NOTE: The following article is taken from Remnant ROCOR Blogspot, March 18, 2015:
So: someone takes a pilgrim’s trip to one of these ephraim monasteries, who has gone there before. Anyway, while there this person meets another pilgrim of the opposite sex whose company is enjoyable. They begin a little dialogue between them while waiting to see the priest for confession. Now, because of the harsh cold wind and snow that day, they both decided to go sit in one of their cars for warmth, as both of them were cigarette smokers. So as soon as they both got in the car and had just finished closing the doors…… Suddenly, to their amazement and extreme shock, out of nowhere there were two monks pounding on both sides of the car’s doors, yelling and screaming at both of them to get out of the car right away. Also saying that this is not acceptable on their monastery property. [NOTE: There have been incidents of fornication in the past at monasteries. Sometimes, when the rooms have other occupants and a member of the opposite sex cannot be snuck in, then they will rendezvous in a vehicle. As countless homilies in the monasteries are about how duplicitous the lay people are and the kinds of transgressions that occur even on monastery property, many times monastics err on the side of caution and assume the worse].
Both pilgrims, frightened by the banging and yelling, got out and said, “We know this, and respect this! – but we were only having a cigarette in the warmth because of the bad weather and ice out there, but we can go somewhere else and return later, if even this is a problem.”
The monks got more angry and furious and stated that, “No you are not even permitted to do that,” (i.e., no blessing), “now get back inside.” They even followed the pilgrims back inside. [NOTE: Following the teachings of St. Nikodemos, who states tobacco smoke is the incense of the demons, the monasteries have a strict no smoking policy. Sometimes there is “economia” with non-Orthodox workers doing contract work at the monasteries and the smoking ban is lifted just for them].
During confession the priest-monk aggressively and harshly asked one of them if they had exchanged phone numbers, but the pilgrim said to him, “No disrespect here, Father, but that is none of your business,” as it has nothing to do with matters of the faith. The priest-monk got so furious that he said, “You do not have a blessing to give or accept a number.” Then he kicked out the male pilgrim from the property and later on threatened the female pilgrim, too. [NOTE: There are only 3 male monasteries under Geronda Ephraim that are in climates with snow: Holy Transfiguration Monastery (IL), Holy Trinity Monastery (MI) and St. Nektarios Monastery (NY); which narrows it down to Hieromonk Pavlos (IL), Geronda Joseph Mammis (MI), Hieromonk Michael Santos (NY) or Geronda Joseph Voutsas (NY)].
So, it’s pretty clear, among other things, that they obviously abuse their power, (good example here); and they think they can control everybody with everything in their lives, by threats, slander etc… – anything that works for them and get away with this kind of behaviour. They do not have these rights! nor the right to embarrass people in front of others in any way! If there is something to say, just say it in private… [NOTE: Typically in the monasteries, spiritual children of either sex in the world need to get a blessing before they can start dating an individual. If they receive the blessing, and things go well, the spiritual Father will request to meet the boy or girl. After that, he will decide if the relationship can continue. In the cases of new spiritual children, countless individuals have been given obediences to break off the long-term relationships they were in for various reasons—fornication, the partner was non-Orthodox, the partner, though Orthodox wasn’t a good person, etc. At the monasteries, the spiritual Father always has the last say in a relationship. The spiritual father also has countless cautionary tales about spiritual children who disobeyed him, continued dating or even married someone they forbade, and the disasters that have occurred since then for the individual. This is why in both the male and female monasteries, there is a match-making system for close and loyal spiritual children. Some superiors even have photo albums of men and women they can show. The spiritual Fathers like to keep the dating pool “in the family” so to speak because the rules and guidelines for relationships—no touching, kissing, etc.—are strict. The rules for marriage—no sex on fast days or before Communion, sex only for procreation, abstinence after childrearing period is over, and coitus being the only form of sex permissible—are also strict. If the two candidates have the same spiritual Father, or at least spiritual Fathers who are in obedience to Geronda Ephraim, then they’ll be on the same page and it won’t come as much of a shock when certain obediences are given].
There have been many red flags about these people for so long, etc., and many other observations I had personally made as well, that were, unfortunately, horrible! But sometimes somehow you try to give the benefit of the doubt, especially when you have friends who frequently visit the monasteries, convincing you that all those complaints out there are false about them, or you misinterpreted, etc., – that it’s always someone just trying to discredit them in any way possible, just because of jealousy, etc. But when it happens way too many times it’s obviously not a misinterpretation. It’s the truth. In my opinion, they did a good job of this to themselves many times; they’ve discredited themselves numerous times! Their lies just keep on growing and multiplying…. this is not accidental or coincidence, it’s who they really are, unfortunately.