NAPLES, FL – Father John Chakos, Missionary to Guatemala, will kick off the 2018-19 Christian Rights and Freedom lecture series on Sunday, Oct. 21 at 12 noon, at St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church Hall, 7100 Airport Road North in Naples. His topic will be “Mission to Guatemala: The Fields are Ripe for Harvest.” The lecture is free and open to the public and includes a complimentary lunch.
Fr. Chakos and his wife Presvytera Alexandra (called Sandy for short) are Peace Corps veterans who served in the 1960s in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This experience heightened their sensitivity to the poverty and suffering of so many in the world. In 1971, their commitment to help others led them to Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, MA where John, a former high school English teacher, studied for the priesthood and Sandy, a former hospital food service manager, sewed cassocks for the seminarians. After Fr. Chakos’ ordination, they served in 3 parishes over the course of 38 years. Thirty one of those years were at Holy Cross Church, Pittsburgh, PA, where their 4 children and 11 grandchildren are still members.
In 1997, they took a 6-month sabbatical from the parish to serve the church in Tanzania. They have had a long, warm relationship with the nuns and children of the Hogar Rapfael Ayau orphanage in Guatemala, having led many mission teams there; their youngest child, Jennifer, was adopted from there. The Abbess there introduced them to Monsignor Andres Giron de Leon, leader of the 300 Mayan communities which were accepted into the Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico. Now in Guatemala, Fr. Chakos is helping to establish a seminary, train catechists, coordinate the arrival of mission teams, support orphans and needy children, and aid the clergy in ministering to the sacramental needs of the communities. Presvytera Alexandra is teaching sewing of priestly vestments, cassocks, robes for altar boys, and other necessities. Their blog, thewordfromguatemala.com, provides more information on the Chakos’ work with their mission.
According to the organization’s website, “The Christian Rights and Freedom Institute is a Christian, private donor supported educational and advocacy organization bearing witness to God’s love on the current moral and ethical challenges of our day, especially on religious liberty, the UN’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights, on persecution, and on genocide.
“We envision a world where all people are respected as being created in the, ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ of God. (Genesis 1:26-27)
“The Institute was founded in 2014 in response to the invasion of Mosul, Iraq as a means of opposing and stopping the ensuing genocide. It sponsors an annual speaker series, culminating each year with the National Christian Rights and Freedom Symposium.”