Kenyan priest refuses to settle for average

Theo Panayides

Source: Cyprus Mail

April 3, 2019


Theo Panayides meets a priest from Kenya, now in charge of a small flock near Pyrgos, who had a lifetime ambition to become a member of the clergy and wanted to live in a monastery to concentrate on God, both of which he has realised on the island

The Dependency of Kykkos Monastery in Nicosia is a tranquil, birdsong-enchanted place; the cop at the gate doesn’t look like he sees many visitors. This was once on the outskirts of town, and the scale of the place reflects that freedom to build (not that the Church ever needed much of an excuse to go big): a handsome quadrangle of arched, sandstone buildings, elegantly perched around a courtyard with a chapel in the middle. I pass a storeroom full of icons, neatly stacked on shelves running the whole length of the room. An old man in priestly robes walks unhurriedly towards a staircase in the distance, then laboriously starts climbing the stairs.

Despite its size, the Dependency is mostly offices, housing only a handful of people (five priests, three monks and two bishops), so it takes a while to find the room belonging to Father Panaretos; even as I knock, I’m not sure I’ve got the right door – but at least I’ll know at once if I’ve made a mistake. He’s not the only Kenyan-born Orthodox priest in Cyprus (there’s apparently another one in Lakatamia), but he’s surely the only African in this quiet quadrangle. Even the cop at the gate referred to him – with the slightly hushed respect due a priest – as “o ksenos”, ‘the foreigner’.

...Read the rest at Cyprus Mail.

Theo Panayides


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