Fr. Luke and Presbytera Faith Veronis, OCMC Missionaries for the last nine years, have recently returned to Albania after completing their first extended furlough (official home-leave) from December 2002 until June 2003. During this time they both traveled to numerous churches to present the work of the rthodox Christian Mission Center and the Church in Albania. In between their many speaking engagements, the birth of their third child, Panayiota Maria, and time spent with extended family, Fr. Luke educated 45 Orthodox seminarians in Orthodox Missiology.
Fr. Luke taught “Challenges of Modern Orthodox Missions” at both Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. “My first goal was to try and inspire some of the students to seriously think about following our Lord Jesus Christ’s missionary mandate to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’ I wanted the students to clearly understand that, from a biblical, theological, and historical perspective, the authentic Orthodox worldview is one that reaches out to all. I was hoping to challenge and possibly inspire some of these students to seriously think about committing their lives, or a portion of their lives, to spreading the Gospel outside of America,” Fr. Luke said.
The OCMC Missionaries had an opportunity to offer sermons, Bible studies and presentations on the work of the Church of Albania and the Mission Center at 15 churches around the country. This included a day retreat at St. Tikhon Seminary for all the students and 45 of the clergy of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania. “It’s always a blessing for us to travel around the country and meet our ‘partners’ in the ministry - people who have been praying for us, encouraging us, and supporting us financially. Truly, anything that happens overseas would be impossible if we did not have a group of supporters participating with us,” stated Presbytera Faith.
“This furlough was a blessed time for us because we gave birth to our third child, probably the youngest Orthodox missionary in the world today,” Presbytera Faith joked. “Along with giving birth, we had an opportunity to spend time with our families. Truly for us, this is really the only big sacrifice we make by living abroad. Sometimes it’s hard to be so far away from our families, so it was nice for our children to spend time with their grandparents and cousins!”
The Veronis family returned to Albania in June, and jumped back into their previous ministries. One of the main programs they help oversee during the summer is the youth camping programs, which entails 10 camps and more than 1,000 youth. This summer, they will also be coordinating an OCMC Mission Team which will offer seminars for priest’s wives and women’s groups around the country.
“It feels like coming back home,” stated Fr. Luke. “What a special blessing to be reunited with our Albanian family and our missionary family. We really missed everyone and are glad to be back.”
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center - helping Orthodox Christians respond to Christ’s call to teach, baptize and make disciples of all nations as the official international mission agency of SCOBA.