OCMC Associate Director Fr. David Rucker and his family celebrated Holy Week and Pascha with the children and nuns of the Hogar Raphael Ayau. Although this orphanage has been open to children since 1857, it is only since 1996 that the Orthodox nuns of the Monasterio Ortodoxo Lavra Mambré have run this vital ministry of the Church in Guatemala. Every year since 1998 OCMC Mission Teams have come to minister to these precious youngsters, who range in age from infancy to their early teens. Currently, approximately 100 children live at the Hogar.
The Hogar has had visits from several priests and from two OCF Real Break teams during the Lenten season, but they do not have a permanent priest. Fr. Rucker has made two previous trips to the orphanage, but this was his first time to celebrate Pascha there. He was impressed by the children, who knew many of the Holy Week and Pascha hymns by heart.
When asked about his trip, Fr. David Rucker said:
When I learned that the blessed mothers of the monastery, over 70 children in the orphanage, and all the staff and Faithful would be without a priest in Guatemala, I thought, “How can I say no to them?” I was going to be serving in a parish in the USA with several priests and two Deacons ministering to perhaps 500 people, and here was an entire country without a single Orthodox priest during the highest feast days of the year. Many years ago my wife and I prayed a very simple prayer: “God, our family belongs to you. We will go wherever You send us. We will do whatever you ask us to do. We belong to You.” Serving in Guatemala this past Holy Week and Pascha was a great privilege for our family. As is the case with almost all missionary work, we received far more than we could ever give. It is our joy on behalf of OCMC to contribute in a small way to all that God is doing in Latin America through the prayers of these blessed mothers and the children they love and serve. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mt. 9:37-38).