VLADYKA NEKTARIOS’S TRIP TO THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Upon the request and recommendation of the Holy Synod of the Genuine Orthodox of America, His Eminence Vladyka Nektarios, Bishop of Kampala and Uganda, accepted to go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ordain deacons and priests, and to tonsure new readers and subdeacons. This trip began on the 24th of June and lasted until the 25th of July (31 days total). Four priests and three deacons were ordained for the parishes in the Congo.
VOYAGE FROM UGANDA, GOMA, BUNIA, KINSHASA, KANANGA, DILEMBU, ZUMBU AND TSHIKAPA IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
On Friday 25th June 2021, His Eminence Vladyka Nektarios arrived at the airport in Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a Pastoral Missionary visit to The Genuine Orthodox Christians in the country to tonsure readers and subdeacons, and to ordain deacons and priests. He was accompanied by Rev. Fr. Spiridon who never made it to completion because of the lack of sufficient travel documents.
CLEARANCE WITH GOMA IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT.
After clearance with the immigration department at the airport in Goma city in the province of North Kivu, and as a policy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in observance of health measures in the country that requires that all arrivals must have a Covid–19 test: tests were done and samples were taken to Serena hotel in Goma. Results were to be picked up on Saturday 26th June 2021 at 2:00pm. This therefore meant that the flight to Goma had to leave Vladyka behind. Results of the Covid test for Vladyka Nektarios were very good and no Covid-19 was detected. Vladyka spent 3 days in one of the hotels in Goma waiting for the flight for Bunia on Monday.
On Thursday 1st July 2021, His Eminence Vladyka Nektarios left for Kananga from Bunia by Congo Airways, via Kisangani airport and Kinshasa, where he stayed in one of the hotels in Kinshasa.
At 12:30pm, His Eminence Vladyka Nektarios went to Ndijil International Airport to make formal arrangements, and was then ready to depart for Kananga.
BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THE CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS – KANANGA.
The Church of St. Nicholas in Kananga was started in 2006 with the blessing and protection of His Eminence Archbishop Gregory. The parish priest Rev. Fr. Clement Mukebayi has been faithful and transparent to his parishioners.
St. Nicholas church is properly and permanently constructed. It has five sub-parishes, with a total of one thousand and thirty five (1035) True Orthodox Christians.
The breakdown is as follows:
Number of Christians
Church of St. Nicholas
Church of St. Iakovos
Church of St. Cyprian and Justine
Church of St. Gregory Palamas – Ndesha
Church of St. Gregory the Theologian
Church of St. Gregory Palamas – Dibaya
The parish of St. Nicholas has both Primary and Secondary schools.
ARRIVAL IN KANANGA
His Eminence Vladyka Nektarios arrived at Kananga National Airport by Congo Airways on Friday 2nd July 2021 at 18:45hrs. He was received and escorted from the airport to Kananga by Fr. Clement and Fr. Martin, along with a big crowd of the Orthodox faithful. Hundreds of faithful accompanied him to the church singing, dancing, jumping joyfully and welcoming him.
FIRST DIVINE LITURGY AT THE CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS IN KANANGA
On Saturday 3rd July 2021, His Eminence Vladyka Nektarios arrived at the church of St. Nicholas. The church was full inside and outside. Upon entering the church, Vladyka was greeted with chanting. The Divine Liturgy was joyfully celebrated with two priests concelebrating with Vladyka, together with a deacon.
On 5 July 2021, Samuel Tshisanga of Holy Trinity church in Dilembu was ordained to the holy deaconate.
On 8 July 2021, Theodore Ntumba was ordained to the holy deaconate.
ORDINATION AT THE CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS IN KANANGA
Deacon David (Bitu Biduaya) who had been ordained to the holy deaconate 15 years ago by Archbishop Gregory, was ordained to the holy priesthood in the presence of the multitude of Orthodox Christians who filled the church inside and outside.
On the same day, new readers and subdeacons were tonsured.
PASTORAL VISIT TO THE HOLY TRINITY DILEMBU PARISH.
On Monday 5 July 2021, Vladyka Nektarios, accompanied by other clergy and Christians, headed for Dilembu. It is about 100 kilometers from Kananga. The road is very bad, full of sand and dust. To prepare for the journey, one must also prepare some strong people to bring spades and other tools – for removing the sand on the way in case the vehicle gets stuck. The vehicle Vladyka was using got stuck on the way 5 times before reaching Dilembu, but with God’s providence he arrived at the Holy Trinity church.
At the church of the Holy Trinity, Vladyka was welcomed by the multitude of people.
INTRODUCTION TO HOLY TRINITY
Holy Trinity church in Dilembu is headed by Rev. Fr. Martin Lukusa who is the parish priest. It has other subparishes like the parish of St. Ambrose. They have a semi-permanent structure with a population of 677 baptized Orthodox Christians. There are 221 faithful at St. Ambrose.
DIVINE LITURGY AT HOLY TRINITY
The Divine Liturgy was celebrated on the 7th of July in a dilapidated structure full of Christians. The Liturgy was concelebrated by all clergy of the DRC. One subdeacon and 3 readers were tonsured during the Divine Liturgy.
VISIT TO THE CHURCH OF ST. CYPRIAN AND JUSTINE
The church of St. Cyprian and Justine is headed by Fr. Dimitrios, a newly ordained priest. Vladyka Nektarios passed by there on his way to Tshikapa. It is about 130kms from Kananga. Surprisingly most of the time the faithful have been walking on foot to St. Nicholas church in Kananga to attend the Divine Liturgy. Now that they have a priest they will hardly have to travel for the Divine Liturgy, except for feasts and other special occasions.
The church of St. Cyprian and Justine is still in a dilapidated structure with so many faithful. There are 450 converted and baptized Christians. The chief of the area promised to give the church free land for permanently constructing a church and a school.
Vladyka congratulated Rev. Fr. Dimitrios on his ordination to the priesthood, and wished him many years in the service of the Lord.
Vladyka Nektarios thanked all the faithful who gathered to welcome him to the church of St. Cyprian and Justine. He also thanked the clergy Fr. Clement and Fr. Martin for training Fr. Dimitrios to become a true priest in the Orthodox church. He thanked the chief who provided the land for the construction of the church and the school, and finally wished everybody God’s blessing and protection.
PARISH OF THE DORMITION OF THE THEOTOKOS, TSHIKAPA - BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The church of the Dormition of the Theotokos is located in Tshikapa, in the Northern Kasai province. It has about 400 faithful, and was started in 2010. The church is still in a rented structure just near the main road.
ARRIVAL AT THE CHURCH OF THE DORMITION OF THE THEOTOKOS
On 12 July 2021, Vladyka Nektarios arrived in Tshikapa from Kananga. He was accompanied by Rev. Fr. Theophilos and five other gentlemen. Vladyka was welcomed by many Christians who were waiting for him singing, jumping and dancing in the middle of the road.
ORDINATION AND TONSURE AT THE CHURCH OF THE DORMITION OF THE THEOTOKOS
On 13 July 2021, the church of the Dormition of the Theotokos was full of Christians. Medard (Shampa Woto) was ordained to the holy deaconate while Joseph Luboya was tonsured a reader and subdeacon on the same day.
The next day, Deacon Medard was ordained to the holy priesthood while subdeacon Joseph Luboya was ordained to the holy deaconate.
The church of the Dormition of the Theotokos now has 2 priests, 1 deacon and 4 readers.
It was a blessing from God that Vladyka Nektarios was identified by the Holy Synod to go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for pastoral missionary work, and for the ordination of both deacons and priests.
Although there were some minor challenges of sickness encountered on the way by Vladyka Nektarios, a lot of good work has been done for all our brothers and sisters in the Church of the Congo.
The missionary pastoral visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although completed, continues to produce fruits, as Vladyka is receiving many calls from people in different African countries, inquiring to know the differences between ecumenical Greek Orthodoxy and True Orthodoxy.