Heartfelt thanks to St Herman of Alaska Church in Hudson OH

The weekend of March 11-12 was very special for me, as I visited the fervent mission parish of St Herman of Alaska in Hudson Ohio, and gave a presentation on the Thebaid Project.

Fr Basil Rusen was one of the earliest supporters of the Thebaid Project outside of my home parish, strongly encouraging me at its very launch last Summer. We had corresponded about me visiting, and the timing happily coincided with one of the great monastic saints of the Church, Gregory Palamas, on the Second Sunday of Great Lent.

In addition to giving my presentation and slide show on the history of Orthodox Monasticism and its presence in North America, featuring many of my images from my monastery travels, I also was able to make some photographs for my gracious hosts, who took up a generous collection in support of the Thebaid Project.

I’ll be posting galleries of photos from my parish visits soon, but wanted to at least share one of my favorite images from the weekend with you.

My sincere thanks to Fr Basil, Popadija Patty, and the entire parish of St Herman’s for their hospitality. support and friendship. This was a very special event, and I look forward to repeat visits during my travels.

Join us this Sunday at St Herman of Alaska Church in Hudson OH

Announcing a special opportunity for those living in Northeastern Ohio (Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown):

Through a very gracious invitation by Fr. Basil Rusen, I will be giving a presentation on Orthodox Christian Monasticism and the North American Thebaid this coming Sunday, March 12, at St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church, in Hudson, Ohio.

Join us for the Divine Liturgy at 10:00am, and stay for a lenten potluck lunch and my full digital presentation, covering the history of Orthodox monasticism from its formation in the 4th and 5th centuries, through the development of the ‘Northern Thebaid’ in Russia a thousand years later, and on to today.

With Orthodoxy sending down deep roots into the American continent and nearly eighty monasteries in the USA and Canada, we can properly speak of a spiritual geography called the ‘North American Thebaid’. My presentation features some of the most compelling photographs made so far on my pilgrimages.

See my special article, ‘What is a Thebaid?’

Located at 86 Owen Brown St, just off N. Main St and SR 303, St Herman’s is very easy to get to from any direction, being just south of I-80 (Ohio Turnpike). Visit the St Herman’s parish website for directions and map.

If you’ve been curious about the North American Thebaid, and are in the general area, this is a great opportunity.

Hope to see you there!

 

Inspirations, Part 1

As I prepare for another round of monastery travel and photography, I thought it might be inspiring for you (as well as for me!) to revisit some of my early posts on this website, which try to sketch out the contours of “Why” I am undertaking this two-year pilgrimage, “What” it means to me, and “Where” I hope it will lead.

With some minor editing, this is the section I wrote in Autumn 2015 on the Inspiration for the North American Thebaid.

Inspiration

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Eugene Rose (the future Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina) at about the time he saw a slide show on Orthodox monasticism which would change his life.

The inspiration for The North American Thebaid Project springs primarily from the example of seminarian Gleb Podmoshensky, whose 1961 pilgrimage to monastic sketes and settlements across the United States, Canada and Alaska, and his photographic slide show from these visits, had an inspiring and pivotal impact on a certain young man: Eugene Rose.

Gleb titled his presentation, “Holy Places in America,” and described his encounter with Eugene as follows:

Before Eugene’s amazed expression, Gleb recalls, “a new world of Apostolic Orthodoxy revealed itself. Color icons and portraits of saints and righteous ones of America; scenes of Blessed Fr. Herman’s Spruce Island in Alaska; renewed miracle-working icons that had been brought to America from Shanghai; abbesses and schemamonks in America; Canadian sketes; Holy Trinity Monastery and New Diveyevo Convent in New York, which brought the tradition of the Optina Elders to America, and so on. I gave a brief explanation of the slides, and of the phenomenon of the martyrdom of Holy Russia. Finally I told of the martyric fate of my father and its consequences, which had brought about my conversion to Christ and had eventually brought me here…

“The lecture was finished. My host, Eugene Rose, the future Fr. Seraphim, drawing in his breath, said, ‘What a revelation!’”

Continue reading “Inspirations, Part 1”

Parish Presentation in Lima kicks off Winter travel & photography

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Fr Mark Hodges, the Great Entrance

My sincere thanks to Fr Mark Hodges and the parish of St Stephen the First Martyr in Lima OH, who hosted me for a brief presentation on the Thebaid Project following the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, Feb. 19, and took up a very generous collection. I am truly humbled and grateful for your support…

img_1619This was a good example of how churches can help support the Thebaid Project, and earn valuable rewards for the entire parish, including my photographic services! I call it ‘Creative Tent-making’, and it seems to be catching on, with six parishes already signed on.

Watch for parish photo galleries coming soon, and learn more about the Creative Tent-making Option here…

Phase II of the North American Thebaid has Officially Launched!

After our successful first season of travel and photography to several monasteries, and presentations at Orthodox parishes across five states, we’re officially announcing Phase II of the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage

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Support the North American Thebaid at our GoFundMe page…

Phase I fundraising was a solid success. Raising 92% of our initial goal, it enabled travel and photography to begin in Summer 2016, with photographs made at five monasteries across three states, and a return visit to Ellwood City for some strong images (such as above) at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration.

Having tested and proven our plans, we are moving into the main stretch of the Thebaid Pilgrimage: 2017 will see the bulk of the travel and the longest legs of the journey, literally to the four corners of North America.

Continue reading “Phase II of the North American Thebaid has Officially Launched!”

New Gallery: Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, in the Catskills, New York State

A new gallery of over forty photographs taken at Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery is up and available for viewing and sharing. 

Proceed to the Holy Myrrhbearers Gallery…

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Making a prayer rope…

I am very pleased with the overall selection of images, and several in particular are early contenders for the North American Thebaid book, scheduled for publication in late 2018.

Please consider supporting the North American Thebaid Project.

We fund this endeavor through subscription pre-sales of the Standard Hardcover Edition, and the Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather. We also offer eBooks and digital rewards for all supporters contributing at $25 and above. Proceed to the ‘Rewards for Supporters’ page to learn more, and use the PayPal button at top right to contribute.

Be sure to Like and Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and share the Thebaid Project with your friends, family and church.

Thank you for your support and prayers!

 

New Gallery: Hermitage of the Holy Cross in Wayne WV

After several weeks of travel, and Thanksgiving week, I am getting caught up on editing and posting more images from recent monastery visits.

img_1058First up, several photographs from Hermitage of the Holy Cross (ROCOR). My thanks to Fr. Abbott Seraphim and guest master Fr. Hilarion, and the several monks I was able to speak with during my brief stay.

This was a “get acquainted” visit, as a tentative commitment set up back in the Summer suddenly materialized and forced me to shorten my stay at Holy Cross, but I do look forward to return visits during the different seasons.

Please head over to the special Holy Cross Gallery to explore the images, and to learn more about this thriving men’s monastery, which continues to grow and expand.

OCA Monastic Synaxis invites presentation on North American Thebaid Project

I was deeply honored to be invited to speak about the North American Thebaid Project at the OCA’s recent Monastic Synaxis.

The superiors, led by His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, and Archbishop Nathaniel, had numerous excellent questions and insights, all of which further improve the Thebaid Project, and help it support monastic life even more than before.

Based on conversations and personal invitations from several of the superiors, I sensed a real interest in the Project, and I very much look forward to visiting the many monasteries in the OCA.

Holy Transfiguration Monastery site of monastic superiors’ annual Synaxis

Ellwood City, PA [OCA]

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2016 OCA Monastic Synaxis; Photo by Ralph H. Sidway.

With the blessing of their diocesan bishops, superiors of monasteries of the Orthodox Church in America gathered at the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration here October 25-27, 2016 for their third annual Synaxis for the purpose of strengthening monastic life in the OCA while providing a forum for the superiors to meet and share their respective communities’ joys and challenges.

The Synaxis opened with the celebration of the Vigil and Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Great Marty Demetrius.  His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, who oversees the stavropegial monasteries, and His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, in whose diocese the Monastery of the Transfiguration is located, were present for this year’s meeting.

The OCA counts some 25 men’s and women’s monastic communities in the US, Canada and Mexico, twelve of which were represented by their superiors, including

  • Mother Capitolina, Superior of the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos Community, Anchorage, AK.
  • Mother Cassiana, Superior of the Holy Protection Monastery, Lake George, CO.
  • Sister Cecelia, Prioress of the Nuns of New Skete, Cambridge, NY.
  • Brother Christopher, Prior of the Monks of New Skete, Cambridge, NY.
  • Mother Christophora, Abbess of the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration, Ellwood City, PA.
  • Igumen Gabriel, representing Archimandrite Sergius, Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, South Canaan, PA.
  • Mother Gabriella, Abbess of the Holy Dormition Monastery, Rives Junction, MI.
  • Archimandrite Gerasim, Abbot of Saint Elias Hermitage, Smoky Lake County, AB, Canada.
  • Hieromonk Innocent, Superior of the Monastery of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Manton, CA.
  • Mother Melania, Superior of Holy Assumption Monastery, Calistoga, CA.
  • Mother Sergia, Abbess of the Presentation of the Theotokos Monastery, Marshfield, MO.
  • Mother Thekla, Abbess of the Mary and Martha Monastery, Wagener, NC.

Continue reading “OCA Monastic Synaxis invites presentation on North American Thebaid Project”

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…