Geronda Joseph Mammis was born George Mammis on August 19, 1972 in Montreal, Canada by parents (Alexandros and Vera) who had emigrated from Greece. He received his general education in Montreal and is fluent in three languages: Greek, French and English. After graduating from high school, he went on to receive his degree in Athletic Therapy from Concordia University which included a two year internship in clinical work. His daily life as a student included politics, athletics, and involvement as an active member of the Greek Orthodox Community in Montreal.
Geronda Ephraim has a very strong and loyal following in Montreal. Years ago, Bishop Sotirios decided not to give Geronda Ehraim permission to come to Canada. The Montreal Greek community were so scandalized that they started to make threatening phone calls to Bishop Sotirios warning him what would happen the next time he came to Montreal. They even threatened to burn down his Metropolis. Eventually, Bishop Sotirios lifted the ban and Geronda Ephraim came to Canada, confessed his spiritual children, and the sins of uttering death threats were absolved.
He then entered the monastic life in 1995. He started out as a sub-novice at St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Monastery in Picton, Ontario under Geronda Joseph Voutsas (This monastery shut down in the spring of 1997. The brotherhood re-established itself as the St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery in Roscoe, NY during January 1999). After a couple of weeks at St. John the Theologian Monastery, Geronda Ephraim had sub-novice George sent down to the monastery of St. Anthony in Florence, AZ.
In November of 1996, George was tonsured a monk and given the name Joseph. In Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries, the monks and nuns named Joseph or Josephia usually have St. Joseph the Betrothed as their patron saint. However, as a sort of double speak code, these monks and nuns are also named in honor of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Also, the monks and nuns named Joseph or Ephraim are usually considered to be exceptional in Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries as he doesn’t give out those names lightly.
On January 16, 1997, Fr. Joseph was ordained to the diaconate by the late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco. During this time period, Geronda Ephraim lived in the building known as the Gerontikon. At that time, both Deacons Joseph and Ephraim (Andrei Poonan) also lived in the Gerontikon and served as Geronda Ephraim’s cell attendants.
Then, in August of 1998, Fr. Joseph was asked to help establish the monastery of Holy Trinity in Smiths Creek. MI. Geronda Ephraim sent him up with two cousins from Toronto, Frs. Gabriel and Michael. Not long after, Fr. Joseph sent Fr. Gabriel back to the Arizona monastery due to various issues (This Fr. Gabriel was later ordained to the priesthood in Arizona). Fr. Raphael (son of the priest for Holy Protection Monastery, Fr. Mark Andrews) was then sent to Holy Trinity Monastery as a replacement. Not long after, due to numerous problems and disobediences, Fr. Raphael was sent to St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe.
Deacon Joseph was ordained to the priesthood at the Holy Monastery of the Archangels in Kendalia, TX on November 4 1998, by then Archbishop of America Spyridon, and was appointed Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Smiths Creek, MI. He has since served as abbot and spiritual father of the community, which now includes a brotherhood of nine, the majority being immigrants from Canada. Geronda Joseph (Mammis) sometimes tells pilgrims an interesting story relating to his blind obedience to Geronda Ephraim while he was a monk in Arizona. One day, while he was cooking a big pot of food, Geronda Ephraim came into the kitchen. He went over to the pot, took the spoon, and tasted what Fr. Joseph was making. He then immediately spit it out into Fr. Joseph’s face and started insulting him and the food. These are some of the tests Geronda Ephraim does to test the loyalty of his disciples, but also to give them an opportunity to gain crowns and grace.