Orthodox Missionary Fraternity – Januray 2015
2014 has been a very important year for the Orthodox Missions worldwide. The global financial crisis significantly reduced -for yet another year- the funds donated to the Missions, while at the same time the latter moved dynamically towards a future of self-preservation and self-sufficiency. Thousands were the catechumens who joined the Body of the Church and hundreds of millions of miles were traveled for the sake of Christ’s name.
Let’s briefly look at the major missionary news that marked our memory in 2014.
- On February 6, in Lahore, Pakistan, the consecration of the first Orthodox church in the country took place. At the parish of the Annunciation of the Theotokos serves Fr. John Tanveer, the first Orthodox Pakistan priest, who is under the homophorion of the bishop of Singapore and South Asia. Hundreds of believers have been baptized.
- In early 2014, five non-canonical priests in Congo (DRC) returned back into the arms of the Holy Diocese of Central Africa. They took off their vestments and returned to the laity. Thousands of believers made up their flock and now joined the Orthodox Church and were chrismated.
- On February 16, Fr. Andres Giron fell asleep in the Lord. He had been a leading clergyman, who worked for years in Guatemala, founded parishes, mobilized the government for the rights of indigenous Mayans and, by God’s grace, converted to Orthodoxy together with hundreds of parishes and more than 350,000 people. The loss of Fr. Andres was big and irreplaceable for his flock. Intensive pastoral efforts are required for these new Orthodox, so that they will be stable in their faith.
- On February 25, the first group baptism of children in South Sudan took place. These children had stayed unbaptized for many years, due to the civil war. Narkissos, the bishop of Nubia, undertook the pastoral care of both Sudan and South Sudan and now struggles to spread the Orthodox message to these countries.
- July was marked by the tremendous Ebola virus outbreak across West Africa. The Orthodox Mission in Sierra Leone, led by Fr. Themistocles Adamopoulos, stood by the people, distributing food and means of protection from the virus, providing prevention education and bringing divine consolation to the believers’ souls. Our Fraternity supported the Sierra Leonese Mission from the very first moment, sending money and humanitarian aid of myriads of euro. Six months later, none of the Orthodox faithful in Sierra Leone has been infected by the virus and all keep fearlessly partaking of the Holy Communion from the same chalice. In January, a second container of food and protection means will be shipped from our warehouse in Philyron, Thessaloniki.
- On July 20, the first Orthodox priest from Rwanda was ordained and took over the ministry of the religious needs of thousands of Rwandan believers. Two more ordinations followed on later. More than 2,000 souls are already waiting to be catechized and baptized.
- On August 29, the first Orthodox Church honored in the name of the new Saint of our Church, Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia, was inaugurated in Nandi, Kenya.
- This year, the Holy Apostles Monastery, the first built for men in the Diocese of Katanga, was completed. Let’s all pray that God will bless the monastic aspirations of indigenous Congolese.
- On November 20, for the first time, an orthodox Missionary arrived in Tonga, Oceania. Bishop Amphilochios of New Zealand paid a missionary visit to the country, celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the faithful and catechumens there and he is now looking for funds to build the first Orthodox church.
We heartfully hope that 2015 will be happy and spiritually rich for you and your families and will bring out many new missionaries, ready to work on the ends of Earth with love for the Triune God and His image, man.