Thebaid Project Update – October/November 2017

Dear Supporters and Friends,

Due to travel, I was unable to post an update in early October, so there is a great deal to report in this Thebaid Update. As always, please forgive me if this post duplicates an update you received through our GoFundMe or Indiegogo platforms.

Let’s dive right in:

LOGISTICS —

As I reported back in August, thanks to a generous sponsor, I have been able to eliminate housing costs. My sincere thanks also to supporters in Atlanta, Akron and Cincinnati, who have hosted me in their homes at various points, which have saved literally hundreds of dollars in hotel and meal costs.

MONASTERY TRAVELS —

Lighting the Lampada over the Altar; St Paul Skete, Grand Jct TN

 

SEPTEMBER 26-29 — I made my first pilgrimage to Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete in Weatherby MO. The St Xenia Sisterhood is adjacent to the men’s skete. Many unique images from this warm and welcoming community…

OCTOBER 3-5 — While traveling in September, I was emailing with Mother Nektaria at St Paul Skete in Grand Jct TN, east of Memphis, and we blocked out a few days for me to stay and photograph, resulting in a blessed visit and several exceptional images.

OCTOBER 18-20 — Hermitage of the Holy Cross, Wayne WV — This is a return visit to the Hermitage, as my first trip there last year had to be cut short due to a scheduling conflict on my end. I’ve been very eager to make this return trip, and the timing for Fall colors couldn’t be much better.

OCTOBER 22-23 — I made a return visit to St Gregory Palamas Monastery in Hayesville, Ohio, where I was able to photograph the progress on construction of their new chapel, designed by noted Orthodox architect Andrew Gould. View the full gallery for St Gregory’s here.

As monasteries are scheduled, I add them to my iCal, and they automatically appear on the Thebaid website schedule in the right-hand column.

Continue reading “Thebaid Project Update – October/November 2017”

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Another New Gallery! Hermitage of the Holy Cross, Wayne WV

When I visited the Hermitage of the Holy Cross last October, I was only able to stay for a couple of days due to a last minute schedule change. For this return visit, I was able to stay for several days, which led to several unique images, as I settled more into the rhythm of life.

Well used prayer and service books in theHermitage Guest House icon corner.

It was good to renew my acquaintances with some of the monks I first met last year, and the obvious signs of continued growth, including the completion of St Herman’s House and the new candle workshop, made this an eventful and fruitful visit.

Proceed to the Gallery page for Hermitage of the Holy Cross…

Thebaid Project at the OCA Midwest Diocesan Assembly

Yesterday, October 12, I was at the OCA Diocese of the Midwest Assembly at St Michael’s Orthodox Church in Broadview Heights, south of Cleveland, where I set up my full Thebaid display, and was able to meet and discuss the project with numerous clergy and lay representatives from several states.

Thebaid Project display at the OCA Midwest Diocese Assembly.

I have found that when I meet people and describe the Thebaid Project in person, there is a much more vivid grasp of the inspiration and purpose of the project, and a corresponding affirmation of it. I arrived during the morning registration check-in and breakfast, and had great conversations through the entire day.

Fr John Memorich, the host priest of St Michael’s, asked me if I was going to photograph any dendrites, and I had to admit I was not familiar with the term, so he explained that referred to monastics who lived either in the hollows of trees or in their branches, like St David of Thessalonica, or St Tikhon of Kaluga (see icon at right). So, all you dendrite, tree-dwelling hermits of North America, be on the alert, as I hope to find you and make some photographs of your ascetical, transfigured life (preserving your cherished anonymity and privacy of course!). (Of course, I doubt there are any hermits, living in trees or elsewhere, who are on the internet to read this, so there is a real sense of irony in this musing!)

Continue reading “Thebaid Project at the OCA Midwest Diocesan Assembly”

Watch for new Photo Galleries coming soon!

Thank you for your patience during my recent travels! I had an inspiring two week journey to Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete in northwest Missouri, followed by a parish presentation at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Overland Park KS (outside Kansas City), and went immediately from there to St Paul Skete about an hour east of Memphis TN.

Entrance to St John Damascene Chapel during Matins, St Paul Skete, Grand Jct TN; © Ralph (Zosimas) Sidway

Having photographed the 40th anniversary services at St Symeon Orthodox Church in Birmingham AL this past weekend, I am heading up to Cleveland for the Midwest Diocese Assembly (OCA) tomorrow and Thursday, and plan to schedule further monastery visits while in transit.

I have been editing photos from these inspiring journeys since last Friday, and look forward to sharing many of the images with you as soon as possible.

As always, I deeply appreciate your support and prayers!

 

St Mary of Egypt Parish Presentation on the Thebaid Project – with photos

The weekend of September 16-17 found me at St Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Roswell GA, where I had been invited by Fr John Townsend to give my presentation on the History of Orthodox Monasticism, and the North American Thebaid Project.

The warm hospitality of the entire parish, the beauty of the church and iconography, and the vivid sense of the nearness of the heavenly kingdom and the saints (especially accentuated by the two reliquaries flanking the nave) embraces one upon entering, and made my experience of Saturday’s Vigil and Sunday’s Divine Liturgy quite lofty and edifying.

As I typically do when visiting parishes, I made some photographs during the Liturgy to gift St Mary’s as a “Thank You”, and wanted to share a few highlights with you.

My heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Fr John and the parish, and I look forward to return visits in God’s timing.

If you are interested in scheduling me for a parish presentation, I’d love to make that happen! Please contact me at [zosimas at thebaid dot org], and also check out this page which may answer many of your questions.

Continue reading “St Mary of Egypt Parish Presentation on the Thebaid Project – with photos”

Missouri Trip, Part 2 — Parish Presentation at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church

Technically, I’ll be in Kansas for this one! — If you are in the greater Kansas City area, please join us at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Overland Park, Kansas, on September 30, for my presentation on Orthodox Monasticism and the North American Thebaid.

Vespers at 5:00pm, presentation to follow. Full details on the flier…

Click to enlarge…

I’ll also be at coffee hour following the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, October 1, with my Thebaid Project display, including handouts and a continuous digital slide show, and hope to see you there.

Holy Trinity is celebrating their Centennial Anniversary this year (and in fact are holding their official celebration and banquet the following week), and I am deeply honored to be speaking here.

 

My sincere thanks to Fr Timothy Sawchak for the invitation! I have known Fr. Tim and Matushka Jennifer for many years (Jennifer’s father, George Stansbury of beloved memory, and I were on one of Fr Alexander Atty’s memorable Mt Athos pilgrimages together back in 1990), so this will be a special reunion, and one very dear to my heart…

Stay tuned for a hoped-for Part 3 of this Missouri trip…

 

Missouri Trip, Part 1 – Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete

Travel these days is nearly continuous for the Thebaid Project, for which I am very thankful! And I am greatly anticipating my first pilgrimage to Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete, in Weatherby, Missouri, September 25-28. 

From the Skete’s website, you can get a real sense of their life and growth:

We are two communities serving God as one, Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete (led by Hieromonk Alexii) and St. Xenia Sisterhood (led by Abbess Brigid). The brotherhood has two monks and one novice; and the sisterhood has three nuns and one novice.

Thanks to the mercies of our Kind Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, the prayers and sacrificial gifts of many, we acquired a property that included a total of 80-acres, with 15-acres of farmable pasture, 65-acres of forest, trails, and ponds, and 7 well-built structures….

Continue reading “Missouri Trip, Part 1 – Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete”

Parish Presentation Sept. 17 at St Mary of Egypt Church, Roswell GA

Join us at St Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church (ROCOR) in Roswell GA (north of Atlanta) tomorrow, Sunday, September 17!

St. Mary of Egypt Church, Pascha 2017 (photo from parish website).
  • 9:40am – Hours and Divine Liturgy,
  • followed by a brief time of coffee & fellowship,
  • and then my presentation on Orthodox Monasticism and the North American Thebaid.

 

St Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church, 1765 Woodstock Rd, Roswell GA 30075

My heartfelt thanks to Fr. John Townshend for inviting me.

Hope you can join us!

Thebaid Project Update – September 2017

A summary of Thebaid Project activity over the past six weeks, with exciting news about upcoming monastery and parish visits, and some additional surprises.

Dear Fellow Thebaid Pilgrims,

I’m a couple of weeks late on my monthly Thebaid Update Schedule, but I hope you’ll appreciate the reasons for the delay, as the last six weeks have been filled with travel and photography, and have generated growing interest in and momentum for the Project.

For this September 2017 Edition, there are several categories of note:

LOGISTICS —

As mentioned in the August 2017 Update, through the support of a generous sponsor, I have been able to eliminate the overhead of housing and utilities costs, which has really propelled scheduling both of monastery visits and parish presentations. The immediate benefits of this logistical change can be seen in the updates below…

MONASTERY TRAVELS —

August 25-27 — Monastery of the Glorious Ascension (ROCOR) in Resaca GA, a women’s monastery with a long history, which is an important part of Orthodox mission efforts in northern Georgia. View the Photo Gallery here.

September 5-7 — Panagia Vlahernon Greek Orthodox Monastery in Williston FL. This is my first visit to one of the monasteries founded by Elder Ephraim (former abbot of Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos). Due to Hurricane Irma, I cut short my stay by one day, and had to cancel my pilgrimage to the women’s Annunciation Monastery just 10 minutes away. Perhaps a return visit may occur in the winter. Photo Gallery here.

UPCOMING: Looking ahead, I just this morning confirmed the dates for my first pilgrimage to Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete in Weatherby MO, on September 24-28. A women’s monastic community is adjacent to the men’s skete, St Xenia Sisterhood. I am hoping to add more monasteries in the region to make a circuit, before returning to Birmingham.

Continue reading “Thebaid Project Update – September 2017”