May 3, 2009

Thousands of Mayans To Convert To Orthodoxy?

[Will Mayan temples soon transform into monastic citadels? Well, probably not since Mayan temples are historical landmarks. But according to a new report by Metropolitan Jonah that I was unaware of, it seems like thousands of Mayans are interested in converting to Orthodoxy. This is great news and deserves greater media attention. Below is the context in which the Metropolitan revealed this amazing news. -J.S.]

His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah chaired the St. Innocent Conference at St. Tikhon University

On Saturday, May 2, the St. Innocent Conference, organized by the Orthodox Church in America, together with Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Humanitarian University, was held in the University building. This year the conference coincided with the arrival in Russia of the Leader of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah.

At the opening of the conference +Jonah, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, outlined the principles of the missionary work of St. Innocent of Moscow, which are of great importance for the history of the Orthodox mission in America.

The Leader of the American Church said that a missionary must be a man of deep prayer, respect for people, and be selfless. "A missionary should be a pilgrim, a wayfarer, who brings the Good News of Jesus Christ to people and reveals the Gospel, the Kingdom of Heaven", noted Metropolitan Jonah. "He must be filled with genuine love for those to whom he is sent".

During the Q & A, Vladyka explained that the Orthodox faith is practiced by a large number of indigenous residents of Alaska, Eskimos and Aleuts. In Nicaragua and El Salvador there is a group of Mayan Indians, who also want to join the Orthodox Church. "I am not talking about individuals; I'm talking about hundreds, even thousands of people", stressed the Leader. "We need missionaries. The Mayan language is as easy for an American as it is for a Russian -- that is, it is very difficult".

"This will require your help", His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah appealed to the students, "you are getting a good theological education, and you will have the opportunity to do missionary work, not only in your community and in your country, but, perhaps, even beyond the ocean".

Later a presentation was made by +Zosima, Bishop of Yakutsk and Lensk. Vladyka explained how St. Innocent translated the Divine Services into the language of the Yakuts. This year marks 150 years since St. Innocent (Veniaminov) served the first Divine Liturgy in the Yakut language.

Upon completion of the conference, His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Zosima led evening prayers in the temple of St. Nicholas in Kuznets.
Press Service of St. Tikhon's Humanitarian University/