Tongan citizens of Heaven

24 January 2017

Four are the cardinal directions and four are the sacred mysteries conducted in 16 October 2016, at this simple little church of the Holy glorious leading Apostles on the island of Tongatapu, in Fangaloto, a region of Tonga Islands. It is in the same area that the capital Nuku’alofa is located. The colors white and blue that are dominant in the church and in the sacred baptistery, which is situated behind the altar, create a sense of joy and hope in every soul gazing expectantly upon heaven and praying for the whole world, particularly for doleful Greece.

The church of the Holy Apostles and the Sacred Baptistery are the toil of faith and piety of the devout monks Arsenios and Savvas from Mount Athos, partners of the Mission, and of pilgrim Nicholas, who built them with their own hands.

The home of hospitality, which has already been completed, and the handsome large S. Church of the Holy Glorious and Triumphant George, which is under construction, are the result of the philanthropy of devout Christians from Greece, more particularly from Thessaloniki and Aspropyrgos, Australia and America. There should have been someone here on Sunday October 16th to watch with how much reverence and simplicity our first Tongan catechumens received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, and then the first Holy Communion. After that, we had the first Orthodox wedding between Constantine and Helen and the feast of love, which was attended “with gladness and singleness of heart”, (Acts 2:46) by all those who participated in this great joy.

In externalizing his impressions and feelings, Constantine, who is of Jewish origin, said that with the Holy Baptism he felt reborn, which is exactly what the Lord said to Nicodemus: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Peter, an indigenous Tongan, said that with baptism he left behind his secular name Ofisi, and from that day on he would have the name of Heaven, Peter. Through his simplicity he formulated the theological truth that the person baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity no longer belongs to the earth. From then on, this person is a citizen of Heaven according to St. Paul, who says “For our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil.3:20).

Orthodoxy is once again present in distant Oceania. The cross of the Lord adorns and sanctifies the place, the chests and the homes of our newly illumined brothers. The church bell of the Holy Apostles may be small but its sound is luscious, joyful, simple and touching, and spreads as the voice of the Church to the lengths and widths of the vast Pacific, inviting every unprejudiced person to come to the source of truth and life: “Come together, all ye people, and know the power of the dreadful secret; for Christ our Saviour, the eternal Word, hath been crucified for our sake, and was buried willingly, and hath risen from the dead to save all. To him, let us bow down in worship” (Octoechos: Sunday third tone).

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Ps. 32:1) through the sacred mysteries of Holy Orthodoxy. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:15) Worthy of their wages are the donors and founders of the holy churches of God.

After Tonga, comes the other island of the southeastern Pacific, Samoa, which is also under the jurisdiction of the Holy Metropolis of New Zealand. God willing, a new church will be built there: that of St. Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, whose voice “has gone out into all the earth,” like the voices of the leading Apostles Peter and Paul and of all the other Apostles.

“Glory to Thee, O Christ our God, Your Apostles’ proudest boast and treasure of Your Martyrs’ joy, Who to all proclaimed the Consubstantial Trinity.”
† Amphilochios of New Zealand

An Orthodox church for the Kingdom of Tonga

15 September 2016

“Glory, honour, and peace to every man who does good” (Romans 2:10)

The Divine Grace, “which always heals that which is weak, and completes that which is lacking”, helped -in just eleven years- in the construction of the following structures for the religious needs of our Mission in the Diocese of New Zealand:

  1. In the area of New Zealand:
    • The Sacred Church of St. Nicholas in the city of New Plymouth.
    • The S. Church of St. Demetrius in Hastings
    • The Monastery Church of the Great Archangels with the chapels of Sts. Basil and Amfilochios in Levin
    • The cemetery chapel of St. Lazarus of the Four Days in Wellington
  2. In the Southeastern Pacific island states of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa:
    • The Sacred Church of St. Paraskevi with the Missionary Centre in Sabeto Nadi on the island of Viti Levu
    • The Monastery Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos with cells for the nuns in the village of Saweni, on the island of Viti Levu
    • The Holy Trinity Cathedral with the St. Tabitha Orphanage and the home for the unprotected women (Safe Home) in Saweni, on Viti Levu
    • The S. Church of Sts. Athanasios and Nicholas in Labasa, on the island of Vanua Levu

Total: 7 Churches and 3 chapels

We are currently in Tonga, which is a kingdom half an hour from Fiji by plane, for the construction of the Sacred Church to the honor of the Great Martyr Saint George the Trophy-bearer. On a previous trip we bought a nice plot of land in the capital Nuku’alofa, just 80 meters from the sea and the main road, almost the same distance as was the Sacred Church of the Great Martyr at the area of Therapia in Constantinople from Bosphorus; unfortunately that church was demolished by the rulers for the public road to pass, as they said, and which, in a way, we want to “resurrect”. The purchase of the land cost 50.000 TOP (the currency of Tonga), i.e. € 25,000.


Tongan women joyfully accept Christ’s icons

The construction cost is expected to reach the 300,000 TOP, i.e. € 150,000, since we also plan to build an on-site rectory for the parish priest and the missionaries, as well as a small chapel dedicated to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

We consider the construction of churches very important, since for us the Orthodox, along with the preaching of the holy Gospel, it is absolutely necessary to have the Divine Worship as well, particularly the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The indigenous are simple, good-hearted people with a strong religious feeling and get more impressed by the solemnity of rituals of the Orthodox divine worship, rather than the chattering and shouting of the Christians of other denominations.

We hope that our effort will bear fruit with the help of the Great Martyr George the Trophy-bearer and the blessings of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

For any contribution in aid of the commencement and completion of this sacred work, we would like to thank in advance the warm-hearted donors and hope that St. George will be their helper who will offer assistance to them and their families and bless the life and the works of their hands. Special thanks to the Orthodox Missionary Fraternity.


Building plan for the church of St. Great Martyr George the Trophybearer in Tonga

May God make us all worthy to work for the good and the benefit of our fellow men, the prevalence of His Kingdom and the glory of His Holy Name. Amen. May the Theotokos be with us.

†Amphilochios of New Zealand