Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico visited Haiti this past week bringing comfort to the clergy and Orthodox faithful of the earthquake stricken Island. His Eminence arrived from Greece where he was visiting for official Church business, aboard a Greek Government plane, with the Assistant Foreign Minister of Greece and the Executive Director of the NGO “Solidarity” of the Church of Greece. The plane was carrying 50 tons of food, medicine and other aid, a gift from the Greek Government and the Church of Greece, for the people of Haiti.
His Eminence immediately visited the homes and schools of the Greek Orthodox ministry in Haiti to assess the damage done by the earthquake. He was deeply moved by what he saw; “This is a disaster of immense proportions” he noted. All of the buildings where the Greek Orthodox Church and schools are presently housed were seriously damaged and will need major repairs, or even worse, will need to be demolished and rebuilt. His Eminence further visited the property owned by the Holy Metropolis where the Metropolis has plans to build a complete complex, comprised of a Church, a school, a clinic and housing for clergy.
Since the property is presently vacant, families whose homes were destroyed and who had no place to live, are presently using the property for temporary living quarters. About 3000 people live on the Church property, 1000 of whom are children. Initially they lived out in the open until last week when the Metropolis received a donation of 500 tents, which were given to these families for more humane living conditions.
On Wednesday, along with two Haitian clergy, Metropolitan Athenagoras performed Divine Liturgy in a small open area of the property. The Divine Liturgy was attended by many hundreds of Haitian Orthodox Faithful and by all of the families living on the property. Upon the completion of the Divine Liturgy His Eminence brought the people the blessings and Patriarchal concern of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and offered words of comfort to the Haitian faithful and all those present, asking them to keep hope alive. “We will not abandon you, we are here and will remain with you, for as many years as it takes, until you can return to your homes or until new homes can be built. We will rebuild our Church, we will rebuild our schools and we will do everything possible to help you rebuild your lives and your future” noted Metropolitan Athenagoras.
Following Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Athenagoras and the clergy distributed rice, flour, raisins and other food aid, which was part of the aid given by the Greek Government and the Church of Greece, to the families present.
On his way to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to meet with His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and receive his advice and consolation and blessings for the best way to proceed in bringing spiritual comfort and aid to Haiti and our Haitian Orthodox Community, Metropolitan Athenagoras passed through New York and visited with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America. Archbishop Demetrios was deeply concerned to hear about Metropolitan Athenagoras’ recent visit to Haiti. Upon assessing the present situation, together they determined a plan of action which Metropolitan Athenagoras will present to Patriarch Bartholomew, so that, with the help of IOCC and the financial aid and assistance provided by the Church of America, positive measures can be pursued in helping the people of Haiti meet their immediate needs while working towards a long term and more permanent solution in rebuilding the lives and future of this Haitian Orthodox community.
Metropolitan Athenagoras will return to Haiti the first weekend of March when he is to meet with the President of Haiti Mr. Rene Preval to discuss with him various options available for a cooperative effort with the Haitian Government, for the benefit of the people of the devastated island nation.
Story originally posted on Orthodox Christian Network .