Upcoming Monastery Visits

The North American Thebaid Pilgrimage continues, with visits confirmed at Hermitage of the Holy Cross (ROCOR) in Wayne WV, Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery (OCA) in Otego NY, and Holy Trinity Monastery (ROCOR) in Jordanville NY. A brief return visit to the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City PA is also planned.

I’m busy with continued scheduling for monasteries, and for parish presentations, so watch for more news soon.

You can see the upcoming dates in the right hand panel here at Thebaid.org. I would appreciate your prayers both for safe travel and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

As a special treat, here is the outstanding film on Orthodox Monasticism produced by the Hermitage of the Holy Cross several years ago, From the Little Mountain:


To view more videos on Orthodox Monasticism in North America and around the globe, visit the Thebaid Video page…


First Photo Gallery: St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery

The first gallery of photographs from the North American Thebaid Project is online, featuring some four dozen images taken at St Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan PA.

img_0095Captions to follow, but you can get nearly a virtual tour of the monastery, and a real inside look at monastic life, including the divine services, veneration of icons and relics of saints, the monks living quarters and dining room (trapeza) and more.

Also featured are links to learn more about St Tikhon’s Monastery, including videos and helpful instructions for visitors.

Proceed to the St Tikhon’s Gallery, and watch for posting soon of my photographs from Holy Transfiguration in Ellwood City PA, as well as upcoming itinerary…

First Monastery Photographs

My first two monastery visits went very well, with moments of quiet and wonder, and some good photographs to begin the North American Thebaid collection.

Apologies for the lapse in postings, but my internet access has been greatly limited while traveling, and I am only now set up wth my new home-base wifi solution in Cincinnati.

I’m including some select images with this post, but promise to have actual galleries up very soon as I finish some initial editing and uploading.

Heartfelt thanks for all the prayers and support. Watch for more updates tomorrow and forward…

St Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery, South Canaan PA

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Continue reading “First Monastery Photographs”

The Itinerary

The height and breadth of North America takes away one’s breath, when one considers it all. Even more breathtaking is the breadth of places where Orthodox monasticism is taking root.

Below is my proposed itinerary, to give you an idea of the many monasteries planted across the USA and Canada, from Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.

Someone recently asked me if I will be “following the seasons.” Great question, and  I certainly am! I plan to include Alberta, Canada and Alaska in the Summer months, the Southwest and Southeast in the Winter, and so forth.

There are already changes being made — including additions and deletions — and some sections will be broken up into several excursions. But the general idea is here.

I hope also to schedule parish presentations along the way, and am already off to a good start in that regard, as you can see from the Thebaid Calendar in the right side bar. If you are interested in having me give a slide show & presentation on the Thebaid Project at your parish, please contact Orthodox Speakers Bureau, who are kindly handling all my booking arrangements.

I hope you enjoy this look at one of the guiding documents of the Thebaid Project, which has been updated several times since I first began preparing it almost a year ago.

Northeast: PA/NY/Nova Scotia/Ontario:


1. Monastery of the Transfiguration (OCA), Ellwood City PA; ~ 310 mi, 5 hrs, from Cincinnati

2. Nativity of the Theotokos (GOA), Saxonburg PA; ~ 40 mi, 50 min, from #1

3. St Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery (OCA), Waymart PA; ~ 300 mi, 5 hrs, from #2

4. New Diveyevo Monastery (ROCOR), Nanuet NY; ~ 110 mi, 2 hrs from #3

5. Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery (OCA), Otego NY; ~ 140 mi, 2.5 hrs, from #4

6. Holy Trinity Monastery (ROCOR), Jordanville NY; ~45 mi, 1 hour from #5

7. New Skete (OCA), Cambridge NY; ~ 95 mi, 2 hrs from #6

8. Hermitage of the Annunciation (OCA), Watford, Nova Scotia, Canada; ~ 660 mi, 13 hrs from #7

9. Hermitage of St Anthony the Great (OCA), Westport, Ontario, Canada; ~ 1020 mi, 16 hours from #8

11. St Kosmas Aitolos Monastery (GOA), Bolton, Ont. CA; ~ 211 mi, 3.5 hrs from #10

TOTAL MILES: ~ 2800 mi. one-way 

Continue reading “The Itinerary”

Preparing for Pilgrimage: St Tikhon’s Monastery, Part 1

With real joy and thanksgiving, but also with not a little fear and trembling, I realized today that I leave for the first leg of the North American Thebaid Pilgrimage in less than a week and a half…

This is a powerful awareness. I feel as if my life may change forever through this venture. I certainly hope it does, that as a pilgrim first, I may grow closer to the Lord, repent more, pray well, and, God willing, make some good photographs for the Thebaid Project.

The first monastery I am visiting is St Tikhon’s, in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, from September 6-8. Below is a look at America’s oldest monastery, featuring an interview done with Fr. Abbot Sergius in 2009.

I ask your prayers and support as I prepare to begin my pilgrimage…


First Monastery Visits Scheduled for September

Patronal Feast of St Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery, August 2013 (photo from St Tikhon’s website).

The actual travel and photography for the North American Thebaid Project is set to begin in early September, three weeks ahead of schedule. So far, this first leg of the pilgrimage includes:

Continue reading “First Monastery Visits Scheduled for September”

Pilgrimage to mark 25th anniversary of Mother Alexandra’s repose

Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City PA to honor founder at annual August pilgrimage.

Transfig-Monastery-PAI made my first pilgrimages to the Monastery of the Transfiguration soon after being received into the Orthodox Church in 1987, with parish groups from St Michael’s (Antiochian) in Louisville KY, led by Fr Alexander Atty of beloved memory.

Now I am hopeful Transfiguration will be one of the first monasteries for me to visit as part of the North American Thebaid Project.

Fr. Steven Kostoff of Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit in Cincinnati, my home parish since 2001, likewise maintains close, warm relations with regional monasteries, leading annual pilgrimages alternating between Transfiguration (Ellwood City PA) and Dormition (Rives Jct. MI) monasteries. Fr Steven helped guide one of my friends (now Mother Paula) at the parish to the monastic life, and was present for her tonsure at Transfiguration several years ago.

This is the sort of strong connection between parish and monastic life which I hope to help foster through the Thebaid Project, by giving parish talks in between monastery stays, and through my photography helping to inspire the faithful to make regular pilgrimages to the monasteries in their area.

Mother Paula visited here last year and gave two wonderful talks, including a special presentation on the life of Mother Alexandra, the foundress of Holy Transfiguration Monastery. If you have the opportunity to attend this coming weekend’s Pilgrimage at Transfiguration, you will surely find yourself blessed!

Pilgrimage to mark 25th anniversary of Mother Alexandra’s reposeOCA.org, July 29, 2016:

Photo Aug 05, 2 34 29 PMThe 25th Anniversary of the repose of Mother Alexandra, the former Princess Ileana of Romania who founded Holy Transfiguration Monastery here, will be remembered during the community’s annual pilgrimage and patronal feast August 5-7, 2016.

The monastery was established in 1967 as the fulfillment of Mother Alexandra’s dream to provide a place where Orthodox Christian women from all ethnic backgrounds could live the monastic life and benefit from the liturgical cycle in English.  Since that time, her vision has been fulfilled.  The nuns, the majority of whom are converts to Orthodox Christianity, as well as the monastery’s many visitors span a variety of backgrounds. Continue reading “Pilgrimage to mark 25th anniversary of Mother Alexandra’s repose”

St Brendan’s Voyage – An Inspiration for the Thebaid Pilgrimage Project

ThroughAMonksEyesHere is a deeply inspiring contemplation (podcast) of the life of St Brendan the Voyager, the Irish monk who set out on his epic pilgrimage with no destination, yet who found his eternal, spiritual destination, and made an enduring impact on Christianity in the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland as a result. He has quickly become an inspiration to me for the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project, and perhaps will be for your Christian walk as well! I hope he inspires you to follow along with me as we prepare to launch the Thebaid Crowdfunding Campaign, which will enable travel and photography to begin later this Summer!

St Brendan: the Questioning Heart

Through a Monk’s Eyes Podcast, Ancient Faith Radio; Fr. Seraphim Aldea of the Mull Monastery of All Celtic Saints shares about the life of St. Brendan. Audio Podcast: Length: 23:57

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Continue reading “St Brendan’s Voyage – An Inspiration for the Thebaid Pilgrimage Project”