Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico visited Haiti recently, in order to be on the side of the clergy and Orthodox faithful at the earthquake stricken island. He arrived to Port au Prince 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.
Metropolitan Athenagoras immediately visited the homes and schools of Greek Orthodox faithful in Haiti to assess the damage done by the earthquake. Deeply moved by what he saw, “this is a disaster of immense proportions” he noted. “All of the buildings where our 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 plans to build a complete complex, comprised of a Church, a school, a clinic and housing for clergy, had been approved. “Since our property is presently vacant, families whose homes were destroyed and who had no place to live, are presently using our property for temporary living quarters,” he said. 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.
Along with two Haitian Greek Orthodox clergy, Metropolitan Athenagoras performed Divine Liturgy in a small open area of the property. The Liturgy was attended by many hundreds of Haitian Greek Orthodox faithful and by all of the families living there. Upon the completion of the Divine Liturgy His Eminence brought the people the blessings and concern of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and offered words of comfort to 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,” Metropolitan Athenagoras stated.
Following Liturgy, 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, Metropolitan Athenagoras passed through New York and visited with Archbishop Demetrios of America. 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 the Haitian Greek Orthodox Community.
Metropolitan Athenagoras was expected to return to Haiti the first weekend of March when he was to meet with President Rene Preval to discuss various options available for a cooperative effort with the Haitian Government for the benefit of the people of this devastated island nation.
Anyone wishing to assist the efforts in bringing comfort and aid to the people of Haiti and the Haitian Orthodox Community may offer a donation either by making an automatic Bank deposit, or by writing a check addressed to “Haiti Christian Orthodox Relief Fund” and sending it to the following address:
CHASE BANK, ROUTING NUMBER #071000013 / SWIFT CODE CHASUS33
For the Account of: ORTHODOX MISSIONS MEXICO, HAITI ORTHODOX RELIEF FUND, 708 Hanbury Dr., Des Plaines, Ill. 60016
ACCOUNT # 867222986
The Holy Metropolis of Mexico, under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, covers the Caribbean Islands, Central America, Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia. For more information the phone number is 011 52 55 5294 4460 and the email address [email protected]