«Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Ps, 18:4)
“And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Mt, 24:14)
Brief history and main goals:
Orthodox missionaries have been visiting the Caribbean islands since 2016. It was decided to begin missionary parishes in Grenada, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago. In 2018, Metropolitan of America and New York, the first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia, Hilarion, blessed the founding of the missionary parish on Grenada. It was given the name of St George – the patron saint of Grenada’s capital. The parish was visited for a short period by a priest from America (Father Peter Jackson) and since 2019 it has been led by Hieromonk Ambrose (Sitalo).
The main task of the mission is preaching to the local people as well as providing for the spiritual needs of local Orthodox, among whom there are many from Syria, and tourists. The services are held every Sunday and on all feast days. The remaining time is split between evangelistic activities. This includes street preaching; visiting hospitals, the prison, and orphanages; addressing the needs of parishioners and catechumens; giving interviews on a local radio station; and performing services from the Book of Needs. Furthermore, Hieromonk Ambrose attends to the needs of two other parishes in this region of the world, in Dominica and in Trinidad and Tobago (see below for more details).
Christianity was originally brought to the Caribbean islands by Roman Catholic missionaries and it has since widely spread. The inhabitants have a living faith in God, but Orthodoxy is a brand new, even a revelation for many. Much work is needed to catechize and bring the true faith to those who are in search of it.
One of the recent services held during a visit to the island of Trinidad is a good example. A local, pious couple having studied the history of the Church for many years were waiting for the opportunity to finally make contact with Orthodox missionaries. Father Ambrose’s missionary work provided them their first opportunity. Another woman attending the service asked who was depicted on the icon (it was a printed icon of St. Nicholas). Hearing the answer, she could not believe what she heard–it turned out that for some period of time she had been reading about his and was praying to St. Nicholas. This is providential, as St. Nicholas is not as famous on the islands as many saints. Nevertheless, he remains a quick helper and a miracle worker. She asked him to show her the true faith and the arrival of an Orthodox missionary was an answer to prayer.
It has been found that Father Ambrose is often approached on the streets, because of his “unusual” attire in those parts, but this helps elicit many questions and dialogues. Some questions are more common than others. A particular stumbling block for many inhabitants of the islands is that the Lord Jesus Christ in the Spanish tradition is depicted as European, so Christianity is associated with colonization and slavery. Some therefore doubt the authenticity of the books of the Bible. There are also personal questions. Which patron saint should one choose? Where one ought to find the right bride? People also come for support in personal crises. For more information on how the mission goes see the diaries of the priest (link).
Grenada. In total, there are about 50 Orthodox in Grenada. For many, the problem is the size of the church (which cannot fit more people) and inaccessibility due to distance. The construction of a separate church is a priority, as well as bringing new missionaries to help the priest in working with its parishioners. The main expenses are the rent of the premises, the payment for the work of the altar servers and providing for the priest. This averages about $700 per month ($300 rent for the premises, $150 for utility bills, $150 for food, and $100 for transport and other expenses). Living expenses are about $500 per month for rent and $300 for miscellaneous items. As for the building of a permanent church, it is possible to buy land cheaply in the St. David’s area: only about $5,000. The minimum cost to build a temporary temple is $15,000.
Dominica. The parish of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos is open since 2019. Through the efforts of visiting volunteers, a cross was erected in the Marigot area near the airport. Local residents donated land for the construction of the church. Fundraising is needed to continue construction. In total, there are about 15 Orthodox in Dominica now, and there is a need to attract missionaries to preach among the local population. The cost of a ticket to Dominica from New York is about 500 USD. Accommodation is possible with local parishioners, the monthly cost of other expenses is 500 USD.
Trinidad and Tobago Parish registration is in progress. Services, upon the arrival of the priest, are held in a Catholic church in the capital of Port of Spain or at parishioners’ homes. More than 200 Orthodox Christians live in Trinidad, many Syrians. The main costs are associated with the purchase of a ticket for the priest and accommodation, payment for the work of the church sacristan. There is also a need for missionary work and administrative assistance with paperwork. Airfare from Grenada is $300 (round trip), sacriston work $30 for one day.
Monthly expenses and needs.
The total monthly expenses are about $1,000. Additional costs are associated with visiting other parishes, which is about $2,500 per year for a visit to Trinidad (with a regularity of once every two months) and $300 for a visit to Dominica (once a year).
The construction of a separate church will solve many problems with accessibility for parishioners, help the mission and the faster rooting of Orthodoxy on the islands. Building a church in Grenada also requires the acquisition of a piece of land. The potential cost is $20,000.
Involving one missionary will greatly contribute to the work of the mission and can cost about $ 1,000 per month (+ $ 3,000 for the purchase of a round-trip ticket from Russia).
Donation to the Church and charitable works
Sacrifice for the affairs of the Church is mentioned often in Holy Scripture.
For the first time, Moses called for the collection for the construction of the temple (at that time a mobile sanctuary) at the command of the Lord. “And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the Lord; gold, and silver, and brass,…” and other items that were necessary for building the sanctuary and ministry in it (Exodus, chapter 35).
The Lord himself mentions the sacrifice as a gift to God, praising the widow for the two mites put into the treasury from her heart, and not from abundance. (Luke 21:1-4)
Apostle Paul writes about collections for the Church and also draws attention to goodwill: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. ” (2 Corinthians 9: 7)
Parishes belong to the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia under the Metropolitan of Eastern American and New York Nicolas, the first Hierarch ROCOR.
Parishes rector: hieromonk Ambrose (Sitalo)
Methods of payment:
PayPal or Credit card:
Charity is like a paradise full of blessings, and almsgiving is forever. Sir.40,17
The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. Proverbs 11:25
God bless and keep you!