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Church

Apostolic Diakonia the great treasure of the Church of Greece

BOSTON – The Apostolic Diakonia, an ecclesiastical organization of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, is really the great treasure of the Church of Greece because with its activities and high sacred mission enriches parishes in Greece and also in the Orthodox Diaspora all over the world with its many publications in many languages. Its Director, His Eminence Metropolitan Agathangelos of Fanarion, spoke to The National Herald about the work and mission of the Apostolic Diakonia.

Metropolitan Agathangelos noted that, “it was founded 87 years ago, operates, and constitutes an ecclesiastical organization under the control and supervision of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. Holy missions, catechism, culture, publishing, the student Boarding School with its staff – all this activity at an Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Christian level [reflects, depicts] is witness to the loving, charitable attitude of the Church to the human being.”

His Eminence Metropolitan Agathangelos of Fanarion. Director of the Apostolic Diakonia.
PHOTO EUROKINISSI/CHRISTOS BONIS

Asked whether young people, and more generally, persons of all ages in Greece, are aware of what the Church “is” as opposed to what “it is not,” he said, “I believe and, from my personal communication with youth, have the sense that nowadays our young people are genuine in their quests. They keep wondering; they look for models; they are respectful and kind; they go to church; they take Communion; they visit monasteries; they come to Confession. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go to reach out to our children and meet with them. What they need is for us to show them, by means of our way of life and our example, that the Church is not a man-made organization nor merely a place where our psychological and emotional needs are satisfied, but the theanthropic Body of Christ, filled by the acts of the All-Holy Spirit. Church is the eucharistic community, Christ Himself.”

Apart from Greek, books are also published in English, French, and Russian. Recently a project of translating the Divine Liturgy into Swedish, English, German, and Persian (the Farsi dialect) was launched for immigrants and Christians in Asia Minor and Iran. Also, books are published in electronic form.

Metropolitan Agathangelos said about the missionary work abroad that, “Christ commanded us to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel. Today, God’s Spirit blows wherever it pleases. Churches are founded in Africa, Asia, the Far East, Latin America. Within the framework of the Lord’s missionary commandment the Apostolic Diakonia strives to stand by each missionary Church by sending financial aid, erecting churches, enhancing social activities, publishing theological books and children’s books, as well as books on hygiene. It also grants scholarships for studies in Greece, which is the most important area of missionary giving.”

From the event of the Apostolic Diakonia honoring His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria. Shown is His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece. PHOTO EUROKINISSI/CHRISTOS BONIS

He also said that, “one of the core activities of the Apostolic Diakonia is also the running of the Student Boarding School, which has operated in facilities owned by it uninterruptedly during the last 80 years. So far it has been home to over 9,500 students and scholars from a wide range of scientific disciplines from our own country, and other countries on different continents, so that these students may be able to complete their undergraduate and post-graduate studies. Most of these young persons are poor, and others are orphaned or come from divorced parents. Some are children of immigrants and seek a safe and decent environment, while holders of scholarships from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the apostolic diakonia organizations from the other Orthodox Churches are also hosted in it.”

For many years now the Apostolic Diakonia runs the Schools for Catechists serving young persons, as well as sign language schools, while at the same time it always sees to the publication of catechetical manuals for children of all ages.

Asked what he believes about the Omogenia, he stressed the challenges and importance of the mission by recalling the words of the Greek poet and Nobel laureate George Seferis: “How are we to look Western culture in the eye if we do not draw strength from our own roots and without toiling systematically for our own tradition?” The Metropolitan said that, “within this reality we live in on an ecumenical scale, one wonders whether there can be ecclesiastical communion or unity. What are we to say to our Christians? How are we to speak to our children? How are we to teach the tidings of salvation to the world? How are we to receive the message of times, so as to deliver it, Christified, to our peoples?”

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