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Feast Day of Pentecost and the Enthronement of Bishop Athanasios Kayembe in Benin

The Orthodox faithful in Benin experienced a profound feast day of Pentecost on 23 June 2024, celebrating the great feast of Pentecost with the enthronement of their first Bishop, Athanasios Kayembe. Following his pastoral visit to the vacant Metropolis of Nigeria last February,His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa decided to reorganise the ecclesiastical jurisdictions. He detached Togo and Benin from the Holy Metropolis of Nigeria and, through a Patriarchal Tomos, established a new Diocese that also includes Burkina Faso.

The enthronement ceremony of Bishop Athanasios Kayembe took place at St. Catherine’s Cathedral in Porto-Novo, the capital of Benin, immediately following the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy performed by His Eminence Metropolitan Georgios of Guinea, the Locum Tenens of the Holy Metropolis of Nigeria. The service was attended by clergy of the Diocese, representatives of various Christian denominations, the Governor of Porto-Novo, the President of the National Assembly, the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and many faithful. On the psaltirion chanted the two choirs of the Cathedral (European and Byzantine) and chanters from the Congo.

On behalf of the Patriarch, Metropolitan Georgios presented Bishop Athanasios Kayembe with a episcopal staff and commemorative gifts to state rulers, officials, and representatives of various Christian denominations. He conveyed the blessings and paternal love of the Patriarch and spoke about the unexpected death of Metropolitan Alexander of Nigeria and his long-standing contributions to the region.

He expressed gratitude to the holy clergy and faithful who, despite provocations and interventions from foreign jurisdictions, remained loyal and devoted to the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Metropolitan Georgios emphasised that Greeks, as pioneering missionaries of Orthodoxy, have been defying dangers for many decades and will continue to stand firm in their mission. He highlighted the dedication of Greek missionaries who, while many Africans seek a better tomorrow in Europe, leave their families, friends, and the sunny beauty of Greece to come to Africa to teach and spread the message of the Resurrection.

It is worth noting the presence of many young people and children at the ceremony. In his enthronement speech, Bishop Athanasios Kayembe expressed his gratitude to Patriarch Theodore II for his trust and the love he has shown him since his student years. He highlighted that his priority will be the construction of schools to provide children with access to free education and a clinic for people with Hansen’s disease. This clinic will be a testament to the love and generosity of benefactor Alexandra Alexiou from Alexandria.

After the enthronement, a festive table was provided for the entire congregation, followed by an extensive program featuring traditional dances and songs from Benin.

On Saturday, 22 June 2024, the enthronement ceremony was held at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Lome, the capital of Togo. The event was attended by the Minister of Interior and Security of Togo, the Ambassadors of Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo, other officials, and believers from Congo, the birthplace of the Bishop, as well as from Togo and Benin.

The Bishop expressed his gratitude to the minister and other officials for their presence. Addressing the Egyptian ambassador, he highlighted the significant support provided by the President and authorities of Egypt to the Patriarch’s endeavours. He particularly emphasised the construction of a Holy Church and a Greek Centre in Egypt’s new capital, a vision of the Patriarch that was realised under President Sisi’s leadership.