one can see the grace of God, which always covers us protectively, regardless of whether we feel it or not. We sometimes start a project from scratch with no prospects of completing it and then the Lord comes to our assistance, always providing a solution, so eventually this project is fulfilled to the Glory of God. After all, this is the ultimate purpose of our humble ministry here: everything is done to the Glory of God. Thus, no matter what project we are working on, whether it is school or church construction, performing baptisms, priest ordinations, or charity, everything should be done not in praise of ourselves but to the Glory of His Hallow Name. Undoubtedly there are plenty of needs, but it is practically impossible to cover them all. However, it is your love that helps us move forward and makes our efforts bear fruit.

This year it was imperative that we have two new churches erected as the flock is growing bigger and bigger and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist should not be performed in mud-huts or mud brick churches. So far, 45 churches have been constructed, while there are another 65 mud brick ones that are operating. The fact that these humble churches have a makeshift iconostasis, no pulpit or iconography, no window or door frames, no tiled floor, are by no means less blessed than the completed one. We could say that there, God’s grace is the same or even greater. However, it is for purely practical reasons that such churches should be replaced by constructed ones since in periods of drought, strong winds raise clouds of dust which comes in during the D. Liturgy, and in rainy seasons the mud bricks get wet, so the risk of collapse is high, as it happened at St. Menas’ church at the time of the Divine Liturgy. It was a tragic case indeed when at the time of the Communion Hymn, the parish priest Fr. Lazarus, a pure-hearted Levite, came out at the Beautiful Gate in order to preach the sermon, and the whole of the eastern wall behind the Sanctuary collapsed with a thunderous sound.

This is why once more we appeal to your love and ask for your support for the reconstruction of the two aforementioned churches, whose cost is estimated at 50,000 euro each. We will be grateful to those friends of the Mission that will undertake the funding of this project, and their names will always be remembered by our African priests in memory eternal.

With love in Chrisτ
† Meletios of Katanga

New projects, new blessings in Madagascar

13 December 2017

By the grace of God and with the blessing of His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodore, our Church’s mission and charity work progresses to the glory of God and to the salvation of His people. The words of the Lord referring to the Gospel are always contemporary in our minds as well as in actual practice.

It is our love for our brothers that makes us want their evangelism and the salvation of their souls and it is this love that always keeps us alert and in readiness. With the eyes of our soul, we see in depth the holy mission of our Church spread the sacred Gospel so that these people become real children of God by grace through the Holy Sacraments.

Last September, many people who had been catechized before, partook of the first Mystery of our Church, Baptism. “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”. The church fonts as well as the rivers become the Siloam’s fonts that regenerate our newly-illumined brothers. This joy gives us strength to defy the troubles, discomforts and dangers that we encounter and continue our struggle in distant Madagascar.

We felt the same joy when we finished the construction of a middle school in Mahasolo village, where several years ago we built the sacred church of the Holy Trinity. I remember old Abraham and his wife Sarah, full of enthusiasm and love for Orthodoxy, becoming Orthodox and building a church-a mud hut at the beginning. Since then, he has been keeping a guest book, and every time we go there, he reminds us which priest celebrated the Divine Liturgy the previous time and when-that is, the exact date, and his signature underneath. Indeed, what a moving thing to do!

After the school construction was finished, the Consecration and Opening date was set with the participation of political authorities, the schools of the surrounding areas, as well as the Orthodox school, which is temporarily housed in an old building. The celebration began with the rise of the two flags (of Greece and Madagascar), and our emotion culminated when the national anthem of Greece was heard. With their work, our missionaries far and wide are worthy representatives of our small but honored homeland.

There were speeches given by many people about the nice work that will offer the poor children of this remote village the chance to attend school tuition-free and help them further their education so that they will become people useful to the society. Here we would like to express our deep gratitude to the school donor for his generous support in memory of his late daughter Despina. Eternal be her memory!

The missionary struggle continues in the charity field as well, with the female orphanage being the first and most important project. The orphanage has been operating since last year and today it hosts 50 orphaned girls. We earnestly thank the anonymous donor of the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity for the orphanage’s interior equipment. Several beds have been built on the first floor as well as wardrobes. Also on the ground floor there is a refectory with several tables and seats for approximately 150 children. We praise God for His providence and His care not only for the construction of the building but also for its interior fittings.

Girls of our orphanage

There are two problems that we have had to face for the last two years. The first is the typhoons, which leave considerable damage on their way. Due to landslide, two churches in different villages have suffered great damage and have been rendered non-operational. The sacred services take place in schools next to the churches. Since this has been going on for quite some time now, the Orthodox Christians are, in a way, complaining and are asking for a new church to carry out their worship duties. We earnestly appeal to the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity and to all Christians to help us rebuild these sacred churches. We are well aware of the crisis that our country is going through, as well as most people’s narrow resources. However, we believe that when we give from the little we have, this money is blessed by God, therefore the new sacred church will eventually be blessed and rebuilt. Severe weather conditions cause big damage to buildings (churches and schools), with a resulting need for constant repairs and maintenance. Strong winds blow off buildings roofs, as the day before yesterday the mighty winds ripped off St. Christina’s church roof-top in the Tulear region.

The second problem started at the beginning of October. Since then, the capital city of Antananarivo has been infested with mice. The people are terrified as there are many victims of the infectious diseases that mice carry and spread every year. All schools are closed.

Sleeping quarters

The construction of the Ascension Church in the Tulear region has been completed, and will soon be consecrated. This was another great blessing coming from a donor of your Fraternity, whom we are grateful to. What is pending though, is the completion of the interior equipment. Once again, I appeal to your kind heart for support- to the extent this is possible- so that the churches can operate regularly and the faithful can perform their duties unhindered.

Finally, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity, which always stands by our missionary work by implementing new projects and by providing financial support for the general needs of the Mission.

† Ignatius of Madagascar

The new Orthodox Mission issue is out!

5 December 2017

Our new Christmas issue of the “Orthodox Mission” magazine is now available online with news and reports from 13 missionary regions.

  • What charitable activities are going on in Kolkata?
  • How are our mud-bricked churches in Katanga destroyed?
  • How is the Malawian Orthodox clergy to behave?
  • What happened during the first difficult year in Kisumu diocese?

These and many more in the new issue. Browse through it online, read it, share it with the world.

Come Over into Brazzaville and Help Us

28 November 2017

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 observe in life.

† Panteleimon of Brazzaville and Gabon

Working for hope

16 November 2017

Dear Friends of the Mission,

Rejoice in the Lord always.

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:

  1. The Calcutta soup kitchens: Breakfast milk for homeless children and lunch for the blind and the disabled elderly.
  2. Free medical and pharmaceutical treatment at the five Mission Clinics.
  3. The operation of the five schools of the Mission in the villages where there are Orthodox churches and parish communities.
  4. The operation of our two Orphanages, one for boys and one for girls, which we believe are the nursery of future Missionaries.
  5. 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.

With honor and love in Christ,
Sister Nektaria