Update on the Quebec Nuns’ Christmas Shopping Spree in Ohio

NOTE: A couple new articles on the Friends of St Nektarios Monastery Tumblr page sheds some light on the methodology used by Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries  to “invalidate” a story; i.e. to render a historical event and reality non-existent, as if it never happened. http://friendsofstnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/


A few months ago, a story from the Lehman’s Country Store Blog about Geronda Ephraim’s nuns travelling 10 hours from Quebec to a small Ohio town to fill two vans with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise was circulating around the web. At the time of the nuns’ shopping spree, the Canadian dollar was very low (1 CAD = 0.72453 USD, thus 1,000.00 USD = 1,380.21 CAD; 1,000.00 CAD = 724.53 USD) The Loonie lost 17% of its value in 2015, the second-worst year it’s ever had. Also, most of the products purchased were readily available in stores close to the monastery and/or generally within the Quebec borders. Furthermore, the nuns bought a large amount of canned meat (designed for survivalist situations). However, monastics are forbidden to eat meat by the ecclesiastical canons, at these products are not fit to feed farm animals.

This blog posted the story a day after it was published on Lehman’s blog: https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/canadian-nuns-drive-10-hours-to-ohio-to-purchase-armageddon-supplies/

Less than 3 months after this shopping extravaganza, the monastery in Quebec held an annual fundraiser dinner to raise more money for the monastery. In the past, the monasteries have not participated in policies of financial transparency. The amount of money they raised that night is not available to the public.


Montreal nuns 2a
Gerondissa Thekla, Metropolitan Sotirios and other priests celebrating the inauguration of the monastery’s new cheese-making facilities.

Someone identifying himself as a “concerned pilgrim” contacted the Metropolis in Canada and asked the Metropolitan about the nuns’ excessive spending, especially when the exchange rate was so low. The following is a brief synopsis of these events, followed by the entire email exchange at the end of the article.

Sisters Quebec
Screenshot of Lehman’s Facebook Page containing the detailed story of the nuns’ all day shopping spree. Lehman’s later deleted this story from their Facebook Page.

December 16, 2015, The day Lehman’s published the story a concerned pilgrim wrote their bishop, Metropolitan Sotirios and asked about this peculiar incident. The entire email exchange, spanning over 2 months and producing no answers or explanation, can be read at the end of this article.

December/January, Lehman’s social media sites start deleting the post about the nuns’ shopping spree.

January 10, 2015, a priest from Montreal responded to the pilgrim and essentially said, “You’re wrong, it is not true.” By this time, all the social media platforms belonging to Lehman’s had deleted the story, though their digital footprints still remain on the web.

January 17, 2016, the pilgrim responds to this priest and writes the bishop again concerning the unsatisfactory and offensive answer he received.

January 20, 2016, the Metropolitan responds, claiming “regarding the purchases of the nuns of Panagia the Comforter Monastery from the Lehman’s Hardware and Appliances Inc. I do not know anything about this. I have asked Abbess Thekla for an explanation and then I will write to you.”

February 19, 2016, the concerned pilgrim writes another inquiry due to having heard nothing in a month

February 23, 2016, Basil Roccas answers on behalf of the bishop, stating “Gerondissa Thekla fell sick with pneumonia while on a pilgrimage to Arizona recently, and as of last week was still in Arizona.  She presumably has not had the opportunity to reply to His Eminence’s letter, and this is why His Eminence has not replied to you.”

March 6, 2016, The Quebec Monastery has their annual fundraiser.

May 15, 2016, As of this date there has been no further response from the Metropolis. Ignoring people does not make them go away… lack of transparency does not inspire people to donate money, either.

Lehmans Tweetbear Page
Lehman’s original Tweet archived on Tweetbear

Canadian Nuns Drive 10 Hours to Ohio to Purchase Armageddon Supplies

NOTE: The following article is taken from Lehman’s Country Life. The owner of Lehman Hardware and Appliances Inc., Galen, describes how a couple of nuns from Geronda Ephraim’s monastery in Quebec drove 10 hours to the village of Dalton, Ohio (pop. 1,843) to fill two vans with products “to help when the power leaves them in the dark.” Interestingly, many of these products can be purchased at various locations in Quebec. However, the nuns chose to drive 10 hours to a small village in a different country to pay a higher price (via the exchange rate).



A Visit From The Sisters of Le Troupeau Benit by Galen Lehman


The sisters often sell their foods and other wares at outdoor markets like this one. (L: Sr. Macrina, R: Sr. Theofano)


Last week our store was blessed with an interesting visit by a group of sisters from Quebec, Canada. These ladies live in a Greek Orthodox religious community and apparently use many of our products, as they came prepared with a LONG list of items they needed! The Sisters run a cheese factory called Le Troupeau Benit (The Blessed Flock) where they make and sell cheeses made from their very own sheep and goats.

Our bright, reliable Aladdin lamps will light the way for the sisters when their power goes out ($235 each).

Beth Smith handled the order entry and had many of us running around gathering items for these ladies. They spent most of their day at the store with a short leave in the afternoon for lunch at Mrs Yoder’s Kitchen in nearby Mt. Hope, Ohio. The Customer Service counter was piled so high we finally had to find another place to gather their wares. The items ranged from milk bottles,Aladdin lamps and canned meat, to lamp partscast iron kettleshow-to books and many miscellaneous housewares items.

Our 3-legged cast iron kettles are oil-cured and ready to cook delicious meals outdoors. 7 sizes available at Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our staff member Roger helped them load up, and in the conversation discovered they live the Lehman’s lifestyle of gardeningcheesemaking and many other self-sufficient skills. They have electricity, but it frequently goes out on them. This trip was to get items to help when the power leaves them in the dark. Hurray for the Aladdin lamp! They had two vans with seats down and loaded all the goods into them, then had a 10-hour drive back home to Quebec.

The sisters live a simple lifestyle and practice self-sufficient skills such as gardening, cheesemaking and keeping livestock such as chickens, sheep and goats.

We were honored and blessed to serve this very special group of sisters, and we thank them for their visit. We hope the products they purchased will be beneficial in aiding their noble ventures!

For more on these intriguing and enterprising women, visit https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/inauguration-of-new-cheesemaking-facilities-for-le-troupeau-benit-quebec-monastery/



SOURCE: http://countrylife.lehmans.com/a-visit-from-the-sisters-of-le-troupeau-benit/#more-25113

The Saint Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery Tumblr page makes the following observation:

Are the nuns preparing for the last days?

One wonders: Why these nuns would drive 10 hours out of province and country to purchase items readily available in Quebec? Especially when the Canadian dollar is so low (1 CAD = 0.72453 USD, thus 1,000.00 USD = 1,380.21 CAD; 1,000.00 CAD = 724.53 USD). Not to mention all these items have to be declared at the border, though there are numerous ways to enter Quebec illegally without border checks. The cost of gas for a 20 hour round trip which include tolls, plus food and snack expenses, are also not cheap. Some of the American monasteries along the border have bank accounts in Canada (usually under a trusted pilgrim’s name, or a shell account) and they send up the Canadian dollars they receive in donations to be deposited there. It is unknown if the Canadian monasteries do the same down here for the US dollars they receive from pilgrims.

The few convenient routes from the monastery to the Lehman’s store are still a few hours out of the way from the MI, NY, and PA monasteries that the nuns sometimes visit for feast days, or privately on regular days.

Perhaps they did not want locals of Quebec to be scandalized with the thousands of dollars spent on things which may seem superfluous. Because why pay $30 for an oil lamp at their local hardware store (http://www.homehardware.ca/en/cat/index.htm/Indoor-Living/Housewares/Decor/Decorator-Lighting/Oil-Lamps/_/N-ntkmx) when they can drive 10 hours to buy $300 Aladdin Deluxe Brass oil lamps (https://www.lehmans.com/p-3182-aladdin-deluxe-brass-table-oil-lamp.aspx)? One wonders why such fancy, expensive lamps are needed for “when the power goes out?”

In September 1999, some of the heads of the monasteries stayed at St. Nektarios Monastery in New York as a stopover before Archbishop Demetrios’ enthronement (Saturday, September 18, 1999). Due to Hurricane Floyd, the monastery lost it’s power and some of the basements were flooded (this was before Geronda Joseph spent half a million dollars+ on a generator to power the main buildings). Hieromonk Chrysostomos and Father Kassianos went out and purchased regular oil lamps and lamp oil for each room/monastic. If Gerondissa Thekla followed this pattern, then that is around $6,900 (9,523.42 CAD) for the 23 nuns to have their own lamp (compared to the $690 it would have cost them at their local hardware store).  If the nuns purchased lamps for all the different buildings on their property …

The canned meat is also a curiosity since monastics are forbidden to eat meat by the orthodox canons (interestingly, bishops who are also tonsured monastics tend to ignore this canon here). In some cases, out of economia, monastics who are very ill will be given an obedience to eat meat for strength.

It wouldn’t be for the goats. Though goats will eat almost anything, farmers know that you never feed goats meat, meat byproducts, or food prepackaged for your carnivore pet such as dog food or cat food. For the most part it is illegal to feed animal byproducts to any ruminate animals (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/GuidanceComplianceEnforcement/GuidanceforIndustry/UCM052385.pdf).

Sometimes, out of economia, non-orthodox workers may be served or permitted to eat meat at monasteries during construction. In extreme cases of economia, pilgrims might be given a blessing to hunt on monastery property. In 1999, Geronda Joseph gave Gerasimos Kourkoumelis permission to hunt Canada Geese at St. Nektarios Monastery, NY. This was allowed for a two-fold purpose: 1) to create a bond with Gerasimos and soften him to the church 2) to eliminate the Geese that were destroying the grass and golf turfs of the property.

With the excahnge rate, the canned meat products are more expensive than those sold in Canada.


Who knew the end of the world would be so expensive …



Inauguration of New Cheesemaking Facilities for Le Troupeau Bénit (Quebec Monastery)

NOTE: The 22+ sisters who live at Saint Monastere Vierge Marie La Consolatrice (Panagia Parigoritissa) run a cheese factory called “Le Troupeau Bénit (the blessed flock), referring to their sheep and goats. Since 2001, they have been selling and producing cheeses that has become known province-wide. Every week, they use 1,500 liters of certified category A milk from their flock to make their cheeses. They make the Athonite, a mild Dutch cheese with a nut-like flavor; the Graviera, which has a sweet and fruity taste; Greek feta, a soft traditional cheese; a Havarti-type cheese called Le Bon Berger, mild and tangy; and a goat cheese called “Les Petites Soeurs,” one of the healthiest cheeses on the market. All are made fresh and are preserved with rape seed oil.

Le Troupeau Bénit 4


BROWNSBURG-CHATHAM, QUEBEC–(Marketwired – Nov. 1, 2014) – Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)

Le Troupeau Bénit 2

Quebec nuns selling their food wares at an open market.
Quebec nuns selling their food wares at an open market (2008).

The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, announces that the Monastery of the Virgin Mary the Consolatory’s cheese factory, Le Troupeau Bénit, received government support through the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto to increase its productivity.

Le Troupeau Bénit 12

This assistance was awarded in the form of a $246,752 repayable financial contribution under CED’s Quebec Economic Development Program. (http://www.dec-ced.gc.ca/eng/disclosure/grant-contribution-awards/detail.html?p_ide_infrm_apprb=9948)

Le Troupeau Bénit 3

Quick facts

  • The investment enabled the monastery to complete the relocation of its cheese factory and acquire equipment for the manufacture of new products.
  • The work involved, among other things, installing exterior siding and carrying out various interior and exterior fittings to the new building.
  • As well as raising the enterprise’s manufacturing capacity and sales, this project is expected to result in the creation of three full-time and two seasonal jobs from outside the monastery.

Le Troupeau Bénit 9


“Our government sees it as essential to support growing enterprises like Le Troupeau Bénit, whose project is going to lead to the creation of new jobs in the Laurentides region.”

Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Le Troupeau Bénit 6

Related link

Monastery of the Virgin Mary the Consolatory Website:


Le Troupeau Bénit 5

Le Troupeau Bénit 8

The sisters’ picturesque, white-painted monastery is nestled in a forest in Brownsburg-Chatham, north of Lachute. They make their Troupeau Bénit (which means “blessed flock”) butter and cheeses from the milk of a flock of 150 goats and sheep they sold to the neighbour last year. The sheep’s-milk butter is ivory white; the goat’s-milk version whiter still.

“We eat it on bread with honey or jam,” says Sister Makrina. “It is too delicious even to cook with.” She says there are a number of reasons their butter is so delicious. Sometimes, it’s because the animals have just given birth, so their milk is especially rich. Partly, it’s the wild grasses on which the animals graze and the care with which the sisters churn the butter.

“Everything here is done by hand. We add goat’s milk sour cream and then beat it by hand on ice until it clots, then we drain the water and hand-press it to dry,” Sister Makrina explained.

“But the main reason it’s so good is that we pray over everything we do in the monastery. God is always present here. He blesses our work.”  (http://www.canada.com/cityguides/montreal/story.html?id=c96758be-6234-461c-9e8d-91441b989a3e)

Le Troupeau Bénit (Canadian Government stats on 7 types of Monastery Cheese) http://cheese-fromage.agr.gc.ca/cr-rf_fra.cfm?companylist=1905&menupos=1.1
Quebec’s Artisan Cheese Guild represents 21 cheese dairies in Quebec (including the Monastery).
Quebec’s Artisan Cheese Guild represents 21 cheese dairies in Quebec (including the Monastery).