Dr. Manteris, using new equipment, treats dental patient with his assistants.

As the debate rages on in the US  over medical insurance, poor people in countries like Guatemala can only dream that one day they might have some kind of medical coverage or even a doctor to see them. The scale of the crisis in the highlands of Guatemala where we have our clinic is not so much acute as it is chronic and widespread. There just are no doctors and even nurses who will visit or serve in the remote locales where the poorest of the poor live and die. As missionaries and mission specialists, representing the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) and Archbishop Athenagoras of Mexico, we have tried to address this crying need. Since opening our medical clinic in the village of Aguacate on August of 2015, over 2000 patients have been treated by visiting medical teams of dentists, doctors, mid-wives, translators, nurses and counselors. A whole village, and its surrounding area, have been transformed by these efforts, saving many lives and bringing healing to the sick and suffering, all in the name of our all-merciful Christ. Orthodox Christianity does not believe in bad karma or inherited sin as the cause of human suffering. Instead, like Jesus with the man born blind, we see sickness as an opportunity for us to give witness to God’s glory and love. Indeed, we try to become the very healing hands of Christ in this fallen world.

Towards this end, working closely with the local clergy, we have recently expanded our mission of mercy in a number of significant ways these first three months of 2017. First of all, with the help of an OCMC medical grant, we were able to help enroll Juana Pascual Lucas, a young Mayan woman from Aguacate, in medical school. She is committed to returning to her village as a medical doctor in order to help her people. We believe that her proven dedication as a community health worker and great love for her people will greatly improve the health outcomes in that region, once she completes her studies and returns home.

Medical student Juana studying medicine with support of OCMC grant.

A second major development is the opening of the Perpetuo Socorro medical clinic on the Pacific Coast in the bustling town of Nueva Concepcion. Two years ago, an OCMC construction team, at the invitation of Vicar Mihail Castellanos, helped begin the renovation of a building, that today is a functioning clinic, legally registered with with the Guatemalan health department. Dr. Oscar Aguilar, a Cuban-trained doctor and attending physician at the clinic, was inspired to become a doctor by the late and much beloved Fr. Andres Giron. Aguilar was a promising student at the Orthodox secondary school, who has now come to pay his debt of gratitude by serving his people. A service of blessing took place on January 8th, to inaugurate the clinic. It should be noted that Dr. Aguilar has already offered his services, and will continue to do so on a monthly basis, at the Fr. Andres Giron clinic in Aguacate.

Guatemalan Clergy and faithful gather to bless new clinic in Nueva Concepcion.

Archimandrite Mihail with Dr. Oscar Aguilar begin new clinic outreach to the poor.

Fr. Alexios blesses the clinic.

Finally, on January 10th, I, together with our mission dentist- Dr. Willie Manteris, OCMC missionary Jesse Brandow and Fr. Evangelos Pata, traveled to Guatemala City to meet with faculty members of the school of dentistry at San Carlos University. This meeting focused on the university’s program that sends graduate dental students to underserved villages for an eight month internship. An agreement was reached and arrangements made for the arrival of a “practicante” or intern sometime in the near future. In addition to offering the usual dental services, the intern’s main focus will be on preventative care for children at the local primary school in Aguacate. Here again the potential for transforming a whole village is great, since good health begins with proper oral care. Join us in prayer for the intercessions of St. Apollonia, who was tortured for her faith. She was one of a group of virgin martyrs who suffered in Alexandria during a local uprising against the Christians. According to one account, her torture included having all of her teeth violently pulled out or shattered. For this reason, she is popularly regarded as the patroness of dentistry and those suffering from toothache or other dental problems. In the attached photo she is shown holding a tooth.

Members of dental faculty
pose before school mural depicting treatment.

Painting of St. Apollonia , patroness of dentistry at San Carlos Dental School

Needless to say, much remains to be done in Guatemala, but we have much to be thankful for and great hope for the future. Many are the unknown saints who have come forward to help us in our humble efforts. We continue to pray for more volunteer medical professionals who are willing to join or otherwise support these efforts. Contact OCMC ( or me ( if  you want to learn more about our work. Your special talent will be a great blessing and a show of God’s benevolence to our long-suffering brothers and sisters in Christ. FELIZ PASCUA A TODOS! KALI ANASTASIA! BLESSED PASCHA TO ALL!


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