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Author Topic: History of the Missionary Polish and Serbian Churches in Brazil  (Read 2288 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fabio Leite
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« on: June 13, 2010, 01:42:15 AM »

I'm posting this with the permission of Fr. Pedro. It's an inside view of the history of the only two jurisdictions in Brazil with a missionary profile. I hope it's informative and useful for all.

History of the Missionary Polish and Serbian Churches in Brazil
by Fr. Pedro Siqueira

The Conversion of native Brazilians to Orthodox Christianity

In the 1970’s a counter-cultural movement was taking place all over the world and in Brazil, as well. Opposed to the Vietnam War, it was a movement which also strongly contested institutions. During that period, however, there was a great search for new spiritual expressions; there was enormous concern for, as well as great interest in, other traditions. Therefore, an entire orientalist movement appeared which included studies about Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, yoga, Zen Buddhism, etc.

There were two groups in Brazil interested in this spiritual search, one in Recife, the capital of the Pernambuco State, and another in Rio de Janeiro. Those groups led by the same person, Eduardo Maia, sought a spiritual tradition different from what they already knew. They devoted themselves to the study of cosmology, metaphysics, symbolism, mythology and other disciplines.

In September of 1985, a Portuguese journalist, Antonio Carlos Carvalho, the translator of René Guenon into Portuguese (René Guenon was one of the thinkers studied by these groups), came to Brazil to deliver some lectures about symbolism and tradition in Rio de Janeiro and Recife. Antonio Carlos Carvalho was also a priest of the Orthodox Church in Portugal, Archpriest Athanasius. In his course, with the name of Archpriest Athanasius spoke about Orthodox Christianity and thus introduced the Orthodox Church as the true and original Christian tradition. Members of the groups discovered Orthodoxy through him.

In December of that same year, Archpriest Athanasius returned to Brazil in order to give specific courses about Orthodox Christianity. The groups began to study Orthodoxy, which for them quickly surpassed their interest in any other spiritual expressions. The first Orthodox author whom they studied was Serge Bulgakov, author of the book Orthodoxy.

Archpriest Athanasius also delivered to them an invitation from Metropolitan Gabriel of Lisbon to visit Portugal, which they did six months later, in June of 1986. Nine people traveled to Portugal—five from Recife and four from Rio de Janeiro, all of them interested in Orthodoxy. This group stayed for 30 days at the Orthodox Monastery in Mafra, Portugal, coming to know firsthand the Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

All of them were baptized in the Orthodox Church in Portugal. They requested Metropolitan Gabriel to send a priest to Brazil, but he told them that it was necessary for the Church to be a local church and that he did not have any priests available. Thus, Metropolitan Gabriel invited two people from this group to be ordained as priests: Father Paulo, who was Eduardo Maia, the leader of the movement, and Father Alexis. Metropolitan Gabriel also ordained two sub-deacons, Rev. Filipe and Alexandre. Metropolitan Gabriel gave them the mission to establish the Orthodox Church in Brazil for Brazilian people.

Most of the members of the groups in Recife and Rio de Janeiro were interested in Orthodoxy, but they did not travel to Portugal. Some members of this group agreed to be baptized without ever having attended the Divine Liturgy. At the end of July 1986, seven people were baptized in Rio de Janeiro. On August 8, 1986, twenty-five people were baptized in Recife. The baptism took place at Dr. Ned Cavalcanti’s house in Aldeia, a neighborhood of Camaragibe City in the metropolitan area of Recife.

Dr. Ned Cavalcanti, who himself was baptized that day, offered a piece of land next to his house for a church. He remodeled a small barn on this property to serve as a church.

Shortly thereafter, Metropolitan Gabriel officially acknowledged this small church as a parish, the Holy Trinity Parish. At the same time, he created another parish in Rio de Janeiro, the Holy Virgin Mary Parish, which is located on Saint Roman Street, Ipanema. It was then that the local Orthodox Church in Brazil finally emerged, offering services in Portuguese. It was at this point, with these people, that its history started.


The Orthodox Church for Brazilian People

The Orthodox Church in Brazil developed and grew under the Portuguese Orthodox Church from 1986 to the year 2000. It was the first Orthodox Church that was created specifically for native Brazilian people.

In February of 1987, Metropolitan Gabriel of Portugal ordained two additional priests for Brazil, Father Pedro Oliveira and Father Filipe. He assigned Father Pedro to the Holy Virgin Mary Parish in Rio de Janeiro, and Father Filipe to João Pessoa, the capital of Paraiba State which is located to the north of Pernambuco State. Metropolitan Gabriel also ordained Father Deacon Andre and assigned him to the Holy Trinity Parish in Aldeia.
At that time, there were several unattended faithful in João Pessoa City, which is 120 km from Recife. So Father Felipe came to João Pessoa and together with the faithful there established the Saint Catharine of Alexandria the Great Martyr Parish in Conde City, in the suburban area of João Pessoa City.

At the end of this same year, Metropolitan Gabriel ordained one more priest, Father Bento, and assigned him to serve the missions which had already started in Rio de Janeiro State, in the small cities of Quissamã, Natividade, Maricá, and Cordeiro, and in the neighborhood of Ilha do Governador. Also at this time, Metropolitan Gabriel ordained Father Deacon Maurício and assigned him to the Holy Virgin Mary Parish - also in Rio de Janeiro.

A year after the Orthodox Church had been established in Brazil for ethnically Brazilian people, there were three parishes and a choir named the Theotokos - with twenty singers serving the Most Holy Virgin Mary Parish in Rio de Janeiro.

By 1989, communion with the non-canonical Greek Old Calendar Synod had already been cut off by Metropolitan Gabriel for a few years. Thus, in the second half of this year the Portuguese Orthodox Church was received under the omophorion of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Basílio, who was the head of the Polish Orthodox Autocephalic Church. The solemn ceremony of the signatures of the canonical communion between the two churches took place in Lisbon, Portugal. On that occasion the Archbishop of Bialystok and Gdansk, His Eminence, Archbishop Sawa, represented His Beatitude, Metropolitan Basílio. The choir of the Most Holy Virgin Mary was also present and sang during the ceremony. Metropolitan Gebriel also ordained one more deacon to the Most Holy Virgin Mary Parish, Father Marcos Perreira.

At the end of 1989, the first exhibition of holy Icons took place in four states of Brazil: Paraiba, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. All the Icons were written by Brazilian Iconographers.

In the first half of 1991 Metropolitan Gabriel paid his first (and only) visit to Brazil. He visited all the parishes in Brazil and consecrated two of them—the Holy Trinity Parish in Aldeia and the Saint Catherine of Alexandria the Great Martyr in João Pessoa. He did not consecrate the Most Holy Virgin Parish in Rio de Janeiro because this parish was located in a rented house.

By this time the number of Orthodox faithful under Metropolitan Gabriel’s omophorion in Brazil had reached several hundred; therefore more priests were needed. Moreover, two new missions had begun—one in Belo Jardim City, 180 km from Recife, Pernambuco, and another one in São Paulo City. Metropolitan Gabriel ordained six more priests: Father Levi Botner, Father João, Father Paulo, Father Elias Cavalcanti, Father Serafim Adisse, and Father Marcos Perreira. He also elevated three priests as Archpriest—Father Alexis Alfaro, Father Bento, and Father Felipe.

Also at this occasion many men and women expressed to Metropolitan Gabriel their desire to pursue the call of monasticism. After speaking with them at length he took some of them with him to the monastery in Mafra, Portugal, including: Sara, Eugenia Maria Elizete, Ana Luiza, Maria Cristina, Veronica, and two men who would later be tonsured and elevated to the office of archimandrite: Father Deacon Maurício and Archpriest Filipe.

During the second half of 1991 the Archimandrites Felipe and João went to Poland with Metropolitan Gabriel, Bishop Theodore, and Bishop Thiago. While in Poland Archimandrite Felipe was elected bishop of Brazil and Archimandrite João as auxiliary bishop of Portugal. In December of this same year, they were consecrated as Hierarchs. Archimandrite Filipe received the name Chrysostome and Archimandrite João kept the same name.

In 1992, Metropolitan Gabriel was concerned about the Orthodox Church in Brazil; therefore he created a Diocese with a local bishop to supervise the young church. In the second half of 1992 Bishop Chrysostomo arrived in Brazil.

At that time, the Brazilian Diocese had built one more parish: Saint Bento of Nurcia, in Ilha do Governador, Rio de Janeiro, bringing to a total four parishes and six missions. The number of faithful at that time was close to five hundred baptized Orthodox believers. The clergy was comprised of ten priests, five deacons, and several readers and sub-deacons. Also, the number of ethnic Brazilian monks and nuns in European monasteries was more than twenty.

In the next three years two more parishes were built, one in Marica, Rio de Janeiro State, Saint Jorge the Great Martyr, and another one in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais State, Saint Nicolau. And three new priests were ordained—Father Sergio, Father Ricardo, and Father Antonio - and one more deacon was also ordained, Father Basilio.
In February of 1997, Metropolitan Gabriel, who was the pillar of the Portuguese Orthodox Church, passed away. Archbishop João (who was consecrated bishop in 1991) was elected the new metropolitan in June of 1997 to replace him. Sadly, this replacement would cause catastrophic events in the life of the church in Portugal and Brazil.

At the enthronement of Metropolitan Joâo in 1997, Bishop Chrysostomo was also elevated as archbishop, and in the next year one more bishop was consecrated for Brazil as an auxiliary bishop under Archbishop Chrysostomo.

By the end of 1999 the Brazilian Diocese had built a new parish in Cordeiro, Rio de Janeiro, and the number of faithful was close to one thousand. However, in 2000, due to scandals in the Portuguese Church the Holy Synod of the Poland Orthodox Church ruled to expel Metropolitan João and all those under his omophorion.

However, before the Holy Synod of the Poland Orthodox Church could implement his expulsion, Metropolitan João requested to be released from the canonical communion between the Portuguese Orthodox Church and the Poland Orthodox Autocephalic Church. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa of Poland, accepted Metropolitan João’s request. However, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa, understood that there was no problem with the Brazilian Diocese. Thus, he brought the Brazilian Diocese under his own omophorion.

Although the canonical status of the Brazilian Diocese was preserved, the faithful, the clergy, the monks and the nuns were not. Hundreds of faithful and many of the clergy left the canonical Brazilian Diocese. Several nuns from the monastery of Annunciation in Portugal fled to France for a Serbian monastery with Metropolitan Sawa’s blessing, while some others just left the monastery and returned to Brazil. Some monks also returned to Brazil or fled to France as well.

Father Pedro Oliveira asked to be received into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, while the clergy of the Holy Trinity Parish in Aldeia decided to look for another jurisdiction. Some missions like Belo Jardim and São Paulo were closed because there was no priest any more.

The first jurisdiction that the Holy Trinity Parish’s clergy looked for was the Serbian Orthodox Church. In the year 2000 Archpriest Alexis visited His Grace, Bishop Mitrophan and on behalf of the clergy and the faithful of the Holy Trinity Parish asked him to accept this parish into the Serbian Orthodox Church. Their request was accepted a year and a half later in February of 2002. His Grace Mitrophan, Bishop of Eastern United States and South America, decided to accept this parish with its entire clergy. This being the case, since 2002 the Holy Trinity Parish is part of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

As previously mentioned, the first parish for native Brazilians was created in Brazil was Holy Trinity Parish in Aldeia. Because Aldeia is far from downtown Recife, it is difficult for the faithful to attend church. Thus, two years ago with Bishop Mitrophan’s blessing, they rented a room in downtown Recife and started a new parish— the Dormition of the Theotokos.

In addition to Holy Trinity and the Dormition of the Theotokos Parishes, there are also two missions also under the Serbian Church, one in Caruaru, Pernambuco, which is 120 km from Recife, and another is Belo Jardim’s mission - which was reactivated.
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Fabio Leite
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2013, 09:00:54 PM »

Some videos from the Polish Orthodox Mission in the Northeast of Brazil

Mission at the Catolé community in the small town of Mataraca, in the state of Paraíba (PB)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukoE7hHUne8

Mission at the Pau D'arco community in the small town of Mamanguape, in the state of Paraíba (PB)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X80EbGOYDuc
« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 09:03:49 PM by Fabio Leite » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2013, 09:04:01 PM »

Fabio, can you please provide a source for the info above?  if you have a link please provide it.  If it came from an email, please email me the original. 
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2013, 09:21:44 PM »

Fabio, can you please provide a source for the info above?  if you have a link please provide it.  If it came from an email, please email me the original.  

The source was Fr. Pedro, who emailed it me long ago and gave the authorization to reproduce it.
Here is the link to his FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/frpedro?fref=ts

I had a look in my old emails but it seems the email is lost. You can contact Fr. Pedro though, for further information.

You can find the story from the perspective of the Polish mission here: http://is.gd/VX1NS7 (translated by Google from Portuguese)
« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 09:25:57 PM by Fabio Leite » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2013, 09:58:16 PM »

That is perfectly fine!  Some kind of context is definitely necessary.  Thanks! 
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2013, 11:31:13 AM »

Glory to God!
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2013, 12:48:29 PM »

Thanks for the history.  It would be easier to understand if the specific jurisdictions were mentioned and the relevant ruling hierarchs in addition to web links of official documents on official church web sites. 
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2013, 02:20:43 PM »

Official website of the Polish Mission in Brazil:

http://igrejaortodoxadobrasil.org.br/

The Serbian Orthodox Church seems to be without a site, I'll check.
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2013, 11:25:36 AM »

The only thing I found regarding SOC are two links in Serbian
http://spc.rs/sr/mitropolit_amfilohije_u_eparhiji_buenosajreskoj
http://spc.rs/sr/sveta_arhijerejska_liturgija_u_buenos_airesu

I will try to provide some translation if time permits or someone else does it in the meantime.  I do have to say that I am surprised to see Serbs and Poles being present in South America in this manner.
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2013, 11:33:55 AM »


Why to translate? They probably appeared on the English version and might have even appeared here.
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2013, 12:26:29 PM »

The only thing I found regarding SOC are two links in Serbian
http://spc.rs/sr/mitropolit_amfilohije_u_eparhiji_buenosajreskoj
http://spc.rs/sr/sveta_arhijerejska_liturgija_u_buenos_airesu

I will try to provide some translation if time permits or someone else does it in the meantime.  I do have to say that I am surprised to see Serbs and Poles being present in South America in this manner.
But with something as important as this why aren't there copies of official letters from the Polish Metropolitan and the Serbian Patriarchate?
Or mention in the minutes of the Holy Synods of both churches?

With the former connection with the Old Catholic Church were people ordained by a canonical Orthodox bishop?  There would be records of that surely.
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2013, 12:37:02 PM »

But with something as important as this why aren't there copies of official letters from the Polish Metropolitan and the Serbian Patriarchate?

What letters?

Quote
Or mention in the minutes of the Holy Synods of both churches?

They appear in the POC. Not sure why should they appear in the SOC since there are a couple of parishes.

Quote
With the former connection with the Old Catholic Church were people ordained by a canonical Orthodox bishop? 

What Old Catholic?
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« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2013, 12:59:40 PM »

The Polish Mission listed on the Mother Church website:
http://www.orthodox.pl/administracja/metropolie/koscielne-jednostki-zagraniczne/

The Serbian Mission is mentioned in an article about the visit of Metropolitan Amfilohije:
http://www.spc.rs/eng/metropolitan_amfilohije_brazil

The only thing I found regarding SOC are two links in Serbian
http://spc.rs/sr/mitropolit_amfilohije_u_eparhiji_buenosajreskoj
http://spc.rs/sr/sveta_arhijerejska_liturgija_u_buenos_airesu

I will try to provide some translation if time permits or someone else does it in the meantime.  I do have to say that I am surprised to see Serbs and Poles being present in South America in this manner.
But with something as important as this why aren't there copies of official letters from the Polish Metropolitan and the Serbian Patriarchate?
Or mention in the minutes of the Holy Synods of both churches?

With the former connection with the Old Catholic Church were people ordained by a canonical Orthodox bishop?  There would be records of that surely.
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2013, 11:44:39 AM »

The Polish Mission listed on the Mother Church website:
http://www.orthodox.pl/administracja/metropolie/koscielne-jednostki-zagraniczne/

I'm impressed with your google skills.
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