Archpriest Victor Potapov: Your Eminence, what is the significance of the Haiti mission for the Russian Orthodox Church?
+Metropolitan Hilarion: Our Lord has scattered the Russian and other Orthodox people throughout the world, so that the light of Orthodoxy would shine to all, and we would fulfill His commandment to bring all nations into the fold of the Church, including the people of Haiti – the poorest nation of the Western Hemisphere.
The Haitian mission began in the 90s, in my days as Bishop of Washington and vicar of the Eastern American Diocese of ROCOR, when Fr. Avraami, an Episcopalian priest from Haiti approached me about converting to Orthodoxy. He had already been preparing his parishioners for the conversion. And we accepted him.
In 1996 I went to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti and served with Fr. Avraami, and Fr. Jean Chenier-Dumais, who had been ordained by Metropolitan Laurus. I also visited parishes around Port-au-Prince and ordained several readers and Gregoire Legoute who is now a priest, into the deaconate.
Rev. VP: Your Eminence, what attracted members of today’s Haiti mission to Russian Orthodoxy?
+MH: Just like Russians, Haitians are very hospitable and share other similar characteristics: they are simple and very open to the beauty of Orthodoxy, its beautiful church music and iconography.
Rev. VP: What other dioceses besides the Eastern American support Haitian Mission?
+MH: At first the Haiti Mission did not have much support, but little by little it gained more support, especially in the United States.
Fr. Gregory Williams, an American who converted to Orthodoxy did much for the mission. Unfortunately after the Reunification in 2007 he left our Church and not only stopped helping our Haiti Mission, but is now hostile toward it.
The mission however is growing, there are more and more parishioners and our priests in Haiti Fr. Jean Chenier and Fr. Gregoire Legoute are working to evangelize, to explain Orthodoxy to locals. They need out assistance.
I ask all our Orthodox brothers and sisters to support the Haitian Mission through the Fund for Assistance to ROCOR. We are also asking for regular contributions, because the mission cannot survive on sporadic offerings. We must strive to provide them with regular aid. But every donation is valued and will help propagate the Word of God to the people of Haiti.