Years go by and it is essential whether we leave our traces on them or not and whether those traces be recognized by the Lord. For eternal is only His own memory, since it lies beyond time and space. Our human memory is limited, confined by time. Nevertheless, it is necessary that we have a good memory, and we are well aware of the fact that the Lord rejoices over us if we leave behind memories that reflect Him.
As for us, the remaining ones, we should consider ourselves benefited if we have the blessing to be able to talk about people and things that passed through our lives and sealed us with the morals they taught us, the piety they showed and the charitable feelings with which they surrounded not only us but also those who the holy writer calls “sitting in darkness and in the land of shadow”. However, isn’t that the condensation of the gospel message, life and love in Christ?
This year is the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Fraternity, which was established by the dear departed Pantelis Bayas, Panagiotis Papademetracopoulos as well as you along with some friends of the Mission under the spiritual guidance of the late Fr Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos, and which, later on, complying with the requirements of the times, took the name “Orthodox Missionary Fraternity”.
While studying at the School of Theology about twenty years ago, I was lucky enough to meet and bea student of Panagiotis Papademetracopoulos. I could only admire his love for my country and its people and I learned a lot of things about missionary ministry. His morals, his missionary zeal as well as his warm-heartedness were life lessons to me.
We, the Ugandans, are grateful to your Fraternity as it was the first one to support the Church in Uganda, and has been by our side ever since at all costs, showing great understanding and admirable patience, being a modest helper and supporter throughout its course. As the current bishop of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Burundi and Rwanda, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for your contribution, love and discretion towards the whole missionary effort of our Church.
Those fifty years of ministry on the part of the Fraternity were blessed and rich in experiences. We hope that you, the younger generation, honor and enrich what you have taken over. May the memory of those persons who worked here as well as their life inspire us all.
I would humbly like to ask you to pray to the Lord so that I can be worthy enough to respond properly to the ministry which His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore II has entrusted to me and be able to continue the mission I took over from those preceding me in my bishopric.
May Christ, who defeated death and is the Resurrection and the Life Himself, be lenient to my people, who suffered so much from death and cruelty. May we be His own good servants for ever and ever.
With ardent prayers unto the Lord,
Innocentios of Burundi and Rwanda