To the Ends of the Earth

Orthodox Christian Missions

Archive for December 2012

Orthodox Life in Antarctica

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0510-436x600From, with many more pictures, here.

Mission on the White Continent: an Interview with Hieromonk Pavel (Gelyastanov)

We often complain about life: Public transport is really annoying… Where are all these people going anyway?… We’ve had enough of this rain… Why is this heat so unbearable?… What do they want me to do anyway? I’m fed up with all this shouting and noise and fuss… We could go on listing the complaints, dreaming about being on our own and how nice it is everywhere else, and in general having a moan and making out we want to get away from it all. But once you are at the end of the earth, suddenly everything is the other way around and you look at the world in a completely new way.

These are the thoughts I had when I met Hieromonk Pavel (Gelyastanov) who had just come back from an obedience of 15 months in the Antarctic. I don’t know if it is correct to call the Antarctic the end of the earth, but it could probably be called the end of the planet or the end of the map. Though, on the other hand, you can’t really see any earth in the Antarctic, rather it’s all ice, snow, water and rocks and Polar birdlife. But on top of this you have the people who are always there, far fewer than the visitors, but they live there in the kingdom of snow for about a year on average: they come from various countries to carry out some special task and then go home. This is why the Antarctic, discovered in 1820 by the Russian explorers Bellingshausen and Lazarev, is called a free country: there are no politics, no economy, no citizenship, no social divisions…

How did Fr Paul, a monk from the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow, end up there? I tried to find the answer to this question not among the ice, but in Minsk, in our monastery where Father had come to ‘thaw out’ after his very long winter stay.

Tell us, Fr Paul, how come you went to the Antarctic?

At the request of Archbishop Theognost, the Superior of the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Monastery, a decree was issued by his Holiness the Patriarch that I should be sent as a member of the 56thRussian Antarctic Expedition. I arrived there on 3 March 2011 to serve in the Holy Trinity church in Bellingshausen.

This is the only church in the southern continent and, it must be said, as such it is not only the object of curiosity, but also of respect. Anyone who goes to our island first of all goes to church, has their photo taken, asks about the history of the church and many come and venerate the icons. It’s a local sight.

When we flew in, the first thing we did was to hold a thanksgiving service. We were met by good weather. True, there were some heavy gusts of wind, but they did not stop us from admiring the wonderful views on the descent. Out station is situated on King George Island; next door to us are the scientific stations of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Korea, China and Poland. Our station and the landing strip of the Chilean base ‘Via Frey’ are on the part of the land which is ice free in the summer.
Places like this are called oasis – they cover less than 5% of the island. Of course, the nature is amazing! Actually, penguins are very similar to monks. They have a little white cassock on their fronts and they are dressed, so to speak, in a little black overcassock on top. They are very good-natured, they walk on their legs like human-beings, and they are inquisitive and not afraid of people.

Who was priest in the Holy Trinity church before you?
Hieromonk Sophrony and Hierodeacon Pallady, also monks of the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Monastery), spent over fourteen months there as part of the 55th Expedition. The whole concept of setting up a permanent church at the South Pole was the idea of the head of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, Valery Lukin, and His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II. This was backed by Peter Zadirov who was then the head of a company called Anteks-Polyus.

A trust fund called ‘A Church in the Antarctic’ was set up and a nationwide competition for designs was held. Church builders from Barnaul won it. The site of the church was blessed on 20 January 2002 and the church was built on 15 February 2004. The superior of Holy Trinity-St Sergius Monastery, Bishop Theognost of Sergievo-Posad consecrated it together with a whole group of clergy, pilgrims and benefactors who came on a special flight from the nearest Chilean town of Punta-Arenas.

The first rector of the church was Hieromonk Kallistrat (Romanenko), he was followed by Hieromonk Gabriel (Bogachikhin) and his assistant Vladimir Petrakov. Almost all the clergy who had the obedience of pastoral care for the polar workers were monks from Holy Trinity- St Sergius Monastery and changed over every year, more or less like those who worked at the Antarctic polar stations themselves.

What did you do on the first days of your stay in the Antarctic?
A parishioner of our Monastery, Anatoly Pristupa, received a blessing and was given the obedience together with me. He served in the altar, sang, read, baked prosphora, rang the bells and also worked as a restorer…Our first task was to set up the new two-tier iconostasis together with Hieromonk Gabriel (Bogachikhin) and the artist and restorer Valery Grishanov, who had painted the icons. These had been painted especially for conditions in the Antarctic. On 6 March 2011 we invited all seventeen members of the Expedition with their head, Bulat Rafaelovich Mavlyudov, to the church, where we did the little blessing of water, blessed the icons and the iconostasis, the people and read the prayers for the Increase of Love and for Those Who Travel, and took a photograph of everyone together. After this Fr Gabriel and Valery flew back to Moscow.

The church is built of logs in the Old Russian style with a belfry. There are eight chains from the foundation to the dome which help to protect it from the wind. The thick logs and the chains too, which are painted a bronze colour and go up somewhere past the ceiling, give it a fairy-tale feel and you cannot help remembering Pushkin’s verses, ‘There is a green oak by a curved bay, and on that oak a golden chain…’. Once in the winter we had a very unusual and mysterious night time service.

The words of the prayers and the sound of the bells with the winds and the creaking of the frozen logs gave you the impression, if you closed your eyes, of being in an old sailing ship crossing a stormy sea. Given those circumstances, the irmos of the sixth ode of the canon to our Lord Jesus Christ sounded quite different: ‘Beholding the sea of life surging high with the storm of temptations, I have fled to Thy calm haven and cry aloud to Thee; lead my life forth from corruption, O Most Merciful One’.

Who are these people who live at the South Pole?
They come from various countries but are very friendly, they invite each other over and selflessly help each other. The way life is organized there is reminiscent of life on Mt Athos, at least according to the stories that are told. If Athos is a monastic republic, then the Antarctic could be called a polar republic. The precise way work is organized is much the same, the voluntary submission to a strict code of discipline (for instance, if you do not have permission from the head, you cannot leave the station; you must absolutely sign a register, saying where and how long you will be away for; give the estimated time of your return; take rations with you).

Each station is a sort of monastery with its own rules, its abbot and monks, property and territory. No door on any dwelling or station anywhere on the island is ever locked. Nobody would ever steal anything. Every dwelling has food inside and anyone who has been caught out by bad weather can shelter inside at any time. I remember on the third Sunday of Lent we served the Liturgy of St Basil the Great. After the service we left, but when we came back in the evening we found flowers on the stand! And they were so bright! It was really nice, especially when there’s not a tree or a blade of grass or a leaf in sight! Who put them there is a mystery. Thank you and may the Lord save him (or them)…

You can learn a lot from the members of the polar expeditions. They have a hard time of it, they risk their lives. For example, it seems as if in Russia more care is taken of technology than people and until recently in the Antarctic they basically used equipment that had been written off. Of course these machines break down and the polar mechanics have to take the engines to pieces and sort them out in temperatures of -50, without any sort of shelter, and then they have to repair them so they can get back to where they have to be. Many have lost their lives in the ice. There are 160 Russians buried there. I considered it my duty to pray for all these people, baptised, unbaptized, believers, non-believers…God knows!

Unfortunately, during this stay there were virtually no Churched people at the station. There was only one person who more or less came to confession and took communion regularly, but then he was transferred to another station. True, two people were baptised and a couple of others would come with a need, but most of all they liked being alone in the church, they had no desire to listen to the Gospel, confess or listen to talks on spiritual topics. Perhaps, in part that was my fault because I did not manage to arouse interest in spiritual life among people, though of course I did try. But I hope that my attempts will bear fruit – the Lord will provide.

It’s cold. It’s dark. There’s not much sun. No green. How did you cope with depression?
Yes, this is one of the problems of polar stations, all around you reality is always the same black and white. There were many ways of fighting depression. For instance, going for walks and looking at the penguins. Anyone who is a bit down or tired takes a look at them and his mood is gone. I felt this, but not only me, others too, I noticed quite often that people would go off for a walk along the shore by the ocean and breathe the air. But you can’t go for walks in bad weather. As a rule, depression takes over when there is no sunshine. True, after the Liturgy on Sundays and feast-days it was often sunny.

Other days you could fight against negative thoughts through reading or watching a film. I read through the works of St Ignatius Brianchaninov and Dostoyevsky. And of course in such situations, if possible, you must not be alone. Anatoly was with me and sometimes he supported me and sometimes I supported him, so with God’s help we coped.

Apart from doing the services, what else did you do?
Officially, I and Anatoly were listed as technicians and repairmen and we had various jobs to do. Like everyone there we had different duties. For instance, repairs, as well as ongoing jobs like clearing up the baths, helping in the galley, washing floors…No exceptions are made in this respect, everyone is at the same level. One of the most complex jobs is clearing rust off the houses.

All the buildings at the station stand on concrete piles about 1-1.5 metres off the ground. This was done so that they would not get snow under. The houses are fixed with very sturdy bolts to special metal platforms and those in turn are fixed onto the piles. They have already been there for over forty years. The aluminium walls are fine, but the platforms, which are made of ferrous metal, have undergone significant corrosion.

At the beginning, because we were not used to it, towards the evening our bodies would feel broken, our eyes would close all by themselves, as soon as we got near a bed or an armchair. The main reasons for this were acclimatization and the very pure ocean air. Our station and the church are on the shore of the continent and although you do not get really sharp frosts, there are strong winds and high humidity. In weather like that even temperatures of – 20 and -30 feel like – 60 and they recommend you stay inside.

Sometimes we would have to work on our days off – we would clear up rubbish from the island which has piled up after fifty years of the station’s existence. At the beginning everything was just thrown out without any control and so piles of rubbish built up. This attitude to the environment has changed nowadays. By international agreement on the Antarctic it is forbidden to bring pets, earth, or seeds to the continent, so that no bacteria or viruses, alien to the natural environment can get there. It is deliberately kept clean because any non-indigenous matter attracts the sun’s rays and the ice begins to melt especially rapidly and so-called wellheads can form in the ice, meaning that an accident could happen when an aircraft lands.

Did you ever feel unsafe?
There was fear, but only from lack of understanding. When there was a strong wind, the house would begin to shake like a moving tram and the first few days I really did not feel safe. I would start to pray very hard that the house would not be blown away. While I was there, there were no accidents on our station, but they had a fire at the Brazilian station. And because the builders had not fixed the water tank properly, the wind tore it away and blew it towards the houses. But by the mercy of God it was blown between the buildings and straight into the ocean. There was another time when instead of winter diesel they left summer diesel and it froze. You can imagine what it means to be without heat in the Antarctic.

There are people who want to be at the North or South Poles. Why?
I thought a lot about that and understood that it is not just a question of surpassing ourselves (we can surpass ourselves in other circumstances too), it’s a subconscious desire to find our bearings, our direction. Just as the globe turns on its axis, so people’s hearts beat because of some main aim. This aim is different for each person. But if people arrange their lives in such a way that everything turns around God, then life will be joyful.

The Lord made the world in such a way that the invisible and immaterial axis of the world has a huge significance. All visible and material things turn around it, the oceans, the continents, cities and villages with people and their belongings. Everything is subordinated to this universal law, given to the Earth by God.

If the axis of the planet, around which everything turns, completely changed direction, then there would be a worldwide catastrophe! This arrangement of the visible world only serves to remind us of the arrangement of the invisible, spiritual world. Someone said that Jesus Christ is the axis of world history. And this ‘world axis’ goes through the heart of all the citizens of the Earth. And I think that each of us has felt within us this invisible spiritual bearing which is called the Holy Spirit.

What else did the Antarctic teach you?
My obedience in the Monastery is to organize the Sunday school. Before I left, I felt as if I were at my last gasp. Various questions constantly worried me: What next? What should I teach? What shall I talk about? When I went off to the Antarctic, somewhere in the bottom of my soul I had the thought that this voyage would give me answers to the questions that worried me. During my winter stay I realized especially clearly how weak I am and how much I still have to work on myself.

I understood that in order to go to the Antarctic and work there effectively, you have to be ready to accept that you will not get your hand kissed and or have your blessing asked very often, but you will, as it were, wash the feet of those who are alongside you. For those at the polar station matters like who you are, how you are dressed and the words you say are not important, it is what you do that is important.
And I also felt there that I and the scientists were people with a very different spiritual make-up and aims. Although they are very good people, unfortunately, we did not have the same spiritual direction, as I have with the other monks in the monastery. Now I am back in the monastery, I am especially glad whenever I meet any real believer, especially the monks.

Do you have any desire to repeat your winter stay in the white wilderness of the Antarctic?
There are those who have been there and cannot live without the Antarctic and really do speak of love for ‘the white wilderness’. In April or May they return to the mainland and then in October or November, if invited, they go back. I already told someone jokingly that I would go back again if the head of the station agreed to get baptized (he was unbaptized). But seriously, I think that if there were some likeminded believers in such conditions, then we could have a sort of skete, a little monastery, a ‘scientific’ dependency of one of the Orthodox monasteries. I would be only too happy to serve in such a ‘monastery’. But it is all God’s will.

Interviewer: Dimitry Artyukh


Written by Stephen

December 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Posted in Antarctica

ROCOR in Pakistan

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253431_480300635327915_1171068380_nA few years ago I blogged about the first Orthodox priest and parish in Pakistan, Fr. John Tanveer, under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Now, ROCOR also has a parish there, started recently by Fr. Adrian Augustus.

The following is an interview with Fr. Adrian about his own conversion to Orthodoxy and his work in Pakistan. There is also an active Facebook page for the church here, and their website is here. (Incidentally, the EP church has their Facebook page here, and their website here.)

On September 18, 2012, the Missionary Department of Moscow Theological Academy hosted a meeting with Priest Adrian Augustus of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, who is ministering to an Orthodox Christian parish he founded in Pakistan.

Path to Christ. Priesthood.

My conversion to Orthodoxy was not easy. Until my conversion in 2007, I was an Anglican deacon in India. When I began to seek Orthodoxy, I sent many letters with questions on the faith to the only person who would provide detailed answers, Vladyka Hilarion, who was then Archbishop of Sydney. I hail from a very poor family, my mother was a school teacher, and life proceeded in a strict Catholic spirit. When Vladyka suggested that I enroll in seminary in Jordanville, NY, my mother fell very ill, and I found myself in a difficult situation—going to America was practically impossible for me. Three months later, Vladyka Hilarion wrote that he could receive me in Australia. Vladyka and I then became like father and son. Everything I know about Orthodox Christianity I learned from him. I wished very much to become a priest, but did not ask Vladyka to ordain me, expecting that the Lord Himself would make it happen. When I was finally ordained, I did not wish to limit my ministry to a parish: I wished for our true faith to be accessible to everyone. Many people in Pakistan and in India would like to learn about Orthodoxy and become zealous Christians, but they have little opportunity to do this.

It is very difficult in Pakistan today because of the Muslim government, and it is unsafe for white people to live in the country, so missionaries don’t wish to go there. True, Pakistan is not a safe country by any means. One must note that this country is dangerous not only for white people and foreigners, but even for its own citizens: within the country, Muslims fight with other Muslims, Muslims kill other Muslims. Pakistan is divided into three big groups. In the north are Pashtuns from Afghanistan, the Punjabs live in the middle, the Sindhis live in the south, and within Sindhi itself is a small group of Indians, and these populations are all in conflict. A Pakistani simply does not know when he leaves his home in the morning whether he will return that night.

A Voice from Pakistan.

There were two people in Pakistan who left the Catholic seminary and, as did I some time ago, and e-mailed letters with questions about faith, seeking to find Orthodoxy. Vladyka Hilarion forwarded these letters to me, since I know the mindset of these people and could determine whether these were genuine believers or if they were sent by people who have no desire to find Christ. The population of Pakistan is very poor, and this could simply have been a scam. When I read these e-mails, though, my heart was moved. I didn’t think twice, and asking Vladyka’s blessing, headed for Pakistan.

When I arrived, I was very surprised: instead of the two people who wrote the e-mails, I was greeted by some fifty people. When I settled into my hotel room, I was not allowed to go outside. The problem was this: It is still dangerous for me to come to Pakistan, because I have lighter skin, being Indian. There were four wars between Pakistan and India, and when I arrived, I was viewed as a spy. But a local member of Parliament gave me permission to leave the hotel for twelve hours, deeming me a missionary and not a spy. The press reported that some priest arrived, and even more people came to see me, and, praying to the Holy Spirit, I began to preach. At first I tried to talk about the time before the Birth of Christ. Then I told them about the Nativity itself, the creation of the Church, the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, and the roles that priests and deacons play. I tried to explain that accepting Orthodoxy in not that simple, that a person must be transformed first. The only normal reason to come to Orthodoxy is to become a saint in the Church, because the human soul unites with God after death. And the role of the priest is to give a person a nudge to begin this effort. There is no easy way of doing this, prayer is needed, and fasting and the fulfillment of all the other Orthodox methods. After a two-hour sermon, many questions were raised by those who sought the true faith, there were representatives of agencies who tried to find something suspicious in my sermon. That night,  about 110 Catholics joined the Orthodox faith. The next day I was also able to baptize about 74 people from 10 Pakistani families. I asked people why they were so interested in my sermon, and they said that they were touched that I, as an Indian, came to them to preach Orthodox Christianity to them, and that I did not look at them as some kind of bad people, I did not judge the way they looked—these Pakistanis are poor, simple peasants. In the church, and during our discussions, I do not take a chair when they sit on the floor—I sit beside them. These people are in special need of pastoral care, for they have no one who will listen to them: neither in the mosque or the Catholic Church. We must keep in mind that in Pakistan and in India, the Catholic Church is a very large, powerful organization. Catholic seminarians are often sent to work as directors of local schools immediately upon graduation, schools that every child aspires to be accepted into. As school directors, Catholic pastors forget that they are first and foremost pastors, not school directors. I explain to the people who come to see me that my task as a priest is to serve people towards their salvation, to love and care for them.

Vladyka was happy to see me return alive…

My next challenge was to preserve the community of one hundred converted Pakistanis. When I returned to Australia, I told Vladyka right away that we must hasten to organize a mission in Pakistan. Vladyka Hilarion gave me his blessing to establish the Archangel Michael Mission. I asked people in Pakistan why they invited me instead of other Orthodox priests who already serve in Pakistan. They answered that those priests belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, while I belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and since the Russian Church is the largest of all National Churches which consists of many different peoples, they hoped to receive care from the Russian Church. Considering all the saints who glorified the Russian land, seeing that I belong to this same Russian Church, the Pakistanis believed that I, too, could love them and care for them. I also asked Vladyka Hilarion to appoint more priests so that Divine Liturgy could be celebrated there soon.

My second trip to Pakistan lasted 10 days. This time my chief mission was pastoral care. I met with people, trying to understand their needs, trying to let them “spread my wings” over them. I was then able, for the first time, to celebrate Liturgy in the Russian style but in the Urdu tongue. I was also able to convert a former Catholic priest and his wife to Orthodoxy. Once, as he was translating Liturgical text into Urdu, the words that the priest is to speak touched his heart, and he wished to turn back to those times when these prayers were being composed. This was the reason he wished to convert to Orthodoxy. This last time, over 50 new people came to Christ.

I also wish to say that I now have the ability to travel to Pakistan without an invitation. Once I was able to meet with the Pakistani ambassador and explain who I am and what the Orthodox Church is, and explain that I am no spy, etc. He congratulated me on my efforts in working towards the good of Pakistanis, but said that doing missionary work on a tourist visa is illegal, and then he said a remarkable thing. He told me that he believes in my work in Pakistan, and that I can receive a missionary visa. It is almost impossible for a Christian priest to receive a missionary visa in an Islamic country. During my next trip there I met with Pakistani intelligence, I showed them my cross and my missionary visa, stating that the government permitted me to work here. You can believe me or not, I said. They asked what my plans were, and I said I wanted to build a church. There are three Christians in the Pakistani community who wish to become priests, and they face their own challenges. Orthodox Christians now gather at homes for divine services which are permitted for laypersons to perform themselves; I instructed them to read the Hours and the obednitsa [reader’s service], the Gospel, after which they continue their socializing at tea. It is very important that a regular priest be provided for Pakistan as soon as possible. If a Christian dies, who will conduct funeral services? My next trip to Pakistan is scheduled for January-February, for 5-6 days.

“Neither Greek, Nor Jew”

Next time, a 22-year-old man from Odessa will accompany on my next trip. I invite anyone, not only Australians, but Russians, too, to join me in my work in Pakistan. We have a hotel with armed security, where you will be safe. It is very important for Pakistanis if someone from Russia comes, because then they will feel that the entire Church supports them, cares for them. If you visit them, try to be as gregarious as you can, and poor people will give their last penny to make you feel comfortable.

My dream is to disseminate Orthodoxy, I have no fear of death, because I do everything for the sake of the Church, the Church is my family, my life, the Orthodox Faith overfills me, and I wish to share this with others.

-Fr Adrian, is this your first visit to Russia?

-Yes, this is my first time here. Russia was always a country I wished to visit. Of course, because of the Orthodox Church, I would be happy to stay here forever. One of the favorite saints of the Pakistani community is St Sergius of Radonezh. Being able to venerate his relics was very special for me.

-Do you plan on working with the Moscow Theological Academy?

-Yes. Three of our candidates will soon head for Thailand to see Fr Oleg for Liturgical practice. And I plan to send future candidates here, too. We also have six young women who wish to become nuns, they are about twenty years old. When I asked why, they said that they wish to become brides of Christ. You should know that in Pakistan, as a Muslim nation, a woman has no rights. Two of them were novices in a Catholic convent for six years. Nuns in the Catholic Church are different from Orthodox nuns. We have completely different rules. Fr Georgy Maksimov and I are trying to organize their trip to convents in Russia for a few weeks, so that they could experience that life for themselves.

-You will soon be inviting seminarians to join your mission in Pakistan. What requirements will you have of anyone wishing to go?

-To leave their pride at home. If someone pours you tea in a broken mug, thank them and drink it. The main thing is to be friendly, to love them—that is all you need. Of course, you have to imagine what Islam is and to be able to explain if needed why salvation is found in Orthodoxy, and nowhere else. Of course, I guarantee that you will be safe, better that I die than someone else suffers. One should not think about the Taliban, the community is fairly safe. It would be good if two or three students could go and help me with Liturgy, though I serve in Urdu, some songs could be sung in Church Slavonic.

-What will those who volunteer to go with you do? What will their job be?

– To sit with people and a translator whom I will provide, and tell them about the holy fathers, about Orthodox Christianity, the meaning of life. If you look at our photographs, you would see that I sit with them on the ground, without my cassock, and we talk like friends. My personal experience is that the true spread of the Gospel occurs during a cup of tea, during friendly conversation.

– Not all seminarians have the missionary spirit you speak of; do you think that seminaries can instill the desire to spread the truth to their students?

– It is very egotistical to want to save only oneself. It is easy to save yourself, but to save yourself and your neighbor is much harder. One must think about people who do not know Orthodoxy, do not know the true faith, one must remember that they are dying spiritually. Our goal is to bring them to faith. The seminary must use special programs, they must stress the importance of missionary work, and point to the examples of St Nicholas of Japan, Equal-to-the-Apostles, St John of Shanghai. And of course, it is desirable to invite renowned missionaries to read lectures on their experience.

– Fr Adrian, who finances your trips?

– I do, by working in American Express Bank five days a week.

– Tell us what in the Gospel touches the hearts of the Pakistani people most?

– They had heard the Gospel from the Catholics, and Evangelicals, and Anglicans. I try to emphasize life according to the Gospel, not simply teach them lessons about it. I explain that the Church is not a social club, the main goal of the Church is to approach holiness. In the Church we must see to it that the Gospel is preserved in our hearts, and, as we leave the temple, we must spread this Word of God to the whole world, so that it would give strength to us and to our neighbors.

– What questions are most often asked of you by your flock?

– Most often I am asked about the difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. I try to understand them and teach them that their goal is to approach sanctity. The problem is that Catholics don’t approach the level of the common man, they look upon a person as does a judge. As I said, Catholic priests often forget their pastoral role, but when Pakistanis receive care from an Orthodox priest, love is generated, and they immediately see the difference between Orthodoxy and other teachings. They see that this Indian priest named Adrian came to them and cares for them. I learned this from Vladyka Hilarion: when I was in Australia, Vladyka, at the time only an Archbishop, picked me up from the airport in his car, took me home and made me dinner.

Denis Grishkov

Source: ROCOR website

Written by Stephen

December 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Posted in Asia, Pakistan, ROCOR

ROCOR in Nicaragua

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I could be wrong, but would this be the first Orthodox parish in Nicaragua?

NICARAGUA: November 28, 2012

The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad Makes an Archpastoral Visit to Nicaragua

On November 12-14, 2012, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, visited Nicaragua. The main goal of the visit was to meet with clergymen and Orthodox faithful in the nation.

After his arrival, at a press conference, His Eminence noted: “I am making my first visit to Nicaragua on church matters, since many Orthodox Christians have settled here. Our parish here is headed by Hieromonk German (Castro). Nicaragua is a very good country, a country of light, and the people in this nation are kind and very attentive, living with great hopes for the future. It is very important that a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is opening here. At the present time, there are some 200 Orthodox believers living in Nicaragua. Our parish is located in Camoapa, but another will soon be established in Managua.”

In addition to meetings with clergymen and parishioners, a visit is also planned with Monsignor Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, and his aide, Monsignor Silvio Jose Baez Ortega. During their meeting they will share opinions on the problems affecting all Christians in Nicaragua.

Commenting on the visit of the First Hierarch to this nation, Mr AA Melik-Shakhnazarov, representative of the Russian agency Rossotrudnichestvo stressed that “it is very important for Orthodox Christians living in Nicaragua. They have new hope that the Church has not forgotten them, and they can turn to her for help in moments of need.”

As he bade farewell to Fr German and his parishioners, His Eminence promised to visit them again next year.

Source: ROCOR website

Written by Stephen

December 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm