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

Hieromonk Michael Santos of St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (Roscoe, NY)

Hieromonk Michael was born to Reynaldo and Leonie Santos in 1969 in the Philippines. He is the middle child of two sisters, Michelle (formerly a novice nun at Holy Protection Monastery) and Myla. The Santos family immigrated to Canada when Fr. Michael was very young and settled in the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario. Fr. Michael was raised in the Roman Catholic faith.

The Santos family (minus Michelle and Fr. Michael)
The Santos family (minus Michelle and Fr. Michael)

After graduating high school, Fr. Michael went on to the University of Toronto, where he majored in philosophy.

The southern entrance to Philosopher's Walk, University of Toronto.
The southern entrance to Philosopher’s Walk, University of Toronto.

In the mid-90’s, he was baptized by Geronda Joseph Voutsas at St. Kosmas Greek Orthodox Monastery in Caledon, Ontario. He was allowed to keep his original name, and it was one of the few baptisms performed by Geronda Joseph allowed to be videotaped.

The chapel at St. Kosmas Monastery, where Geronda Joseph baptized Fr. Michael.
The chapel at St. Kosmas Monastery, where Geronda Joseph baptized Fr. Michael.

Becoming a Monk He became a novice monk in 1998 at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ but was a member of Geronda Joseph’s synodia (at that time, due to Metropolitan Sotirios of Canada forcing their hand, the Brotherhood of St. John the Theologian Monastery in Picton, Ontario was forced to flee Canada and seek refuge at St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, AZ. They became the Brotherhood of St. Nektarios after relocating to Roscoe, NY in 1999).

St. Anthony's Monastery, AZ, where Fr. Michael started out his novitiate period.
St. Anthony’s Monastery, AZ, where Fr. Michael started out his novitiate period.

In Arizona, Fr. Michael mainly worked with the outside Fathers digging holes, planting palm trees, and doing hard labor. At the time, Geronda Ephraim nicknamed him “Kinezos” and “Kineziko” (meaning “Chinese” or “the Chinaman”).

Fr. Michael Santos
Fr. Michael Santos

In December 1998, the monks under Geronda Joseph drove up to Roscoe, NY and established the St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery. During Holy Week of 1999, Geronda Ephraim visited the monastery briefly. Along with 3 other novices, Fr. Michael was tonsured a monk by Geronda Ephraim in the old chapel of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. Once again, Fr. Michael kept his original name.

During Great Lent, 1999, Geronda Ephraim visited St. Nektarios Monastery secretly, in order  to tonsure four novices.
During Great Lent, 1999, Geronda Ephraim visited St. Nektarios Monastery secretly, in order to tonsure four novices.

At the time, because Geronda Ephraim came up secretly and tonsured the four novices (i.e. without the Bishop’s knowledge, nor his blessing to perform priestly functions) it was decided the four novices would keep their original names. This was also partly because 3 of them were converts and had their names changed in baptism already. As well, as the monastery had only been open a few months and not many people had visited yet, no one would know the difference. Geronda Ephraim, via Geronda Joseph, gave the novices an obedience in case lay people who had seen the novices without koukoulis in church asked them when they were tonsured. “We were tonsured in Arizona, but they didn’t have our koukoulis ready. We just received them.”

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 old chapel, which was connected to the main white house, was later converted into a living room and part time guest quarters for feast days. Geronda Joseph also used the living room at night for his vigils.

The
The “main house’ as seen from the guest quarters.

Before his ordination, Fr. Michael fluctuated from working as an outside Father (construction), ekklesiastiko (taking care of the church), cleaning guest houses, to bookstore (receiving pilgrims and exhorting them spiritually). Also, he was one of the few fathers that Geronda Joseph trusted to go on errands outside the monastery (either driving alone or with another monk).

Fr. Michael holding the Kursk Root Icon (with Geronda Joseph)
Fr. Michael holding the Kursk Root Icon (with Geronda Joseph)

Novice Michelle Santos Fr. Michael’s older sister, Michelle, was a novice at Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery in Pennsylvania for a number of years. She started out at the original property in Weatherly, PA and relocated with the sisterhood to the new property in White Haven, PA.

Holy Protection Monastery, PA,
Holy Protection Monastery, PA, “sister monastery” of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY.

Fr. Michael held his sister in high esteem. When talking to pilgrims, he would refer to her as, “my sanctified sister.” It is said that he had pictures of her in his cell as a nun for inspiration in the struggle (and kept them up even after she returned to the world).

Pathway to the old bookstore at St. Nektarios Monastery (2005)
Pathway to the old bookstore at St. Nektarios Monastery (2005)

In the mid-2000s, she left the Monastery returned to the world, which evoked a lot of gossip and conjecture amongst pilgrims. As well, it put Fr. Michael in a difficult position as lay people would ask him in the bookstore, “What happened? Why did your sister leave?”

Geronda Joseph giving a speech in the old bookstore at St. Nektarios Monastery.
Geronda Joseph giving a speech in the old bookstore at St. Nektarios Monastery.

It is said that Michelle kept Fr. Mark Andrews as a spiritual Father for a short while afterwards, but it was awkward for her to return to Holy Protection for confession, as well, Gerondissa wasn’t comfortable with her returning as these things weaken the resolve of monastics (i.e. seeing their former co-strugglers in the world looking normal, healthy and happy).

Fr. Mark Andrews (Editor of Fr. Nicholas Palis' Translations)
Fr. Mark Andrews

Ordination to the Priesthood In 2009, Fr. Michael was ordained a priest. It should be noted that on Mount Athos, one of Geronda Ephraim’s prerequisites in determining if a monk was ready for ordination was whether or not he had prayer of the heart. There are various opinions among the elders in the American monasteries on whether or not Geronda Ephraim is as strict here in this regard as he was on Mount Athos.

Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Chancellor of the GOA, ordained Fr. Michael a deacon on Nov. 17, 2009.
Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Chancellor of the GOA, ordained Fr. Michael a deacon on Nov. 17, 2009.

Also, Fr. Michael was the recipient of a very special vision/miracle of St. Nektarios who appeared to him when he lost his balance off a ladder and carried him down to safety.

Archbishop Demetrios ordained Deacon Michael a priest on Nov. 18, 2009.
Archbishop Demetrios ordained Deacon Michael a priest on Nov. 18, 2009.

SOURCES: http://www.greeknewsonline.com/demetrios-visits-st-nectarios-monastery-in-roscoe/ http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/ http://www.goarch.org/archbishop/demetrios/enthronement NOTE: If one visits the official website of St. Nektarios Monastery, they will find the following notice:

NOTICE TO USERS

The information on this site is the property of The Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios. This is the only website on the internet that is managed and approved by the monks of The Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios. Information found posted on other internet sites and blogs regarding St. Nektarios Monastery and its monks has not been validated, and in certain instances is inaccurate and misleading. Everyone is free to read and reflect on the information on this site. However, none of the information on this site may be reproduced without the prior written consent of St. Nektarios Monastery. If you wish to use any of the material on this site please contact us. †May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you! http://stnektariosmonastery.com/notice.php Stories that may tarnish a monastery’s image and reputation, or expose some of the darker happenings in that monastery, will never be validated by a monastery and are usually dismissed as “ridiculous.” It is very easy for a monastery to discredit stories and there is a two-fold method that is very effective: 1) The superior will instruct the fraternity to deny everything if asked. 2) If the information is coming from a former monk or nun then they will be discredited as having mental illnesses, being delusional, or left the monastery jaded and are trying to retaliate via slander, etc. The above notice on the St. Nektarios website seems to be a direct response to this tumblr page: http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/ http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/post/103102374101/account-temporarily-terminated-via-letter-from-the

censorship1

There does not seem to be any indication on that Tumblr page indicating it claims to be the St. Nektarios Monastery or that it represents St. Nektarios Monastery. As with most celebrity “fan pages”, the reader assumes that the celebrity does not actually run the page, nor is it the official webpage of the celebrity (unless stated otherwise). Yet, St. Nektarios Monastery hired a lawyer to have that Tumblr page pulled down. The Tumblr page now has a disclaimer: “This blog is not directly affiliated with St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery (According to the monastery‘s lawyers, this blog ‘misrepresents the ideological underpinnings of our client’s tenets’).” It is imperative to keep an image of perfection unblemished, despite the fact that it is not in keeping with reality.

Hieromonk Chrysostomos, Fr. Michael in background.
Hieromonk Chrysostomos, Fr. Michael in background.
Fr. Michael and Geronda Paisios (AZ).
Fr. Michael and Geronda Paisios (AZ).

3 Michael

5 michael reading

7 michael

8 mich

9

Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto Slandering the Athonite Monasteries, Elders and Confessors

The following is transcribed from a youtube video of Metropolitan Sotirios’ speech during an undated Christmas Lent. There are usually a couple buses organized to take Greek Torontonians down for confession at St. Nektarios in NY and Holy Trinity in MI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7EMKMvdQzc

Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto,  agreed Ephraim's monasteries & methods of collecting young and vulnerable adults is cultic.
Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto has  stated that Fr. Ephraim’s monasteries & methods of collecting young and vulnerable adults is cultic.

We are now in the period of Christmas Lent. You very well know that sometimes our Metropolis brings over father-confessors. This year, in this particular period, we are not going to bring in any father-confessors. But, all of us must confess. All of us must prepare ourselves to receive the Prince of peace, Christ, Who is God and is coming to be born as a human being. And i want all of the faithful Christians to go in repentance and confess to our priests.

Geronda Ephraim and Bishop Sotirios (Ελληνικός Τύπος)
Geronda Ephraim, Bishop Sotirios and Gerondissa Alexia, Abbess of St. Kosmas Monastery  (Ελληνικός Τύπος)

There are certain things we must know when we are confessing: 1) If we confess for the first time, we should repent and confess all our sins from the very beginning until the moment of our confession. When I do that in true repentance, and the priest or bishop forgives us in the name of Christ—or Christ forgives us through the priest or bishop—then we must know that those sins we have repented for and confessed through the priest or bishop have been erased by God and they will not exist anymore. 2) When you go to confession a second or another time, you must know that you should never repeat the sins, you should never confess the sins again that you confessed in previous confessions that you had. For if you do, you commit a greater sin. If you do that it means that you are not believing in the healing and forgiving power and the mercy of God. I want all of you to prepare yourselves for Christmas and for receiving Christ. Christ Who is the Messiah. The only Redeemer and Savior of the world.

Geronda Ephraim, Bishop Sotirios and Gerondissa Alexia, Abbess of St. Kosmas Monastery  (Ελληνικός Τύπος)
Geronda Ephraim, Bishop Sotirios and Gerondissa Alexia, Abbess of St. Kosmas Monastery (Ελληνικός Τύπος)

Some of our people make the mistake that they don’t trust their priest. And of course, the Church tries to understand it, and by economy and showing love to the people, we sometimes bring over father-confessors from other regions. And we will do that during the period of Great Lent for Easter.

Geronda Joseph Mammis, abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, MI (originally from Montreal, QC)
Geronda Joseph Mammis, abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, MI (originally from Montreal, QC)

But some other people make the big mistake to go to some monasteries in the United States. Believe me, I am for the monasteries, but sometimes some of the father-confessors who are so inexperienced—there is one of them I have in mind but I am not going to say any names and who has been a priest for only two years—then damage is done to the souls of the people.

Hieromonk Michael Santos of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY (originally from Toronto, ordained in November 2009).
Hieromonk Michael Santos of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY (originally from Toronto, ordained in November 2009).

I don’t want to recount the story of a young man who went to one of those monasteries. But I want you to know there are some father-confessors who, instead of being an example of love and forgiveness, what they do many times they pass judgment on our priests who serve our communities. Many times they say that these priests are not worth your going to confess to them because some of them do not have beards, or some of them do not have the experience. But in reality, they don’t have the experience. I do not allow our priests to receive people for confession if I know that they don’t have the necessary experience.

Geronda Joseph Voutsas, abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY (originally from Thessaloniki)
Geronda Joseph Voutsas, abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY (originally from Thessaloniki)

And one of these abbots, I’m not going to say any names, he goes as far as to think he’s above the Church. And though the rule says of the people have not been married in the Church they cannot receive Holy Communion until they are married in the Church, he allows them to receive Holy Communion. And he is the one who passed judgment on our priests. I want all of you to be very careful. I want you to repent. I want you to purify your souls. And I want you to be prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. He is the only Redeemer and Savior of the world. He is the Messiah. Let us prepare ourselves for His coming.

NOTE: In the spring of 1997, Geronda Joseph, with the help of Fr. George Passias, took his brotherhood from St. John the Theologian Monastery in Picton, ON and immigrated to the United States via St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona. They sought refuge there from Bishop Sotirios’ persecutions until December 1998, when they relocated and founded the St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. This was followed by a series of accusations by Bishops Sotirios of stolen money, etc., which were countered by Geronda Joseph’s rebuttals in the Toronto Greek newspapers.

For those unfamiliar with the St. John the Theologian brotherhood, it consisted of:

*Fr. Germanos, who came with Geronda Joseph from Philotheou Monastery.

*Novice Anastasios, now Fr. Theophanes at Panagia Pammakaristos Monastery (NC). Bishop Sotirios once investigated the cells of the monks. Fr. Theophanes relates the bishop was scandalized because he had lots of pictures of Geronda Ephraim on his wall, and only one icon of Christ. Fr. Theophanes mother also became a nun at Holy Protection Monastery (at the original property in Weatherly, PA).

*Novice Athanasios, now Fr. Kassianos at St. Nektarios Monastery (NY)

*Novice Nikos, he was sent home from Arizona in 1998. Apparently he hid his thoughts from his Geronda, and couldn’t detach himself from his sister whom he frequently called. Thus, the devil isolated him from the brotherhood through his disobediences and he didn’t progress. It is said that shortly before he left the monastery, he started punching and breaking things and was losing control of his temper and composure.

Geronda Nektarios, Abbot of Panagia Pammakaristos Monastery in North Carolina.
Geronda Nektarios, Abbot of Panagia Pammakaristos Monastery in North Carolina.

*Novice Demetrios, now Geronda Nektarios, abbot of Panagia Pammakaristos (NC).

*Novice Iraklis, now Fr. Epifanios at St. Nektarios Monastery (NY).

Also, George (Mammis), now Geronda Joseph at Holy Trinity Monastery (MI) stayed as a sub-novice in Picton for a week or two and then afterwards was sent down to St. Anthony’s Monastery (AZ).