The Holy Monastery of St John of San Francisco in Manton is roughly the same distance east of Red Bluff CA as St Herman of Alaska (in Platina) is west (about 50 minutes), and the two share a strong devotion to St John Maximovitch, as well as to monasticism in general. (For example, both monasteries have been assisting with the founding of St Peter’s Monastery in Montana.)
The brotherhood raises bees and harvests and sells honey from the hives, in addition to making and selling beeswax candles in a variety of sizes and shapes (in addition to traditional tapers for church use). I very much enjoyed helping Fr. Innocent, the monastery’s Superior, tend to the bee hives on my visit.
Known for their publishing, the monks also host retreats, most recently launching the Orthodox LIFE School in 2017. This annual guided retreat is an instructional and practical week-long experience. The “LIFE” stands for Liturgy, Inspiration, Faithfulness, and Experience. Students in this School will learn about and participate in private prayer and corporate prayer, gathering for the morning and evening services with the monks in the chapel. In addition to talks by inspirational speakers, the students interact with and work alongside the monks in daily monastery tasks. They will prepare themselves and “go to the streets” with the message of Christ and His Church. For more info, see the monastery Retreats page.
Scroll down (below the gallery) for a brief history of the monastery. Here are some key links for further reading:
- Website of the Monastery of St John of San Francisco
- OCA page, featuring history and additional info
- The Atlas of American Orthodox Monasteries has a feature article on the Monastery of St John
From the OCA Monastery Page
The Brotherhood of St John’s Monastery was established to provide a monastery for men in the Diocese of the West at the end of October 1996, and continued there until it completely outgrew the facilities, acquiring a retreat house in Manton in July 2006.
St John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai and San Francisco
The patronage of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco was chosen by Bishop Tikhon for the Brotherhood. St John is a contemporary saint, and is a great wonderworker and healer, whose relics repose in San Francisco. He was an ascetic like those of old, who cared tirelessly for the poor, orphans and the ill and afflicted. Canonized by the Russian Church Abroad, St John’s sanctity has been recognized throughout the whole Orthodox community. His designation as Patron of our Brotherhood is an offering and sign of unity of the Orthodox overcoming all jurisdictional and ethnic divisions, and reflecting a fundamental vocation of our Monastery.
The Spiritual Foundation: The Blessing from Valaam and Elder Ephraim
The Monastery was founded by Hieromonk Jonah (Paffhausen) as its spiritual father and confessor, in obedience to his spiritual father Abbot (now Bishop) Pankratiy of the Valaam Monastery of the Transfiguration, in Russia. This direction was given following a meeting between Abbot Pankratiy and Elder Ephraim of Philotheou, where they blessed Fr. Jonah with the obedience to establish a monastery in California. Fr. Jonah then requested the Diocese to establish a monastery. At this same time, Elder Ephraim was beginning the establishment of St Anthony Monastery in Arizona, and the many other communities under his guidance throughout the Greek Archdioceses of America and Canada. The first brother at Pt. Reyes was sent from Arizona, by Hieromonk Gregory who was then at St Anthony, to help Fr. Jonah.
Our new home: Manton
As the Brotherhood grew, the Point Reyes property became completely inadequate for its needs, having been designed to be a hermitage for one or two monks. In addition, the buildings had deteriorated to a state beyond repair due to poor construction and an adverse climate, and an infestation of black mold.
Following years of searching for an adequate site for the Brotherhood, up and down the Pacific Coast from Monterey to Washington State, we were able to acquire a retreat house in Manton, California, near Red Bluff and Redding on the slopes of Mount Lassen.