“It was incredibly humbling to witness such pure enthusiasm from the people in Colombia as well as everyone else who participated. Their eagerness to learn and connect deeper with the Orthodox faith” through learning about the Sacraments of the Orthodox Church, “reminded me how much of our faith I sometimes take for granted because it has always been a part of my life,” observed team member Eliana Davis from Charlotte, NC. Nearly 100 individuals connected throughout the day on January 30, 2021 from Colombia, Venezuela, and Mexico to hear presentations about the Sacraments of the Orthodox Church – the major vehicles of God’s love and grace.
The community of St Athanasios Orthodox Church gathered outside, in the warm coastal air of Cereté, with their pastor Fr. Rafael Padilla for the first virtual mission team for Colombia. A St. Athanasios participant said, “Thanks to everyone who made this mission possible in this community!” And His Grace Bishop Timoteo of Assos, the newly elected Auxiliary Bishop of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico, concluded the day by stating: “I am very happy for this work, and my gratitude to OCMC for all its efforts… in Colombia.”
Due to the coronavirus, the in-person OCMC Team to Colombia was unable to travel, but the work continued virtually with a dedicated team comprised of people from the United States and Canada. While there are many needs for those impacted by the pandemic, the community in Cereté remains eager to learn about their new Orthodox faith and requested permission from their bishop to host the virtual team.
Blandina Jones, a team member from Indianapolis, adds, “Of course, we all wish fervently that we could be in Colombia in person, to share the love as well as our humble explanations, because when all is said and done, it’s the love that matters most.” And Fr. Thomas Langdon of Clarksville, TN, noted, “It’s a metaphor of our sacramental life that we will not soon forget.” It is through the Sacraments, and our sacramental life, that we are united in love through Jesus Christ to each other.
Special thank you to His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico for blessing this event and inviting all the clergy of Colombia and Venezuela, and to the many individuals who contributed so that equipment and supplies could be purchased to make this event a reality.
Other team members who taught included: Dr Kenneth Alonso of Tampa, FL; Mary Friesen of Martensville, Saskatchewan, Canada; Doris Hunter of Lilburn, GA; Dimosthenis Katsis of Seattle, WA; and Matushka Sarah Langdon of Clarksville, TN.
Fr. Rafael, pastor of the host parish reminded all participants, “Please pray for the catechumens and the work of evangelism in Colombia,” and thanked Bishop Timoteo, his brother clergy, OCMC, and the virtual mission Team members for their presence.
A second OCMC virtual team to Cereté is scheduled on February 27, 2021. Please visit www.ocmc.org for more information about this and other upcoming virtual mission team opportunities for Albania, Kenya, and Nigeria in the coming months.