The Chapel of Archangel Michael Madamado at St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY

Huff House

In the Fall of 1998, with the blessing of Elder Ephraim, Elder Joseph Voutsas and Fr. Germanos Ponitkas purchased the 188 acre property known as the Huff House Golf Resort in Roscoe, NY for $2,500,000. Three lay-disciples from Toronto had taken second mortgages from their houses for $100,000 each and donated it for the down payment of the property, which helped greatly. Two of the donors gave the money as donations and the other donor gave the money as a loan. There was also a $25,000/month mortgage for the first 2 years and with the help of donations, the two monks paid off the mortgage.

Cell phone pic of Fr. Epifanios old desk mat (aerial of the property)
Cell phone pic of Fr. Epifanios old desk mat (aerial of the property)

Many of the original structures of the Golf Resort have been torn down. The structures that remained have had their exteriors and interiors redone, and new buildings have been erected. The property value has also sky-rocketed. The amount of money put into each new building (chapel, trapeza, monks’ quarters, new reception area, etc.) averages at over 2 million dollars/building.

The monks of St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) with Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesos, Cyprus.
The monks of St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) with Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesos, Cyprus.

At the end of December 1998, Abbot Joseph, together with 3 monks (Fr Germanos, Kassianos & Epifanios) and 4 novices (Symeon, Philotheos, Alexios and Michael) departed St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ and drove to Roscoe, NY to start setting up St. Nektarios Monastery. They arrived in early January 1999. Fr. Seraphim came from Arizona shortly afterwards. Due to problematic issues, Elder Joseph sent Fr. Seraphim back to Arizona after a brief stay at St. Nektarios Monastery. The monks were instructed to tell pilgrims that Fr. Seraphim was only sent up on loan to help start the monastery. This was so the pilgrims wouldn’t be scandalized

Brotherhood of St. Nektarios at Russian Synodal Building, NY.

During Holy Week of 1999, Elder Ephraim visited the Monastery and tonsured the four novices as monks in the old chapel. Elder Ephraim did not change the names of the new for two reasons:

  1. Because they were recently baptized converts who just changed their names at baptism.
  2. So the lie that they were given as an obedience to tell people would be more believable—The new monks had an obedience to tell people they were tonsured in Arizona but their koukoulis weren’t made yet and they had just received their koukoulis now. This was to cover-up the fact that Elder Ephraim visited the monastery and performed an ecclesiastical function without the knowledge or permission of the Bishop.
St. Nektarios Monastery, Kursk Root Icon, Russian Clergy and monks.
St. Nektarios Monastery, Kursk Root Icon, Russian Clergy and monks.

Some years later, Elder Ephraim again secretly visited St. Nektarios and tonsured 4 novices: Kosmas (Jason), Ephraim (Gerasimos), Nektarios (Gregory), and Damianos (Anestis). This time, the tonsure took place in the new chapel as the old chapel had been converted into a living room for the monks and a temporary dorm when the monastery couldn’t accommodate all the visitors in the guest houses.

The First Chapel at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc.—The Upstairs Living Room

Fr. Michael outside the old kitchen of main house. The upstairs living room of this house was originally the first chapel.
Fr. Michael outside the old kitchen of main house. The upstairs living room of this house was originally the first chapel.

The first church at St. Nektarios Monastery was located in the upstairs living room of the white building, originally dubbed “the main house.” The iconostasis from St. John the Theologian Monastery (closed in 1997) was used, as well as all the other materials from that chapel. The Chapel had golf green wall-to-wall carpeting. The use of the living room as a chapel was a temporary solution until the main church could be built. When the temporary chapel was no longer needed, it was converted back to a living room—a couch occupied the area of the Holy Altar, a computer station the area of the Proskomide. The former narthex was also used as temporary sleeping quarters when the guest houses became full and there was nowhere to put the extra pilgrims.

Originally destined to be the female guest quarters, the abbot decided part way through construction to make this structure the monks' quarters.
Originally destined to be the female guest quarters, the abbot decided part way through construction to make this structure the monks’ quarters.

When Geronda Ephraim secretly visited the monastery during Holy Week of 1999, he gave obediences on where to build everything and how the monastery should look. Geronda Ephraim told the abbot to build the main church where the tennis courts are and the trapeza would be where the current monks’ quarters are now built.

The Present-day Chapel of Archangel Michael Madamado (formerly, the Chapel of St. Nektarios)

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The new chapel—which was formerly a Gaming/Entertainment Room—was finished shortly before the first Feast Day of the Monastery in September 1999. Of course, there was still lots more work to be done, this was only the initial groundwork so it could be used as a Church. The new chapel was originally dedicated to St. Nektarios. During the mid-aughties, Elder Joseph decided to change this and re-dedicated the chapel to Archangel Michael icon of Madamado. This was done for two reasons:

  1. The monastery needed another feast day type event to help generate more income and donations for all the projects that were taking place and will continue to take place.
  2. The large church that has yet to be built will be dedicated to St. Nektarios and it wouldn’t make sense to have two chapels dedicated to the same saint.
The 3D sculpture of Archangel Michael Mantamados, Lesvos, made from the blood of martyrs and mud.
The 3D icon of Archangel Michael Mantamados, Lesvos, made from the blood of martyrs and mud.

The present-day chapel at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc., Roscoe, NY is dedicated to the Archangel Michael icon of Madamado. So far, it has cost the monastery a couple million dollars to “beautify God’s house.”

Some Aspects in the Construction of the Chapel

The chapel circa 2005, before the bell tower was completed.
The chapel circa 2005, before the bell tower was completed.

In order to do the stone work and add a bell tower, etc. the pre-existing structure needed some foundational reinforcement. [NOTE: The bell tower was originally going to be taller. Before it was completed, Gerondissa Olympiada drove Gerondissa Ephraimia, abbess of the Archangel Michael Monastery on Thassos, for a visit. Gerondissa Ephraimia told Geronda Joseph the bell tower should be lower, so he changed the plans and did obedience to her suggestion].

The monastery hired Joe Valentine—owner of Valentine Construction Company, Inc. in Deposit, NY—to do the work. Joe Valentine’s crew was so impressive, that the monastery would hire them to do the foundation and concrete work of all their future projects. And thus, Valentine Construction’s annual revenue became 1 to 2.5 million dollars.

Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas
Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas

The Valentine crew became very close with the monks at the monastery. When Joe Valentine was in a custody battle for his baby boy, he asked Geronda Joseph if he could testify as a character witness for him in court. Geronda Joseph told him he didn’t know the language that well and it would be difficult for him to testify. However, Geronda Joseph gave Fr. Epifanios the obedience to testify as a character witness, which he did, and Joe Valentine won custody. Geronda Joseph later told the fathers that he didn’t testify for him because if something bad happened later, his name would be attached to it. He also told the fathers, and Joe himself, that he won custody because of all the help he gave to St. Nektarios monastery, etc.

Concrete

According to the Masters Concrete webpage, as of November 23, 2009, Masters Ready Mixed Concrete (Kingsley, PA) has provided approximately 1900 yards of concrete between the two buildings.

Also see an interview with Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas of St. Nektarios Monastery concerning the benefits of Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF’s).

http://www.specifyconcrete.org/project-profiles/view/st-nektarios-monastery

Stone Work

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The Monastery ordered their stones from a New York State company, Champlain Stone, Ltd. South Bay Quartzite® was the material used for the Chapel’s exterior. It is advertised as: “A quartzitic sandstone with an advancing and receding surface that resembles a windswept and sandy beach. Visually smooth, yet heavily textured with a blend of tan, antique white, ice blue, amber, and brown. South Bay Quartzite® will enhance any home from warm beach cottages to cozy cabins deep in the woods.”

http://www.champlainstone.com/south-bay-quartzite%c2%ae.html

The stone work itself was done mainly by a crew of Ecuadorian stone masons who work for a Greek man named George from New York. The Fathers also helped out with the project. The Ecuadorians’ work was so impressive that they were to be hired for other projects as well. The fathers also respected their ethical work etiquette: “They don’t swear, smoke, and they don’t talk much, just work.” Later, during the construction of the new monks’ quarters, the Ecuadorians experienced a big temptation.

Fr. Raphael (Micah) Andrews of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY [son of Fr. Mark Andrews of Holy Protection Monastery, PA]
Fr. Raphael (Micah) Andrews of St. Nektarios Monastery, NY [son of Fr. Mark Andrews of Holy Protection Monastery, PA]
Father Raphael had stolen a radio from the pick-up truck of a Mexican work crew doing the drywall. As the drywall crew couldn’t imagine a monk stealing their property, the only other suspects were the Ecuadorians. There was nationalistic and heated tension between the crews from that time on. When Geronda Joseph discovered the stolen radio during a routine, random cell check, he was almost ready to call the police on Fr. Raphael. As Geronda Joseph has repeatedly told Fr. Raphael, “If it wasn’t for your father, Geronda Ephraim would have sent you home ages ago!”

Page 12 of the brochure below has pictures of the stonework on the chapel.

Framing/Roofing

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One of the main crews the monastery uses for framing is JP Construction, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, which is owned by John Paralavos. They were used for the extension of the Chapel, as well as all the other building projects. His crew was given special liberties: they could smoke and get drunk on monastery property. Like the other crews that did jobs at the monastery, the workers would stay overnight and sometimes for an entire week. One of John’s workers was an alcoholic. The abbot would give him a large cup of Metaxa every night as a reward for a good day’s work.

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The story of how John became close to the monastery is interesting. Shortly after he visited the monastery with his family, the abbot read an article in one of the Greek papers which listed the richest Greeks in America—the abbots and abbesses like to know which pilgrims need “special attention.” When the abbot saw Johns  name  he decided to cultivate and groom him. This is a common practice with most of the wealthy Greeks that visit the monasteries: special treatment, groom and cultivate. The monasteries have a lot of bills and expenses and wealthy donors are a good asset. John Paralavos’ wife had lupus so he was already in an emotionally vulnerable state that could be easily manipulated. Regular blessings with St. Nektarios’ relics, house visits, taking him on a trip to Arizona to meet Geronda Ephraim, etc. also helped.

Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery
Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery

One time, John told one of the monks at St. Nektarios that he was thinking of asking Geronda to do a holy water blessing of his house. This monk told Geronda Joseph just before John and his wife went in for confession—it is a common practice for monastics to relay everything a pilgrim has told them before they go into confession. Geronda Joseph brought it up to them before they could ask and John started hailing him as a holy prophet, which the abbot dismissed. Later, the abbot asked the monk if he told John he had been informed beforehand about John’s desire to ask for the blessing. The monk responded, “No, I didn’t say anything.” The monk was then given an obedience not to tell John that he had told the abbot beforehand. Thus, John could continue to believe that the abbot was a God-inspired prophet who read his heart.

http://www.schmidtswholesale.com/

Stastidia in the Church

The stastidia in the Church were designed and made by the company in Serres, Greece that does all the wood work for Elder Ephraim’s monasteries in North America (chairs in the church, iconostasis’, etc.): Eleftheriadis Bros Sa.

Before the stastidia were made, there were wooden chairs for the pilgrims, and cushioned arm chairs for the monastics. Periodically, some pilgrims would become scandalized that the monks “sat in fancy chairs” while the pilgrims were forced to sit in “less comfortable chairs” or stand. One pilgrim even had the audacity to quote scripture to some of the monks in this regard, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues…”

Stasidia

Each individual seat cost close to $600, the Bishop’s Throne cost much more. The monastery made a plea letter to raise the funds to cover the cost and mailed it out to the pilgrims on their mailing list. With the help of donations, the monastery was able to cover the cost of the stasidia. The abbot would sometimes state, “It’s the poor people who build this monastery.” He gave a homily to a group of close spiritual children visiting the monastery and related a story:

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“There was one man in New York who is very rich. He made a comment that he’d donate if there was going to be a plaque with his name stating he donated. The pilgrim told the rich man that the monasteries aren’t like the parishes in the world and don’t do plaques of honor. The rich man replied he wouldn’t give a cent, then. And to his shame, poor women who work hard cleaning toilets and save up money—which they hide from their husbands—gave donations for the entire amount of a stasidia. It’s the pain and sweat of the poor that build the monasteries.”

Address: Serres 621 21, Greece

Phone: +30 2321 078297

http://www.eleftheriadi.gr/

Iconography in the Church

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George Filippakis of Woodbury, NY, is an artist who specializes in Byzantine iconography. He was commissioned to do the iconography at St. Nektarios Monastery, Inc. His first project was in the Trapeza, and then he did the Archangel Michael Chapel. The cost of the Church’s iconography was quite a few hundred thousands of dollars.

100% Beeswax Candles

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The candles in the narthex are hand-made from real beeswax by the monks of St. Nektarios with the help of various pilgrims. Originally they were manually dipped by hand. In 2008, Geronda Joseph decided to order a $20,000 candle-making machine from Greece which would do most of the work for the monks.

The beeswax was originally bought from a company in Babylon, NY. Geronda Modestos offered Geronda Joseph his contact in China, where they bought “100% pure beeswax” for $1/lb., however, it had a funny smell. Though pure beeswax is expensive, and the prices increase yearly due to the high death rate of bees and hive collapses, the recycling of used candles from the narthex in the candle-making process helps cut the costs.

http://www.spwax.com/

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St. Nektarios was one of the last of 8 monasteries to be established in the year of 1998 via the blessing of then Archbishop Spyridon (2 in Florida, 2 in North Carolina, 1 in Texas, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Illinois and finally the 1 in NY). 1998 was a busy year for Elder Ephraim having to oversee the establishment of 8 new monasteries in less than 12 months, which his disciples state is further proof of his sanctity.

As two other monasteries have feast days in November, the Brotherhood decided to celebrate their main feast day on September 3, the day of the translation of the relics of St. Nektarios. This can ensure that each monastery can still attract peak numbers of visitors for their individual feast days, as well as allow the monks or nuns from those monasteries to travel to each others’ feast day celebrations.

The monastery has grown to over 20 monks with only a few monks having left in its 15 years of existence.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/263270549/Letter-from-St-Nektarios-Monastery-s-Lawyer-attempting-to-take-down-a-TUMBLR-page

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Panagia Pammakaristos Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. (Lawsonville, NC)

NOTE: This information is taken from http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/page/47

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Panagia Pammakaristos Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc. is a North Carolina Corporation filed on September 11, 1998. The company’s File Number is listed as 0470428.

The Registered Agent on file for this company is Tsirigotis, Dimitrios (Geronda Nektarios) and is located at 1631 Creasey Road Lawsonville, NC 27022. The company’s mailing address is 1631 Creasey Road Stokes County Lawsonville, NC 27022.

Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Nektarios
Geronda Ephraim and Geronda Nektarios

In 1998, Elder Ephraim took 3 monks originally from the St. John the Theologian brotherhood of Picton, Ontario—they were seeking refuge at the time in Florence, AZ until they could find their own monastery—and transplanted them to Lawsonville, NC where he had recently purchased a 120-acre property in order to establish the  Panagia Pammakaristos Monastery. These monks—Nektarios, Theophanes and Dionysios—were all originally from Toronto, Canada. The latter was a convert to Orthodoxy who was baptized in December 1996 at St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Monastery in Picton, Ontario (This monastery closed down in the Spring of ’97 after the brotherhood moved to St. Anthony’s Monastery).

Aerial view of the 120-acre monastery property.
Aerial view of the 120-acre monastery property.

Fr. Nektarios was chosen as the abbot. Earlier that year, Elder Ephraim had tonsured Fr. Nekatrios (Demetrios) before Fr. Theophanes (Anastasios)—despite the fact that Fr. Theophanes was a senior monk in rank by a couple of years to Fr. Nektarios. After the establishment of Panagia Pammakaristos, some of the older fathers stated this was a foreshadowing of future events. Fr. Nektarios was later ordained at the Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas. Also, Fr. Theophanes mother was a nun at Holy Protection Monastery at the first property in Weatherly, PA. Geronda Ephraim gave her the name Theophano.

Fr. Theophanes walking along the path.
Fr. Theophanes walking along the path.

Initially, Geronda Nektarios also had the task to liturgize at the 2 Florida monasteries and would rotate each Sunday. One of his disciples said that this was similar to his original spiritual Father, Geronda Joseph Voutsas, when he was abbot of St. John the Theologian Monastery. Geronda Joseph rotated each Sunday between his own monastery in Picton, as well as the two female monasteries in Bolton and Quebec. Today, Geronda Joseph is the abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY.

Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY.
Geronda Joseph Voutsas, Abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery, Roscoe, NY.

Fr. Dionysios returned to the world in late 2007 after 10 years of living the monastic life. After a year or so of listening to George Noory’s Coast to Coast radio show (which he recorded nightly during the church service and listened to after the service) and reading David Icke and other similar books that were being smuggled to him, he no longer believed orthodoxy was the absolute truth and became convinced that Christianity was a lie. He altogether lost his faith in Christianity well over a year before his departure from the monastery. Having a conflict of conscience, i.e. essentially being an agnostic with inclinations towards extraterrestrial origins and yet going through the motions of the monastics life with this mindset for over a year, he compelled himself to leave after talks occurred about possibly ordaining him to the priesthood.

Simandron.
Simandron.

Though this incident created a little hiccup in the smooth functioning of the monastery, he was soon replaced by a novice from Arizona.

Panagia Pammakaristos Icon, Feast Day (2008).
Panagia Pammakaristos Icon, Feast Day (2008).

The Monks have recreated Arizona in North Carolina: Lemons, olives, cacti

Cacti
Cacti
Cacti (Guest quarters in the distance).
Cacti (Guest quarters in the distance).

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Fr. Germanos Pontikas (St. Nektarios Monastery, NY)

Fr. Germanos T. Pontikas of St. Nektarios Monastery.
Fr. Germanos T. Pontikas of St. Nektarios Monastery.

Today is Fr. Germanos T. Pontikas’ name day (i.e. commemoration of St. Herman of Alaska). Born in 1950, he turned 64 last month. Originally from Pennsylvania, he left for Mount Athos in the late 80’s.  He started out at Filotheou Monastery on Mount Athos. He was on the same flight as Demetrios Maroulis from Toronto (now Geronda Dositheos, the abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas), but because they had an obedience not to tell anyone they were off to become monks, neither of them knew the others’ intentions, despite the continual crossing of paths and chatting, until they reached Filotheou. They became best of friends on the Holy Mountain.

While on Mount Athos, a relative would send pornographic magazines in the mail in an attempt to entice him out of the monastery and return home. Geronda Ephraim screened all the mail, or had a monk screen it for him. Incidents such as this is why the abbots/abbesses screen all the mail that comes in (i.e. open all the monks’ incoming mail to examine contents and read the letters) –it potentially “protects” the monastic from “harmful things” that could trip him up spiritually or entice them to leave the monastery. There are many monks and nuns who’ve had a relative send a manipulative, guilt-tripping letter. If the abbess or abbot had not intercepted it and read it but just handed it to the monastic, it could’ve caused “great harm.” Thus, most of those types of letters are thrown in the garbage before the monk or nun can read them. In the monasteries, only the trusted monastic, if not the heads themselves, collect the mail and it is brought directly to the abbess or abbot. In some monasteries, because a nun or monk went through the garbage and examined the contents from the mail, the abbess or abbot will have their cell attendant dispose of their garbage in a special way so it cannot be examined afterwards.

Fr. Germanos making eggs for the Fathers at Filotheou Monastery
Fr. Germanos making eggs for the Fathers at Filotheou Monastery

If anyone is familiar with how the prison system works, it’s the same concept: an inmate’s letter will be read, and parts that are “potentially harmful” to the inmate’s mental and emotional well-being are blacked out—same concept in the monasteries (the monastic life is also called “voluntary imprisonment” as opposed to the “involuntary imprisonment” of the correctional system).

In the monasteries, if a “problematic” monk or nun sends mail out, it is usually opened and examined first before it is sent: this is in case anything is being sent that doesn’t have a blessing or if the monastic has written anything that isn’t blessed to write about. The above reasons concerning mail examination are also the reason that all novices—and sometimes tonsured monastics depending on the individual—have   their phone calls monitored directly, or with an older monastic standing beside them.

Fr. Germanos explaining the property to a visiting Russian priest (during the Kursk Root Icon visit).
Fr. Germanos explaining the property to a visiting Russian priest (during the Kursk Root Icon visit).

Anyways, back to Fr. Germanos. In 1994, Geronda Ephraim brought Fr. Germanos to Picton, ON (along with Geronda Joseph) to establish the St. John the Theologian Monastery. They have been an inseparable unit ever since, with Geronda as the abbot, and Fr. Germanos as the second in command, though it’s arguable that Fr. Epifanios Kapritsas is second as “he carries half the monastery on his shoulders,” and is Geronda Joseph’s “right-hand.”

While in Picton, Bishop Sotirios was giving the monastery lots of problems. It is said that when they first arrived, a Greek priest from Quebec visited the monastery. He warned them about the bishop because he was “dangerous.” This priest then showed them a binder with photos and articles of a convert, “Monk Martinez,” who “committed suicide.” The priest told them that the RCMP suspected it might not have been suicide and were looking at the Bishop, but didn’t have enough evidence to prove anything.

It is also said that the Bishop gave them a fax machine as a gift but they realized later that it was programmed so that all the faxes going out were also sent to him (people use to do private confessions and get responses for personal matters via fax).

Procession of the Glykofilousa icon during great fire of August 1990. Geronda Dositheos Maroulis (far left); Fr. Germanos Pontikas (far right); Fr. Silouanos Coutavas (middle, holding book up)
Procession of the Glykofilousa icon during great fire of August 1990. Geronda Dositheos Maroulis (far left); Fr. Germanos Pontikas (far right); Fr. Silouanos Coutavas (middle, holding book up)

As time went on, and relations became more strained—the Bishop forbade Geronda Joseph to teach people about toll-houses and ordered him to stop giving out the booklets, he knew there were secret baptisms taking place at Picton but couldn’t prove it, things Geronda said about the Bishop were getting back to him, etc.—Geronda Joseph was informed by someone close to the Bishop to be careful because “you don’t know what he is capable of.” This lady also warned him he shouldn’t leave the monastery by himself. In 1984, as a lay person, Geronda Joseph was ambushed in his car while driving  his spiritual Father, Geronda Ephraim Xeropotamou to Athens. Geronda Ephraim Xeropotamou was murdered in this incident. Geronda Joseph was said to become more hyper-vigilant and take more precautions when going out afterwards.

Eventually, the Bishop was pressuring them to sign over the property to him or the Metropolis. Both Geronda and Fr. Germanos were debating it until one night, it is said that Fr. Germanos saw Elder Joseph the Hesychast in vision, and the Elder told him not to sign. So they didn’t.

Fr. Germanos outside the chapel at St. Nektarios Monastery.
Fr. Germanos outside the chapel at St. Nektarios Monastery.

In the Spring of 1997, they left Canada for good and went down to stay at St. Anthony’s Monastery until they could find new property in New York. They first drove to Brooklyn where they put all their stuff in storage, and then proceeded to Arizona. The Bishop was infuriated because he had no idea (though some people say he exiled them and knew) and started making accusations that they stole money, etc. Geronda Joseph made a rebuttal in the Toronto Greek newspapers. Since then, it is said that Bishop Sotirios has banned him from going to Canada, and it is said he also banned the nuns from the monasteries in Canada from visiting the New York monastery.

In 1998, when Geronda Ephraim was giving multiple homilies to the monks in the Gerondia, and Fr. Germanos was up in New York looking to buy property to establish the St. Nektarios Monastery, Geronda would tell the monks a funny joke:

“I wanted to make a monastery in Alaska in honor of St. Herman. I was thinking to send Germanos up there, but then there’d be all these Germanakis [here Geronda Ephraim stretched his arms out indicating fat] following behind him.” Then all the monks laughed, but it wasn’t out of malice.

Fr. Germanos' patron saint is St. Herman of Alaska.
Fr. Germanos’ patron saint is St. Herman of Alaska.

Also, another funny incident Geronda Ephraim related was the time he sent Fr. Germanos to Holy Archangel Monastery for a little respite. One evening, Geronda Ephraim was driving with Geronda Joseph and decided to call Holy Archangels Monastery. The novice who answered stated Geronda Dositheos was sleeping in his room.* Geronda Ephraim relates that he knew there was no way Geronda Dositheos was asleep with Fr. Germanos in the Monastery. He figured they were out somewhere and called their cellular. He was right, they were out having an ice cream.

In 1999, St. Nektarios Monastery was established, and he has been a pillar and foundation for the functioning of this monastery ever since, despite the severe health problems he has.

Geronda Dositheos Maroulis, abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas and close friend of Fr. Germanos.
Geronda Dositheos Maroulis, abbot of Holy Archangels Monastery in Texas and close friend of Fr. Germanos.

*NOTE: This is a common rookie mistake that most novices make. Usually when an abbot or abbess doesn’t feel like speaking to anyone, or they don’t want anyone to know where they are, they instruct the person answering the phones, and in some case, the whole monastery to tell people they’re out, or can’t be disturbed, or “I don’t know where he or she is,” etc. However, the #1 rule when Geronda Ephraim calls one of his monasteries is for the monastic to find the abbot or abbess immediately and give them the phone, or tell Geronda Ephraim they are out so he could call them on their cell, or the monastic calls the head to inform them big Geronda called for them.  Geronda Ephraim as first priority over everything. In one of the monasteries, the monk who answered the phone forgot to tell his Geronda that Geronda Ephraim had called and was given 500 prostrations as a kanona, “to help him remember the next time.”

In some cases, “discernment and discretion” is needed when telling an abbess or abbot that Geronda Ephraim was on the phone.

In late 2000, shortly before Geronda Ephraim Dikaios abandoned his position as abbot at Philotheou Monastery, he visited his spiritual father, Geronda Ephraim, in Arizona. Afterwards, he visited St. Nektarios Monastery in New York before returning to Mount Athos. When in New York, the atmosphere amongst the Fathers was very tense since the week leading up to this visit was one of continual yelling, rebukes and chastisements meted out by both Geronda Joseph and Fr. Germanos. Prior to the visit, Geronda Joseph gave the fathers a very stern homily, combined with threats of harsh punishments if any of the monks did or said anything unmonastic in front of Geronda Ephraim Dikaios or the layman he brought along as his personal cook. Geronda Joseph wanted no scandals.

Geronda Ephraim Dikaios & Big Geronda
Geronda Ephraim Dikaios & Big Geronda

About a week before these two visited St. Nektarios Monastery, Geronda Ephraim called New York seeking to speak to Geronda Joseph. That morning, Geronda Joseph had instructed the fathers, “No one is to knock on my door for any reason whatsoever. If anyone calls for me, tell them I’m out of the monastery doing works for the monastery.”  The monk who answered the phone followed this obedience and told Geronda Ephraim that Geronda Joseph was out of the monastery.

Fr. Germanos venerating the Kursk Root Icon
Fr. Germanos venerating the Kursk Root Icon

At the end of the day, when Geronda Joseph asked the monk for the log book and to explain his phone calls/messages, he exploded when he learnt big Geronda had called, he was not informed immediately, and he missed it. The monk was kicked out of Geronda Joseph’s cell while the elder tried to call Geronda Ephraim, who did not answer the phone. The monk who answered the phones was then told how stupid and mindless he was and and rebuked for not having the discernment to understand that he should’ve disturbed Geronda Joseph immediately for Geronda Ephraim’s call. After this verbal chastisement, all the fathers were called for a homily. The monk was rebuked and ridiculed in front of the fathers for his mindlessness and it was clarified to all that Geronda Joseph was to be informed immediately, no matter what the circumstance, when Geronda Ephraim calls.

A week later, during Geronda Ephraim Dikaios’ visit, big Geronda called the monastery asking to speak Geronda Joseph. At that time, Geronda Joseph was speaking privately to Geronda Ephraim Dikaios in the bookstore. The monk went to Geronda Joseph and informed him that big Geronda was on the phone and Geronda Joseph told Fr. Germanos to take the call.

The Gerondia (Head) Table at St. Nektarios Monastery (NY)Immediately afterwards, the monk who answered the phone was severely rebuked and given a huge kanona because he told Geronda Joseph that big Geronda was on the phone in front of a monastic from another monastery. The monk answering the phone was unaware that this visiting Athonite was problematic and not doing proper obedience to big Geronda. He was also unaware that this phone call was a checking up call. This monk was rebuked because Geronda Ephraim Dikaios would now know that big Geronda was checking up on him and that the monks in New York were discussing his personal problems.

The fathers were then instructed that when big Geronda Ephraim called, they were never to reveal it in front of any of Geronda Ephraim’s other monastics because sometimes big Geronda was checking up on these individuals. It could also create jealousy for the other monastic, especially an abbot or abbess, as well as thoughts such as , “Why does Geronda Ephraim call this monastery and not mine,” or “Does he call this monastery more than mine?,” etc.

St. Nektarios Brotherhood at The Russian Synodal Building, NY (2010)
St. Nektarios Brotherhood at The Russian Synodal Building, NY (2010)