This past October 14, 2019 marked our first five years of beginning the monastery here. So much to be thankful for, not the least of which is each of you! At this five-year point, we are amazed at how much has happened and yet, mindful that there is so much more to be done! With that in mind, here are the highlights of this past year:
In February, one of our novices, Brother James, was giving 24 hours to live! He was tonsured in the hospital as the Monk Porphyrios. The 24 hours has now extended to nine months. Glory to God for His Mercy to all of us.
Vineyard Update: The electric fence did a wonderful job of keeping the deer from eating the vine foliage. However, this last winter we received 45 inches of snow, followed by record rainfall. As a result, we were hit with black rot fungi. It didn’t destroy the vines, but it did the fruit. Next year we will spray early and often to avoid this scenario. We now have 1,500 rooted and growing vines. We hope next year to make wine from about a third of these. Stay tuned!
On Lazarus Saturday, Charlie Cox was baptized and chrismated at the monastery. He is a mechanic in Cameron, MO and has been a good friend of the monastery for the past four years. Pray for him. His baptismal name is Charalambos.
Deacon John Reavis and Priest Constantine Frank were ordained at New Gracanica last Spring. When I was priest at St. Mary of Egypt parish in Kansas City, Deacon John and Popadija Christina were newly enlightened members there. Popadija Xenia Frank used to be a member there also. When she went to Holy Cross Seminary in Boston, she met the future Fr. Constantine.
One of our sisters, Nun Johanna, was blessed to assist His Grace Bishop Neofitos, of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya Diocese for two months this summer. The result was the beginning of a new convent dedicated to St. Anna. Now, from the monastery here, she is helping to raise funds for students at their new school. $360 enables one child to attend school for a year. Donations can be made to the Skete designated for “Kenya tuition.”
When we first started the monastery in 2014, Archimandrite Makarije from Mt. Athos was with us for several weeks. I met him when I was at Hilandar on Mt. Athos. When here, he caught 47 fish in three days for our first patronal feast! He revisited us over the summer and brought us much encouragement from Karoulia, on the southern cliffs of the Holy Mountain.
With Fr. Makarije, we visited Wounded Knee, South Dakota where we prayed for our nation and those who had so suffered. When I was on Athos, several monks and a bishop had strongly suggested I read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”. They said it would help us to know what needs to change in our hearts as we seek to root Orthodoxy deeply in this American soil.
We continue to pray for you all and ask you to pray for us! As you know, without God’s sustaining mercy and grace, and your gifts and sacrifices, none of this would be possible. Thank you and may God reward you.
deer behind Abbess Sergia's cell, near St. Eustathios's trai