NOTE: The following article is taken from thePaisios Scandalsblog and St. Nektarios Monastery Tumblr page
As a father to his daughter how can he stand by and not only watch, but allow Metropolotan Paisiosget away with all of his horrendous actions?
Father Iakovos’ daughter was once a nun at Saint Irene Chrysovalantou. She became a nun at the young age of 14 and one must wonder if as a father he ever wondered about her decision and whether it was truly her own decision or not. Fast forward many years later as all this controversy surrounds the ex abbot of Saint Irene (Metropolitan Paisios) and Father Iakovos’ daughter (formerly Sister Chrystonymfi), one continues to wonder how much he really knew and whether he has acted in the best interest of his daughter or not.
[Note: Young nun Christonymphi Fitzpatrick took off the monastic vows and cassock and returned to the ranks of the laity.].
Father Iakovos continues to serve at Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, however not once has he openly confronted the situation regarding his daughter and the former abbot. He is as human as the rest of us though and it can be said that every individual might handle such a situation differently than the next. One way to handle this would be to channel the hurt and anger the ex abbot has brought upon his daughter, his family, himself, and the surrounding community by coming forth in acknowledgment of the situation and outwardly speaking up and leading the community in fighting against the ex abbot. Someone else however, like Father Iakovos in this specific situation has done, might handle it in a much quieter fashion, choosing to avoid the topic almost as if ignoring it ever happened.
The big question though is, how could Father Iakovos possibly continue to show up and serve in front of the very community that knows very well what has happened as they were also affected by it? How can he show up and continue to completely ignore the disgraceful events that transpired and rocked this community and this church and his family to its core? As a father to his daughter how can he stand by and not only watch, but allow Metropolitan Paisios get away with all of his horrendous actions??
One is left only to wonder what kind of a force could cause a man to keep such silence. I could think of a few things in this world that has made many a man make some pretty bad decisions, but the very first assumption that comes to mind is unfortunately money.
NOTE: Fr. Iakovos use to bring his family to St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. The writer of the above piece makes an accusation of money buying silence. At the time when Fr. Iakovos visited the monastery (early 2000’s), he and his family lived in abject poverty. They were essentially off the grid, used solar power for their energy, etc. They lived a very Bohemian lifestyle.
The abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery once visited their property and was horrified as he had never seen anything like it before. He felt very sorry for the children who were subjected to live in such squalor and poverty. Thus, he would always make an effort to give the children sweets when they visited the monastery, as well as alms of basic surpluses to the Fitzpatrick family in general.
Fr. Iakovos also introduced another priest to the St. Nektarios Monastery, Fr. P. He was later defrocked for having carnal relations with some of the young women who went to him for confession. The monastery had hired this priest to do some carpentry work but did not pursue his services afterwards.
On December 19, 2013 Fr. Iakovos and Presbytera Deborah, along with 7 (of their 11) children, lost their home and all their belongings in a terrible home fire. By the grace of god, no one was hurt. A GoFundMewas created on January 19, 2014 in an attempt to raise $50,000 to replace the Fitzpatrick home.
Another Greek Orthodox icon seems to have caught the weeping condition while on loan to the Chicago Greek Church of St. Athanasios and John the Baptist. This began on October 17, 1990, when the icon of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, patron saint of the sick and of peace, supposedly began to cry immediately after a service for peace in the Persian Gulf. Returned to its home (the church of a breakaway Orthodox faction) in Astoria, Queens, New York, on October 23, the icon attracted additional thousands of pilgrims over the following days as it was reputed to continue weeping.2 However, the tears dried after the Gulf War ended.
Although an investigation was refused at the time, on May 11, 1991, I was able to examine the icon, under rather limited conditions, in company with members of the New York Area Skeptics (NYASk). A previous NYASk ultra-violet examination had revealed only some streaks and markings that were clearly not the result of weeping. Our examination included stereo-microscopic viewing which also failed to show traces of any tearstains.3 Subsequently, forensic analyst John F. Fischer and I obtained a videotape of the earlier, October 1990, phenomenon. At first we regarded the evidence as too ambiguous to assess, but further study indicated that there were wet-looking streaks that seemed to have been on the painted panel rather than the clear plexiglass cover. It appeared to us that the two “rivulets” flowed down the face just to the outside of the eyes and that the scale of the “tears” was greatly disproportionate to the diminutive size of St. Irene’s face. These observations suggested to us a rather crude hoax.4
A curious sequel to the story of the St. Irene icon came just before Christmas 1991. On December 23, three armed men and a woman burst into the church, forced two priests and four others to lie on the front altar, pried the icon from its case, and fled. Whether they sought the icon for its alleged powers, or for the estimated $800,000 value of its gold frame encrusted with jewels, 5 could only be speculated upon. Said Bishop Vikentios:
Only we need the icon back, we don’t care for the gold of the jewels. It is a holy icon, it is a miracle icon. She is the patron saint of peace. We don’t know why the Lord allowed this to happen.6
Within a few days, however, the icon was returned—although missing the frame and most of its jewels—anonymously through the mail.
A final (?) episode in the icon saga came when representatives of the mainstream church—the traditional Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America (mentioned earlier in the stonewalling of the 1986 Chicago weeping-icon case)—suggested that the breakaway faction that owns the icon might have staged the theft as a hoax. “We have doubts about the tears and so on,” added the archdiocese’s press officer. To what appeared as a case of the pot calling the kettle black, members of the breakaway Greek Orthodox Christians of North and South America, responded that the other church was simply envious of the icon.7
…I witnessed a different illusion when I examined the St. Irene icon in Queens, New York. The glistening varnish and certain surface irregularities created a play of light that produced the appearance of weeping. A religious supplicant predisposed to see tears could, especially if carrying a candle, see in the resultant glimmering in the tiny eyes, aided by vertical cracks and other streaks, the effect of tears.8 Aided in part by the sad expression of St. Irene, we easily experienced the illusion of seeing tears welling up in the saint’s eyes, although a low-power stereo microscope showed us the true state of affairs.9
Nickell, Joe, “Magical Icons.” Chapter 3 of Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures, 1993, pp. 54-55, 57.
Mireya Navarro, “Saint’s Weeping Portrait Draws Curious and the Faithful,” New York Times, November 5, 1990.
See Joe Nickell, “Weeping Icon Revisited—Still Dry-Eyed,” The New York Skeptic (Newsletter of the New York Area Skeptics), Summer 1991, pp. 6-7.
Examination of St. Irene videotape, conducted at Gotha, Florida, by Joe Nickell and John F. Fischer, August 6, 1991.
“Congregation Prays for Return of Stolen Icon,” Newark Star-Ledger, December 24, 1991.
“Greek Factions Duel over Theft of the Icon,” Newark Star-Ledger, January 2, 1992.
Nickell, “Weeping Icon Revisited,” p. 7.
November 20, 1990: N.Y.’s weeping icon draws area faithful http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1990-11-20/news/1990324110_1_greek-orthodox-church-weeping-icon-irene
October 31, 1990: St. Irene: Looking For A Miracle http://www.qgazette.com/news/2007-06-27/features/089.html
December 24, 1991: Queens Church Robbed of ‘Weeping’ Icon http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/24/nyregion/queens-church-robbed-of-weeping-icon.html
December 25, 1991: Faithful Pray for New Miracle To Aid Stolen ‘Weeping’ Icon http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/25/nyregion/faithful-pray-for-new-miracle-to-aid-stolen-weeping-icon.html
December 28, 1991: Church Robbed of Icon Gets Prank Calls http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/28/nyregion/church-robbed-of-icon-gets-prank-calls.html
December 29, 1991: Astoria Sings Joyful Praises as a Lost Symbol is Found http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/29/nyregion/astoria-sings-joyful-praises-as-a-lost-symbol-is-found.html
December 29, 1991: ’Weeping’ Icon Returned to New York City Church http://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/29/nyregion/weeping-icon-returned-to-new-york-city-church.html
December 30, 1991: ’Weeping’ Icon Returns To Prayers of Celebration http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-07-17/news/9407170365_1_icon-church-sanctuary-cigna
January 1, 1992: Story of the Weeping Icon Divides Greek Orthodoxy http://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/01/nyregion/story-of-the-weeping-icon-divides-greek-orthodoxy.html
January 1, 1992: Doubt Cast On Story Of `Weeping Icon` http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1992-01-01/news/9201010099_1_st-irene-chrysovalantou-bishop-vikentios-greek-orthodox-archdiocese
July 15, 1994: Questions of Belief Arise Once Again Over `Weeping Icon’ (WSJ) http://www.skepticfiles.org/skep2/iconstol.htm
July 17, 1994: `Weeping Icon’ Goes To Court, Church Sues Insurer For Refusing Its Claim http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-07-17/news/9407170365_1_icon-church-sanctuary-cigna
December 23, 1996: Relic Brings Clout and Miracle Seekers to a Queens Church http://www.nytimes.com/1996/12/23/nyregion/relic-brings-clout-and-miracle-seekers-to-a-queens-church.html
August 12, 1998: Church Says Burglar Sought Saint’s Icon http://www.nytimes.com/1998/08/12/nyregion/church-says-burglar-sought-saint-s-icon.html
February 1, 2001: Astoria Greek church’s icon recovered after theft http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2001/5/20010201-archive65.html
November 9, 2010: Sister Christonymphi Speaks to Police Regarding St. Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery in Astoria http://www.monomakhos.com/sister-christonymphi-speaks-to-police-regarding-st-irene-chrysovalantou-monastery-in-astoria/
November 16, 2011: Burglary at St. Irene Chrysovalantou Church in Astoria http://ocl.org/burglary-at-st-irene-chrysovalantou-church-in-astoria/
NOTE: Metropolitans Paisios and Vikentios and their monastery, St. Irene Chrysovalantou, were not part of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries. However, after they were received into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America—it is rumored that they paid the Patriarch a large sum of money for the privilege—the two started to visit St. Anthony’s Monastery periodically. When they visited St. Anthony’s Monastery, they would also give sermons in the main Katholikon after a service (even Vespers). The speeches were always the same: Zionists, Freemasons, New World Order, Jewish conspiracies of world domination and destroying Greece and the Orthodox Church. The same rhetoric they used in their newsletters. Interestingly, shortly after their re-ordinations in 1998, the two Metropolitans apologized to the Jewish community for their anti-Semitic publications (see below). Yet, throughout the 2000s, they preached the very things they apologized for in the main church at St. Anthony’s Monastery.
AJC Welcomes Statement By Greek Orthodox Old Calendarist Church Repudiating Anti-Semitism
The American Jewish Committee welcomes the recent statement by leaders of the Greek Orthodox Stavropegial Church and Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou which expresses regret for the use of anti-Semitic remarks and stereotypes in its Church body newspaper, The Voice of Orthodoxy.
The May 21st statement of Metropolitan Paisios, whose group is based in Astoria, New York, noted that in 1993 and 1994 “our publications did indeed reflect an unenlightened attitude toward Jews, perpetuating some anti-Semitic myths whose origins extend back to medieval times. We categorically deny these lies, and genuinely seek forgiveness for having communicated such un-Christian sentiments. We categorically reject all forms of anti-Semitism.”
Bishop Vikentios, another leader of the group also known as the Old Calendarist Church because it follows the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar, echoed the Metropolitan’s views. “We are saddened and deeply ashamed by these past statements regarding Jews. We not only repent these statements,” the Bishop said, “but understand the true nature of our relationship to Jews and to people of other faiths.” He further acknowledged that his Church body has expressed views about Jews and Judaism “which we now know to be false.”
Commenting on these statements, Rabbi A. James Rudin, National Interreligious Affairs Director of the American Jewish Committee, said: “The expressions of regret on the part of Metropolitan Paisios and Bishop Vikentios represent a necessary first step in purging their group of the ugly pathology of religious anti-Semitism.
“What is needed now, after public repentance, is to translate the message of these statements into the daily spiritual life of the Old Calendarist Church and all its members. This is especially true in areas of preaching and teaching on the local level. Such statements issued by church leaders, welcome as they are, must always be followed by concrete actions and full implementation in all aspects of church life.”
Rabbi Rudin added: “The American Jewish Committee recalls with deep appreciation the powerful words spoken last October at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, when he repudiated anti-Semitism and called the Holocaust an ‘icon of evil.’”
An AJC Leadership Delegation met with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul last February.
Rabbi Rudin concluded: “The AJC also appreciates the vital efforts of Archbishop Spyridon, the Primate and spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, to build mutual respect and understanding between our two faith communities. For its part, the AJC looks forward to continued cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Church in the future.”
Geronda Ephraim has a lot of experience with the Old Calendar issue. He was born a few years after the Church of Greece changed the calendar. His birthplace, Volos, would prove to be a stronghold for those sympathetic with the Julian calendar over the Gregorian in ecclesiastical use. His baptism would’ve occurred before the 1937 schism, when the Old Calendarist faction were still members of the Church of Greece.
After the 1935 schism, Geronda Ephraim’s family joined the old calendar schismatic faction that broke off from the church.
Elder Joseph the Hesychast, who arrived on Mount Athos before the calendar change, also went with the schismatic faction that broke off from the church. After 1937, when Bishop Matthew created his own schism from the Old Calendarist schism, the schismatic factions were divided into two—The Matthewites and the Florinites.
Elder Joseph knew Bishop Matthew personally, as he was originally an ascetic on Mount Athos. Elder Joseph left the church and joined the schismatic Matthewite faction.1
Elder Joseph was very active with the old calendar schismatics. He founded a convent of nuns, made up mostly of refugees, in Macedonia. He stayed over a month at the newly-founded Convent of St. Irene Chrysovolantou in Athens and established their typicon according to the Athonite usages for coenobia. The convent, which is now world-renowned, was founded by Mother Meletia at the beginning of the thirties outside of Athens. Father Joseph, therefore, showed great zeal in admonishing the faithful, by word and deed, to “stand fast and keep the traditions” of the Church, even as we have received them, withstanding every and all innovation. During this period, prior to the Second World War, the best fathers of the Holy Mountain were zealots. Many illustrious fathers left the monasteries because of the commemoration and joined the zealots. 2
During the 1930s, Elder Joseph was actively helping Gerondissa Eupraxia. She and some of her spiritual sisters were building a monastery. Unfortunately there was a rivalry between them, quarrels, etc. Every now and again, Elder Joseph would come down from Mount Athos and help. These trips upset and wounded Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller because he didn’t like leaving the Holy Mountain; however, they had an obedience to stick together and there was no blessing to be separated for more than a 24 hour period.
The building of the monastery occurred after Elder Joseph’s 8 year temptation period with the demon of lust; when he was completely passionless, like a child.The parish priests, however, accused the Elder, especially about ethical issues, and made trial of him, in which the Elder was not presented. In the meantime, the laypeople out of simplicity made excesses; e.g. when they saw him they said “Christos, Christos!” inasmuch as he had blue-gray eyes and a blond goatee, etc.3
In 1938, when the Elder realized there was no benefit, he did not return to the Monastery. The sisters, one because the Elder didn’t come, another because the parish priests hunted her, were dissolved. But all of them firmly held the Monastic tradition. Many of them became sanctified. Two went to the Monastery of Panagia Pefkovounogiatrissis in Keratea (Euphrosyne, Fevronia), another was Klaio Maria of Perissa. The Abbess Efpraxia went to Thessaloniki and lived very poorly in a closet with dirt on the floor (near the Prophet Elijah), along with her mother, in the court of her brother’s house. When he saw that she was strong in the prayer , Geronda Joseph, instructed her to close herself in the closet and gave her a hesychast typikon to be occupied only on the prayer, not to exit, and to have no friends. She obeyed.
At the end of the 40s, Bishop Matthew, seeing that his end was drawing nigh and that no other bishop was with him, proceeded against the canons and ordained numerous bishops by himself, which then declared themselves a Synod and elected him Archbishop. This was the second blow to the zealots of Athos. Many at the time abandoned Bishop Matthew, observing that they could not be consistent in condemning the calendar change as uncanonical and then accept the uncanonical ordinations of bishops by one bishop. In 1945, Elder Joseph and Elder Ephraim of Katounakia joined the Florinites which was still a schismatic faction outside the church.5
When Geronda Ephraim of Arizona joined Elder Joseph’s synodia in 1947, they were still members of schismatic old calendarist factions. Some of the letters in Monastic Wisdom, were written to nuns in schismatic Old Calendarist convents. There are also letters preserved which are not found in Monastic Wisdom.6
Elder Joseph’s synodia left the zealots and returned to the Orthodox Church sometime in the 50’s after both Elder Joseph and Elder Ephraim of Katounakia received visions that the living church was in Constantinople. Thus, Elder Ephraim of Arizona’s orthodox upbringing and his initial years of monasticism were rooted in old calendarist zealotry. Later, after the synodia of Elder Joseph joined the Orthodox Church, he also had the experience of the New Calendar side of things.7
In the 1950’s, Elder Joseph’s synodia had no priests, and two members—Fathers Haralampos and Ephraim—were ordained by Bishop Ierotheos, who was living as a hermit in the Skete of Saint Anne’s and was thus with the traditional Church Calendar, but a commemorator nevertheless. Although Father Joseph left the zealots, yet he never celebrated any feasts with the Papal Calendar. This was not difficult, for from 1939 he never left the Holy Mountain, nor did he allow any one of his synodia to go outside the Holy Mountain.
It is said in the biography of Elder Ephraim of Katounakia: “When, at the suggestion of Elder Joseph, they left the zealots and returned to communion with the rest of the Athonite fathers, they truly came to know the power of Grace in the Mysteries they celebrated…For the entire time he was with the zealots, he [Fr. Ephraim of Katounakia] saw something like a veil in front of him, hindering him from seeing this Divine Grace distinctly. The veil was lifted when he returned to the living church.”8
Elder Joseph was with the Old Calendarist zealots for 15+ years. Elder Ephraim of Katounakia had a veil hindering him from seeing divine grace distinctly for this 15 year period. One wonders if Elder Ephraim of Arizona has personal stories about the differences he perceived in Grace and spiritual experiences in Pappou’s synodeia (i.e comparisons of the initial years outside of the church and the later years after they joined the church).
There is not any information if they were properly received back into the church or if they just started commemorating the Patriarch again. The old/new calendar issue has been quite a grey area for the church. As the Church generally does not (or cannot) recognize any sacraments, including Baptism, administered in a schism, there have been varying ways that old calendarists have been received into the Orthodox Church. I.e. Bishops Paisios and Vikentios were reordained when they joined communion with the official church.9
Fr. Epifanios Theodoropoulos, the number one canonologist in Greece when he was alive, made some very strong ecclesiastical positions against the calendar schismatics, going one step further to call them heretics and blasphemers of the Holy Spirit since they denied the existence of grace in the New Calendar Church.10 Metropolitan Athansios of Lemesou, Elder Cleopa of Romania, as well as many of the Athonite Fathers hold the same views: “The Old Calendarists are outside the church, their sacraments are invalid, and they blaspheme the Holy Spirit by denying the existence of grace in the New Calendar Church.”
Archimandrite Panteleimon Metropoulos and Elder Ephraim of Arizona
Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos) has always claimed to have been a disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. He also says Elder Joseph gave him a blessing to come to America to build a monastery. Some of Geronda Ephraim’s monks dispute this claim saying Elder Joseph told him, “No!” Apparently, he foresaw the scandals that Fr. Panteleimon would cause, as well as how that would impact Geronda Ephraim later. Many of the letters in Monastic Wisdom were written to Fr. Panteleimon; all the letters in Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller were written to Fr. Panteleimon.
Following the suspension of the abbot and founder of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos), by the ROCOR in December, 1986, for multiple accusations of sexual immorality, the monastery and its supporting communities left the ROCOR and following a brief period under two independent Old Calendarist bishops in Greece, were received by the Old Calendarist Synod of Archbishop Auxentios of Athens. HOCNA is not in communion with any mainstream Orthodox church.11
Anyways, Geronda Ephraim went to visit Fr. Panteleimon at some point after all this fiasco, and talks about this meeting on in a homily On the Old Calendarists:
“…Father Panteleimon who is in Boston, America; he is like my brother… When I asked him then “Father, are you with the Old Calendarists?” He told me “No, neither with the old calendarists nor the New Calendarists”. Anyway, he has his own line firm and says that there is no salvation, except only on his own side, and he neither communes and nor confesses to people of the new calendar. This, of course, happened before me and no one can tell me that I am wrong. When I went to Boston and went to his monastery, it happened in front of me and I know these things. Of course, we are spiritual brothers and we have love etc. But we utterly disagree in these respects. My Elder told him, amongst other things, that, as you believe him to be a saint and you have his holy relics and you do miracles with the relics of the Elder, but our Elder has died in the Church. We were ordained by the Bishop, who was in the Church and even then, when we were ordained, we commemorated the Ecumenical Patriarch—then it was Athengoras—and he was sanctified in the Church. How now can we say that this Church, which sanctified the Elder, is heretical? It is awesome!”12
Bishop Matthew joined the early Greek Old-Calendarists as an archimandrite, was consecrated a vicar-bishop by the three original leaders of the Old-Calendarists (Metropolitan’s Chrysostom, Chrysostom, and Germanos) in 1935, but then broke away in schism from them in 1937 when he failed to persuade them to treat the New-Calendarist hierarchy of that time was outside the Church and graceless on account of the new-menaion innovation. He has been “glorified” as a saint in the GOC as “Saint Matthew the New” and is considered a “confessor” and “miracle-worker.” They claim he “streams myrrh” to this day…
2. Letter Regarding the Guidance of the Elder Joseph regarding the Calendar Issue
3. Some traditions state that Jesus Christ had blond hair and blue eyes.