Father Zacharias van Wyk was born in 1946 in Beaufort West and spent most of his school years at Cradock Boys High School. He started off his adult life working as a government official then went on to complete his BA degree majoring in Philosophy and English at Tuks.
Then he turned to teaching and ended up as a translator in Parliament. In the late 70’s he studied Clinical Psychology and obtained his Master’s Degree at Rhodes University. He spent 20 years in private practice in Cape Town as a therapist.
He came from a staunch Dutch Reformed family and always had an intense interest in religion and became a Catholic after he matriculated. Then the Catholic Church went through a tremendous revolution which severely traumatised the new convert.
He turned away from the Church for more than 20 years but with the onset of the political upheavals of the mid-80’s, once again he started asking spiritual questions of himself.
He was drawn to the Buddhist faith to try to find inner peace but that did not fulfill him and finally he rediscovered Christianity and felt that he had come home. Shortly after, he was introduced to the Orthodox Church and that turned out to be the biggest influence in his life. In 1996 he converted and became Orthodox and chose a path of spiritual life, becoming an ordained Orthodox priest.
Now he has his own little Church of Saint Mary of Egypt in Robertson, where he happily shares his Orthodox spiritual treasure with his community and where Bedehuis Betanië provides a place of silence and retreat for those seeking God.
This is the first Orthodox Church in South Africa created with the specific purpose of providing a spiritual and cultural home for Afrikaans-speakers who have an interest in the Orthodox Faith. He celebrates Sunday services and feast day services in Afrikaans and has already embarked on translating the liturgical texts, in collaboration with Father Jacobus van der Riet of Johannesburg. And what a beautiful liturgical language Afrikaans has turned out to be!
Father Zacharias holds an English service once a month and an Afrikaans service once a month on Saturday mornings at the Holy Metropolitan Church of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene in Rondebosch.
For more information about Fr. Zacharias and his thriving Afrikaans Orthodox enclave in Robertson visit his website on http://afrikaansortodoks.wordpress.com.
Translated and edited by Pepe Sofianos.