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]

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”

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”