I am Brazilian and I do not know many of these people you're talking about, but here it goes...
well, I read someone writing that in Canada there are ghettos of Ukrainian, Greek, etc, etc, etc...
I feel a lot like this.
When I converted to Christianity (although my country is actually christian, I was not), i did it through orthodoxy, I even wished to be priest...
But truth comes...
Unfortunately, orthodoxy IS an ethnic religion, and as long as orthodoxy do not unite, there will be few of you.
And thus I heard a priest saying they don't want to convert, that's why churches do not open until sunday (at least here in Rio de Janeiro, and there are churches that open only once in two weeks). Sure, everyone in the world have heard of the Orthodox Cathedral (try to google catedral ortodoxa) in São Paulo, which is a COPY of Hagya Sophia, and opens everyday.
And to end my testament, there is no effort at all to adapt to the local culture. There will NEVER be a Brazilian orthodoxy, it will be always a church in diaspora.
I am not criticizing Orthodoxy, but to get out of the east, you have to do something.
That's why I searched the priest of my parish and run to the roman church...
Oi Peccatorum! Tudo bem?
It is true that there are some Orthodox priests in Brazil who, because of ecumenism, when receive inquirers, direct them to Roman Catholic churches. I heard it myself. The justification is basically the branch theory. We can only pray for these priests.
As for "too much" ethnicity, it's a double-way road. If you talk to Greeks and Greek-Brazilians, you'll notice how "brazilianized" the latter are. The same is true for all ethnicities. Our "russians" are not the same as "their" russians. And I'm sure the same is true for immigrants everywhere who are away from the "motherland" for more than 10 years. Our Greek priest here has been in Brazil for 40 years and still has an accent. At the same time, when he goes to Greece, people comment he has acquired a Brazilian accent.
So the first thing we have to do is to apply Christian love and compassion to the peoples who brought Orthodoxy to us. It is not easy being an immigrant and many times they had to rely on each other to resist native prejudice against them. That happens everywhere. The foreigner, the "stranger" has a lot or ordeals to fit in the new society.
Concerning the Antiochian Cathedral of São Paulo being a replica of Hagia Sophia, I think it is a very good opportunity for the people of the city to have an idea of how Hagia Sophia looks like without having to travel to Turkey, which is definitely out of budget for the vast majority. But, with the Cathedral there, this amazing work of architecture can be known with a bus or subway ticket.
From your post, I guess you're from Rio like me. I'm living in Curitiba now, but I was born in the Hospital de Lins and I was raised in Irajá. I know every Orthodox chapel in Rio. I know that the Greek chapel in Higienópolis, literally, has two or three attendants during Liturgy. I know the Russian church in Santa Teresa is in a very beautiful but difficult to access spot. I know about the generation of priests converts from the RC and from the local schism of the Brazilian Catholic Church who were accepted into the Antiochians and practice lots of syncretisms. I know that the Antiochian Patriarchal Vicariate in Rua Gomes Freire opens only on Sundays (as 99% of the Orthodox churches in Brazil).
But these problems are very little related to ethnicity. They are very related to the particularities of our own society. Do you think the Greeks and Syrio-lebanese and Russians and Ukrainians in the US are less attached to their motherlands than the ones in Brazil? Trust me, they are not. Like here in Brazil, some are very attached and couldn't bother less about mission, and others would gladly join any effort to convert the locals and help to create a native Orthodox community.
The difference, my friend, is that here in Brazil, we, the native, have not approached the Church with true martyric devotion. Certainly, some individuals did, and glory to them! But we have not as a society. By martyric devotion I mean to be willing to give up our selves, to yes, be truly integrated and, from within, work with love and devotion the spread of the message. We have to love these ethnic communties, my friend. We have to love them and approach them as friends, as brothers and not as judges of their natural and human limits and defects. We too have many cultural vices. As Brazilians, we tend to shallow encyclopedism when educated, to emotionalism without substantial knowledge - even pope John Paul II said of Brazilians that we were Catholic in the heart but not in reason. Just by looking around how the major religion, which is RC, has been weakend by syncretism, secularism and others, we can understand how much more vulnerable Orthodoxy has been and how these immigrants would want to preserve their faith from some of the very real threats of undermining that such Brazilian vices could bring.
We have to give up ourselves first. Truly, their cultures have their own probems, but fortunately they are not quite the same as ours. Let their cultural virtues heal your cultural vices. Let the love of classical education of the Greek complement our *very* deffective education (and that is true for even those schools and universities on high regard in Brazil). Let the pragmatism of the Syrio-lebanese counter our tendency to worship diplomas, certificates and bureaucracy. Let the seriousness and "altivez" of the Russians teach us that not everything can be dealt with a relaxed approach, that our excessive playfulness sometimes prophanes the sacred.
These are the teachers and references God gave us. You will find many bad examples among them. Some, I'm afraid to say, outright criminal - just look at the surnames of some owners of samba schools and bicheiros (owners of illegal gambling networks) and you will have an idea of what I'm talking about. But these are not the teachers I'm talking about. It's the guy praying in silence, the yayas, the priests, even the ecumenist ones when they are not preaching ecumenism itself, the people at the church, in some cases even those who avoid going to church. Remember when God said that we should honour our fathers and mothers? Well, these peoples are the spiritual fathers and mothers of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church in Brazil.
Approach them in love, and you'll meet love.