(June 27, 2013 – Bogotá) The newly appointed Archiepiscopal Vicar, the Rev. Fr. Christopher GRIST recently completed his first official visit to Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia. On Sunday, the Vicar celebrated Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos. There to greet the newly appointed Vicar were: Archimandrite Timotheos (Torres), Protopresbyter Mijael García, Hieromonk Cosmas, Presbyter José Ruiz, Presbyter Misael Angel Rodríguez, and Deacon Leandros Burbano.
Meeting with the local Priest throughout the week, the Vicar expressed His Eminence’s concern for the Orthodox faithful, the poor, and the displaced by declaring more must be done to show the love of Christ to all in Colombia. A five year plan for Colombia was discussed, which included fundraising for the Senior Residence Center in Cúcuta. As well as, the construction of schools in Bogotá and Cúcuta, and a mental health facility in the heart of the country’s capital. Despite the current lack of funds, the Vicar is confident, that through prayer and action, Colombia will soon become a self-sustaining mission deanery. This will be accomplished by embarking on projects that will bring in much needed funding to enable the expansion of the Archdiocese’s humanitarian projects.
While in Bogotá the Vicar also met with delegates from the Interior Ministry of Colombia, who reiterated the importance of the presence of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico in the country; adding that the historical significance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate must be brought more to light. During the discussions, the Vicar assured the Ministry that the church will do everything in its power to support President Santos’ vision to make education more accessible for the poor.
The Vicar is now preparing to travel to Medellín, Cali, Pereira, and Cartagena in the following weeks. When asked what he thought of his new assignment the Vicar responded: “Our Lord says: ‘the harvest is great, but the workers are few’. This is true everywhere, but out of all of the places that I have ever visited: it is more evident here (in Colombia). They say the ground is so fertile in Colombia that you can drop a seed anywhere, and watch a plant sprout up the next day. I see that with the people of this beautiful country as well. If we plant a seed of God’s love, a seed of Christ’s sacrifice, a seed of Orthodoxy; we will come back to find a beautiful garden dedicated to our Lord. I have no doubt.” Concerning how he was treated by the Colombian people: “It was incredible” said Archiepiscopal Vicar Fr. Christopher GRIST. “I could not go anywhere with out someone stopping me, asking what Church I was with, then immediately asking for a blessing, after I told them the Ecumenical Patriarchate”. He goes on to tell the story of when he was leaving the airport in Bogotá: “A young lady was a doing a very good job checking the travelers to insure safety. When she got to me, she grabbed my pectoral cross, and said ‘Greek Orthodox?’, in which I responded; correct, very good. She then proceeded to hold out her hands and said ‘Your blessing, Father!’ I was deeply moved». The Vicar concluded: «I no longer say that His Eminence sent me to Colombia. I now say: ‘His Eminence has sent me home’. Colombia is my home now, and it is indeed a blessing from the Lord, because there is no place I’d rather be. Now it’s time to bring Orthodoxy home to Colombia”.
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico – Press Release
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