Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (Newspaper Articles, 1999)

NOTE: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, located in Harvard, IL,  was founded in the fall of 1998. Geronda Ephraim sent a hieromonk from the Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas (Papa Pavlos) and two monks from St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona (Fr. Akkakios and Fr. Theologos) to start the monastery. Fr. Akkakios (Basil Mantjos), former bouncer at L’Amour East, in Elmhurst, Queens (http://www.helpchristopher.com/timeline.html), is the abbot of the monastery. He has one daughter and a grandchild. Papa Pavlos is the priest, father-confessor and tailor of the monastery. Fr. Theologos, of the athosinamerica.org website, returned to the world immediately after the 2007 Feast Day at St. Anthony’s Monastery. He is now happily married with 2 children.

Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Harvard, IL
Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Harvard, IL

Monks Ask County To Ok Farmhouse For Monastery (April 13, 1999)

By Mark R. Madler.

Papa Pavlos.
Papa Pavlos.

HARVARD — For the second time in a year, a monastery of the Greek Orthodox church seeks to move to McHenry County to provide a home for monks and a place for pilgrims to seek solace.
The three monks of the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox monastery would live in a farmhouse on 89 acres along Illinois Highway 173 a mile and half east of Harvard.
The monks have petitioned the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals to grant a conditional-use permit to allow construction of a 4,000-square-foot church and creation of a cemetery. The Zoning Board will hold a hearing on the petition at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the McHenry County Government Center. The Alden Township Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on the matter Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. in the Township Garage , 16410 Illinois Highway 173.
“The plan is to allow the monks to live in the residence and take the existing barn, raze it and replace it with a church for pilgrims and friends of the monastery to visit,” said Thomas Zanck, the attorney representing the monks for the hearing.
The monastery would be under the auspices of the Chicago Greek Orthodox archdiocese and would be maintained through donations, said Father Akakios, one of the monks who would live there.
“The monastery is a place for penance and redemption,” Father Akakios said. “Part of a monk’s life, and part of our plan, is to beautify the area.”
Last fall, the McHenry County Board granted a permit for a Greek Orthodox monastery to be operated out of farm buildings along Nelson Road, west of Woodstock.
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-04-13/news/9904130113_1_monks-monastery-pilgrims

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Zoners Hear Plans For Monastery Near Harvard (April 15, 199)

By Mark R. Madler. Special to the Tribune.

IL ROULA 1
With their long black robes and flowing beards, the monks of the proposed Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Monastery say they wish to bring to McHenry County their traditions and a respite from the stresses of daily life.

The monastic lifestyle and the benefits of the proposed monastery were described during a hearing Wednesday before the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals. The board is considering a petition to allow the monks to construct and operate a church and cemetery on an 89-acre parcel along Illinois Highway 173, about 3 miles west of Harvard near the intersection with Shields Road.
“The visitors to the monastery are there for spiritual guidance from the fathers who live there,” said Trent Orfanos, a cardiologist from Crown Point, Ind., who is Greek Orthodox and supports the monastery. “They can answer various questions they have about religious and spiritual life. Some have likened a church as a hospital for the soul and the monastery as the intensive care unit. It’s a place you don’t go to very often.”
The plans include tearing down an existing barn and replacing it with a 4,600-square-foot church. But according to Father Akakios, the abbot of the monastery, those plans will materialize “when the Lord allows it.”
“We live on donations,” Father Akakios told the members of the Zoning Board. “When people start giving money for the church, we will build it.”
The Zoning Board heard about three hours of testimony from six witnesses during Wednesday’s hearing. The board is scheduled to vote April 27 on the petition.
Until the church is built, the monks would hold services in the basement of the single-family home, which would also serve as their residence.
If approved by the county, a facility would also be built to be used for overnight stays by up to 10 pilgrims.
The cemetery would be located in the southwest corner of the property and would be used only for burial of monks living at the monastery, Father Akakios said.
Alden Township Planning Commission member Don Mason said the commission voted Tuesday night to recommend the township board not object to the construction of the church building or a 2,000-square-foot assembly hall.
The commission was concerned about long-range plans that called for a larger number of rooms to be used by pilgrims, Mason said.
“If this is used as a monastery, fine, but monasteries come and go,” Mason said. “What is the new owner going to use this for? That’s not where our land-use plan sees any development.”
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-04-15/news/9904150129_1_monastery-monks-assembly-hall

Holy Transfiguaration Monastery

Monks See Monastery In Old Farmhouse (April 25, 199)

By Mark R. Madler

IL ROULA 2

HARVARD — For the second time in a year, a monastery of the Greek Orthodox Church seeks to move to McHenry County to provide a home for monks and a place for pilgrims to seek solace.
The three monks of the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox monastery would live in a farmhouse on 89 acres along Illinois Highway 173 a mile and half east of Harvard.
The monks have petitioned the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals to grant a conditional-use permit to allow construction of a 4,000-square-foot church and creation of a cemetery.
“The plan is to allow the monks to live in the residence and take the existing barn, raze it and replace it with a church for pilgrims and friends of the monastery to visit,” said Thomas Zanck, the attorney representing the monks for the hearing.
The monastery would be under the auspices of the Chicago Greek Orthodox archdiocese and would be maintained through donations, said Father Akakios, one of the monks who would live there.
“The monastery is a place for penance and redemption,” Father Akakios said. “Part of a monk’s life, and part of our plan, is to beautify the area.”
Last fall, the McHenry County Board granted a permit for a Greek Orthodox monastery to be operated out of farm buildings along Nelson Road, west of Woodstock.
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-04-25/business/9904250085_1_monks-pilgrims-greek-orthodox-monastery

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Monks Turning Farm Into Their Monastery (June 02, 1999)

By Sarah Downey. Special to the Tribune.

Rev. Demetri Kantzavelos
Rev. Demetri Kantzavelos

With warm weather approaching, Father Akakios is thinking about the swimming pool in the front yard of his monastery, a former farmstead in northern McHenry County.
“The Greek Orthodox monks don’t swim,” he said. “We might put a fountain in the middle with flowers around.”
Next, he’ll move the chickens and a tomcat into new quarters from the barn, which will be razed and replaced with a church.
For now, the house on the property is where Akakios and Father Theologos. a fellow monk, say daily prayers. Its basement is their chapel, and their sleeping rooms are on the second floor.
Last month, the McHenry County Board gave permission to the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Monastery to operate on 89 acres in rural Alden Township, making the county home to two such religious communities just 15 miles apart.
St. Athanasios the Great Greek Orthodox Monastery, west of Woodstock, opened in November.
“We’re happy at least that it’s not a factory there, or a disco or a casino. The more peaceful settings you have, the better it is for society,” said Father Nilos, a monk at St. Athanasios. “They, too, are just starting off, but we are the first pioneers here.”
Drastically declining numbers worldwide had edged Greek monks toward extinction 30 years ago, but a revival of faith breathed new life into ancient rituals.

About 15 Greek monastic communities have come to the U.S. since the late 1980s. The two in McHenry County are the only Greek Orthodox religious communities in Illinois.
Although the two communities share a common heritage, they have traditionally been separated by their calendars.
St. Athanasios observes the Julian calendar. More commonly known as the Traditional calendar, it was enacted by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. and remains the time line of choice for most branches of the Greek, Serbian and Russian Orthodox churches.
Holy Transfiguration follows the Gregorian calendar, also known as the New Style calendar, instituted in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and gradually adopted by most Roman Catholic and Protestant nations, including the United States . Greece finally adopted it in 1924, but many Greek Orthodox have not.
“There aren’t really theological differences, just separate calendars,” says James Skedros, a dean at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass.
Indeed, 13 days is all that separates the Julian and Gregorian calendars. But greater divisions date back more than 500 years to the Great Schism, which severed ties between Orthodox and Roman Christianity. They contribute even today to unsteady relations between branches of Greek Orthodoxy.
Even so, common heritage and ethnic roots proved helpful recently when the St. Athanasios monks paid an impromptu social call on their new neighbors at Holy Transfiguration.
“It was a surprise, but I don’t think it was a rude surprise,” Nilos said. “Even though we have differences, we consider them neighbors.”
The visit lasted less than an hour, and traditional coffee was served.
“It is a bit unusual,” says Rev. Demetri Kantzavelos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Chicago. “But to hear there’s been visits between these monks is a good thing. It builds fraternity. It builds understanding.”
Although Greek monasteries have multiplied in the U.S., their home base is Mt. Athos overlooking the Aegean Sea.
The first monastery was founded by Athanasios the Athonite in 963. Prior to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, as many as 40,000 monks lived on Mt. Athos. By the 1960s, there were only 1,000, but today, that number has rebounded to 2,000.
One thing all Greek monks seem to hold in equal reverence is Mt. Athos. While such sentiments may not heal centuries-old rifts, the newcomers in McHenry County seem willing to explore more mutual respect.
“They treated us nicely. They seemed to like our visit,” Nilos said.
“It was a pleasure, actually,” Akakios said. “To us, it is a blessing for people, for anybody, to stop by.”
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-06-02/news/9906020366_1_monks-russian-orthodox-common-heritage

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