Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Help a Monastery

The Wifey and I spent last weekend helping our Monk son move from St. John's Monastery in California (where Fr. Meletios Webber is Abbot) to his new home at St. Michael the Archangel Monastery in Canones, New Mexico where he is one of three monks living there now. This is the chapel and grounds from the dirt road coming into the Monastery.



I've known about St. Michael's almost since its beginning because we have ties to Holy Trinity and Fr. John Bethancourt in Santa Fe, NM, but I had never been there. I'm glad I went, and I'm going back.  But this is where you come in.

St. Michael's is under "reconstruction" by Mp. Jonah.  All but one of the former monks and novices have been moved out, not for scandalous moral offenses but simply the community was too dysfunctional to continue as it was.  That just happens sometimes when you have people who are working out their salvation with no one to guide them properly.  So Fr. Silouan from St. John's was sent by Mp. Jonah (who was Fr. Silouan's Abbot at St. John's for years) to be the Superior and re-establish order and rebuild the Monastery.  I met Fr. Silouan a few years ago when I began visiting St. John's.  Fr. Silouan is a recent cancer survivor and was finally living as a hermit, which was his long time desire, when he was called out to lead a community.  He is the poster boy for God's ironic will:  what you THINK you are called to do, you'll do the opposite.  But because Fr. Silouan has no "ambition" he is the perfect person to do the job.  He is one of the most genuine people I've ever met in my life.

The monastery has basic infrastructure.  There are small three cells that were built several years ago. They have no water or electricity to them and are heated by a wood burning stove by design.  This is the one our son is moving in to.

There is also a beautiful and well constructed guest house that was donated by a patroness of the Monastery years ago.  The guest house is about 100 yards from the "monks' area". Unlike some other Monasteries, there are not common meals with the guests and monks, the guests prepare their own meals and eat in the guest house common living/dining room kitchen area.






One can wander the grounds, help out in many ways and attend all the daily services in the chapel which was completed several years ago.  At this time there is not a "priest monk" so all of the services are done as "Reader's Services" by the monks.
But there is a lot of work to be done at the monastery.  The original buildings on the property are over 80 years old and were built "al ojo" (by the eye).  None of them are insulated and need major repairs and upgrading.  The candle factory which was housed in an old "potato cellar" (which is the only source of income for the monastery) burned down and was moved into a another small storage shed.  The kitchen/office/monk's dining room is the large tin roofed building on the left and needs major attention. Fr. Silouan's cell is half of an old storage shed (the white building on the right with two blue doors) and has no insulation and a flat roof.  The night we stayed there it got down to 20 degrees and his cell drops to about 40 degrees.  When it snows he will have an ice cube sitting on his uninsulated roof. I'd like to remove the sheetrock, insulate the walls, seal up all the cracks etc. and put a pitched roof on the shed that will keep snow off of it. There is a lot of winter left in Canones and if possible I'd like to go there for a couple weeks at the end of November or early December to do some of the critical work. 

Here is the need:  They have basically no money.  Fr. Silouan is overwhelmed just keeping up with the day to day needs of the monastery (he was digging a trench to fix a broken drainage pipe last Sunday to try to get it done and reburied before the freeze that night).  Fr. Ephrosynos will be a big help in the day to day operations.  If you can donate toward a "construction fund" for the Monastery it would go a long way to easing some of the pressures of trying to prioritize what to fix and when.  And frankly, part of the fund will have to go toward some kind of stipend for my work at this time.  I usually donate my labor to churches and monasteries, but I can't even afford the gas to drive there right now.  If you can help out, just go to their website HERE and send a donation with a note or earmark for "Construction Fund".  Fr. Silouan knows I am making this appeal and sends his gratitude and prayers for all of you who read this blog.

The Monastery does not have a Paypal account (yet), but if you would like to donate online I will take donations (tax deductible) through the "Our Life in Christ" Paypal donation account and pass it on to them.  You can donate HERE with a Paypal account or a credit card (please note it is for St. Michael's).

Email me if you have any questions. Please link to this and pass it on if you would. Thanks, all.

16 comments:

Matushka Anna said...

I've posted this to my blog. I'll see what I can do.

elizabeth said...

Lord have mercy. Well, I can pray for this (you know that I am looking for work too!). Thanks for letting us know. Looks like we have more to ask St. Nicholas for help with...

Ruth said...

For places with little water and little money, this is a site about toilets - cheap to set up, use little water, cause no pollution and have no smell. And in two years you have good compost to use - you can use it on your fruit trees if you have issues about using it on your vege garden, but it is safe. http://humanurehandbook.com/downloads/humanure_sanitation_paper.pdf
Our own monastery is considering using this system for the monks' small huts and ordinary toilets for the guests.

Best wishes for your building plans.

BJohnD said...

Great posting! Thanks for getting the word out on this important endeavor. I had the pleasure of chatting with Fr. E when I visited St. John's Monastery last month, but I had no idea he was about to head to NM.

I completely agree with what you said about Fr. Siluoan. I was stunned to hear he'd been sent to NM, but the Lord works in mysterious ways, after all.

Barnabas said...

The url to you paypal account is invalid. Please fix and I will donate there.

Melanie said...

thank you for the great alms-giving opportunity!

s-p said...

Thanks to all! I put up a different link to the OLiC donation page. It will take you to our Paypal account and there will be an option to donate with a credit card or with another Paypal account. Let me know if you have any problems. A check directly to the Monastery is always good too.

CG said...

I missed the window where I should have added St Michael's Monastery Construction Fund, via s-p. Are you able to redirect my donation? It's in the name of cgichard.

Andrew said...

For what it's worth, me and a couple friends might be roadtripping down there over winter break (Dec. 14ish). I don't know if you want a bunch of college students getting in your way, but if you want the help and the dates work, just post here on the blog.

s-p said...

CG, actually both links took you to the same place, so there's no problem. Thanks! s-p

Anonymous said...

I also missed the window for a note to direct my
donation to the monastery, please direct my donation
there - ref email: ciibored. Thanks!

CG said...

My Paypal receipt says
'You sent a payment of $XX.00 USD to Saint John the Evangelist Orthodox Mission (derek85257 at [email address]).
How will that Derek know that it was intended for the Monastery?

s-p said...

Hi CG, I actually take care of all the Paypal account transactions. "Derek" is one of our helpers who originally set the account up. All of the donations that come in from the date of the blog post will go to the monastery (we don't get that many donations so it won't be hard to figure it out :) If I have any questions I'll email the donor. I'm working with Fr. Silouan to try to get them to set up their own account. Unfortunately none of the Fathers there are comfortable with internet stuff... which is a good sign, actually. :)

CG said...

Thanks, s-p, I am fully reassured. And I agree that it's a good sign that none of the monks is internet-savvy. I hope lots of donations (and offers of other help) come in.

Anonymous said...

Rdr. Stephen,
Did Fr. Andrew stay with the monastery or has he been moved? I have always enjoyed Fr. Andrew's hospitality every time I have visited the monastery. He is also a great cook and former Alabamian.

Thanks,
Joseph

s-p said...

Joseph, Fr. Andrew is the only monk from the former group still there. He is getting older and weak and isn't able to do much these days.