European elegance and old-world traditions grace St. John’s Monastery (Loretto J. Hulse, 2015)

NOTE: The following newspaper article was taken from Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business, June 16th, 2015.

Sister Iosiphia, one of 22 nuns at the Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner near Goldendale
Sister Iosiphia, one of 22 nuns at the Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner near Goldendale, answers questions about the Greek Orthodox religion. She was giving a group of visitors a tour of the buildings, churches and grounds.

There’s a bit of old Europe just a few miles north of Goldendale at the Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner.

The chapel and church are built and decorated in a traditional, Greek Orthodox manner, with intricate carvings, colorful icons of Jesus, Mary and the saints and elaborate tile work.

“It’s very normal for an Orthodox church to be elaborately decorated because it is a house of God and you want to give your best to God,” said Sister Philothei, one of the 22 nuns who live at the Monastery.

Sister Philothei said throughout the history of the Greek Orthodox church, which goes back about 2,000 years, the churches have been ornately decorated.

“The churches have had elaborate carvings, parts of it decorated in gold leaf, and wonderful icons,” said Sister Philothei. “Because our churches are an offering up to God, we try to create heaven on earth, a very holy place.”

St. John’s monastery was founded in 1995 when Dr. Gerald Timmer donated 48 acres to the church to establish a Greek Orthodox monastery.

Unlike Roman Catholic nuns, the sisters of a Greek Orthodox monastery do not go out into the community to teach or do social work. Instead, they live a secluded, God-centered life and pray for the salvation of all mankind. When not in prayer, their days are devoted to sustaining the monastery.

The monastery, one of only 20 Greek Orthodox monasteries in the U.S., is home for 22 sisters and novices.

The monastery’s original chapel was cramped and has been replaced by a new larger church. The new church isn’t completely finished, but the nuns began using it for services in June 2014.

Some of the outside tile work still needs to be done and several chandeliers are on order, but the traditional Byzantine icons, fabulously carved seats and altar and soaring architecture of the church are all in place, giving it a European feel.

“If you were to go into a Greek Orthodox church in Greece, Serbia or in Russia, this is what you’d see. People from Greece who visit here say the chapel, our new church, feels like home,” said Sister Philothei.

In fact, what you see in the church at St. John’s monastery — as elaborate as it is — isn’t as over the top as many of the churches in Europe, Sister Philothei added.

In 2013, the sisters ordered the carvings for the new church hoping some would come by June, in time for the special feast day honoring St. John the Forerunner. Instead all the hand-carved elements arrived in time.

“A special family in Greece who do nothing but carvings for Greek Orthodox churches made ours,” said Sister Philotheir. “There’s about 20 people who worked on them — a couple of brothers, their children and their grandchildren.”

[NOTE: This would be the Eleftheriadis Brothers; ]

Sister Philothei couldn’t say what the carvings cost, but knows it will take the monastery years, many years to pay for them.

Inset into the carvings in the church are prints of icons copied from those painted by the sisters of St. John’s monastery.

The icons decorating the chapel, the monastery’s original church, were painted by the sisters who live there. But the sisters haven’t had the time yet to paint icons for the new church.

“As we have time they’ll be replaced with original paintings, but that will take us years,” Sister Philothei said.

With help from parishioners, the sisters care for the extensive grounds including the chickens and goats. They also run a bakery/café, which serves traditional Greek food and baked goods. And they make a variety of Byzantine arts and crafts for the gift shop, including prayer ropes, incense, beeswax candles and handmade lotions and soaps.

In May, the Kennewick Senior Center arranged a tour of the monastery and a luncheon of traditional Greek dishes. Twenty people participated in the trip, which was guided by Frankie Meaders, an assistant volunteer hostess for the center.

Tours of the grounds and two religious buildings on site are available with advance notice.

“It’s best to call a week or more ahead so we can make sure a sister is available,” said Sister Iosiphia, who led the tour.

Sister Iosiphia has been a nun at St. John’s monastery for 18 years and is well versed in the history of the monastic community.

Unlocking the door to the smaller chapel on the grounds, she explained it had been in continuous use for 15 years before they built the new, larger church.

“It would get a little cramped with all the nuns and lay people who attended services,” said Sister Iosiphia. “But we’ll continue to use it for special services. It holds a lot of memories.”

Sister Iosiphia shared the history of the Greek Orthodox Church and how it was founded thousands of years ago by Jesus and the original apostles.

Greek Orthodox sisters and monks aren’t divided into separate orders as Roman Catholic nuns, priests and monks are. They also, with the exception of very unusual circumstances, spend their lives at the monastery where they take their vows.

To help support the monastery, the sisters opened St. John’s Bakery, Coffee and Gifts in May 2002.

However, it doesn’t bring in enough income to fully support the monastery.

“Donations are very important. Without them we would never have been able to build our new church,” said Sister Iosiphia.

St. John’s Bakery offers a selection of classic Greek foods including dolmadakia, grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice and seasonings and gyros, grilled strips of meat stuffed in pita bread and topped with tzatziki sauce. There’s also a Greek lasagna, a Greek pizza of cheeses baked on pita bread and grilled pork shish kabobs.

Several other Greek dishes, such as spanakopita, are available in family-size portions in the freezer case.

They also make traditional Greek baked goods — baklava, biscotti, and koulouakia — using no preservatives. And the sisters mix up melt-in-your-mouth, golf-ball size chocolate truffles, nut clusters and cheesecakes.

The café also has a full espresso bar, using fresh-roasted coffee from Father Michael’s Roastery in Goldendale.

St. John’s Bakery, Coffee and Gifts is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily, except Sundays. The monastery is at 2378 Highway 97 in Goldendale. The phone number is 509-773-6650 and the website is


St. John’s Monastery Grade A Dairy Farm has 4 beautiful bucklings for sale.

Ad #152853104

Created: January 17, 2015

Expires: February 17, 2015


St. John’s Monastery Grade A Dairy Farm has 4 beautiful bucklings for sale.  Two of these bucklings are polled.  They come from two of our best milkers and from our buck who is polled 4 generations back.  They were born Jan. 14th and will be ready for pick-up as early as January 18th to be raised and bottle fed by you.

We are asking $75 for the horned kids – they will be disbudded unless otherwise requested and $150 for the polled kids.


All our goats are CAE/CL free -tested every year and ADGA registered.  We can provide the information for you to register your buckling at purchase.

We may be willing to negotiate the price – just make us an offer.


Contact us with any questions.

– See more at:


AD #2

St. John’s Monastery Grade A Dairy Farm is at the beginning their 2015 kidding season We just kidded two of our doelings and have 4 beautiful bucklings available. These kids will stay with their dams for four days to a week in order to get their needed colostrum and will then be ready for pick-up to be bottled fed and raised by you. All our goats are ADGA registered and CAE/CL free with good milk production records.

We have a polled buck, Til-Riv M E Polled Magic that both of these does were bred with. He gave us two polled kids out of the four. He has polled lines 4 generations back – so the polled gene has shown to be very strong in his kids.
There dams are two of our best milkers and have proved to be an asset to our herd.

We are asking $150 for the polled bucklings and $75 for the horned kids. The horned kids will be disbudded unless otherwise requested.

Contact us as soon as possible to pick your buckling.
Each of these little guys will make excellent herd sires.

We may be willing to negotiate the price. Just make us an offer.

WA Advertising 1

WA Advertising 2

A Few Words and Images From a Pilgrim at the Goldendale Monastery Feast Day (2012)

“The Feast Day was gorgeous as always.  Great excitement as people saw the new church being built and Bishop Gerasimos told Gerrontissa Efpraxia that next year he wants to celebrate the feast with them in the new building. And a call to all the faithful to make sure that it happens.”  Herman

Nuns on the Feast Day 2012.
Nuns on the Feast Day 2012.
New Church being built.
New Church being built.




WA Gerondissa

Monastery Complex Fire in Goldendale (September, 2011)

NOTE: The following article is taken from various newspaper and video reports:

Three sisters from the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, about 10 miles east of Goldendale, race across Highway 97 on Wednesday. The nuns were bringing garden hoses across the highway to fight the fire. They also used rags to beat the flames down near their monastery. The Monastery Complex fire had grown to 5.300 acres by Thursday. (Roger Mullis/AP)
3 nuns from the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, about 10 miles east of Goldendale, race across Highway 97 on Wednesday. The nuns were bringing garden hoses across the highway to fight the fire. They also used rags to beat the flames down near their monastery. The Monastery Complex fire had grown to 5.300 acres by Thursday.

Clark County firefighters help battle wildfire: Monastery Complex near Goldendale has grown to 5,300 acres

By Eric Florip
Columbian Staff Reporter
Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sister Ephraimia, a Greek Orthodox nun, shovels dirt onto small flames near Goldendale, Wash. on Thursday Sept. 8, 2011. The sister and other nuns helped firefighters battle a wildfire that threatened their monastery and has burned several homes.
Sister Ephraimia, a Greek Orthodox nun, shovels dirt onto small flames near Goldendale, Wash. on Thursday Sept. 8, 2011. The sister and other nuns helped firefighters battle a wildfire that threatened their monastery and has burned several homes.

A 17-member strike force from Clark County has joined the effort to battle the fast-moving Monastery Complex fire northeast of Goldendale.
The strike team, with members representing Clark County Fire & Rescue, Washougal Fire and fire districts 3, 10 and 13, was told to expect to spend at least a week fighting fires, Battalion Chief Gordon Brooks of Fire District 10 said.
The fire, which sparked around noon Wednesday, is spreading quickly.

Sister Katerina, right, hands a bucket of water to sister Prodromia, while they and other nuns at St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery, extinguish spot fires around their property, which was threatened the night before by a wildfire near Goldendale, Wash., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011.
Sister Katerina, right, hands a bucket of water to sister Prodromia, while they and other nuns at St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery, extinguish spot fires around their property, which was threatened the night before by a wildfire near Goldendale, Wash., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday, the fire burned about 1,100 acres. By late Thursday afternoon, it had swelled to more than 5,300 acres, said Bryan Flint, communications director for the state Department of Natural Resources.
The fire is about 120 highway miles east of Vancouver.

Greek Orthodox sisters from Saint Johns Monastery help to fight the 250-acre Monastery Fire that threatened their home Wednesday.
Greek Orthodox sisters from Saint Johns Monastery help to fight the 250-acre Monastery Fire that threatened their home Wednesday.

As flames swallowed dense swaths of ponderosa pine in Klickitat County, the blaze dried out the air and fuel ahead of it, Flint said. Its energy also kicked up swift air movement on an otherwise calm day, he said.
“The fire is creating its own weather pattern that’s driving the fire,” said Flint, who spent Thursday at a fire managers’ operations center in Goldendale. “That’s why it’s spreading as fast as it is.”

Monastery Complex fire incinerates 64 structures in Goldendale
Monastery Complex fire incinerates 64 structures in Goldendale

The fire complex destroyed nine homes and 10 outbuildings as of Thursday afternoon, and threatened another 300 structures. Hundreds of people have been evacuated because of the fire, though no injuries have been reported. A large section of U.S. Highway 97 and other roads were disrupted throughout the day Thursday. Brooks Memorial State Park was also closed.


“They’re going to have a busy day today,” Brooks said Thursday. Brooks has assisted with more wildfires than he can count. He wasn’t able to go this time because of a foot injury, but his department sent four firefighters.

Clark County Fire & Rescue sent five people and one truck to help, said Battalion Chief Dean Lange. This isn’t the first wildfire has crew has helped battle this year, he said, but a wet, cool spring and early summer delayed the arrival of this fire season.


“It’s happened late before like this, but this is much later,” Lange said.
Sending staff to help with fires outside a district’s jurisdiction doesn’t have too big an effect on local response to fires, Brooks said. Each department will send a small number of people, he said.


The fire was believed to have started along Highway 97 north of Goldendale, just across the street from the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner. The 19 nuns and employees, who operate a well-known bakery there, saw flames and immediately ran outside with water, rakes and rags to beat back the fire.

Several customers in the bakery also joined in the effort until firefighters arrived, said Sister Parthenia, who has been at the monastery for 19 years.


“We’re just so grateful to God and everyone’s efforts. The firefighters worked so hard, even opened up a line up there,” she said, pointing behind one of their buildings. “We thought that was sweet they wanted to save our barn.”
A total of 288 personnel were battling the fire late Thursday, Flint said. That includes crews from nearly every county in the state, he said.


It was too early to tell late Thursday what percentage of the fire had been contained, Flint said. The fire was mostly moving southeast.
Warm, dry weather isn’t going to make fighting the fire any easier. Highs will be in the upper 80s and low 90s through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.


Starting Tuesday, things will cool off. Highs in Goldendale are expected to be in the low 80s and high 70s next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Marie Eliades That’s our girls! Look at these photos on line and all over the press.. our girls fighting fire..both physical and spiritual! Glory to God…Today I’ve heard the monastery is totally safe but blackend…with love from another mom of a nun (Life Giving Spring) Hi Donna! Reply • 5 • Like • Follow Post • September 9, 2011 at 1:09am

• Donna Armstrong Young • Wasilla, Alaska This is the monastery where our daughter is a nun. She called earlier today and said they were all safe and had been evacuated. At that time the monastery buildings were still intact. I haven’t heard anything since then. My daughter is the one on the left in this picture.


“We’re just so grateful to God and everyone’s efforts. The firefighters worked so hard….We thought that was sweet they wanted to save our barn.” “It was very scary,” said Sister Theopisti. “Thanks to the blessings of God and prayer.”


Fire Threatens Monastery In Goldendale, Washington (2013)

The Satus Pass fire, located in Goldendale, Washington has presently consumed nearly 9,000 acres, with over 800 firefighters working to control this fire. The Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner in Goldendale is in the vicinity of this fire. The sisters have been evacuated and are seeking refuge in nearby homes. His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos has been in contact with the sisters and they are all safe, and at the present time the Monastery has not sustained any damage.
“This has already been a devastating year of fires throughout the United States. Once again, we find ourselves facing yet another threat as the Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner finds itself in a path of danger,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. “We pray for the firefighters who are bravely working to save lives and structures, and we ask for the Lord to calm the fires and bring favorable weather so that no harm may come upon the people in this area.”
Two years ago, this same Monastery was threatened by fire and the sisters joined with the local residents and firefighters in working to protect their property and assist their neighbors and community. Thankfully, the Monastery was spared from damage in 2011 and it is the fervent prayer of the clergy and faithful of the Metropolis of San Francisco that this same outcome may be realized.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco will provide further updates as additional information becomes available.
Fr. Timothy Pavlatos, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at NW Counseling Associates, LLC (OR)
Fr. Timothy Pavlatos, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at NW Counseling Associates, LLC (OR)
nuns at the monastery preparing to fight the fire
nuns at the monastery preparing to fight the fire

Inspired by angel of light (Don McManman, 2009)

NOTE: The following article appeared in The Sentinel (06-17-09)
Don’t tell Jonathan Lewis that sustainable energy is a plaything of neo-hippies and Aspen zillionaires.

Jonathan Lewis.
Jonathan Lewis.

Lewis is neither. Yet he has built a business and a family by focusing small-scale power harvested from wind and sun. He’ll share some of his knowledge during the Goldendale Energy Exposition, Saturday and Sunday, June 27 and 28, at the Klickitat County Fairgrounds.

The timing is right, Lewis said. Prices for home-sized sustainable energy equipment are lower now than in years.

A licensed electrician, Lewis always had been fascinated by the potential of power falling on each home, on each acre of land, around the globe. To ignore the gifts of solar and wind power seemed wasteful.

The more he thought, the stronger the call of sustainable energy became. About the same time – 2003 – he and his wife Kathleen decided they needed to move. Albany, Ore., was becoming too much like a big city, with all the big city problems that can crush family life.

St.John the Forerunner 2

As Orthodox Christians, the Lewis family visited St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery on Satus Pass. They loved the feel of Goldendale. So, they moved to 20 acres off the Bickleton Highway, eight miles east of town.

But the transition involved more than 160 miles and a shift to the country. Jonathan Lewis started a new company that would focus on small-scale sustainable power. He would call it Seraphim Energy, after a biblical angel representing light.


Oddly, Klickitat County’s wind potential didn’t enter into the equation.

“Every time we visited the place, everything was nice and calm,” Lewis said. “But when we showed up with the moving truck, it was blowing 60 mph. We had trouble just keeping the furniture down.”

Today, you can see dozens of big wind turbine towers from the Lewis place. But in 2003, big wind was just getting started in the Northwest. The largest wind project in the region was near Walla Walla.

“It didn’t take us long to figure out that we had some wind here,” Lewis said. Flying furniture may have contributed to the revelation.

Entirely by chance, Lewis’ place is next door to that of Ed Kennell, who active in sustainable energy during the last big energy crisis, in the 1970s. Soon after the Lewis family moved in, Kennell erected a Bergey Windpower Co. small turbine with a rated capacity of 10 kilowatts. Lewis helped out.

“I learned a lot from Ed,” Lewis said.

That was to be Seraphim Energy’s first job in renewable power. After finding Seraphim Energy on the Internet, another neighbor, Gwen Bassetti, put up a 10 kw wind turbine on her Caldwell-Davis-Bassetti Ranch.

Seraphim’s second job. By comparison, 10 kw is enough power to illuminate 166 bulbs rated at 60 watts. But that’s only when the wind is blowing the right speed, which isn’t all the time – not even half.
Both neighbors’ remain on the grid, supplementing their load with wind turbines, selling what’s not used to Klickitat PUD.

“Then we got a 2 kw solar system in Trout Lake. From then, everything just snowballed,” Lewis said.
To date he’s installed 60 systems with a combined capacity of 150 kw, including his own solar array of 1.2 kw. Next will be his own 5 kw wind turbine. He too remains on the grid.

Today, Lewis estimates 85 percent of his work is related to sustainable power. The rest is regular commercial and residential work.

“After awhile, we figured out Klickitat County didn’t have enough people to keep us busy with renewables.” He’s stretched out to Hood River on the west, Walla Walla and Milton-Freewater on the east and Naches to the north.

The next step involves his two oldest sons. Isaac, 18, is putting together an on-line store, at which people can order sustainable energy and energy conservation kits. The site also will offer advice and how-to videos.

Oliver, 16, is the media guy, putting together the videos and taking care of the web site.

The Lewises expect the store to be running in a couple of months. They’ll let you know when, if you sign up for their newsletter. Go to Click on “Sign up for our free newsletter” at the top right corner of the page.

Now is a good time to get serious about home-sized sustainable energy, Lewis said. Last year, big solar projects raced to complete installation before federal incentives expired. To meet the demand, manufacturers increased production.

Turns out, the federal incentive program was extended, but now the big players have trouble getting credit in today’s economy. That means a lot of solar and wind stuff is looking for a home – cheap.

“This time last year, you couldn’t get a wholesaler to listen to you. Things are a lot different today,” Lewis said. He expects prices to rise next year, if the economy improves.

Meanwhile, incentive and federal stimulus money is growing for home-sized installation.

You can find a state-by-state compilation of programs at (It stands for Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.) The site also includes federal stimulus and traditional incentive programs.

This all greatly pleases Jonathan Lewis. Six years ago, he was scratching for a living, working with neighbors. Today, he has a thriving business anchored overwhelmingly with the sustainable economy.

Jonathan and Kathleen Lewis have five good reasons to keep the future bright – their kids: Isaac, Oliver, Addison, Mara and Elsbeth, ages 18 to 8.
Goldendale Energy Exposition
June 27 – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
June 28 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Klickitat County Fairgrounds
Cost is $1 per person for both days, under 5 is free.
A partial list of some of the exhibitors:
• Vertical-axis residential wind turbine – MT Environmental Technology
• New 2010 hybrid automobiles – Toyota of Yakima
• For the kids – solar water fountain, solar oven, solar misting station, solar heating and cooling, pedal-power generator – Franklin County PUD
• Straw bale construction and earthen stucco finish – Sustainable Homestead Learning Center
• Solar panels, horizontal-axis residential wind turbine, on-grid and off-grid system integration – Seraphim Energy
• Sustainability tips – Reduce auto idling, cleaner woodstoves, alternative burning techniques – Washington Department of Ecology
• The big stuff: -Windy Point Partners, owners of the wind farm south of Goldendale
• Retrofit for sustainability – Cutaway home showing energy-efficient windows and doors, free outlet gasket kits, alternative hydro, and generation from landfill gas – Klickitat PUD.

WA Bells in winter

Greek Orthodox Nuns Live Life Of Prayer In Mountains Of Washington (Anna King, 2008)

Northwest Public Radio | May 28, 2008  | Goldendale, WA

The link has the interview recording:


Did you know there’s a place in the Pacific Northwest where people only speak Greek, eat Greek food and pray all day for the salvation of the world?

In the pine-dotted mountains just north of Goldendale, Washington, 18 women live in a different time. It’s called St. John The Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery.

Correspondent Anna King lived in the monastery for two days to bring us this story.

Anna King
Anna King

Anna King: So I am looking at my phone here and it’s about 8:38 p.m. and I am headed to bed because I’m getting up at four in the morning which is when the services start. Umm.

The only thing is that the sisters get up at like 2 a.m. and start doing their own prayers in their own room in prostration before they get up and do services at 4 a.m. so I feel kind of lazy getting up at 4 a.m. but I am going to go to bed now.

SOUND: Cell phone alarm

Anna King: When my cell phone alarm went off at 4 a.m. I was so sleepy I accidently used a tube of face cream as toothpaste. After washing my mouth out and pulling on a long dress and a headscarf, I headed through the dark woods to the chapel for morning prayers with the nuns.

SOUND: Nuns singing


Anna King: These 18 women at St. John sing songs with words and melodies that haven’t changed since the Byzantine era. And they live a simple life of rigorous work and prayer. There’s no T.V., there’s no radio and there’s no idle talk. Even as they work or eat they pray to Jesus for their own salvation and that of everyone else.

Sister Iosiphia: I think the main thing that the monasteries have to offer is prayer for the world.

Anna King: This is Sister Iosiphia.

Sister Iosiphia: I don’t think there can be anything more powerful than monks and nuns — young men and women — staying up in the middle of the night sacrificing their sleep and their comforts to pray to God for all of the people in the world. Which there are so many various problems and so many various needs that everyone has. I don’t think there could be a greater offering to the people and the community than that.

Anna King: Many of the faces I saw peeking out from the black head wraps were young. Iosiphia wouldn’t say how old she is but appears to be in her late twenties.

SOUND: Sisters singing

Anna King: This monastery in the mountains is young too. It was started 13 years ago when a local doctor donated his property to the Greek Orthodox Church. Three nuns from Greece came to establish St. John. The rest of the sisters here are recruits. Many of them don’t have any Greek heritage, and some are even converted Protestants.

St. John is one of 18 Greek Orthodox monasteries overseen by a Greek priest named Elder Ephraim. The priest-monk has attracted some controversy.

Geronda Ephraim (2003)

In fact, several Web sites criticize his monasteries, likening them to a cult. But all of the women at St. John say they choose this life. It’s a choice generally made soon after high school.

Next to Sister Iosiphia sits Sister Ephraimia. She’s wearing nearly identical black clothing. The only bare skin sticking out are their faces and hands. Both say they found the monastery life by themselves.

Sister Ephraimia: Most people probably would say that it’s something that starts to grow in their heart little by little and it gets bigger and bigger until you just know that this is what you want to do. It’s like the love of Christ grows and grows until you are ready to make that decision.


Sister Iosiphia: Just like how do you know when you want to get married or who you want to marry? It’s a mystery. There are millions of people in the world, but something draws you to that life and to that certain person. It’s the same thing for us. Something draws us to this life and to a certain monastery.

Anna King: The commitment to be a nun or a monk is life-long. And even Orthodox families can feel frightened or confused when a daughter or son decides to join up.

The nuns typically don’t visit their families, but they do have a guest house so the families can come visit them. One of the parents I met there is Donna Young from Wasilla, Alaska. She comes here at least twice a year to visit her daughter who is a nun.

Donna Young: I was really nervous about having her go to take on a really different life than I was used to. I wondered how it would be or how we would relate to each other. But the sisters have made our family feel like this is our home. So we feel really close. When we come here to visit it’s just like coming to our second home.

Anna King: This home is a busy one. Visits with family are squeezed in amid chores and prayers.

SOUND: Kitchen noise, peeling onions

Anna King: The sisters receive some donations but they also work to support themselves. This day the nuns peeled tubs of onions to make traditional Greek food to sell in their cafe. They paint religious icons. And they make pastries, soaps and candles to sell on their Web site.

 WA St John's Bakery Interior & Nun (Winter)

Anna King: But I mean do you guys miss anything from the outside world like waterslides or pizza or you know movies?

Sister Ephraimia: No

Sister Iosiphia: You find the fulfillment here with everything. And like we said it’s heavenly joy. And that can’t be compared with anything to the joy on this earth which is very vain and temporal. And our joy, our goal is for the eternal joy which we start to feel from here.

Sister Ephraimia: You get a little taste of paradise then what would you want with the world after that. It’s like it’s nothing. The world is our exile and it’s just our journey home to paradise here.

Anna King: The sisters are praying that they will earn enough money to build more spacious housing and a bigger chapel soon. That would create more room for more sisters to join them in their life of solitary work and prayer.

SOUND: Sisters singing second song


Nuns live life of seclusion at remote Wash. Monastery (Adriana Janovich, 2006)

NOTE: The following newspaper article is taken from the Yakima Herald-Republic, November 6th, 2006, p. 6.

WA Moscow-Pullman Daily News November 6, 2006, p. 6A

STATUS PASS, Wash—On a pine-covered patch off U.S. Highway 97, the Pacific Northwest meets the Byzantine Empire.

Evergreens shelter a collection of structures that look more like typical Northwest cabins than a Greek Orthodox monastery. In the wee hours, the woods are dark. So still, so quiet, so peaceful. Elsewhere, bars are closing, truckers are making the long haul, children have been asleep for hours.

At the roadside monastery at the edge of a forest, Greek Orthodox sisters are praying for them all. From this remote sylvan setting 10 miles north of Goldendale, more than a dozen nuns pray for the world. Their prayers continue until the stars disappear from the sky, the sun rises and shines, and darkness sets in again.

Life—a tranquil cycle of work and prayer—goes largely uninterrupted at St. John the Forerunner, the only Greek Orthodox monastery in Central Washington. Tucked under the trees and named in honor of St. John the Baptist, it’s a small version of monasteries in Greece that have been running for hundreds of years, and it’s growing. New sisters, most from the western United States, arrive almost every year.

WA Moscow-Pullman Daily News - Nov 6, 2006 (Sister Arsenia)

The monastery is home to 16 sisters, including four novices. Most are in their 20s.

They pledge to live their lives among the pines of Status Pass, at an elevation of just over 3,000 feet, on the north side of the Horse Heaven Hills in Klickitat County. Nearly 60 miles from Yakima and thousands of miles from Greece, it’s arguably the middle of nowhere.

While other young women are going to college and on dates, getting jobs, getting married and raising families—the sisters are giving their lives to God, living in solitude together—and praying for the world.

“It’s a calling from God,” says 33-year-old Sister Ephraimia. “It grows in your heart. It’s like a fire inside you.”

Originally from Santa Barbara, Calif., Sister Ephraimia was the first American to live at the monastery, founded by three Greek nuns in 1995. She’s been here 11 years.

“I had no idea what the monastic life was before I came here,” she says. “The draw was Christ. Lots of people say it’s like you’re in prison or something. It’s not. It’s the opposite. It’s like you’re free.”

The sisters lead contemplative, quiet lives, largely secluded—save for medical appointments, shopping trips and other errands, and the occasional journey to another monastery—from the outside world. Unlike Catholic nuns, who are usually active in their communities, Orthodox nuns center their lives on a desire to come closer to God through prayer.

“It is hard to understand the depth of this life,” says 30-year-old Sister Iosiphia, originally from Scottsdale, Ariz. She’s lived at the monastery nearly 10 years. “It’s a beautiful life. You’re doing it for God.”

Sisters go through a novice, or trial, period that can last years before becoming tonsured nuns. It is extremely rare for a sister to give up monastic life after that point.

“You come here with the goal to die here,” Sister Iosiphia says. “It’s a very serious commitment.”

WA Winter