Over 500,000 Guatemalans Received Into Canonical Orthodoxy
Announcement from the Ecumenical Patriarch Secretariate in Mexico, April 7, 2010:
In conformity with the canonical responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the diaspora, and sharing the vision of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW, the Holy Metropolis of Mexico is pleased to announce that, in an unceasing and continuing mission outreach ministry effectively being pursued by the Holy Metropolis of Mexico for these past twelve years, with active ministries in Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, and following months of catechetical and pastoral preparation by the Mitered Archimandrite Andrew Vujisi, Archiepiscopal Vicar for the Holy Metropolis, and upon the written request and petition of Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos, leaders of a religious community in Guatemala, the heretofore Orthodox Catholic Church of Guatemala (OCCG), has been canonically received into the Holy Metropolis of Mexico.
In announcing this exciting development, His Eminence Metropolitan ATHENAGORAS of Mexico expressed his great pleasure in welcoming the OCCG which was received in its entirety, including their former clergy, seminarians, lay ministers, catechists and affiliated membership into the canonical family of the Orthodox Church. Following their official reception, the leaders of OCCG, Messrs. Andrew Girón and Michael Castellanos traveled to Mexico City where on the weekend of March 19-21, they were ordained to the Holy Priesthood, receiving the title of Archimandrite.
The OCCG has an approximate membership of 527,000 faithful and catechumens, overwhelmingly indigenous, with 334 churches in Guatemala and southern Mexico, with 12 (formerly OCCG) clergymen and 14 seminarians, who are assisted in their pastoral ministry by 250 lay ministers and 380 catechists. The administrative offices of the OCCG are located on 280 acres of land, with a community college and 2 schools with 12 professors / teachers. Additionally, the OCCG has an established monastery located on 480 acres of land. Fourteen students from Guatemala, with full scholarship, are now enrolled in the St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Theological Institute Licentiate degree program. The seminary is fully accredited by the Holy Metropolis’ Department of Education.
The reception of the former OCCG into the canonical fold of the Orthodox Church, is in accord with the ministry of the Holy Metropolis of Mexico which, since 1996 has been answering the command of our Lord to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). By directive of Metropolitan ATHENAGORAS, Mitered Archimandrite Andrew (Vujisi?) has now assumed the arduous task of preparing qualified men and women, indigenous to Guatemala and the Latin American culture and experience, for leadership roles in the Orthodox Church, thus advancing apostolic diakonia and outreach into the broader region, and creating an environment, that while fostering respect for indigenous cultures, will develop a proper knowledge and understanding of the Orthodox faith, leading our new Guatemalan family to a spiritual and sacramental life, an Orthodox phronema, and orthopraxia.