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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.