Κυριακή, 11 Νοεμβρίου 2018

THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA & ALL AFRICA IN THE LAND OF BLOOD DIAMONDS


Late on the afternoon of Thursday 8th November 2018, His Beatitude Theodoiros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Arica arrived in the country of the blood diamonds, Sierra Leone, accompanied by Archimandrite Athanasios Kayembe. At the airport His Beatitude was welcomed by the local Metropolitan His Eminence George of Guinea, the Ambassador of Egypt, the Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of Guinea Fr. Themistocles Adamopoulos, Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Holy Clergy of Sierra Leone.
Then, in a special boat, the Patriarch went to the capital, Freetown, where reporters from the local Media were expecting him.
In his brief statements His Beatitude referred to the importance that Sierra Leone holds in his heart, and that with great joy he returns to the country after 6 years to inaugurate the new Orthodox Church's schools.
On the morning of Friday 9th November, His Beatitude attended the service at the Holy Church of Ss Constantine and Helen for the feast of St Nektarios and then met with Mr Alie Kabba the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Minister welcomed the Patriarch to Sierra Leone, thanked him for the wonderful work done by the Orthodox Church in the country, particularly in the field of education and assured him that the state would assist the efforts of the Alexandrian Patriarchate.
His Beatitude, in turn, thanked him for the warm welcome and hospitality and expressed his joy that he has returned to such a troubled country to bless the new works done exclusively for the children The Patriarch then went on to the St Moses of Ethiopia Missionary Centre in the Waterloo area. He was welcomed there by the Minister of Education, the Clergy and hundreds of children from the Orthodox Schools.
The Doxology was sung in the Holy Church and then His Beatitude did the Sanctification for the inauguration of the first Orthodox Children’s Village for orphaned children who have lost their parents and guardians due to the deadly Ebola virus.
The Orthodox Children's Village is a model village for the Orthodox Church and there the orphaned children will find maternal love and affection from surrogate mothers, shelter, refuge, food, medical care and education.
His Beatitude, with deep emotion, inaugurated the first two houses and blessed 24 orphaned children who will be accommodated there. A festival followed in which all the children participated.
At the beginning of the celebration, His Eminence George welcomed the 117th successor of St Mark, Theodoros II, and expressed his joy that on the day of his feast St Nektarios led the Patriarch to the suffering land of Sierra Leone and the children immediately broke out into cheers and applause.
Thereafter, His Eminence briefly referred to the daily activities of the Patriarchate and to his Missionary journeys throughout Africa and to the unique love he has for all his spiritual children. In conclusion he congratulated Fr. Themistocles and his colleagues on their daily struggle to support the suffering people of Sierra Leone.
Thereafter, the Minister congratulated the Patriarch for the Orthodox schools and their high standards and promised that the Ministry of Education would always be at his side.
The wonderful celebration was brought to a close by the Patriarch with words of love, thanking the friends of the Missions throughout the world for supporting the struggle of the Patriarchate and in conclusion thanked the Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information Mr. Nikos Papas and the Deputy Minister Mr. Lefteris Kretsos, who gladly accepted his proposal and agreed on the participation of a group from ERT on his journey to Sierra Leone (you can see the video).



ERECTION OF AN ORTHODOX SCHOOL IN THE MOST IMPOVERISHED NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE PLANET
On the afternoon of Saturday 10th November 2018, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, laid the foundation stone for the building of an Orthodox Primary School in the most impoverished neighbourhood of the planet in the slum areas of Crew Bay in the heart of the capital of Sierra Leone, where the Patriarch is on a five-day visit. Twenty-seven thousand people live in the slums of Crew Bay, 7 thousand of which are children, who truly live under the most impoverished conditions existing on the planet and many of these children die before they reach they age of five, due to their lack of vaccinations. For the education of these children until today there was a rudimentary school of two classes, with non-existent sanitary facilities. In the torrential rains of last winter, the camp lost 300 people, and more than 3,000 were forced to leave their homes. 
The foundation stone was laid in the presence of the mayor of the city, the Municipal Council and the members of the Community of slum residents. With deep emotion His Beatitude thanked the pupils of the 1ST High School in Halandri, who will be making a decisive contribution to the building of the new school, which will improve the quality of the education of the children from the slum area. 
The representative of the residents of Crew Bay, emotionally thanked the Orthodox Church for the God-loved work which they have undertaken to bring to fruition in their slump camp, saying he is one of the children who grew up there and who was deprived basic education and that for the first time today he will sleep peacefully and joyfully. 
Earlier the Patriarch was warmly welcomed by the newly-elected Mayor Mrs. Yvonne Aki Sawyer at the Municipality in the city, which during the tough years of slavery, the slave traffickers used it as a place of keeping the slaves, before they were loaded onto the ships bound for Brazil. The capital of Sierra Leone is the city which received the first free slaves who returned to Africa and that is the reason why it was named Freetown. The Mayoress, deeply moved by the presence of the Patriarch in her city, offered him the “key to the city” and thanked him for the interest shown by the Orthodox Church in supporting the suffering citizens of Freetown, particularly the little children. In his reply the Patriarch thanked the Mayoress for the welcome and assured her that the Patriarchate will always be present in all her efforts to life the quality of life of the residents, not only of the capital but of the entire country.


The Orthodox Patriarch of Africa blesses Orthodox Christians in Ivory Coast! Le patriarche orthodoxe d’Afrique bénit les chrétiens orthodoxes en Côte d’Ivoire! Για πρώτη φορά Πατριάρχης Αλεξανδρείας στην Ακτή Ελεφαντοστού!

Saint Menas the Egyptian, the Great Martyr and Wonderworker (& the Battle of El Alamein)

Feast Day November 11
Please, click here!

Τρίτη, 6 Νοεμβρίου 2018

The Most Sacred and Difficult Task



Bishop Ieronymos of Mwanza
Orthodox Missionary Fraternity
 
Without doubt, the preaching of «the gospel of the kingdom of God» (Mark 1:14) is the quintessence and reason for the existence of the missionary activity of the Church of Christ in the nations. It is the axis around which all the individual actions and initiatives of the mission must revolve and develop, so that they can be understood and evaluated as tools alone – and not as an end in themselves, which contribute to and facilitate the encounter of peoples with the redemptive message of the Gospel.
If our Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples and apostles functioned and ministered primarily and principally as preachers of the «Gospel of God» and enclosed every meaning in the phrase, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15), then, necessarily and over time, this should be the meaning and the starting point of the ministry of every contemporary missionary apostle within the Church.
The Apostles were called « to become fishers of men» (Mark 1: 17), and we see them preserve and defend this self-consciousness to the end. Besides, this was the reason for the election of the seven deacons, so that the twelve apostles would not be forced to «leave the word of God, and serve tables» (Acts 6: 2), but rather give themselves continually “to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” unhindered (Acts 6:4).
This is the most sacred and at the same time the most difficult task, which the Lord did not entrust to all but only to those who fulfilled the requirements for this ministry, and had the dedication, the experience of the Holy Spirit and the call for preaching the word of God.


The need for complementarity and variety of spiritual gifts within the Church made St. Paul the Apostle use the image of the human body so as to explain to his brothers that everyone has a place and role in the Church ministry and their help can be conducive to the fulfillment of her mission as long as they realize that they should function within the framework of their own personal inclination and call. «And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles…Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? (A’Cor.12: 28-30). And he continues, «But covet earnestly the best gifts…» (A’Cor.12:31), in order to demonstrate later that every gift within the Church becomes important and necessary only if and when it is used “in love”.
Therefore, the inspiration and guidance of our Lord’s contemporary missionary apostles should be drawn from the aforementioned fundamental principles, which He Himself set as commandments in His New Testament.
But let us now come to the African reality in order to trace the challenges and the problems there. Our call and mission is to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God in His Son and the salvation and redemption of man through the plan of His Divine Providence. To every human being that God will send near us, in the villages and cities, in the fields, in the streets, in the wilderness. To impart the ecclesiastical experience of centuries and help so that it becomes understood and experienced as the only safe and sure path to salvation.
In Africa, since the problem of people’s daily survival is dramatically and desperately pressing and there is no end to it, the challenge is painful. The need leads to the ministry of the tables (in the broader sense), thus the daily dual struggle between the need and the divine service of preaching divides the missionary apostle and penetrates his heart like a double-edged sword.
He knows well what exactly the human beings he has before him are most in need of, but they themselves don’t! As expected, they only ask for the worldly, the material things that will help them meet pressing immediate needs. He was called to fill them up with the spiritual, the eternal. How can he achieve that without the support and help of deacons of complementary gifts? That’s his drama.
Many times the immaturity of the people and the inadequacy of the gifts make the most sacred and hard work, the testimony “on the word of life” (John,1: 1), come last, or inevitably end up in the hands of people who may be good but who are inexperienced both ecclesiastically and spiritually!
With ardent prayers.

Photo from here
See also

Diocese of Mwanza
Tanzania


In our blog

Tanzania 
Orthodox Tanzania 
 
Matthew, a Pious Maasai