(Orthodox Missionary Fraternity) - "A living symbol of the Risen Lord."
This is the advice I was given by a great Missionary, the Archimandrite Gervasios Raftopoulos, on the day of my tonsure to a Monk.
It was that unforgettable morning when at the end of the Matins His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilochios of New Zealand tonsured me to a Monk by giving me by his own will the name Fanourios.
Father Gervasios happened to be there because those days he was on the Fiji Islands in order to visit the inmates of the prison there, as he had done in New Zealand before.
A holy man. A man of sacrifice and offer. Father Gervasios is a true Missionary in every sense of the word.
It was the best wish I was given after my tonsure to a Monk and my consecration to a Missionary of the Eastern Orthodox Church within the boundaries of the Metropolis of New Zealand.
Although I had been previously engaged in the Mission to Alaska, India and Thailand, it is on Fiji that I found what I was really looking for.
The tropical climate, the simplicity and kindness of the inhabitants, and most of all the ecumenical spirit of that local church, where, as I saw in New Zealand when I was called by our revered Elder Metropolitan Amphilochios for my ordination to a Deacon and a Priest, clerics coming from Greece, Russia, Serbia and Romania concelebrate the Holy Liturgy and the flock from these countries as well as natives from New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga attend the services in unison.
Father Gervasios gave me a wish: to be a living symbol of the Risen Lord, and call all the people I associate with into the love of the Lord and His Body, which is the Holy Orthodox Church. I hope I will be able to live on Fiji, the place of my repentance, at the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos, a God-pleasing life, taking advantage of my studies on Theology and my vocation as a Monk and a Missionary.
I hope more local people follow my example. I long to see the children of the Mission dedicate themselves to Orthodoxy and work hard, the men and the women love each other and have the Church as the center of their lives.
I am determined to support their faith through catechesis and preaching but mainly through sacramental life. When the time of God comes, Fiji as well as other islands will comprise a time-resistant ecclesiastical society, whose native Christians will be able to read and chant the Holy Services by themselves, catechize the newcomers into Orthodoxy, do the icon-painting of their Churches and offer further support to the Mission in Oceania.
The Elder teaches the indigenous believers and helps them meet their material needs through the cultivation of their lands and other jobs.
My wish and fervent prayer is for the Orthodox Churches and the schools to rise and multiply in this vast area of Oceania, like the orphanage and the big Church of the Holy Trinity, which are already under construction in the beautiful suburb of Laotoka, Saweni.
With the wishes of Saint Fanourios and of our revered Elder Metropolitan Amphilochios, I have found what my heart truly longed for: to serve God and His newly founded Mission in Oceania.
Christ is Risen!