Diocese of Central Africa
Lately the Most Merciful God has made us worthy to live special moments: the ceremony for the new graduates of our Theological School, the seminars that had been organized in Kananga and Buzimai for priests, constituent mission members and young people, the scientists’ association in Kinshasa, the missionary tours across the Metropolis and the operation of new schools.
The end of the academic year for the Orthodox University was celebrated with a grand feast, attended by a representative of the Ministry responsible for higher education; after that, the seminars were launched first for the priests of the Kasai region, then for the constituent members-catechists of the parish in Kananga, and finally, the seminar for the young people in the Buzimai region. Indeed, all these conduced to the spiritual progress of our Church members.
In the summer we were particularly engaged in the preparation of the new schools that would operate in various parts of the Congo. It took great efforts on our part to have the construction of four classrooms completed and then and get them ready to operate. There was a blessing service held at the official opening for the new academic year and, thank God, everything started operating properly.
Everybody worked hard. First of all His Grace Bishop Ignatius of Pentapolis, who, despite his old age, organized the seminars in Kananga and strived for the construction and operation of the school in Mikalayi, a generous donation of the Holy Metropolis of Xanthi. In this task he was helped not only by certain priests of Kananga, but also by the devoted to God sisters from Greece who work as missionaries beside him. The Bishop and his mission partners worked laboriously for the seminar organization in Buzimai, the scientists’ association, the reconstruction and operation of the schools in Gungu, Kikwit, Mbanza Ngungu, Bibua near the N’Djili airport of Kinshasa, Kasangulu, and also, for the maintenance work at the Theological School and the School of Informatics. Everyone was present and worked with enthusiasm, and their joy was immense when after their laborious effort, they saw the schools filled with happy students.
Immediately after the opening of the schools, the Metropolitan and his partners Fr. Jacob and Fr. Claudius left on a mission trip to Goma, Bukavu, Uvira, Kamila, 1540 km away from the capital, at the east end of the Metropolis.
The first stop was in Goma, a city next to a volcano, evidently affected by its last eruption. At the airport we were welcomed by the catechist Mr. Emilio and a delegation of young catechumens. It was an emotional moment seeing those young people with a fervent zeal for Orthodoxy without a priest, struggling all alone. We had a short conversation at the airport and arranged a meeting on our way back from Ouvira. The speedboat would be leaving soon, so we departed for the port. They escorted us until there. We embarked and sailed across Lake Kivu.
The lake was so large that it took us four hours to cross it by speedboat. It was worth it, though! Really beautiful! It reminded us of landscapes in Greece. With the small islands, the lush vegetation, the high mountains around … it did not really look like Africa. Finally, we disembarked at Bukavu, a city characterized by a European architectural style.
There we were received by a catechumen who took us to the hotel where we would spend the night. In the morning the priest of Uvira, Fr. Demetrios, arrived there with Kosmas, a young man who had attended theology courses at the Orthodox University. They had been travelling all day and all night in order to come and meet us.
We set off for Uvira via Rwanda. We chose this path because it was safer; otherwise we would have to travel for long hours in rough mountains through dangerous, narrow and steep roads. Uvira, a town built on Lake Tanganika, is a place where we have the sacred church of Saint Basil the Great and a school. There we were warmly welcomed by faithful brothers who had come from Baraka and other parishes and villages for us.
It was already afternoon. There was a doxology in the church, where the young men’s choir sang beautifully. It was really moving to see the congregation so happy. What followed were school visits and meetings with commissions for the resolution of several issues.
In the morning there was a Divine Liturgy held in the same church. The happy congregation chanted really beautifully. At the end of the service we met with the young parishioners. They hosted a dinner for us, and then we got ready for our way back to our base, following the same route. Once more we spent the night in Bukavu and the next morning we departed for Goma. There we were met by catechumens, several young people with their catechist, who had gathered in a school that belonged to one of them.
These people have no priest, no church. They rent a classroom in a school where they gather every Sunday in order to chant and read the New Testament, to be given a talk about God and Orthodoxy by the catechist, who is also a catechumen that learned about Orthodoxy during his stay in Kinshasa. They have zeal of God and a fervent desire to be baptized and have a priest, a sacred church, a school.
We talked to them, strengthened them and advised them to look for a plot of land in case a kind sponsor enlightened by God appeared. Then, we would be able to build the church and the school for them. We were also invited to speak to the children of the school which they rent. The children sang and thanked us for visiting them.
We left for Kinshasa with plenty of thoughts on our minds, deeply concerned about all these people, praising God for keeping them close to Orthodoxy. We came back to our base and continued our struggle.
During this period presbytera Chryssanthi Perissoglou came from Greece and diligently engaged herself in catechizing the women and in teaching the Greek language to a group of young people who had urgently been asking for Greek language classes.
On Saturday, November 8th, the Feast of the Archangels was celebrated at the church near the airport. Our faithful brothers came on buses from the other parishes of Kinshasa as well. The Archangel schoolchildren were sitting on their seats quietly and solemnly.
Their first Divine Liturgy: everyone’s joy was manifest, Saint Mark’s school choir would not stop chanting, and after the dismissal it went on to sing.
Then we were all gathered at the school, where the parish president and the official attendees spoke and thanked God and sponsors.
We all remembered that a few months before, on the Sunday of Thomas, we had gathered here again, and once we chanted the Resurrection service, we conducted a blessing service and laid the foundation stone of the school. Well, by the Grace of God the school has already been built, and it is now smoothly operating with three classes full of happy children.
Another new sacred church and another new school have opened, and are already operating smoothly in the heart of Africa, in Kinshasa DR Congo. This is why we praise God and thank the sponsors, who we mention constantly in our prayers.
From the Holy Metropolis