On page 53 of the July/Aug 2007 edition of Krētē (monthly publication of the Pancretan Association of America), the following announcement of an adult baptism is given:
“Carrie Drew Odum was baptized at Holy Archangels Greek orthodox Monastery at Kendalia Texas and was married to Anthony Kylitis son of Kosta and Elenie Kylitis on Saturday July 7, 2007 at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in San Antonio Texas.
We like to wish them a happy and prosperous life together.”
In February of 2005, Ashley and Diane visited Scott at the monastery. He appeared physically weak and stooped over. Ashley and Diane also had an opportunity to observe Archimandrite Ephraim, and witnessed monks prostrating themselves in front of the Archimandrite, asking for his blessing.
In a letter dated February 14, 2005, Scott again tried to explain the mystery of the “Elder.” “[T]he Elder here does know people’s thoughts and sometimes everything about them;” “there’s a reason why the elders breath smells like myrrh, or why sometimes when he blesses you all you smell is sweet fragrances, or why angels show up;” “I’m here to be healed and I know that it’s done through honesty in confession and obedience;” “lf l blame anyone it’s myself, and the demons are to blame too.”
On March 13, 2005, Scott told his parents:
• When ” the Elder” meditates he levitates and the light that shines forth all around him is so bright it will temporarily blind you if were to walk in on him;
• “The Elder” can’ t visit a zoo because animals will go wild wanting a blessing from him;
• Someone who refused to obey “The Elder” in a disagreement a short time later died;
• “The Elder” ” divined” where to find water for the Arizona monastery; and
• “The Elder” can spiritually ascend to heaven where God is and can report back what he experienced and saw there.
Scott also told the couple that while on Mt. Athos, he had received branches from the “real burning bush that Moses saw and experienced God on Mount Sinai.”
On April 7, 2005, seven months after Scott entered St. Anthony’s, Ashley and Diane wrote to Metropolitan Gerasimos. The letter detailed all the bizarre revelations that Scott had relayed to his family about “The Elder” and about life at the monastery. The couple requested a face to face meeting with the bishop to discuss the practices of the monastery’s leadership, how Scott became involved in the monastery, and what actions the Metropolitan would take. The Nevins asked that the Greek Orthodox Church and Archimandrite Ephraim release Scott, get him exit counseling from a qualified professional; none of this occurred.
On May 9, 2005, Metropolitan Gerasimos replied, suggesting that he, Ashley, and Diane meet with Archimandrite Paisios and Scott at St. Anthony’s. The Nevins replied on May 17, 2005, to the Metropolitan agreeing to this though finding a time and scheduling this would be difficult; that particular meeting never took place.
They also asked that the following items be included on the agenda for the meeting:
• Whether the concept of “toll houses,” as taught by the monastery, was accepted theology of the Greek Church;
• Why Scott was sent to Mt. Athos to be received by baptism instead of being received by chrismation;
• Why Archimandrite Ephraim taught that sex was dirty and that monasticism was superior to marriage;
• Why Archimandrite Ephraim taught that the scripture saying “I come not to bring peace but a sword diving families-father against son … ” meant that “giving up” one’s family was expected;
• Why Archimandrite Ephraim equated reunification with God to absolute blind obedience to everything he or Archimandrite Paisios said;
• Whether the Greek Church taught that it was possible for a person to learn to levitate, to astral project, to glow, and to exceed other Orthodox believers simply by being obedient to the monastery’s leadership; and
• Why local Greek Orthodox churches and religious schools weren’t ‘ pure’ enough and should be ignored.
Communications between the San Francisco Diocese and the Nevins continued for an additional five months, with the Nevins finding it difficult working with the Chancellor in scheduling a meeting time.
During this same time period the Nevins also wrote to Archbishop Demetrios about their concern for the well being of their son. The Archbishop responded to the couple in writing, and said that they were making changes to how they allowed people into the monastery. He encouraged them to talk to Metropolitan Gerasimos because he was a psychologist. Archbishop Demetrios did nothing to help Scott.
Meanwhile, Scott continued to delve more deeply into Orthodox mysticism. He recommended that people visit the Russian Orthodox cathedral in San Francisco to be healed by the ” uncorrupt relics of Saint John” and stated that he knows an “amazing story” about the tomb of Christ. Scott also continued to lose weight, work with little sleep, and refer to himself as a “belly acher” who is “learning sometimes it is better to suffer.” By this time, Scott was nearly unrecognizable to his family both physically and by personality. Even his voice had changed, becoming a mumbling monotone without a trace of his old animation.
Despite this lack of a paternal blessing, on September 7, 2004, Scott entered St. Anthony’s as a pre-novice. The parish priest at the Modesto church where Scott was recruited by Fowler, Father Jon Magoulias, did not realize that the young man had entered the monastery until 6 weeks later. Magoulias later told Ashley that there was a controversy in the Greek Church among the priests and in the wider church as to whether the Archimandrite Ephraim and his monasteries were a cult. Despite this, at the end of the meeting Magoulias told Ashley, “I am glad Scott is an Orthodox”.
On or about September 20, 2004, less than two weeks later, Scott informed his parents that he would be traveling to Greece to stay at the monasteries on Mt. Athos. His trip was funded by a supporter of St. Anthony’s.
In October 2004 Scott described monastic life as follows: “Monasticism (monk life) is complete devotion to God” and required “perfect obedience.” It is “daily martyrdom, for which God grants the life of incorruption.” He wrote daily in a “Confession book” to record his sins so that he would be able to remember them all when he went to confession. Scott condemned himself and wrote, “I realized that I couldn’t hack it out there, so I have to stay in the spiritual ‘hospital’ where I can be guided like sheep that I am and can be kept from strong temptation.” Scott came to believe that “love and chastisement always go hand in hand” and that ” if a man is not willing to give up his father and mother for My sake then he is not worthy of Me.” Scott further explained that “life is not about school, or tea parties, or sensual pleasures, or even marriage and family and friends. These things are all extra. They’re blessings God give us because He loves, and feels sorry for our wretched state.” He believed that “even if I were to live a thousand years as a monk I would never be more than a jerk, which is what I am now.”
On October 20, 2004, six weeks after entering St. Anthony’s, Scott journeyed to Mt. Athos. He stayed at a monastery that is related to the Florence monastery. There Scott, who had already been baptized, was received into the Orthodox faith by a second baptism.
Scott called home from Mt. Athos on October 23, 2004. He promised that he would call again around Christmas and that he would come home for a visit when he returned from Greece. He did neither.
By January 19, 2005, Ashley and Diane had not heard from their son and they were extremely worried that he had not returned safely to the United States. Ashley sent a FAX to St. Anthony’s describing the actions that would be taken if the monastery’s leadership did not let the Nevins know Scott’s whereabouts, if the couple was not allowed to speak to their son, and if they did not get a timely response to their FAX. Within thirty minutes Scott called his parents. He told them that he wanted to become a novice, and explained that he couldn’t come home because of his disciplines. Archimandrite Paisios monitored the entire conversation. The abbot absolutely refused to allow Scott to come home as the young man had promised.
A short time later, Scott wrote to his parents and explained that while in Greece, he had lost a “good amount of weight” and “got used to sleeping less also. I can go off of about four or five hours of sleep a night now.” He also learned that “obedience is also a shield which protects us from demonic assaults. I say this because the Elder (Father Ephraim) has told me that I can write a letter to you every so often, but not phone calls, and not to go visit. I can’t go visit you. Otherwise I’ll never get anywhere with the prayer.” Scott invited his parents to “come and talk to the Elder, he’s like a doctor and can help.” The couple declined the offer.
When Scott returned from Greece St. Anthony’s did not have a monastic cell for him. Consequently, he was forced to sleep for four months in a confessional area right next to where Archimandrite Ephraim performed loud exorcisms at night.