This year the parish of Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg and the Hermitage of St. Ignatius in Guatemala were the occasion of special celebration. His Eminence Metropolitan Demetrius of America, accompanied by Hieromonk Theologos of St. John the Wonderworker Monastery and number of faithful from the United States and Canada, arrived in Guatemala Feb. 4, where they were met by Hieromonk Maximus and who has been appointed Dean of the Latin American missions. They immediately began a whirlwind of activity.
After serving the Vespers the Publican and Pharisee in the church of St. Xenia in Guatemala City (the capital of the country), they drove to the Hermitage of St. Ignatius, located on top of an isolated mountain in Santa Cruz Naranjo, an hour and a half away. They spent the night there and on Sunday morning served the Divine Liturgy. Then they returned to the city, accompanied by a number of catechumens from the Hermitage. At 8:30 pm, Feb. 5, the vigil for the feast of St. Xenia began, and lasted until 2. The parishioners and pilgrims put mats and blankets on the floor of the church and the trapeza in order to sleep until the beginning of the Divine Liturgy at 9 am. The long vigil was a challenge for many of the Guatemalans of Roman Catholic background, who are accustomed to very short services, but all enjoyed the service greatly. After the Liturgy there was a festive meal and the catechumens returned to Santa Cruz Naranjo.
The next day, the group split up: the majority of the group went Antigua (the old Spanish capital) and Lake Atitlan, while the rest went to Santa Cruz Naranjo to help Dr. James Goodman, a doctor from the mission of St. X in South Carolina, run a medical clinic, which attended more than 100 poor and infirm of the town. On Friday night, all gathered at the Hermitage for the Vespers of the Saint. The next morning, Feb. 11, the feast day of St. Ignatius, Metropolitan Demetrius baptized 8 people in a pool at the Hermitage. This was followed by the Liturgy, and then all returned to St. Xenia’s, where the Metropolitan served the Hierarchal Liturgy on Sunday, Feb. 12, and straightway left for the United States together with the other pilgrims.
The pilgrims carried back with them in their luggage to their respective parishes coffee that the fathers have been producing in the Hermitage of St. Ignatius. This high quality Arabica coffee, grown at nearly 5,000 feet in volcanic soil, is the major source of income for the mission in Guatemala. We encourage all to purchase it, both to support the mission and receive a blessing from the Hermitage. We also ask for prayers for the newly illumined faithful. May St. Xenia and St. Ignatius continue to strengthen and grow the mission in Guatemala!
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Jonesboro is a town located near the Eastern border of Arkansas, with a population of approximately 60,000. From a human standpoint, it’s not the most likely candidate for a traditional Orthodox mission, but for an Orthodox Christian who orders his priorities around Christ and His Church, it makes perfect sense. Read more...