The Chapel of Archangel Michael Madamado at St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY

Huff House

In the Fall of 1998, with the blessing of Elder Ephraim, Elder Joseph Voutsas and Fr. Germanos Ponitkas purchased the 188 acre property known as the Huff House Golf Resort in Roscoe, NY for $2,500,000. Three lay-disciples from Toronto had taken second mortgages from their houses for $100,000 each and donated it for the down payment of the property, which helped greatly. Two of the donors gave the money as donations and the other donor gave the money as a loan. There was also a $25,000/month mortgage for the first 2 years and with the help of donations, the two monks paid off the mortgage.

Cell phone pic of Fr. Epifanios old desk mat (aerial of the property)
Cell phone pic of Fr. Epifanios old desk mat (aerial of the property)

Many of the original structures of the Golf Resort have been torn down. The structures that remained have had their exteriors and interiors redone, and new buildings have been erected. The property value has also sky-rocketed. The amount of money put into each new building (chapel, trapeza, monks’ quarters, new reception area, etc.) averages at over 2 million dollars/building.

The monks of St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) with Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesos, Cyprus.
The monks of St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) with Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesos, Cyprus.

At the end of December 1998, Abbot Joseph, together with 3 monks (Fr Germanos, Kassianos & Epifanios) and 4 novices (Symeon, Philotheos, Alexios and Michael) departed St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ and drove to Roscoe, NY to start setting up St. Nektarios Monastery. They arrived in early January 1999. Fr. Seraphim came from Arizona shortly afterwards. Due to problematic issues, Elder Joseph sent Fr. Seraphim back to Arizona after a brief stay at St. Nektarios Monastery. The monks were instructed to tell pilgrims that Fr. Seraphim was only sent up on loan to help start the monastery. This was so the pilgrims wouldn’t be scandalized

Brotherhood of St. Nektarios at Russian Synodal Building, NY.

During Holy Week of 1999, Elder Ephraim visited the Monastery and tonsured the four novices as monks in the old chapel. Elder Ephraim did not change the names of the new for two reasons:

  1. Because they were recently baptized converts who just changed their names at baptism.
  2. So the lie that they were given as an obedience to tell people would be more believable—The new monks had an obedience to tell people they were tonsured in Arizona but their koukoulis weren’t made yet and they had just received their koukoulis now. This was to cover-up the fact that Elder Ephraim visited the monastery and performed an ecclesiastical function without the knowledge or permission of the Bishop.
St. Nektarios Monastery, Kursk Root Icon, Russian Clergy and monks.
St. Nektarios Monastery, Kursk Root Icon, Russian Clergy and monks.

Some years later, Elder Ephraim again secretly visited St. Nektarios and tonsured 4 novices: Kosmas (Jason), Ephraim (Gerasimos), Nektarios (Gregory), and Damianos (Anestis). This time, the tonsure took place in the new chapel as the old chapel had been converted into a living room for the monks and a temporary dorm when the monastery couldn’t accommodate all the visitors in the guest houses.

The First Chapel at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc.—The Upstairs Living Room

Fr. Michael outside the old kitchen of main house. The upstairs living room of this house was originally the first chapel.
Fr. Michael outside the old kitchen of main house. The upstairs living room of this house was originally the first chapel.

The first church at St. Nektarios Monastery was located in the upstairs living room of the white building, originally dubbed “the main house.” The iconostasis from St. John the Theologian Monastery (closed in 1997) was used, as well as all the other materials from that chapel. The Chapel had golf green wall-to-wall carpeting. The use of the living room as a chapel was a temporary solution until the main church could be built. When the temporary chapel was no longer needed, it was converted back to a living room—a couch occupied the area of the Holy Altar, a computer station the area of the Proskomide. The former narthex was also used as temporary sleeping quarters when the guest houses became full and there was nowhere to put the extra pilgrims.

Originally destined to be the female guest quarters, the abbot decided part way through construction to make this structure the monks' quarters.
Originally destined to be the female guest quarters, the abbot decided part way through construction to make this structure the monks’ quarters.

When Geronda Ephraim secretly visited the monastery during Holy Week of 1999, he gave obediences on where to build everything and how the monastery should look. Geronda Ephraim told the abbot to build the main church where the tennis courts are and the trapeza would be where the current monks’ quarters are now built.

The Present-day Chapel of Archangel Michael Madamado (formerly, the Chapel of St. Nektarios)

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The new chapel—which was formerly a Gaming/Entertainment Room—was finished shortly before the first Feast Day of the Monastery in September 1999. Of course, there was still lots more work to be done, this was only the initial groundwork so it could be used as a Church. The new chapel was originally dedicated to St. Nektarios. During the mid-aughties, Elder Joseph decided to change this and re-dedicated the chapel to Archangel Michael icon of Madamado. This was done for two reasons:

  1. The monastery needed another feast day type event to help generate more income and donations for all the projects that were taking place and will continue to take place.
  2. The large church that has yet to be built will be dedicated to St. Nektarios and it wouldn’t make sense to have two chapels dedicated to the same saint.
The 3D sculpture of Archangel Michael Mantamados, Lesvos, made from the blood of martyrs and mud.
The 3D icon of Archangel Michael Mantamados, Lesvos, made from the blood of martyrs and mud.

The present-day chapel at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc., Roscoe, NY is dedicated to the Archangel Michael icon of Madamado. So far, it has cost the monastery a couple million dollars to “beautify God’s house.”

Some Aspects in the Construction of the Chapel

The chapel circa 2005, before the bell tower was completed.
The chapel circa 2005, before the bell tower was completed.

In order to do the stone work and add a bell tower, etc. the pre-existing structure needed some foundational reinforcement. [NOTE: The bell tower was originally going to be taller. Before it was completed, Gerondissa Olympiada drove Gerondissa Ephraimia, abbess of the Archangel Michael Monastery on Thassos, for a visit. Gerondissa Ephraimia told Geronda Joseph the bell tower should be lower, so he changed the plans and did obedience to her suggestion].

The monastery hired Joe Valentine—owner of Valentine Construction Company, Inc. in Deposit, NY—to do the work. Joe Valentine’s crew was so impressive, that the monastery would hire them to do the foundation and concrete work of all their future projects. And thus, Valentine Construction’s annual revenue became 1 to 2.5 million dollars.

Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas
Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas

The Valentine crew became very close with the monks at the monastery. When Joe Valentine was in a custody battle for his baby boy, he asked Geronda Joseph if he could testify as a character witness for him in court. Geronda Joseph told him he didn’t know the language that well and it would be difficult for him to testify. However, Geronda Joseph gave Fr. Epifanios the obedience to testify as a character witness, which he did, and Joe Valentine won custody. Geronda Joseph later told the fathers that he didn’t testify for him because if something bad happened later, his name would be attached to it. He also told the fathers, and Joe himself, that he won custody because of all the help he gave to St. Nektarios monastery, etc.

Concrete

According to the Masters Concrete webpage, as of November 23, 2009, Masters Ready Mixed Concrete (Kingsley, PA) has provided approximately 1900 yards of concrete between the two buildings.

Also see an interview with Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas of St. Nektarios Monastery concerning the benefits of Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF’s).

http://www.specifyconcrete.org/project-profiles/view/st-nektarios-monastery

Stone Work

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The Monastery ordered their stones from a New York State company, Champlain Stone, Ltd. South Bay Quartzite® was the material used for the Chapel’s exterior. It is advertised as: “A quartzitic sandstone with an advancing and receding surface that resembles a windswept and sandy beach. Visually smooth, yet heavily textured with a blend of tan, antique white, ice blue, amber, and brown. South Bay Quartzite® will enhance any home from warm beach cottages to cozy cabins deep in the woods.”

http://www.champlainstone.com/south-bay-quartzite%c2%ae.html

The stone work itself was done mainly by a crew of Ecuadorian stone masons who work for a Greek man named George from New York. The Fathers also helped out with the project. The Ecuadorians’ work was so impressive that they were to be hired for other projects as well. The fathers also respected their ethical work etiquette: “They don’t swear, smoke, and they don’t talk much, just work.” Later, during the construction of the new monks’ quarters, the Ecuadorians experienced a big temptation.

Fr. Raphael (Micah) Andrews of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY [son of Fr. Mark Andrews of Holy Protection Monastery, PA]
Fr. Raphael (Micah) Andrews of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY [son of Fr. Mark Andrews of Holy Protection Monastery, PA]
Father Raphael had stolen a radio from the pick-up truck of a Mexican work crew doing the drywall. As the drywall crew couldn’t imagine a monk stealing their property, the only other suspects were the Ecuadorians. There was nationalistic and heated tension between the crews from that time on. When Geronda Joseph discovered the stolen radio during a routine, random cell check, he was almost ready to call the police on Fr. Raphael. As Geronda Joseph has repeatedly told Fr. Raphael, “If it wasn’t for your father, Geronda Ephraim would have sent you home ages ago!”

Page 12 of the brochure below has pictures of the stonework on the chapel.

Framing/Roofing

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One of the main crews the monastery uses for framing is JP Construction, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, which is owned by John Paralavos. They were used for the extension of the Chapel, as well as all the other building projects. His crew was given special liberties: they could smoke and get drunk on monastery property. Like the other crews that did jobs at the monastery, the workers would stay overnight and sometimes for an entire week. One of John’s workers was an alcoholic. The abbot would give him a large cup of Metaxa every night as a reward for a good day’s work.

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The story of how John became close to the monastery is interesting. Shortly after he visited the monastery with his family, the abbot read an article in one of the Greek papers which listed the richest Greeks in America—the abbots and abbesses like to know which pilgrims need “special attention.” When the abbot saw Johns  name  he decided to cultivate and groom him. This is a common practice with most of the wealthy Greeks that visit the monasteries: special treatment, groom and cultivate. The monasteries have a lot of bills and expenses and wealthy donors are a good asset. John Paralavos’ wife had lupus so he was already in an emotionally vulnerable state that could be easily manipulated. Regular blessings with St. Nektarios’ relics, house visits, taking him on a trip to Arizona to meet Geronda Ephraim, etc. also helped.

Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery
Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery

One time, John told one of the monks at St. Nektarios that he was thinking of asking Geronda to do a holy water blessing of his house. This monk told Geronda Joseph just before John and his wife went in for confession—it is a common practice for monastics to relay everything a pilgrim has told them before they go into confession. Geronda Joseph brought it up to them before they could ask and John started hailing him as a holy prophet, which the abbot dismissed. Later, the abbot asked the monk if he told John he had been informed beforehand about John’s desire to ask for the blessing. The monk responded, “No, I didn’t say anything.” The monk was then given an obedience not to tell John that he had told the abbot beforehand. Thus, John could continue to believe that the abbot was a God-inspired prophet who read his heart.

http://www.schmidtswholesale.com/

Stastidia in the Church

The stastidia in the Church were designed and made by the company in Serres, Greece that does all the wood work for Elder Ephraim’s monasteries in North America (chairs in the church, iconostasis’, etc.): Eleftheriadis Bros Sa.

Before the stastidia were made, there were wooden chairs for the pilgrims, and cushioned arm chairs for the monastics. Periodically, some pilgrims would become scandalized that the monks “sat in fancy chairs” while the pilgrims were forced to sit in “less comfortable chairs” or stand. One pilgrim even had the audacity to quote scripture to some of the monks in this regard, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues…”

Stasidia

Each individual seat cost close to $600, the Bishop’s Throne cost much more. The monastery made a plea letter to raise the funds to cover the cost and mailed it out to the pilgrims on their mailing list. With the help of donations, the monastery was able to cover the cost of the stasidia. The abbot would sometimes state, “It’s the poor people who build this monastery.” He gave a homily to a group of close spiritual children visiting the monastery and related a story:

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“There was one man in New York who is very rich. He made a comment that he’d donate if there was going to be a plaque with his name stating he donated. The pilgrim told the rich man that the monasteries aren’t like the parishes in the world and don’t do plaques of honor. The rich man replied he wouldn’t give a cent, then. And to his shame, poor women who work hard cleaning toilets and save up money—which they hide from their husbands—gave donations for the entire amount of a stasidia. It’s the pain and sweat of the poor that build the monasteries.”

Address: Serres 621 21, Greece

Phone: +30 2321 078297

http://www.eleftheriadi.gr/

Iconography in the Church

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George Filippakis of Woodbury, NY, is an artist who specializes in Byzantine iconography. He was commissioned to do the iconography at St. Nektarios Monastery, Inc. His first project was in the Trapeza, and then he did the Archangel Michael Chapel. The cost of the Church’s iconography was quite a few hundred thousands of dollars.

100% Beeswax Candles

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The candles in the narthex are hand-made from real beeswax by the monks of St. Nektarios with the help of various pilgrims. Originally they were manually dipped by hand. In 2008, Geronda Joseph decided to order a $20,000 candle-making machine from Greece which would do most of the work for the monks.

The beeswax was originally bought from a company in Babylon, NY. Geronda Modestos offered Geronda Joseph his contact in China, where they bought “100% pure beeswax” for $1/lb., however, it had a funny smell. Though pure beeswax is expensive, and the prices increase yearly due to the high death rate of bees and hive collapses, the recycling of used candles from the narthex in the candle-making process helps cut the costs.

http://www.spwax.com/

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St. Nektarios was one of the last of 8 monasteries to be established in the year of 1998 via the blessing of then Archbishop Spyridon (2 in Florida, 2 in North Carolina, 1 in Texas, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Illinois and finally the 1 in NY). 1998 was a busy year for Elder Ephraim having to oversee the establishment of 8 new monasteries in less than 12 months, which his disciples state is further proof of his sanctity.

As two other monasteries have feast days in November, the Brotherhood decided to celebrate their main feast day on September 3, the day of the translation of the relics of St. Nektarios. This can ensure that each monastery can still attract peak numbers of visitors for their individual feast days, as well as allow the monks or nuns from those monasteries to travel to each others’ feast day celebrations.

The monastery has grown to over 20 monks with only a few monks having left in its 15 years of existence.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/263270549/Letter-from-St-Nektarios-Monastery-s-Lawyer-attempting-to-take-down-a-TUMBLR-page

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Orthodox Monks Don’t Experience Rigor Mortis?

“A Monk’s Funeral: 30 hrs after death, the corpse retains its flexibility” [Athonite Moments, p. 200]
Pilgrims to Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries are taught about a “Miracle exclusive to Orthodoxy”—i.e., monks do not experience rigor mortis when they die. Typical of the other “exclusive miracles” which are taught at the monasteries, this one also has some grey areas. Depending on the monastic giving the sermon, it is either all orthodox monastics throughout the world, or just Athonite monastics. In some cases, the monastic giving the sermon will grab the book Athonite Moments and show the pilgrims a photograph of a monk being lowered into a grave with signs of flexibility and no rigor mortis.

Of course, if you question the monastic giving the sermon, they only have a cursory understanding of what rigor mortis is—which usually amounts to “all corpses are stiff after they die and any flexibility in a corpse is scientifically impossible.” What “proof” do they offer to validate their erroneous understanding of corpses, decomposition and rigor mortis?  A photograph from a book and their “authority” validates this “scientifically impossible” phenomenon.

“Black, white, red: An atmosphere of mournful quietness” [Athonite Moments, p. 201]
Similar to their erroneous claim of Persistent Frontal Suture being an “exclusive orthodox miracle,” the claim that a corpse without rigor mortis is an “exclusive orthodox miracle” is also scientifically and biologically erroneous. In both cases, “science is not needed to validate these miracles” because they are an Athonite oral tradition and “monks who speak to God know more than a worldly scientist.” Science is not always rejected by the monastics—if science validates something in orthodoxy, or if science cannot explain phenomenon which for the monastics validates a divine origin, then it is accepted. When science conflicts with orthodoxy, then it is dismissed as idle, vain, worldly knowledge that is incompatible with spiritual knowledge.

SOME OBSERVABLE AND PROVEN FACTS ABOUT RIGOR MORTIS

First of all, rigor mortis is easily “broken” by bending and moving the joints about. A common question people have for morticians is whether they need to break a corpse’s legs if the body doesn’t fit into the coffin properly. The answer is, of course, no. The legs bend quite easily even after death.

''Remember the day of death, but also the day of resurrection & judgment'' [Athonite Moments, p. 201]
”Remember the day of death, but also the day of resurrection & judgment” [Athonite Moments, p. 201]
Second of all, rigor mortis is basically a stiffening of the limbs. The joints become difficult to bend, but this does not happen with all bodies. There is a technique morticians use to get rid of it called “breaking the rigor mortise.” Basically, you bend the limbs back and forth a few times and the joints will loosen up. This “breaks” the stiffness and the body is back to normal.

The Athonite monks are aware of corpse manipulation because some of them have stated that Fr. Seraphim Rose’s corpse was manipulated by his disciples to smile, etc., to give the appearance that he had a saintly death.

http://theothersideoffunerals.blogspot.com.au/p/misconceptions-questions-collection-of.html

http://theothersideoffunerals.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/ask-undertaker.html

WHAT IS RIGOR MORTIS?

Rigor Mortis is the stiffening of the body after death because of a loss of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) from the body’s muscles. ATP is the substance that allows energy to flow to the muscles and help them work and without this the muscles become stiff and inflexible.

Rigor Mortis begins throughout the body at the same time but the body’s smaller muscles – such as those in the face, neck, arms and shoulders – are affected first and then the subsequent muscles throughout the rest of the body; those which are larger in size, are affected later.

gerontissa efpraxia

Rigor normally appears within the body around two hours after the deceased has passed away with – as we have already mentioned – the facial and upper neck and shoulder muscles first to visibly suffer from its effects. Many Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCO) have reported that upon discovering the deceased that their face might have taken on what looks to be a grimace; this is because the facial muscles have contracted as ATP drains from them.

Once the contracting of all the body’s muscles has taken place this state of Rigor – technically referred to as the Rigid Stage – normally lasts anywhere from eight to twelve hours after which time the body is completely stiff; this fixed state can last up to another eighteen hours.

Contrary to common perception the process of Rigor Mortis actually does reverse and the body returns to a flaccid state; the muscles losing their tightness in the reverse of how they gained it: i.e.: those larger muscles that contracted last will lose their stiffness first and return to their pre-Rigor condition.

http://www.exploreforensics.co.uk/rigor-mortis-and-lividity.html

 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT RIGOR MORTIS

Rigor mortis can be used to help estimate time of death. The onset of rigor mortis may range from 10 minutes to several hours, depending on factors including temperature (rapid cooling of a body can inhibit rigor mortis, but it occurs upon thawing). Maximum stiffness is reached around 12-24 hours post mortem. Facial muscles are affected first, with the rigor then spreading to other parts of the body. The joints are stiff for 1-3 days, but after this time general tissue decay and leaking of lysosomal intracellular digestive enzymes will cause the muscles to relax.

A Funeral Procession, Filotheou Monastery, Mt. Athos
A Funeral Procession, Filotheou Monastery, Mt. Athos

During rigor mortis, another process called autolysis takes place. This is the self-digestion of the body’s cells. The walls of the cells give way, and their contents flow out. Rigor mortis ends not because the muscles relax, but because autolysis takes over. The muscles break down and become soft on their way to further decomposition.

Thus, contrary to the misconceptions disseminated by the monastics, the flexibility witnessed in some monastic corpses during their funeral—which occur 24-48+ hours after their repose—is not “a scientifically impossible miracle which scientists cannot explain.” Rather, it is a natural process that is quite common and has been observed in corpses throughout the world, both orthodox and non-orthodox, lay people and monastics. Once again, the monastics misrepresent a natural phenomenon as an “exclusive miracle to Orthodoxy.” As stated above, in Greek-American orthodox monasteries, the “secular sciences” are generally not considered a “valid” source of information when it comes to understanding or interpreting natural phenomena and processes.

MONASTIC FUNERALS

Schema Monk Constantine Cavranos
Schema Monk Constantine Cavranos

The monastic funerals here in North America are unlike those in Mount Athos: the body is not flung into a hole, but rather it is placed in a coffin and lowered into the hole. Thus, there isn’t much contact with the body before burial other than the last kiss. So witnessing such “miracles” of corpses without rigor mortis here is uncommon. Of course, if the superior tells the monastics that the body is warm and without rigor mortis, then they will believe it is so, and will also transmit this “miracle” to the pilgrims who visit.

Constantine2

Each monastery has its own process of preparing the body for burial, again giving opportunity for manipulation. The body is then placed in the middle of the Church, usually under the polyeleos, and the monastics have to read the entire Psalter continually until the next day. Then the funeral service occurs in the church ending with the procession to burial. Depending on time and circumstance, this process can take from 24-36 hours or more. Thus, photographs of monks without rigor mortis after such a time period cannot be considered a “miracle exclusive to orthodoxy” as this can happen to any corpse; i.e. the natural return to the pre-rigor condition.

Schema Monk Constantine Cavarnos' funeral procession at St. Anthony's Monastery
Schema Monk Constantine Cavarnos’ funeral procession at St. Anthony’s Monastery

Repentance and Confession amongst the Ancient Pagans (St. Nektarios the Wonderworker)

NOTE: This article is taken from Repentance and Confession, pp. 37-38; 45-47: http://www.stnektariosmonastery.org/literature.php

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The Ancient Greeks considered confession necessary and beneficial, because as they were initiated into the Eleusinian and Samo-Thracian mysteries,1 they would confess their sins beforehand (Plutarch, On Sparta: Sayings). Socrates spoke of confession as salvific: “If he is unjust, he should willingly go there, where he will give an account as quickly as possible as if to a physician, hastening so that the ailment of injustice does not remain for a long period of time and render the soul infected and incurable” (Plato, Gorgias).

A Samothracian relief showing Agamemnon being initiated into the Cabeirian rites
A Samothracian relief showing Agamemnon being initiated into the Cabeirian rites

Pythagoras would also say: “do not attempt to cover your sins with words, but to treat them with reproval.” And Aristotle asserts: “the person who confesses the sin committed honestly renders himself not far from sinlessness.”…

Medieval woodcut showing Pythagoras with bells and other instruments in Pythagorean tuning
Medieval woodcut showing Pythagoras with bells and other instruments in Pythagorean tuning

The most ancient civilizations, having sinned, would offer propitiating sacrifices to God. As they offered these sacrifices, they would confess their sins. These prayers sent up to God from every part of the world are a certain type of active confession of the human race to God. The propitiating sacrifices are a certain type of active confession of the sin and guilt of those who offer them. The person who does not confess his sin finds himself perpetually under the weight of guilt and distanced from God. This is why the soul suffers and pains.

The Person Who Has Sinned is Obligated to Satisfy the Divine Righteousness

The satisfaction of the Divine Righteousness, which has been offended through the creation of sin by the iniquitous person, is both i) something demanded by justice (in order for treatment of the soul to occur), as well as ii) an internal disposition of the sinful man to propitiate God.

The demand by justice and the disposition of the heart originate from the same source: the perennial nature of the Divine Law. Justice demands satisfaction on account of the everlastingness of the Divine Law, which sin has plotted against. Additionally, due to an internal impulse, the heart seeks to satisfy the Divine Righteousness, internally it desires and seeks the reign of the Divine Law, and it hastens to act on behalf of its eternal truth. This internal desire emanates from the concordance of the inner will of man with the Law of God.

St. Nektarios
St. Nektarios

The demand [by justice] and the eagerness [of the heart] are set forth to combat sin, because every sin is an adversary of God’s Law and an enemy of the peace and the kingdom of God upon the earth, which sin seeks to disturb and bring to confusion and disorder.

Sin, being undesirable by nature, is uncreated; as uncreated, it is something non-existent. However, it receives hypostasis when it is created by unnatural human desire. But since the entire creation is full of the Lord’s works, while His Law has been poured upon the entire face of the earth, this unnatural human desire and creation that receives hypostasis also receives some type of place and displaces the good that has been created by God. If then God created everything very well, it follows that this new creation that entered into the world also disturbed and harmed the reigning good and plotted against the Law of God. Therefore, sin is a great evil against God because it threatens to destroy the work of God. And since its creator is man, when man sins, he sins against God; this is why he is obligated to satisfy the Divine Righteousness, while destroying the evil he has created and working on behalf of the everlastingness of God’s Law.

The repentance of the Prophet David at the rebuke of the Prophet Nathan
The repentance of the Prophet David at the rebuke of the Prophet Nathan

Both the Jews and the Gentiles held this belief that every sin is referred to God. Both the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Gentiles are replete with such testimonies. David, while confessing his sins to God says: “Against Thee only have I sinned and done this evil before Thee” (Ps. 50:6). While Hesiod2 says that justice is a virgin and daughter of God, honored and respected by even the gods themselves. When someone insults her by intentionally dishonoring her, she immediately sits by God and relates to Him the unjust opinion of people, so that the people may repay justice for the unjust actions of their kings:

“One of them is the virgin, born of Zeus,

Justice, revered by all the Olympian gods.

Whenever she is hurt by perjurers,

Straightway she sits beside her father Zeus

And tells him of the unjust hearts of men,

Until the city suffers for its lords

Who recklessly, with mischief in their minds,

Pervert their judgments crookedly….”3

From these verses, Hesiod appears to proclaim not only that every sin is referred to God, but also that no reconciliation takes place between Divine Righteousness and man unless the necessary satisfaction is given for the injustices committed.

"The Dance of the Muses at Mount Helicon" by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1807). Hesiod cites inspiration from the Muses while on Mount Helicon.
“The Dance of the Muses at Mount Helicon” by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1807). Hesiod cites inspiration from the Muses while on Mount Helicon.

NOTES:

  • Samothrace: a Greek island in the northern Aegean. Eleusis: a city in ancient Greece, northwest of Athens. The mysteries that took place in these two locations were secret religious rites of ancient Greece, celebrated every spring in honor of Demeter and Persephone; they symbolized the annual death and resurrection of vegetation.
  • A famed Greek didactic poet who lived during the 8th century B.C.
  • Hesiod and Theogenis, Works and Days, verses 255-261.

NY Winter-Fathers

God Revealed the Coming of the Redeemer (St. Nektarios the Wonderworker)

NOTE: This article is taken from Christology, pp. 35-41. http://www.stnektariosmonastery.org/literature.php 

NY Gerondia Table

In the first few centuries of the Church, many pagan writers accused the Christians of plagiarism; i.e. “their Hebrew myths were copied from already existing myths and were rewritten for the Jewish peoples.” The early Fathers, to counteract these accusations, took all the pagan writings that fit or resembled Christian scriptures and prophecies (both in the Septuagint and New Testament writings) and claimed that the Holy Spirit was speaking through these pagans to prepare the Nations for the coming Messiah. Thus, in pre-Christian pagan writings and mythologies, anything that resembles or agrees with Christianity is considered God-inspired prophecies, and anything that disagrees or is contrary, demonic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

God-inspired men and women of the Gentile world foretold the future coming of the Redeemer of mankind. Preserved testimonies confirm the truth of these words. God, as a Father of the entire human race, guided even the Gentiles toward faith in the future Redeemer by revealing to them His upcoming arrival. Theophilos of Antioch expresses the same opinion in his epistle to Autoclytos. He attests: “But men of God carrying in them a holy spirit and becoming prophets, being inspired and made wise by God, became God-taught, and holy, and righteous. Wherefore they were also deemed worthy of receiving this reward, that they should become instruments of God, and contain the wisdom that is from Him, through which wisdom they uttered both what regarded the creation of the world and all other things. For they predicted also pestilences, and famines, and wars. And there was not one or two, but many, at various times and seasons among the Hebrews; and also among the Greeks there was the Sibyl;1 and they all have spoken things consistent and harmonious with each other, both what happened before them and what happened in their own time, and what things are now being fulfilled in our own day: wherefore we are persuaded also concerning the future things that they will fall out, as also the first have been accomplished.”2

The Sybil of Erythrae, and the Greek Philosophers Solon, Pythagoras and Socrates
The Sybil of Erythrae, and the Greek Philosophers Solon, Pythagoras and Socrates

Clement of Alexandria spoke in accordance not only concerning the prophets, but also the Greek philosophers themselves, such as Socrates, Plato, and others.3 Similarly, Origen acknowledges various degrees of divine inspiration even amongst the Gentiles. But why should we supposedly deny divine inspiration for the Gentiles? Does God show favoritism? Is He the Father of the Judaic nation only? Or would not the future Redeemer of mankind also be a Redeemer for all mankind? Or is God only for the Jews and not for the Gentiles? Why then should He abandon the nations to disbelief and despair? Why should he not likewise prepare them also to receive the future Savior and Redeemer, especially since He knew through His omniscience that the nations would glorify Him, worship Him, and believe in Him? Therefore, the nations received the gift of divine inspiration, and men among the Gentiles, who were godly inspired, foretold the arrival of a Redeemer and Savior of the world.

Homer, Thucydides, Aristotle, Plato and Plutarch
Homer, Thucydides, Aristotle, Plato and Plutarch

Tacitus,4 a Roman historian, attests that all the nations looked to Judea as an axis of their common hope, from where the awaited king was ready to appear: “Everyone in general was convinced about the belief of ancient prophecies that the East was about to overpower; and, that not long afterwards, they would see those who were about to rule the world coming from Judea.”5

According to Souidan and Nikifore Kallistos’ Ecclesiastical History, when Augustus traveled to Delphi to inquire of the oracle regarding the identity of his successor, he received the following response:

“A Jewish child, who is king of the blessed gods commands me to leave from this temple and to return to Hades again. Therefore, depart silently from our altars.”

Consulting the Oracle of Delphi by J Augustus Knapp
Consulting the Oracle of Delphi by J Augustus Knapp

Our Lord Jesus Christ was born during the reign of this Augustus; and our Church chants along with the Gospel according to Luke: “When Augustus reigned alone upon the earth, the many kingdoms of men came to end: and when Thou wast made man of the pure Virgin, the many gods of idolatry were destroyed.”6 Such oracles referring to the expectation of the nations are numerous.7

The Roman historian Suetonius8 also bears witness to this same event with similar language. He says: “the entire East has been filled with talk of the ancient and steadfast opinion that it had been pre-determined from God that, during that time, they who were about to rule the world would appear from Judea.”9

While interpreting an oracle of ancient Sibyls that proclaims the arrival of a King, Whom all those wishing to be saved were obliged to recognize, and while unsuccessfully applying it to a certain young ruler of his epoch (whose name is not even recalled), the Roman poet Virgil9 says the following: “The years sung by the Sibyl have finally arrived. The infinite order of the ages is about to begin. Behold a new generation is being sent from heaven…The birth of this son, which will bring an end to the iron age and build the golden age all over the earth will be the basis of your favorable administration and pure freedom. This sign of the new age will appear during your reign, O Polion; and then, if there still remain traces of peoples’ transgressions, the entire earth will breathe because it will have been freed from the fear that held it for so many years in bondage.” Within this same poem he says: “He, through whom all these miracles are about to take place, will receive the life from the bosom of the godhead; he will be distinguished from all the heavenly beings and appear higher than them, and he will rule the world, having made peace through his father’s power…Therefore come desirable offspring of Heaven, great stem of Zeus! The announced time approaches; come to receive the great honor that belongs to you. Behold, all the world wavers at your arrival. The earth, the ocean, and the heavens shake; all things leap as the new age approaches.”

Eclogue 4 was written by the Roman poet Virgil c. 42 BC. During the Middle Ages, some elevated Virgil as pre-Christian prophet, largely due to perceived prophetic nature of the poem.
Eclogue 4 was written by the Roman poet Virgil c. 42 BC. During the Middle Ages, some elevated Virgil as pre-Christian prophet, largely due to perceived prophetic nature of the poem.

Plato spoke with inspiration.10 Let us hear him proclaiming, as the stentorian Isaiah, the crucified death of the righteous one, who suffers on account of righteousness: “we must strip him of everything except his justice, and our picture of him must be drawn in a way diametrically opposite to that of the unjust man. Our just man must have the worst of reputations for wrongdoing even though he has done no wrong, so that we can test his justice and see if it weakens in the face of unpopularity and all that goes with it; we shall give him an undeserved and life-long reputation for wickedness, and make him stick to his chosen course until death. In this way, when we have pushed the life of justice and of injustice each to its extreme, we shall be able to judge which of the two is happier…They will say that the just man, as we have pictured him, will be scourged, tortured, and imprisoned, his eyes will be put out, and after enduring every humiliation, he will be crucified, and learn at last that one should want not to be, but to seem just.”11

Fresco showing a young man with a scroll labelled "Plato", from Pompeii,
Fresco showing a young man with a scroll labelled “Plato”, from Pompeii,

Who does not see great similarity when comparing this with the words of Isaiah, who prophesies about the suffering of the lord, the only Righteous One who has appeared on the earth? Behold what the stentorian Isaiah prophesies about this righteous one: “I gave my back to scourges and my cheeks to blows: and I turned not away my face from the shame of spitting…He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities…He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment is taken away: who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death…for he practiced no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth…because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors” (Isa. 50:6, 53:3-12; cf. Mt. 27; Mk. 14; Lk. 22, 23; Jn. 19).

Jesus_in_Golgotha_by_Theophanes_the_Cretan

In the Dogmatic Theology of Makarios, Metropolitan of Moscow, we read the following concerning the expectation of the nations: “It was necessary for the truths of the faith and especially the promises about the redeemer, which were given in the beginning to the entire human race and which were transmitted through oral tradition from fathers to children, and from ancestors to descendants, to be spread throughout all the nations, even to those who subsequently moved on further to the roads of impiety and idolatry. Even though it was inevitable for these truths, which were mixed with the new beliefs of the Gentile nations, to gradually shed their original purity and integrity and to be altered, nevertheless, even within this altered form, these truths supported and sustained, for the Gentiles, the traditions concerning the genesis and the first state of man, the fall of the forefathers in paradise, and—the most significant of all—the tradition concerning the Redeemer of the human race and the expectation of His coming.”

NY Road Sign

Notes

1 Sybil, derived from the Greek word Σίβυλλα, means Dios’ desire, or God’s will. The Sibyls were individual prophesying women, usually priestesses of early times, who admittedly are known only through legend. Through their prophecies, they would influence the common opinion of the people. The most famous sibyl was connected with Erythrai, but a sibyl also reached Delphi; a Babylonian sibyl is also mentioned. The sibyl of Cumae that lived in the 6th century B.C. became most important by virtue of her influence on Rome. References to sibyls are made by Aeschylus (458 B.C.) as well as Virgil (70-19 B.C.). The preservation of oracular utterances was one of the earliest applications for the art of writing in Greece, which began to spread about 750 B.C.; later, cities began to make official collections of oracles. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumaean_Sibyl

2 Theophilus to Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter 9: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02042.htm

3 vid. The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book I, Chapter 5: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book1.html

4 Tacitus was a native of Italy, born in 56 A.D. His reputation for eloquence was high, and he chose to write Rome’s history. He wrote various works in which he drew partly on historical works now lost, and partly on public records and his own experience.

5 Histories, Book 5, Chapter 13. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Tacitus/Histories/5A*.html

6 The Festal Menaion, South Canaan: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1998, p. 254.

7 In response to a philosopher’s claim that the Crucified One is not mentioned by any of the ancient teachers, St. Catherine the Great Martyr answered: “Yet to affirm the truth that the ancients did speak of Him, let us hear what the erudite writer Sibyl says about His divine Incarnation and salvific Crucifixion: ‘One appeared and walked upon this banished earth Who became flesh without sin and dissolved the incurable passions without toil by His divinity. Envied by an unbelieving people, He was also condemned to death and suspended.’ Hear the unfeigned words of Apollo who, against his own will, confessed the passionless God, constrained by His almighty power: ‘The One Who suffered is a heavenly Trinal Radiance. He that suffered is God, though the divinity was passionless. At the same time, He had a mortal body, yet was immortal. He is God and man. He bore mortality, the Cross, mockings, and burial…‘ and so forth. Thus, Apollo admitted that Christ is the true God and co-eternal with unoriginate Father, Who is the origin, source, and foundation of all good things” (The Lives of the Holy Women Martyrs, Buena Vista: Holy Apostles Convent, 1991, pg. 506)” (St. Nektarios pg. 37)

8 Suetonius was a contemporary of Tacitus. Also see: Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius:
No Proof of Jesus
 http://www.truthbeknown.com/pliny.htm

9 Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6400/6400-h/6400-h.htm

10 Virgil was born 70 B.C. He was influenced by Alexandrian ideals of poetry, and wrote works such as Early Poems, Eclogues, and the Aeneid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_interpretations_of_Virgil%27s_Fourth_Eclogue

11 When Christ descended into Hades to preach to the imprisoned souls, only they who had some seeds of piety and virtue within them while still living on the earth believed in his preaching and were liberated from Hades. St. Nicodemos says that such were all the righteous people who lived both prior to and after the law, as well as several of the Greeks and philosophers. He quotes the following noteworthy story concerning Plato, recorded by the wise Nikitas of Serres: “A certain Christian would condemn the wise Plato excessively, criticizing him as an atheist and an evil man. However, Plato appeared to this person in a dream and said to him: ‘Do not criticize me pointlessly, my dear man. I do not deny that I am a sinner; however, when Christ descended to Hades, I was the first to believe [in Him]” (An Interpretation of the General Epistles).

12 Plato, The Republic, Book II, Part I: http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.3.ii.html

Icon of St. Nektarios & St. Joseph the Hesychast holding St. Nektarios Monastery (Trapeza, Roscoe, NY)
Icon of St. Nektarios & St. Joseph the Hesychast holding St. Nektarios Monastery (Trapeza, Roscoe, NY)

Archangel Michael Christianorthodox Cemetery Ltd (Roscoe, NY)

Archangel Michael Christianorthodox Cemetery Ltd is a religious organization in Roscoe, New York. It was granted tax-exempt status by IRS in September, 2008. (On official documentation “Christianorthodox” is spelled as is, without a hyphen or space between the words).

Archangel Michael Christianorthodox Cemetery Ltd., 100 Anawanda Lake Rd., Roscoe, NY, 12776-5733.
Archangel Michael Christianorthodox Cemetery Ltd., 100 Anawanda Lake Rd., Roscoe, NY, 12776-5733.

The Archangel Michael Christianorthodox Cemetery Ltd (EIN: 208741575) is located across the street from the main body of the St Nektarios Monastery’s property. The cemetery address is also listed as 100 Anawanda Lake Road—though the cemetery is on the opposite side of Anawanda Lake Road, in which all the addresses end in odd numbers.

Archangel Michael Cemetery is the triangle patch on the left side of Anawanda Lake Rd. The main monastery property is on the right side of Anawanda Lake Rd.
Archangel Michael Cemetery is the triangle patch on the left side of Anawanda Lake Rd. The main monastery property is on the right side of Anawanda Lake Rd.

Fr Epifanios Kapritsas (originally from Toronto, Canada) is the director of the cemetery and takes care of all the correspondence dealing with cemetery business.

Fr Epifanios Kapritsas (originally from Toronto, Canada) is the director of the cemetery.
Fr Epifanios Kapritsas (originally from Toronto, Canada) is the director of the cemetery.

The first person to be buried in the cemetery was Anastasia Kourkoumelis, who was tonsured a great-schema nun shortly before her burial. Other people of note are both grandfathers of Deacon Stefanos and his younger brother Novice Michael. As well as Fr. Panteleimon Fatsis who was in Volos around the same time as Geronda Ephraim during the 40s.

Anastasia Kourkoumelis of Astoria, NY was the first person to be buried at Archangel Michael Cemetery (she was a schema-nun).
Anastasia Kourkoumelis of Astoria, NY was the first person to be buried at Archangel Michael Cemetery (she was a schema-nun).

The cemetery had been in operation for several months before it’s official ruling on Sept. 1, 2008. The original price for cemetery plots was $10,000.
Archangel Michael Christianorthodox Cemetery Ltd is a Intermediate Corporation.

Fr. Panteleimon Anastasios Fatsis was buried at the cemetery in March of 2013.
Fr. Panteleimon Anastasios Fatsis was buried at the cemetery in March of 2013.

For Tax purposes Contributions are deductible. The organization is a Organization that normally receives no more than one third of its support from gross investment income and unrelated business income and at the same time more than one third of its), support from contributions, fees, and gross receipts related to exempt purposes. 509(a)(2) The technical IRS classification for Archangel Michael Christianorthodox Cemetery Ltd is a religious organization.

Rev. Father Michael Michalopulos, grandfather of Monks Stefanos and Michael, was buried at the cemetery in April, 2008.
Rev. Father Michael Michalopulos, grandfather of Monks Stefanos and Michael, was buried at the cemetery in April, 2008.

This organization is an independent organization or an independent auxiliary (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations).

Constantine ''Dino'' Gianakouros, grandfather of Monks Stefanos and Michael, was buried at the cemetery in November 2013.
Constantine ”Dino” Gianakouros, grandfather of Monks Stefanos and Michael, was buried at the cemetery in November 2013.

Thus, the Archdiocese or any other ecclesiastical official cannot interfere with its function or financials as it is not officially (or legally) recognized as a part of St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery but is rather a separate, independent entity (though on paper it is owned by a monk of St. Nektarios, Fr. Epifanios). As well, it is not even listed as an Orthodox organization but rather a Protestant organization under Code X21 (X = Religion-related; 21 = Protestant Christianity). http://nccs.urban.org/classification/NTEE.cfm

Christmas Manger Icon, St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) [G. Demopoulos, Olyphnat, PA]
Christmas Manger Icon, St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) [G. Demopoulos, Olyphant, PA]
Deacon Stefanos Gianakouros (NY), both grandfathers are buried at Archangel Michael Cemetery.
Deacon Stefanos Gianakouros (NY), both grandfathers are buried at Archangel Michael Cemetery.
Novice Michael Gianakouros (NY), both his grandfathers are buried at Archangel Michael Cemetery.
Novice Michael Gianakouros (NY), both his grandfathers are buried at Archangel Michael Cemetery.

The Advantages of Insulating Concrete Forms [ICF’s] (Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas, NY)

NOTE: Fr. Epifanios, a dentist by trade, is originally from Toronto. He became a novice in 1996 at St. John the Theologian Monastery in Picton, Canada. He immigrated to the United States in the spring of 1997 and settled at the Arizona monastery where he was tonsured a rassaphore. In 1999, he relocated to Roscoe, NY where he helped found and establish the St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. Fr. Epifanios also owns the Archangel Michael Christianorthodox Cemetery Ltd in Roscoe, New York (NY)

p-koulouris_painting_father-epifanios_18x24

St. Nektarios Monastery and ICF’s

If you travel northeast across the Pennsylvania state line you’ll come to the town of Roscoe, New York. Tucked in the hills of Roscoe is the St. Nektarios Monastery. Founded in 1998 by Archimandrite Ephrem of Philotheou Monastery, St. Nektarios is home to 19 residents. In addition to those that live there full time, St. Nektarios also houses groups coming to the monastery for retreats. Attendance for those those retreats can range from 20-50 people.

The fathers' quarters was originally advertised as a project to build a new, larger womens' quarters. After the project began, the Abbot changed his mind and decided the project would be for a new fathers' quarters.
The fathers’ quarters was originally advertised as a project to build a new, larger womens’ quarters.

As the monastery continues to grow it has seen the need to add housing to the campus. There are currently two dormitory facilities under construction, both of which are taking advantage of the benefits offered through the use of Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF’s).
A recent visit to the monastery provided us with an opportunity to speak with Father Epifanios Kapritsas. Father Epifanios gave us a tour of the grounds and discussed the decision to use ICF’s. “It is a superior building method. Concrete buildings have been done in Europe for centuries, and they are still standing to this day. ICF construction in combination with concrete is a clean, permanent way to construct a building that will be here for 100+ years” he stated.

ICF 2“There are numerous advantages to building with ICF’s; the walls can be left exposed (without a roof on) during the winter with no damage to the structure during the construction phase. This would not be possible with wood construction. The insulation factor is excellent. Concrete walls have high thermal mass: the building tends to be cooler inside in the summer months, and retains heat better in the winter months so energy bills are lower.”

ICF 3“There are numerous advantages to building with ICF’s; the walls can be left exposed (without a roof on) during the winter with no damage to the structure during the construction phase. This would not be possible with wood construction. The insulation factor is excellent. Concrete walls have high thermal mass: the building tends to be cooler inside in the summer months, and retains heat better in the winter months so energy bills are lower.”

ICF 4He further stated that, “ICF construction simplifies the steps of the construction: no need to plywood, tyvek, or insulate the walls. The interior of ICF walls are ready to accept drywall. The exterior of the building is ready to accept stucco, or stone. You can visualize the external appearance of a structure (window & door openings) as you erect ICF’s prior to pouring. There is a sound insulation factor that makes the inside of the building very quiet to outside noise. Walls are not affected by moisture and humidity as wood is; hence, no mold, rotting, warpage or odor occurs, as associated with wood. Installation is easier than steel erection. No crane, or welding required. The foam blocks are lightweight and easy to cut. The overall cost is less than a steel framed structure.”

Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas, NY.
Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas, NY.

Father Epifanios also noted the fire safe construction appeal of using ICF’s and concrete; “In case of a fire, the framework of the structure will be left intact.”

The monks' quarters view  from the garden.
The monks’ quarters view from the garden.

http://mastersconcrete.com/index.php/site/news/icf_project_offers_advantages_for_monastery/

http://www.specifyconcrete.org/project-profiles/view/st-nektarios-monastery/

6

The Mauling of a Young Girl at St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY (ca. 2000) [Updated]

NOTE: The following information is taken from posts published at http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/

In 1999, Geronda Joseph Voutsas wanted to have guard dogs for the monastery, similar to St. Anthony’s Monastery. He purchased 4 pure bred dogs from a local breeder; 3 German shepherds and 1 Rottweiler. They were named Chiotes, Duvelis, Roussos and Arapis. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Arapi

Arapi, Duvelis and Rousos.
Arapi, Duvelis and Rousos.

The original plan was to train them and use them as guard dogs because there had been numerous incidents of night time intruders and vandalism on the property.

One Sunday, the novice in charge of walking the dogs, Gregory, took them off their leash so they could run freely. On this particular day, a bus from Astoria was visiting the monastery. The bus organizer, Katerina Koutsoupakis, had brought her 2 young daughters. The girls were playing with other children at the monastery’s playground which was located just past the first pond.

The first pond at St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. There use to be a small playground and trampoline beside it.
The first pond at St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. There use to be a small playground and trampoline beside it.

The unleashed dogs ran to the playground and attacked Katerina’s daughter who was about 9 or 10 years old.

This girl was severely mauled—her face, arms, legs, etc. had been bitten, leaving wide, deep gashes. She was airlifted to a hospital in the city and proceeded to go through reconstructive surgeries, skin grafts, etc.

The other children were traumatized by the incident. The news spread through the five boroughs quickly. The monks were instructed they had no blessing to speak about the matter to anyone. If someone asked, they were to respond “I don’t know,” and if they were persistent, then the monk would refer them to Fr. Germanos or Fr. Epifanios.

Shortly thereafter, the young girl’s mother decided to sue the monastery to help pay for the large medical bills which her family could not afford. This action initiated a chain of events that were orchestrated by the monastery to help minimize the potential damage this embarrassing scandal could create.

New York State Police - Division Canine Unit in Cooperstown, NY
New York State Police – Division Canine Unit in Cooperstown, NY

First, a State Trooper from the K9 unit was called in to examine the dogs to see if it could be determined if they were at fault, or if they had any predispositions to this type of behavior. The expert determined that the shepherd with a floppy ear, Duvelis, was a fear biter and most likely the culprit that initiated the attack.

The monastery had to eliminate the evidence so no tests could be done on the dogs’ teeth/bite patterns, etc. Fr. Kassianos and a catechumen from Toronto (who was never baptized and has since fallen away from the Church) were given the obedience to take the 3 shepherds to the local animal hospital and have them put down.

Fr. Kassianos Titonis of St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery in Roscoe, NY.
Fr. Kassianos Titonis of St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery in Roscoe, NY.

The Rottweiler, Chiotes, was given as a blessing to a young man named Stavros in New Jersey. The monks were given an obedience to tell pilgrims that they had given all the dogs away as a blessing. The reason: the monks were unable to properly care for them so the dogs were given better homes.

Next, in order to minimize the monastery’s culpability, two of the older fathers started to coach the novice responsible for the dog incident on what his story would be at the hearing. This would be the ‘official’ story and he had to rehearse it daily with them until he had it memorized.

Fr. Mark Andrews:  spiritual Father of the Drewchin family and  biological father of a rassaphore at St. Nektarios Monastery, Fr. Raphael.
Fr. Mark Andrews: spiritual Father of the Drewchin family and biological father of a rassaphore at St. Nektarios Monastery, Fr. Raphael.

Katerina also started looking for a young girl who witnessed the attack. It was decided an older father would call her spiritual father so he could talk to the girl’s mother, who in turn would talk to the girl. She was essentially given an obedience to say she didn’t know or remember anything from that day if anyone was to ask her about what had happened.

Alexandra Drewchin, one of the witnesses of the brutal mauling, has gone on to become a famous musician. She sings in 2 bands: Eartheater & Guardian Alien. http://alexdrewchin.bandcamp.com/
Alexandra Drewchin, one of the witnesses of the brutal mauling, has gone on to become a famous musician. She sings in 2 bands: Eartheater & Guardian Alien. http://alexdrewchin.bandcamp.com/

During this time period, one of the monks from St. Nektarios, Fr. Philotheos, had to travel to St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence as he had an INS appointment down there (as the Brotherhood had not informed INS about relocating to NY, they were still using the Florence address and the monks without citizenship had to fly back and forth to Arizona for immigration appointments).

Fr. Philotheos did not want to return to New York due to ongoing problems there, and asked Geronda Ephraim if he could transfer to St. Anthony’s Monastery. He relentlessly begged big Geronda to allow this. Big Geronda allowed it and the monk remained at St. Anthony’s.

Katerina interpreted this event as an attempted cover-up, i.e. this monk was sent far away, out of state, so he wouldn’t be called to the hearing to testify, and thus must have been responsible as well.

Katerina talked to Fr. Philotheos when she visited St. Anthony’s to see  Geronda Ephraim for confession. She secretly recorded Fr. Philotheos while conversing with him, in the hopes she could obtain some kind of evidence to help her case. She understood his vague apology and self-reproach as an admission of guilt which further confused things, but was later resolved.

Geronda Ephraim admonished Katerina to drop the lawsuit. She did not obey his counsel.
Geronda Ephraim admonished Katerina to drop the lawsuit. She did not obey his counsel.

Despite Geronda Ephraim admonishing Katerina not to sue St. Nektarios Monastery, she proceeded (keep in mind, Geronda Ephraim’s own words are advice and admonishments are obediences too, the Elder shouldn’t have to say “I command you” or “This is a command.”). Katerina was awarded approximately $650,000.

This settlement was a setback for St. Nektarios Monastery as they had an obligation to pay a $25,000/month mortgage for the first two years of their existence, with the possible penalty of losing the property.

Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY.
Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY.

The consensus of the Elders was that Katerina would not enjoy her money and it’d bring her misery as she essentially was attacking St. Nektarios himself via her actions. Also, since she lost big Geronda as her spiritual father, and by extension the monasteries, she had essentially lost or forfeited her salvation.

The first grey tabby at St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) was named Arapi.
The first grey tabby at St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) was named Arapi.

NOTE: Arapi is equivalent to the English word “nigger” and at the monasteries, it is a name reserved for the black animals, or animals with the most black in them. ( http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Arapi )

"Arapis" the black cat at St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona.
“Arapis” the black cat at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona.

Geronda Ephraim had a black cat when he lived on Mount Athos with St. Joseph the Hesychast. He named it Arapi and it was one of his favorite cats. Thus, the name now has somewhat of a sentimental tradition and has been transplanted to the North American monasteries. The black cat at St. Anthony’s is named Arapi. Later, when the Geronda Joseph obtained some cats for St. Nektarios Monastery to help with mice control, he named the gray tabby cat Arapis).

Hierodeacon Stephanos Giannakouros feeding the cats at St. Nektarios Monastery.
Hierodeacon Stephanos Giannakouros feeding the cats at St. Nektarios Monastery.

Also see: https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/category/anti-black-sentiment-in-orthodox-patristics/

Blind obedience: For readers that may not understand, whenever a monk or nun is issued an obedience–and by extension a lay person who is confesses at the monastery–they are expected to do it, without complaints, grumbling, and especially without judging, criticizing or examining the order that is give. Even if the obedience is a ‘sin’, or a crime, etc. the disciple is not accountable for doing it; the one who has given the command will account for it. The disciple is accountable, though, if he/she does not obey. Geronda Ephraim has said in many homilies to his monastics, “On Judgement Day, God will ask a monk only one question: ‘Did you do obedience?’ If the answer is yes, then the monk will go to Paradise. If the answer is no, then eternal hell. This is the mindset monks and nuns live; and if they don’t have it, they struggle to acquire it through prayer, warring their thoughts, and caning themselves.  This is why there is a conspiracy of silence when incidents occur, and it’s also how the monasteries insulate themselves from outsiders. When the whole brotherhood or sisterhood is told, if anyone asks, this is the answer. Even if it is a lie, in the minds of the monks and nuns, they are not lying: they are doing their obedience and gaining crowns for the next life. Their only fear is not executing the obedience properly, by which they could lose their eternal soul if God happens to call them to the next life and they die in disobedience.

It should also be noted that one of the main obediences Geronda Ephraim has given to all the abbots and abbesses (and their second-in-commands) is he does not want scandals, he does not want bad examples from monks/nuns that incite people to talk badly about the monastery, extra special caution when a dignitary visits (many times before a bishop or priest visits a monastery, the Abbot or Abbess will call all the monastics for a pep talk to be on their best behavior, not to do or say anything that will scandalize the special guest), etc. There is a constant need for perfection that is not keeping with reality. And this anxiety of the abbots and abbesses not to sadden Geronda Ephraim is many times transmitted to the monastics.

Fr. Philotheos and Novice Gregory have both left the monastic life, and are now happily married living in the world.