On the afternoon of Tuesday, February 6, 2024, on the eve of the feast of Saint Parthenios, Bishop of Lampsacus, Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa performed the Vespers Service for the small Orthodox community of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. After the service, he bestowed his blessings upon the congregation, offering words of love and support to the faithful. He assured them that they would soon have their own place of worship and a dedicated priest to tend to their spiritual and religious needs.
In the morning, the Patriarch was received by Umar Z. Salisu, representing the absent President of Nigeria, who is currently abroad. Salisu extended a warm welcome to the Patriarch on behalf of the president and expressed gratitude for his visit, the blessings he imparted to the country, and the contributions of the Orthodox Church in Nigeria, benefitting not only Orthodox believers but all residents regardless of race, religion, or nationality.
He also stressed the excellent relations and cooperation with Greece and Egypt, expressed his regret for the passing away of Metropolitan Alexandros, and assured the Patriarch that the Patriarchate and the new Metropolitan would receive full support from the state in all areas of their activities in the country.
The Patriarch in turn expressed his joy for visiting the capital of Nigeria for the first time, and meeting its people who are renowned for their kindness and generosity. He referred, among other things, to the missionary work of the Patriarchate and the need to develop it in Nigeria, the most populous and promising country in Africa. The meeting was attended by the Chargé d’ affaires of the Egyptian Embassy Hussein Shoukry, Metropolitan Georgios of Guinea, the General Hierarchical Vicar Fr. Iakovos, and Ambassador John Shama Shaga, who served as Ambassador to Athens.
In the morning, the Patriarch had a special meeting with Louisa Leventis and the representative of the Leventis family companies in Nigeria.
The day prior, the Patriarch paid a visit to the Greek Embassy, receiving a warm welcome from Greek Ambassador Athanasios Kotsionis, his spouse Ioanna, and the embassy staff. Kotsionis gave the Patriarch a tour of the Embassy and briefed him on issues concerning the Greek community in the country. In the evening, the Greek Ambassador and his spouse hosted a dinner in honor of the Patriarch in the presence of the new Egyptian Ambassador.
Translated by Thanos Chrysanthopoulos