Fr. Theologos and his flock.
Theologos (Chrysantakopoulos) was born in 1951 in
Greece. He studied architecture in the Polytechnical
University of Athens, and later in Paris, France. A
meeting with Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos inspired him
to dream of monasticism. He was tonsured a monk in
1981. At first he labored in the monastery of
Koutloumousiou on Mt. Athos, and later he restored
the kellia of the Apostle John the Theologian in the
southern part of Mt. Athos, where he resides to this
day, along with another monk and a novice.
Baptism: the Congo.
combines his obedience of prayer with missionary work
and the restoration and building of churches. He
worked for nine years in Albania, restoring destroyed
churches, building new ones, and baptizing many
Moslems. Beginning from the year 2000, he began
traveling to Africa, to the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, (Brazzaville)
and Gabon. There they are also actively building new
churches, schools, and clinics—all according to
Fr. Theologos’s architectural plans. In the
year 2010, after the formation of a new bishopric of
Congo and Gabon, he was appointed its Patriarchal
vicar. He also teaches in the theological seminary in
Kinshasa. Fr. Theologos is also working actively with
—Greek missionaries have achieved
outstanding success in Congo, Kenya, and other
African nations. Fr. Theologos, tell us what should
be the first priority in missionary work? What should
be done without fail, how should one behave, and what
should one never, ever do?
—A missionary should first of all witness the good
tidings of the gospel as it has been preserved by the
Orthodox Church over the centuries—without change,
without additions, without omissions.
A wedding rite for Orthodox Africans.
have to look at our brothers (and we are all
brothers, children of the one God, be we baptized or
not) as at an icon, the image of God. We must respect
the traditions by which people live, apply what is
best of them. If tradition contradicts the spirit of
Christianity, we have to explain this to people with
love, without offending them.
We must by no means ever look down upon people as if from
the heights, disdaining their interests, or belittling
do Africans differ from us [Europeans]? Is it easy to
preach the true faith to them? Do they take it
seriously, or, having caught the fire quickly, just
as quickly cool?
—Africans are more direct and sincere; they are
truly often just like children. It is easier to relate to
them and initiate contact, because they are not so
corrupted by attachment to material goods and comforts as
Europeans are. On the other hand, they are more on the
surface; it is harder to “get deeper” with
them. It is enough for many of them to know only the
rudiments of the faith, while studying patristic
literature does not seem all that important to them.
As for their seriousness… People are all different.
There are those who do not remain long in the Church, who
leave almost right after baptism. But then there are
others who not only remain, but bring their entire
families into the Church. There are parishioners who have
been in the Church from the time of the first
community—that is, since the 1980s.
—Are there monasteries in the
Congo? Do Africans in general have monastic
inclinations? Is it part of their nature?
—No long ago, during a visit by His Holiness
Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and All Africa, a
men’s monastery was consecrated in Dolisie (the
third most important city in the Republic of Congo),
dedicated to St. John the Theologian. At the moment there
are only four novices, and if it be God’s will, they
will be tonsured as monks.
The Orthodox Church cannot exist without monasteries;
monks are a light to the world. On the other hand,
Africans do also have an inclination for monasticism, and
that is why it was decided to establish a monastery there.
—Every time has its problems.
What are the problems of our times, and how do we war
The main problem in Orthodoxy today is a dearth of worthy
examples. It is not enough to merely enlighten—one
must also show how to live according to the
Gospels, what is the Orthodox Church, and Orthodox
How do we war with this—or rather, how do we heal
it? It is very simple and yet very difficult for each and
every one of us to be a good example.
Church is Apostolic, and that means that each of us
must become an apostle, bring the Good Tidings, as our
Lord tells us: Therefore go and make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I
have commanded you (Mt. 28:19–20).
At the present time, many
Orthodox churches, chapels, and hospitals are being built
in the Congo. You can help in the construction of the
church of St. Photini and the chapel of St. Luke:
EGLISE ORTHODOXE DU CONGO
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