Orthodoxy growing in Puerto Rico

San German, Puerto Rico, March 1, 2021

Photo: eadiocese.org Photo: eadiocese.org     

Despite the year-long pandemic, on top of devasting hurricanes and earthquakes in recent years, the mission parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in Puerto Rico has experienced inspiring growth lately.

Archpriest Gregorio Justiniano of the Mission of San Juan Clímaco (St. John Climacus) in San German managed to serve Vespers and Liturgy every week throughout the pandemic, with varying attendance. Then, several young people began to attend the mission as inquirers, reports the ROCOR Eastern American Diocese.

Photo: eadiocese.org Photo: eadiocese.org     

Fr. Gregorio began to hold catechetical lessons on Sundays, and on Saturday, January 16, Samuel Velez and Irving Gonzales (named Gregorio in Baptism) were baptized into Christ in the holy Orthodox Church. The next day, Leonel Arenas was also baptized, with the name Gabriel.

“This may seem small in quantity. But for the community in Puerto Rico, it is a miracle. For the mission, bringing two Protestants and one practicing Catholic to Orthodoxy on the island during the pandemic is proof of God’s care and mercy,” writes Fr. Gregorio.

Photo: eadiocese.org Photo: eadiocese.org     

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 56% of Puerto Ricans living on the island identify as Catholic, and 33% Protestant. Thus, there is much work to be done by the Orthodox there, who currently have just a handful of parishes. According to a comment left two months ago on the site of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Carolina, Puerto Rico, there are currently three operating parishes: the ROCOR mission, the Antiochian parish, and San Miguel Arcangel (St. Michael) Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Guayanilla.

Unfortunately, the Church of St. Spyridon, formerly under Constantinople, apostatized in 2017, becoming Eastern Catholic. The church still deceptively refers to itself as Orthodox.

In December 2019, the Orthodox mission in Jamaica voted to leave Constantinople and join ROCOR. In March 2019, OrthoChristian reported on several people being baptized on the Caribbean island of Grenada, and in November, an interview was published with Hieromonk Ambrose (Sitalo), who now serves as a mission priest in Grenada. In December, the ROCOR Church of St. Seraphim in the Dominican Republic was consecrated by His Grace Bishop Isaac of Vorzel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

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3/1/2021

Comments
Samuel Vélez Ramírez3/23/2021 8:03 am
Greetings, I am one of the catechumens who were baptized and chrismated by Fr. Gregorio Justiniano, and I've seen an error in this article. I would like to point to it. The article reads thus: "...there is much work to be done by the Orthodox there, who currently have just a handful of parishes. According to a comment left two months ago on the site of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Carolina, Puerto Rico, there are currently three operating parishes: the ROCOR mission, the Antiochian parish, and San Miguel Arcangel (St. Michael) Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Guayanilla." However, according to my knowledge there are only two canonical Orthodox parishes: Misión Ortodoxa San Juan Clímaco (ROCOR) and St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church.
Michael3/4/2021 10:53 am
Monk Maximos, there is no such thing as "Orthodox faith in full communion with Rome". That is as absurd as saying you can live out the Roman Catholic faith in full communion with Canterbury, or the Lutheran faith in full communion with Moscow. Differences between Christians exist, and these differences MATTER. Pretending that they do not matter, that you can be Orthodox and Catholic at the same time (and perhaps also Anglican and Lutheran, too - why not?) is indeed deceptive. The word in the article was chosen correctly. Of course, it may be self-deception rather than deception of others. However, it is still deception.
James3/3/2021 11:29 am
Monk Maximus, of course there is no need for an endless debate on this, because there is no debate. Roman Catholics are Roman Catholics and Orthodox are Orthodox. Everyone can make his own choice, but let's be clear about the difference. Basic difference number one: the RCs accept the Catholic dogma of papal infallibility and the Orthodox just don't. That doesn't mean all RCs are bad people, it just means they are not Orthodox.
Monk Maximos3/2/2021 10:17 pm
With no intention of an endless debate on this issue that in itself has the Orthodox Church divided, there are many different ways to express things. Clearly, they have chosen a particular one that accomplishes nothing. Just to further increase the gap among Christians. I know many respected Orthodox theologians and hierarchs that would agree with this statement. Nevertheless, it is always good to know people better, not from mere impressions. God bless you.
James3/2/2021 8:28 pm
Monk Maximus, I'm sure no offence intended. But you can't live an Orthodox life and be in communion with Rome. The Roman Catholic church is heretical from the Orthodox standpoint. Really, no offence, it's just a matter of dogma.
Monk Maximos3/2/2021 6:45 pm
Christian charity, respect for elders and good manners prevent me from saying many things. But calling us “deceptively” is really offensive. Nonetheless we will continue to live out our Orthodox faith in full communion with Rome.
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