The Very Reverend Archimandrite Andres Girón de Leon, a native of Guatemala, is the leader of the Guatemalan Orthodox Church under the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico. He is presently ministering and laboring unceasingly among the indigenous Mayans living in the mountainous regions of Guatemala and Southern Mexico. The group has 338 Churches and chapels throughout the region and numbers over 500,000 faithful and catechumens.
While growing up in Guatemala in a family of privilege, Fr. Girón was moved by the sufferings of the poor. A strong desire to devote his life to alleviating the poverty of his people, particularly the Mayan Indians, led him to seek holy orders in the Roman Catholic Church at an early age. Upon completion of his seminary education in Columbia, he returned to his beloved Guatemala as a parish priest and itinerant preacher, ministering to the people in the remote and nearly inaccessible regions of the country.
His espousal of the cause of the indigenous people eventually motivated Fr. Girón to seek public office as President of the Country in 1988 and then as a Senator in 1991. His service in the congress until 1996 led to a land reform movement among the rural poor. Today, there are some 44 villages founded by him and many more which seek his leadership and counsel. His tireless and vociferous efforts to improve the life of his disadvantaged countrymen eventually brought him into conflict with his superiors in the church and a government, supported by a strong and at times brutal military.
During the Guatemalan civil war that lasted for 36 years, Fr. Girón led his people in a March for Peace in 1986, an event that brought real gains to the peace process. In the early eighties a loyal following among the disaffected Mayan people in search of a spiritual home coalesced around the man who had faithfully served them, not only as a parish priest, but also as a senator, ambassador to the UN, and advocate for their rights.
Father Girón, no longer serving as a Catholic priest, embraced these people who had been deprived of the sacraments for many years, eventually leading them to Orthodox Christianity. At first he joined a non-canonical Orthodox group in 1996 (called the Society of Secular Clerics) and was soon ordained a bishop. Seeking to enter canonical Orthodoxy, Fr. Andres was received by Metropolitan Athenagoras, hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In addition to his seminary education, Fr. Girón has a Ph.D. from his studies in the United States, and is a trained counselor.