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OCMC News - Mission Update: Guatemala

by Jesse Brandow (Posted 2/18/2015)

OCMC News - Mission Update: Guatemala
Last November, Guatemalan clergy met with Metropolitan Athenagoras in Mexico City to develop a strategic plan for Guatemala following the repose of Fr. Andres Giron in order to continue to effectively minister to the Mayan Orthodox Christian communities.

Last November, priests from Guatemala met with Metropolitan Athenagoras in Mexico City. They developed a strategic plan for Guatemala, including three goals: (1) enable Fr. Mihail (Fernando Castellanos) to succeed Fr. Andrés as leader in Guatemala by sending him abroad to study theology, (2) identify potential deacons and priests in the Guatemalan villages and train them on-site, (3) complete the medical clinic in Aguacate and develop a strategy for ongoing healthcare.

In January, Fr. John Chakos and Pres. Sandy returned to Guatemala with a small mission team to assist in Aguacate. Almost 1,000 people gathered for a marathon service with 6 weddings and 13 baptisms. This coming summer, two mission teams will travel to Guatemala. You can volunteer for one through OCMC.

February 16 was the one-year anniversary of the death of Fr. Andrés Girón, the leader and advocate of these Mayan villages. The people held large memorial services and eulogies.

I can't tell you how much I miss Fr. Andrés as we mark the one-year anniversary of his death (Feb 16). I got to know this great man as a father. Imagine driving in a car with Martin Luther King, Jr., or having tea with Mahatma Gandhi. I look to Fr. Andrés with the same degree of love and admiration.

During one car ride in 2012, Fr. Andrés stopped at a small store and walked inside with me. He walked carefully, holding my arm because of his increasing weakness. Suddenly he stopped, stared into my eyes, and said, "do you see this cassock, Jesse? This doesn't make me a priest! The people in the villages made me a priest. Always remember that!" Then we continued into the store to buy coffee and food, and his words lingered in the air. I never forgot those spontaneous, prophetic moments; the words of Fr. Andrés linger in the room where I sit and type, they permeate the churches where his people pray, and they flow through the mountain air of Guatemala where thousands of people still look to this man as a father.

Now, as I prepare to move on April 21st, I ask Fr. Andrés to pray for me and to beg God that I will serve his people faithfully. I try to honor his words from that car ride by remembering that the villages made me a missionary. Not only that, but all of you are making me a missionary each day through your prayers and support. Join me today in prayer, as we remember Fr. Andrés Girón and the villages that love him dearly.

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Prayer for Missions

God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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