The Rise and Fall and Rise of Bishop Anthimos (Various Newspaper & Magazine Articles)

NOTE: Bishop Anthimos of Olympos has played an interesting role in the history of St. Anthony’s Monastery. He was very close with the late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco; they both came from Crete. In Arizona, one of the monk’s was ordained a priest by Bishop Anthimos. Though Geronda Ephraim begged Metropolitan Anthony to perform the ordination, the Metropolitan had to leave and told Geronda that Bishop Anthimos would do it. Geronda Ephraim had a lot of anxiety over this as he was not sure if it would be a canonical ordination due to Bishop Anthimos’ past. However, after the ordination, Geronda Ephraim told his monks that he was praying the whole time and saw the angels present and the Holy Spirit come down and  thus it was a blessed and valid ordination. Over time, this narration has split into two interpretations amongst the monastics. 1. Geronda Ephraim prayed and saw via his vision that this ordination was valid. 2. Geronda Ephraim did komboschoini and his prayer is what validated the ordination. Even when Bishop Anthimos has visited other monasteries under Geronda Ephraim the superiors have noted that technically he’s not a bishop, but they still receive and welcomed him with the traditional bells and the monastics waiting to take his blessing.

Bishop Anthimos in his younger years.
Bishop Anthimos in his younger years.

Given the recent forced departure of tenured and other clergy from their teaching posts, and the troubling signing of a contract to buy a house for Archbishop Spyridon by a priest using Church funds without legal authority, we asked the question: “How does it come to pass that a Greek Orthodox clergyman in America can’t finally use the courts if all else fails?”.   Clergy tell us point blank that they fear for their pension and health benefits and being defrocked from the priesthood should they sue.  Searching legal records on the topic led us to the profoundly troubling case of Bishop Anthimos of Olympus.  As a result of a startling accusation of clergy sexual misconduct against Bishop Anthimos by the daughter of a priest whom later Bishop Anthimos made his chancellor in Boston while the alleged affair was yet in progress, the Archdiocese in the late 80’s promugulated a rule which forbade priests from suing the Archdiocese. His Grace Anthimos Bishop of Olymposa A review of the history raised several very troubling questions.  Below is a chronology from June of 86 through December of 97 which completes a cycle wherein at first Bishop Anthimos was so successful as to be the chairman of a clergy – laity congress, then is accused of sexual misconduct splashed all over the national media and removed from service by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to the Archdiocese escaping legal liability only through intimidating the priestly victimized family in to delaying suit until after the legal statute of limitations had passed, following that is a quiet period wherein sources tell us Bishop Anthimos served quietly in  the Archdiocesan offices in New York–until suddenly and amid unanswered questions he left there to be with his Halki schoolmate Bishop Anthony of San Francisco on the other side of the country; and last year completing the circle and acting once again officially as an Orthodox Bishop, disbanding parish councils and acting officially for Metropolitan Anthony.

Archbishop Spyridon with Bishop Anthimos of Olympos Annunciation Cathedral, Boston November 28, 2010

This story has eerie parallel ties to current events regarding the attempt to cover up the sexual molestation at Holy Cross, the intimidation of presbyters to silence amid defrockment threats should the courts be employed, and the pains to which the Church will go to effect the “rehabilitation” of a Bishop or Archimandrite .  The “Reporting” column of the National Herald frequently writes of “the club”, now that meaning seems more evident.    Also, by way of contrast, consider the speed with which a married Presbyter, such as Fr. Anthony Nicklas, who thought due to special circumstances he had permission to remarry from both his Bishop and the Patriarch himself, was bounced from his parish and from his teaching job at Holy Cross into a hotel night clerk for doing so by Archbishop Spyridon and Metropolitan Methodios– and told by Fr. Heropoulos, assistant to the Archbishop, that even though not found guilty by a spiritual court and not assigned to a parish would nevertheless have his due Archdiocesan health benefits terminated both for himself and his family.

Metropolitan Gerasimos and Bishop Anthimos (2008 Dance)

A chronology of the relevant news articles in summary with full text links follows:

Metropolitan Evangelos of NJ assisted by Bishop Anthimos of Olympos
Metropolitan Evangelos of NJ assisted by Bishop Anthimos of Olympos

His Grace Blesses Happy Acres Convent (MIchelle Vowell, 1995)

NOTE: The following article is taken from The Goldendale Sentinel, August 1995:

St John the Forerunner sign

A small sign along State Route 97 hints at big possibilities for a piece of land along Timmer Lane. The sign identifies the Greek Orthodox convent of St. John the Forerunner at Happy Acres.

The idea of convents is not new to the Greek Orthodox Church. The Church has several monastic colonies in the Old World that have been established for hundreds, if not thousands of years. But the idea of monasticism is new to America. And the convent to be built north of Goldendale will be one of the few Orthodox convents in the New World.

The late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco.
The late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco.

His Grace Bishop Anthony, along with priests from Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Yakima and Spokane, traveled to Happy Acres (about 10 miles north of Goldendale), last weekend to celebrate the inauguration of this convent, the first in the Northwest. The bishop, priests and about 100 parishioners from around the Northwest, celebrated with a church service and reception on Friday, Aug. 4; and a divine liturgy and picnic on Saturday.

Bishop Anthony heads the Greek Orthodox Diocese of San Francisco, which oversees 65 Greek Orthodox parishes in seven Western states–Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington–with a membership estimated at half a million people.

Fr. Luke (Rolland) painted this view of St. John the Forerunner Monastery in early 2001.
Fr. Luke (Rolland) painted this view of St. John the Forerunner Monastery in early 2001.

As of yet, no additional buildings have been built at Happy Acres; there are only the two houses situated on 48 acres donated by retired Goldendale doctor Gerhard Johannis Timmer. Therefore, the bishop and priests conducted their church services outdoors. But the Church has big plans for Happy Acres.

“We plan to construct a permanent monastic convent,” Bishop Anthony said. “It will be an architectural jewel and a place of spirituality and prayer. It will be not just for the nuns, but for everyone.”

The purpose of monasticism is to be alone, “to totally dedicate one’s life to Christ,” Bishop Anthony explained. And to this end, the church chose the name St. John the Forerunner, referring to John the Baptist, who they believe to be the first monk.


The convent will be a monastery for women, Bishop Anthony explained. “It will be a retreat cente for anyone who wishes to come here and go through the cycle of prayer with the nuns.”

The Greek Orthodox Convent of St. John the Forerunner is one of the church’s “first attempts to establish these convents in America,” Bishop Anthony explained.

To date there are three monastic centers in Canada; three in the Diocese of Chicago; and Bishop Anthony is organizing three in the Diocese of San Francisco: one in Florence, Ariz., one near Fresno, Calif., and this one in Goldendale.

The convent is expected to be self supporting through the work of the nuns and monks, supplemented by the alms of the community, he said. “Each convent has its own gifts,” he said. One monastery in Canada produces bee’s wax candles that are used in church services; the churches reimburse the monastery for their work.

The monastery that is being organized in Fresno will find its livelihood in farming. The monastery is being organized around an orchard of 2,000 apple trees, pomegranates and olive trees.

The three nuns at the core of the Goldendale convent specialize in the painting of iconography, Bishop Anthony said. The iconography, often depicting Jesus Christ and the Mother Mary, is widely used in Greek Orthodox churches; and in parishioner’s homes.

Gerondissa Efpraxia
Gerondissa Efpraxia

Goldendale’s three nuns, Sisters Parthenia, Agne, and Spiritual Mother Efpraxia, arrived in Goldendale for the first time on May 15. They originally came from Portaria, a convent in Volos, Greece. They will be “the nucleus” of the convent in Goldendale, as the convent attracts additional nuns drawn from the United States.

“It’s a way of life,” explained Bishop Anthony. “You have to have someone to guide them. They will teach them the way of life; the way of prayer.”

As for the number of nuns that will eventually live at Goldendale’s new convent, Bishop Anthony says there will be “as many as the Lord will bless us with…to do the Lord’s work in the Northwest.”

But if 30 young women are drawn into the monastic lifestyle at Happy Acres, he said he would “move on” organizing convents in other parts of his Diocese.     

WA 1995 3

The Holy Monastery Address

The Greek Orthodox Monastery Of St. John The Honorable Forerunner is located Off Highway 97 Between Goldendale and Toppenish (mile post markers 23 and 24). Their mailing address is 5 Timmer Lane, Goldendale, Washington 98620-2706. Visitors should dress modestly – shirts with sleeves, long pants and dresses or skirts. Call the Monastery at (509)773-7141 for a schedule of services. The Monastery’s Feast Day is June 24, The Nativity of St. John The Baptist. Nearby accommodations include the Far-Vue Motel (800)358-5881, Ponderosa Motel (509)773-5842, and Three Creeks Resort (509)773-3325.

WA Bells in winter

Special Report on St. Nicholas Ranch & Retreat Center [Michael A. Pappas (Papadogiannakis)]

NOTE: The following article is taken from Krētē : monthly publication of the Pancretan Association of America, October 2010, pp. 10-11.


The history of Saint Nicholas Ranch dates back to 1979. In that year, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony arrived in California as the newly elected bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of San Francisco. He brought with him boundless enthusiasm and energy, love and pride for his Cretan heritage, and a passion for reaching out to the youth of the Church. Soon after his arrival in the Diocese, he shared his vision for the creation of a retreat and conference center that could be used to provide programs for the faithful of the Church, especially the youth.


While celebrating a baptismal service, he cradled the newly baptized infant in his arms and proclaimed to the congregation: “By the grace of God, I’m looking for someone to give me a million dollars, or its equivalent in land, to build special facilities for our youth, facilities to nourish and spiritually mold them in the dynamic life of Christ’s living Church.” Many in the congregation probably shrugged off the comment as the unrealistic dream of a young and inexperienced bishop. Others, however, were inspired and excited by this dynamic young bishop’s vision. A young priest, Fr. John Bakas, hearing Bishop Anthony’s words, thought of a friend who had a large parcel of land nestled in a beautiful valley in the Sierra Nevada foothills, just outside of Sequoia National Park. The property, owned by the Nick Kossaras family, had once been part of the huge Sally K horse ranch, which in the early 20th century had provided work horses that pulled wagons of ice to homes and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley. The Kossaras family enthusiastically embraced the Bishop’s dream and donated the entire 180 acres to the Diocese.


We can only guess at Bishop Anthony’s thoughts as he drove to the property for the first time. Making his way through the seemingly endless orange groves and grape vineyards of the eastern San Joaquin Valley, followed by the steep drive up through the Sierra foothills, dotted with granite rock outcroppings and Oak forests, he arrived at a large valley surrounded by towering mountains. The landscape must have reminded him of his beloved Crete and, as he looked at the old horse corrals, ranch buildings, the rodeo arena, the grass fields and oak forest, he probably imagined all that was to come. Saint Nicholas Ranch was born.


Immediately, it became a center for retreats and a youth summer camp. In the early days, the old ranch buildings were utilized, the centerpiece being a two story horse barn built in the 1890’s in which a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas was built. Before long, a beautiful conference and retreat center took shape. The original 180 acres grew to nearly 300 as additional parcels were purchased. Currently, the Ranch facilities include 28 hotel style lodge rooms that can house up to 90 people, 12 dormitories able to accommodate a total of 144 people, a large dining hall, two large conference rooms and several smaller meeting rooms, along with picnic areas, athletic fields, a pool, a lake, and hiking trails. A favorite spot is the Cretan Plaza Barbeque and Picnic area. Built and maintained by the chapters of the Pancretan District 6, the Cretan Plaza is used throughout the year, especially during the annual Cretan Family weekend.


As a young student at the Patriarchal Theological School of Halki, Metropolitan Anthony had visited the Monastery of the Holy Theotokos, the Life Giving Spring located just outside of Constantinople. This historic monastery contains a miraculous spring that for hundreds of years has worked miracles through the intercessions of the Virgin Mary.

The Late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco
The Late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco

During his visit to the Monastery, the young seminarian promised the Mother of God that if he was ever blessed to become a bishop, he would build a monastery dedicated to her. In 1993 the promise was fulfilled with the opening of the Women’s Monastery of the Holy Theotokos, the Life Giving Spring. Built on a hill overlooking the Ranch, the monastery offers a spiritual oasis of Orthodox Christian worship and spirituality to all who visit. The Abbess, Mother Markella, affectionately referred to as Gerondissa, oversees a growing community of 18 nuns. The monastery also contains the tomb of Metropolitan Anthony, located directly behind the Altar of the Katholikon (main church) of the monastery.

Gerondissa Markella & Abbot Tryphon
Gerondissa Markella & Abbot Tryphon

After his death, Metropolitan Anthony was succeeded by Metropolitan Gerasimos. Having visited the Ranch while serving as Archdeacon to Archbishop Iakovos, Metropolitan Gerasimos had a great appreciation for this ministry of the Metropolis, and a clear vision for its future potential. From the beginning Metropolitan Gerasimos has made the Ranch a priority, working tirelessly to improve the facility and grounds and to expand the ministries and programs offered at the Ranch.


Today, Saint Nicholas Ranch operates year-round and is home to a wide variety of programs and events. It offers a teen summer camp, youth and young adult retreats, family camps, a Greek language camp, and a variety of Elderhostel programs. Many organizations, parishes, and schools use the Ranch to hold their events. These include family reunions, parish retreats, high school retreats, marriage encounters, conferences, and music camps. Some of the larger groups include the annual Philoptochos sponsored Kids and Cancer Camp Agape program, the Orthodox College Conference, the California Autoharp Gathering, the Cretan Family Weekend, and the Orthodox Senior Camp. Recently, an ambitious effort has begun to renovate the now 30 year old buildings and grounds.

CA GreekVillageGoat

Metropolitan Anthony loved Saint Nicholas Ranch and the Monastery. He put all his heart and energy into making his dream a reality and those who live and work at the Ranch feel his presence every day. His vision, shared so long ago, continues to guide and inspire the holy ministry of Saint Nicholas Ranch.

Michael A. Pappas, Director

E-mail: or


It’s listed as a “major attraction for Dunlap, California, an unincorporated community with a population of 131.,_California

St.N7 Old Monastery at DUnlap

Patriarchal Visit to St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery (November, 1997)

NOTE: The following article is taken from the Orthodox Observer, December 1997, p. 18.

A BOY presents Patriarch Bartholomew with a gift in the courtyard of the monastery.
A BOY presents Patriarch Bartholomew with a gift in the courtyard of the monastery.

FLORENCE, Ariz. . The Patriarchal plane lifted off the runway at Los Angeles International Airport under rainy skies on a late Monday morning, Nov. 10, one week before the end of His All Holiness’ pilgrimage to the United States. The chartered Boeing 727 turned eastward for the 630-mile leg to Mesa, Arizona’s third largest city, just east of Phoenix.

By Jim Golding

As the jet reached cruising altitude high above the Mojave Desert, and with most of his visit behind him, it seemed the right time to ask His All Holiness to reflect on his coast-to-coast odyssey. But it was not to be. After a brief, friendly greeting, his quick response to a request for a quick interview was to shake his head and utter two words “I’m exhausted.”

After giving more than 115 speeches at as many venues over a three-week period in more than a dozen cities from Boston to Los Angeles, and greeting countless thousands of people in so many varied settings, who wouldn’t be. And he still had much work ahead of him.

Throughout the flight Patriarch Bartholomew reviewed the speech he was to give that afternoon at the monastery with his second deacon, San Antonio native Tarasios (Peter Anton). It was 13 pages in length, all Greek.

AZ 1997 orthodox observer article

It landed at a former air force base turned-community airport. The members of the entourage and local welcoming committee members entered the nearly dozen vehicles making up the motorcade and set out on the hour-and-a-half ride across the desert.

Merely viewing the miles of flat, sandy terrain dotted with saguaro cactus (the state ‘tree’), purple sagebrush and dry, barrens on, another 10 miles remained. The motorcade turned onto a dirt road and soon became immersed in a cloud of dust for a final half-mile before coming upon what can best be described as a miracle in the desert.

“Three years ago this was nothing but desert,” remarked Chris Ganos who with his wife, Judy, had volunteered to drive their van in the motorcade. Ganos was the architect who helped plan the complex that includes a church, dormitories for the 20 resident monks and a few guests, a dining hall and book store. The buildings resemble those of monasteries in Greece and are constructed of cement blocks topped with tile roofs. The monks painted over each block, originally a shade of gray, with a specially blended red that seems to fit in with nicely with the desert hues. There also is the feeling of a hacienda of the Spanish Southwest.

The monastery has electricity and water comes from a well some 500 feet deep. Until very recently, the only communications with the outside world was by cellular phone, but, through the efforts of Fr. Efraim of Mt. Athos, who was the driving force behind the establishment of the monastery, regular phone service was installed in October.

AZ 1997 entrance

Arriving at the monastery on a very warm (temperature was in the 80s, but felt hotter), dry mid-afternoon, the Patriarchal party was greeted by the sight of more than 100 cars and buses on the unpaved parking area in front of the complex, many from as far away as Canada.

After a little more than an hour, the jet descended on final approach over the desert punctuated by scattered mountain ranges, large patches of irrigated fields and the oases of numerous housing tracts in the Phoenix suburbs’ mountains in the distance from the window of a comfortable van was enough to make one thirsty.

Arriving in the town of Florence, home of the Arizona State Prison, on State Highway 79 midway between Phoenix and Tucson.

Several hundred of the nearly 800 persons visiting that day came from Montreal, Toronto and other parts of Canada. Others came from various states including New York.

One couple, John and Joanna Pantanizopoulos of Knoxville, Tenn., came to visit their son, one of the monks.

Patriarch Bartholomew, joined by Archbishop Spyridon, and Bishop Anthony of San Francisco whose jurisdiction includes the monastery, conducted a doxology inside the small un-air-conditioned church that was filled to overflowing.

He followed the service with his 13- page speech addressed to the more than 100 monks and nuns who had made the pilgrimage from the nearly one dozen other monasteries in the United States.

AZ 1997

Meanwhile, hundreds more men, children, a very large number of women of various ages, scarves covering their heads, some with disabilities, waited for the service and homily to end in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Patriarch. A few of the silently busy monks walked quickly between the church and dining hall, to oversee preparations for the luncheon that was to follow.

After nearly two hours, His All Holiness and the other hierarchs emerged from the church and walked the few steps leading to the dining hall.

A short while later, the Patriarch departed for the ride back to the Mesa airport for the flight to the next stop on his itinerary, Stockton, Calif., and a doxology service at St. Basil Church.

Only one more major venue remained at the end of the week. Pittsburgh. But in the interim, Patriarch Bartholomew and most of his entourage spent four days in the mountains around Lake Tahoe as guests of Alex Spanos for a much-needed rest.

St. Anthony's Feast Day, January 17, 1997.
St. Anthony’s Feast Day, January 17, 1997.

The Flowering of Monasticism (Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco)

NOTE: The following is an excerpt on monasticism from the final Christmas Encyclical (The Mantle of Elijah) of Metropolitan Anthony of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, dated 3 days prior to His Eminence’s repose and written with the knowledge that he would soon meet with his Lord. The full text is at:

Metropolitan Anthony loved and revered Geronda Ephraim and helped him in many ways. He also made his last confession to Geronda Ephraim before he died.

Interestingly, when this Encyclical was first published in the Orthodox Observer, it was passed around with jokes and mockery among the older monastics who had a blessing to read such things.


Abba Anthony said, “Let us eat at the ninth hour, and then let us go out for a walk and explore the country.” So they went out into the desert and they walked until sunset. Then Abba Anthony said, “Let us pray and plant the cross here, so that those who wish to build a new monastery may do so here.”
– From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers

I gravitate to the above story of St. Anthony, my namesake, because it offers us a glimpse of a side of his personality that is not often recognized or appreciated. We are accustomed to associate St. Anthony, the “Father of Monasticism,” with solitude and silence. But here we see a man with his eyes on the horizon, slightly restless, St. Anthony the explorer, the founder of monasteries. And this makes me identify all the more with my patron saint, knowing him to have been not only a man of prayer, but a man of action.

The Gerondissa of St. John the Forerunner Monastery in Goldendale, WA.
The Gerondissa of St. John the Forerunner Monastery in Goldendale, WA.

The great revival of Greek Orthodox monasticism in America may be said to have begun in the Metropolis of San Francisco with the coming of Geronta Ephraim to this Metropolis by my invitation in 1989. At that time, I shared with Fr. Ephraim my vision of a monastic center at St. Nicholas Ranch. For years, ever since the youth of our Metropolis planted the cross on a hilltop overlooking the Ranch (in an action reminiscent of St. Anthony’s), we had prayed for the emergence of a monastic community on the premises, in order to enhance and deepen the spiritual foundations of the Ranch environment and experience. Fr. Ephraim subsequently arranged for the coming of two wonderful nuns from Greece, Sister Markella and Sister Fevronia, in 1993, and thus originated the Monastery of the Theotokos the Life-Giving Spring. From this small beginning, the monastic community has grown to fifteen nuns. In 1995, we broke ground for the Katholikon, the monastic church edifice, our “jewel of the mountains.” With its exquisite marble floor, intricate woodcarving, and stunningly beautiful iconography, the Katholikon is without a doubt the most breathtaking Greek Orthodox church to be found anywhere in America. In 2000, we began work on the Kellia or monastic residences, and in 2003 we held the Thyranoixia service, dedicating both these magnificent structures to the glory of God, and officially installing Sister Markella as the first Abbess of the Monastery.

Fr. Silouanos Coutavas

The establishment of the Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring was followed within a few years by the founding of St. Anthony Monastery in Florence, Arizona, in 1995, by Abbot Paisios and five other brothers from Mount Athos in Greece [NOTE: After 20+ years of the monastic life, Fr. Silouanos left the monastery, returned to the world, and is now happily married.]

The late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco and Geronda Ephraim at the Life-Giving Spring Monastery in Dunlap, CA.
The late Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco and Geronda Ephraim at the Life-Giving Spring Monastery in Dunlap, CA.

With the explosive growth of its monastic community, which has now grown to over forty monks, and the extraordinarily rapid expansion of its facilities, St. Anthony became the great “miracle in the desert,” the flagship, so to speak, of all the other Greek Orthodox monasteries in America. The Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Goldendale, Washington, also began in 1995 with a generous donation of property by Dr. Gerald Timmer, and the subsequent coming of Abbess Efpraxia, Sister Parthenia, and Sister Agne from Greece. In just a few short years, this monastery has grown to sixteen sisters, becoming one of the largest women’s monastic foundations in the Archdiocese. The monasteries hold fast to traditional practice, thus fulfilling their mandate to be the “conscience of the Church.” And the amazing growth of these monastic communities offers a compelling witness to the tremendous vitality of monasticism in this country.

Gerondissa Markella, Abbess of the Life-Giving Spring Monastery in Dunlap, CA.
Gerondissa Markella, Abbess of the Life-Giving Spring Monastery in Dunlap, CA.