WHEN saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
From an article originally written in 2010, and featured in Romfea.
THEY found their “Ark” – unwed, pregnant girls and unmarried mothers, who wanted to recover from the betrayal and abandonment of their partners – in a hostel, with the welcome and protection of the Orthodox religious institution “The Evangelist Mark,” located in Thermi, Thessaloniki.
A priest named Constantinos Plevrakis and his wife Stella have for years been spreading their protective “wings” around single women, from those looking for a house where they can give birth to their children, to those who want a plate of food, but also psychological support.
It all began in 1984, when two unmarried mothers sought help from the priest, as they had one else to turn to.
At the time, he decided to accommodate them, together with their children, in his house: in the sitting room and a bedroom.
When, however, the need for help became greater, he took the decision to sell his house, where he lived with his wife, in Thessaloniki, and establish a church hostel in Thermi.
The “House of Mary”, as it is called, can accommodate up to seven women, for as long as necessary, until their children have been born and they are raising them.
“Christianity is love. You can’t speak of Christianity and be concerned about possessions. That’s why we too, with our own money and to fulfil an old vow, established the church and hostel, which also belong to the Metropolis of Kassandreia“, Fr Plevrakis explained to the Athens News Agency / Macedonian Press Agency.
In all those years, roughly 250 women have passed through and sought help from this particular place, from 16 to 50 years of age, some together with their children. It is not only Greeks who have found a roof, but foreign nationals.
“It makes no difference to us” the priest told us “from which country each woman is, and which God she believes in. We want to help them. We have supported Muslims and Roman Catholics. For us, everyone is the same.”
Apart from accommodation, food, medical and nursing care, Fr Plevrakis and his wife provide spiritual and psychological support to the girls.
They help each woman to overcome the fear and unease they live through not only because of her pregnancy, but also because of abandonment by the man who loved and trusted. They help to calm her, to find her faith again, and give birth to her child with joy and with hope.
“Although the church does not approve of premarital relationships, we support these women. Christ condemned sin; he loved the sinner. Abortion is a crime. And we should not, as much as pregnancy outside marriage may be a mistake, compound it with a child’s murder” adds the priest’s wife for her part.
In several cases, the priest and his wife attempt to reconcile the woman with her child’s father, and if possible, to solemnize marriages, so the child would be born and grow up in the care of his parents, within the warmth of a family environment.
“We succeed only rarely, even though we do everything in our power. We have been to London to find one father, and persuade him to marry the girl. In most cases, however, couples did not find a way, and no marriage was celebrated”, they said.
Conversely, when the mother is compelled to remain single, the foundation seeks to strengthen her so that she can face her obligations with dignity, find work, and raise her child properly.
All obligations and expenses of the hostel and of the women who are given accommodation are covered wholly and entirely by the financial support of friends, subscribers, and partners of the project.
My non-expert translation, from a re-post at Απόψεις για τη Μονή Βατοπαιδίου (και όχι μόνο).
THAT He will bless the good intentions of His servants who strive to rescue His children from violent death, and allow them to begin successfully and to finish without obstacle, through the power and grace of the most Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
That He will guide the hands of His servants to complete their work successfully, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
That He will bless His servants with the grace of the most Holy Spirit, and make their efforts well pleasing in His sight, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
That He will assign a guardian angel to banish from this effort every enemy and obstacle, whether visible or invisible, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
That this work may be ordered in wisdom and may end in perfection, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
AGAIN we beg Thee, O Lord, to hear our prayer, and have mercy on Thy servants who strive to save the lives of Thy innocent children. In Thy grace and bounty, fulfill their petitions and forgive all their transgressions, whether voluntary or involuntary. Accept their sacrifice of praise upon Thy heavenly altar; protect them from every visible and invisible enemy; deliver them from all misery, sickness, and affliction; grant them health and length of days, we pray Thee, O Lord, hearken and have mercy.
Office for the Victims of Abortion, composed by the Orthodox Church in America (Source).
See also my Pro-Life page.