Latin America: Peoples in search of Orthodoxy


Latin America: Peoples in search of Orthodoxy


Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico

Thirteen years ago, when I undertook the (then newly-established) Holy Metropolis of Mexico with only three priests and three mainly Greek-speaking communities, in Mexico, Panama and Venezuela, I would never have expected, let alone conceive the miracle that is unfolding today for our Orthodox Church in Latin America. We all lived the miracle of Cuba, when Fidel Castro’s government undertook the construction of the Sacred Temple of Saint Nicholas in Havana and officially received Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who officiated the inauguration of that Holy shrine in January of 2004.  In the decade that passed, we experienced the propagating of our faith in the states of Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, etc… just as we experienced – and continue to experience – the continuing drama of the people of Haiti, after the catastrophic earthquake of last January.  A drama which unfortunately will heal, only after several years have passed.


Orthodox children of Cuba

Greece became acquainted with Christianity and lived its own Pentecost around two thousand years ago, through the Apostle Paul and the other Apostles.  Greece is the most blessed country in the world. And this is because – as I point out to our priests – whichever stone you lift, underneath it you will find the relics of a Saint, a Martyr, a holy man, a fighter for the Orthodox faith…  We, however, in Latin America are living our Pentecost today.  For us – with the Sigue leyendo “Latin America: Peoples in search of Orthodoxy”


The explosive growth of Orthodoxy in Guatemala




The explosive growth of Orthodoxy in Guatemala




Whenever someone speaks of “American Orthodoxy,” there is usually an unspoken understanding that the term refers to North American Orthodoxy: the United States, Canada, and sometimes Mexico. This way of speaking is indeed convenient, considering that the majority of Orthodox parishes in the Western Hemisphere are still located in North America. However, in the past few years a great change has occurred in Latin America that makes it increasingly inaccurate to focus on North America as the western outpost of Orthodoxy. Just two years ago, in 2010, the Orthodox Church received a large group of Guatemalan converts numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Now Guatemala, and possibly all of Latin America, holds tremendous promise of becoming fertile ground for the Orthodox Christian Church.

The seed of Orthodoxy in Guatemala was planted by the nuns of the Hogar Rafael Ayau, an Orthodox orphanage in Guatemala City. Many people are familiar with the incredible work of Mother Inés, Mother Ivonne, and Mother María. In fact, just this year a group of seminarians from St. Vladimir’s Seminary traveled with the seminary Chancellor/CEO Archpriest Chad Hatfield to see the work of the nuns and to assist at the orphanage. It is through these nuns that the Guatemalan soil was first prepared for the Orthodox Church.

Now, with the recent chrismation of a new group of Guatemalan converts that numbers between 100,000 and 200,000, the Orthodox Church is ready to blossom in Guatemala. The magnitude of the event cannot be overstated. Almost overnight, Guatemala has become the most Orthodox country in the Western Hemisphere (by percentage of national population). Furthermore, the Orthodox communities in Guatemala continue to grow rapidly and attract attention throughout Guatemala. There is still, however, little information available to the broader Orthodox world on the history and character of these new communities. For this reason, I traveled to Guatemala this summer, spending two months visiting many of the Orthodox parishes, meeting the leaders of the communities, and accompanying the bishop of the Guatemalan Church—His Eminence, Metropolitan Athenagoras—as he made his historic first visit to the new parishes in Guatemala. I returned to the United States with the desire to share what I saw and the conviction that the Holy Spirit is at work with power in Latin America…

“Orthodoxy has a great future in Guatemala” – A conversation with Abbess Ines, head of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Guatemala


Gautemala 2




“Orthodoxy has a great future in Guatemala”


A conversation with Abbess Ines,

head of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Guatemala



Abbess Ines (Ayau Garcia) – Abbess Ines is the head of the only Orthodox parish in Guatemala – the Monastery of the Holy and Life-Giving Trinity, the “Lavra of Mambre”, under the Patriarchate of Antioch. She comes from an influential and well known family in Guatemala which has produced many outstanding individuals. When [then Catholic] Sister Ines was 36 years old, she made an extreme change in her life, leaving a Catholic monastic order and becoming an Orthodox nun.

Holy Trinity Monastery was founded by Mother Ines and Sister Maria Amistoso in April of 1986. In 1989, the engineer Federico Bauer donated a piece of land on the shores of Lake Amatitlan, not far from Guatemala City, to the monastery. The land is 1188 meters [about 3900 feet] above sea level and is located near Pacaya, one of the most active volcanoes in Central America. Sigue leyendo ““Orthodoxy has a great future in Guatemala” – A conversation with Abbess Ines, head of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Guatemala”

Video: Ορθόδοξοι Αμερικανοί Φοιτητές στην Ιεραποστολή της Γουατεμάλα




Ορθόδοξοι Αμερικανοί Φοιτητές στην Ιεραποστολή της Γουατεμάλα

Ángel Guardián


spring flowers (9)


Ángel Guardián


“Ángel de paz, fiel maestro, protector de nuestros almas y cuerpos” — nosotros pedimos a Dios, orando en el templo. La Iglesia Ortodoxa cree que el hombre al nacer, recibe de Dios un Ángel Guardián. Nuestro Señor Jesucristo dijo: “Tengan cuidado de no despreciar a ninguno de estos pequeños, porque les digo que sus Ángeles en el Cielo siempre ven la faz de Mi Padre Celestial” (Mt. 18:10).

El beato Agustín escribe: “Los Ángeles con gran dedicación y diligencia, permanecen con nosotros a toda hora y en todo lugar, nos ayudan, piensan en nuestras necesidades, sirven de intermediarios entre nosotros y Dios, elevando a El nuestras quejas y suspiros… Nos acompaña en todos nuestros caminos, entran y salen con nosotros, observando como nos comportamos entre ese genero engañoso y con que empeño deseamos y buscamos al Reino de Dios.” Un pensamiento semejante tiene San Basilio el Grande: “Con cada fiel hay un Ángel, quien como niñera o pastor dirige su vida” y para demostración cita las palabras de David, el salmista: “A sus Ángeles dirá sobre ti — que te protejan en todos tus caminos…” “Ángel del Señor hará guardia alrededor de los que Le temen y los ayudará” (Sal. 90:11, 33:8).

El Obispo Theofano el Recluso enseña: “Hay que recordar, que tenemos a un Ángel Guardián y dirigirse a El con pensamiento y corazón — en nuestra vida normal y especialmente cuando ésta se agita. Si no nos dirigimos a El, el Ángel no puede aconsejarnos. Cuando alguien se dirige a un abismo у pantano con ojos cerrados y los oídos tapados — como es posible ayudarle?”

Así el cristiano debe recordar a su buen Ángel, que durante toda su vida se preocupa por él, se regocija con sus éxitos espirituales, se acongoja con sus caídas. Cuando el hombre muere, el Ángel lleva su alma a Dios. Según muchos testimonios, el alma reconoce a su Ángel Guardián, cuando llega al mundo espiritual.

Guardian Angel 2

Oración al Ángel Guardián

Ángel de Dios, mi Santo protector,
que me fuiste dado por Dios para mi salvaguarda, te ruego: ilumíname, pretéjame de todo mal, dirígeme hacia el bien y hacia el camino de la salvación.

Facebook: Native American Orthodox Christian Fellowship (NAOCF)



Native American Orthodox Christian Fellowship (NAOCF)


The new face of Mayan Christianity – Orthodox Holy Week & Easter of Mayans in Guatemala




The new face of Mayan Christianity

Orthodox Holy Week & Easter of Mayans in Guatemala


Christianity among the Mayan Native Americans is undergoing a dramatic change in places like Guatemala and Southern Mexico. This shifting of religious identity is part of a larger trend that is enveloping much of Latin America.

According to the Pew Research Center report, published in November of 2014, “historical data suggests that for most of the 20th Century, from 1900 through the 1960′s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Roman Catholic.” Remarkably, however, in just one lifetime, the Pewsurvey indicates that only “69% of adults across the region identify as Roman Catholic.”

Up until recently, Orthodox Christianity did not play much of a role in this changing landscape. Most of our parishes consisted of immigrant colonies, established mainly to perpetuate the customs, languages  and traditions of their respective ethnic cultures  and mother churches in Europe.

The title of a recent article in the Huffington Post by Carol Kuruvilla, however, announces a major shift in this approach to the church’s mission: “The Greek Orthodox Church In Latin America Is Not Very Greek.” Embracing this change and adapting to this new reality, Archbishop Athenagoras, since his 1996 appointment by Patriarch Bartholomew to shepherd the Central American Church, has reached out to the indigenous people of this vast region, encompassing Mexico, Central America, Columbia, Venezuela, and the Caribbean Islands. Of his 52 active clergy, only 3 are of Greek descent. The enthusiastic reception by His Eminence Athenagoras of many thousands of Mayan Christians into the Orthodox fold has transformed his church into a unity of diverse people, sharing one faith, but speaking many native dialects, as on the day of Pentecost. On a recent visit to the village of Aguacate, he was able to begin Holy Week with the Mayan faithful, who now comprise the  vast majority of his growing flock in Central America.