Bio Gerasim Eliel - Platina History

Autobiography of Gerasim Eliel (main association with MP)
tells his story of Platina 1980 – 1983

Brief comments by ROCOR Reader Daniel appear at the end along with comments from OCA Nicholas Skovran who sent it to him.  I have magnified the parts that interest me, where Abbot Gerasim talks about Fr. Seraphim Rose.  Somebody might use this autobiography to study the downfall of Platina. 

Biographical Sketch 
Abbot Gerasim (Eliel) 
Updated June 6, 2011 

I was born on July 16, 1961, in Torrance, California to Lambert Frank Eliel and Suzanne 
Jean Eliel (nee Butcher). I was baptized as an infant with the name Gordon Trent at St. Cross 
Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach. I was raised on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  
My father, Lambert Frank Eliel, born on September 6, 1930, grew up in the small town of 
Dillon, Montana. He graduated with a degree in Economics from Northwestern University in 
Evanston, Illinois. He returned to Dillon, but found both the town and the family business to be too 
small to support both him and his father. He married a classmate from high school, but the marriage 
lasted only a month. My father moved to Los Angeles in about 1954 and began his graduate work at 
the University of California at Los Angeles where he met my mother. At that time he was involved 
in the Episcopal Church. 

My mother, Suzanne Jean Butcher, was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on December 10, 
1936, and came to California as a young girl. She lived first in West Los Angeles, later Beverly 
Hills, and then Manhattan Beach. She entered San Jose State University, two years later transferred 
to UCLA, and graduated from USC. She was about twenty-two years old when she married my 
father. Without finishing his master's degree, my father found employment as an economist at 
McDonnell Douglas and—except for a short stint at Aerospace—worked there for the rest of his 
career until 1995. My parents settled in 1959 on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  

My older brother, Eric Scott Eliel, was born in 1959, and I followed two years later in 
1961, while my younger brother, Brian Craig, was born in 1964. My childhood was spent in two 
different houses on the same street in Rancho Palos Verdes. My father's employment was stable; my 
mother was a homemaker or stay-at-home mother. She also made some money as a seamstress.  

My Grandparents 
My maternal grandparents, Frederick C. and Flora Annabelle Butcher (nee Seeley), were 
devout Episcopalians. They greatly influenced my upbringing, my sense of right and wrong, my 
understanding of education and civic responsibility, and my code of conduct. My maternal 
grandfather lost his own father as a young teenager, so he worked to support his mother and three 
brothers. He graduated from Purdue University with a degree in engineering. Although raised as a 
Presbyterian, he joined the Episcopal Church and married my grandmother at a young age. They 
moved to California in the late 1930s. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and served as 
an officer in the Construction Battalion (CB's) of the United States Navy in the Pacific Theatre. He 
and my grandmother were involved in many social causes, including the Children's Hospital in Los 
Angeles and the World Affairs Council. They regularly hosted guests from around the world. This 
had a big impact on my life: from an early age I remember meeting dignified, educated guests from 
all over the globe of every religious background and color. They were both life-long Rotarians; my 
grandfather served on scholarship committees for Rotary International until the end of his life. 
My grandparents wholeheartedly believed in the importance of everything that they did. I 
was fortunate to have a very close relationship with them, and they were fundamental in exposing 
me to culture and the world outside the suburbs of Los Angeles. They also sent me to summer camp 
where I discovered my great love for the wilderness. Their Christian faith was central to their life 
and they rarely missed Sunday church services. On December 22, 1991, my grandfather died of 
prostate cancer after several years of decline. My grandmother died in October 2009. 
I had much less contact with my paternal grandparents, Lambert Eliel III and Irene Eliel 
(nee Hollingsworth). Lambert was born in Dillon, Montana although he grew up in Los Angeles, 
California and graduated from Hollywood High School in 1920. He later returned to Dillon, 
Montana to run the family business: Eliel's Department Store (now Womack's). He managed the 
store until the late 1960s when they retired and moved to Arizona. We would see them no more than 
three times a year. I later became well-acquainted with their daughter, my aunt Eve Campbell. 
While their religious expression was somewhat nominal, Eve married a second time to an Episcopal 
priest from Texas named James Reeves.  

My childhood was marked by a stable family, a good education, adequate adult 
supervision, plenty of friends and activities. I had a healthy upbringing: I had the best medical care, 
I was enrolled in one of the best school districts in the state, my father had a good salary, and our 
neighborhood was safe. We played sports such as Little League Baseball, Pop Warner Football, and 
AYSO Soccer. We went to church most Sundays at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Palos Verdes 
Estates, where I attended confirmation classes and where I was also confirmed.  

On the street there were many other children of the same age. We always had bicycles and 
later skateboards. The neighborhood children would play baseball, soccer, and field hockey right on 
our street and basketball in our driveway. There was little crime in our neighborhood. We went 
snow skiing several times a year and also sailed on my father's sailboat. Our family was always 
together on holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Easter (Pascha), and this 
often included guests and friends. I have wonderful memories from this time that we spent together, 
surrounded by trust, sharing, common meals, games, and company. 

In my childhood and adolescent years a number of books made a great impact on my life. 
By far the most important of these was my introduction to The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien when I was 
in the fourth grade. I read many books on history, adventure and, in my early teens, science fiction. 
When I was twelve years old I started collecting stamps, which led to an interest in foreign lands, 
history, geography, languages, and travel. I even had a desire to learn Arabic from seeing the 
alphabet on stamps. In addition to organized team sports, I was involved in many forms of athletics 
in my childhood: snow skiing, water skiing, sailing, skateboarding, and surfing.  

Alcohol and Divorce 
The main tragedy of my childhood was my father’s descent into alcoholism. Gradually he 
lost control, and this began to visibly, tangibly change our life. It especially affected his relationship 
with my mother. My parents began to fight regularly. While I don't recall much physical fighting, 
later this also took place. My maternal grandmother spoke disparagingly to and about my father. My 
mother grew unhappy. In 1969 they separated and later that year initiated divorce proceedings. Our 
family crumbled. My brothers and I were too young and hurt to be able to express ourselves and 
respond to these events in a meaningful way. It affected how we thought about ourselves. It made 
me hunger for friendships. I became lonely, inwardly lonely. I found solace in reading, playing 
sports, spending time with my friends, daydreaming, eating, and denying how unhappy I was. My 
mother went back to school to get her teaching credential. Later she contracted a teaching position a 
long drive away from our house, and we were left without the presence of a father or mother at 
home for a good portion of the day. Without the supervision to which I had been accustomed, I 
gradually began to get into trouble. Fortunately, I had good friends and neighbors whose families 
remained intact and such relationships mitigated the effect of my parents' divorce. 

My Christian Life 
Although I was baptized as an infant in the Episcopal Church, until I was in the University 
of California at Santa Cruz, I never had any presentiment or desire that I would want to dedicate my 
life to the service of God. As I have stated, my family regularly attended church on Sundays, and I 
remember fondly the Sunday morning worship services in the Episcopal Church—especially when 
visiting older parishes with more traditional architecture and richer liturgical practice. I had been 
very fortunate to have learned at my Episcopal Church something about Christian doctrine and the 
Bible. I can only remember one of my friends’ parents who substantially shared her faith with me; 
few other parents wanted to talk about their beliefs. I did have a number of Jewish friends and, 
when I spent the night at their house on weekends, I sometimes went to synagogue with them.  
After my parents' divorce, we started attending an affluent Presbyterian Church with my 
mother from approximately 1974 to 1978. It was a respectable mainline Protestant church. 
Liturgically and socially it was clearly a step down from the Episcopal Church. The youth group 
held my interest, but I was taught very little about the Christian faith. Nevertheless, at the 
Presbyterian Church we were certainly included and felt welcome. There was an emphasis on 
gathering young people and sharing very elementary Christian thoughts with them. Looking back I 
don't remember anything that we were taught. 

Teenage Years 
As a teenager I felt very much alone. I did not speak about my religious convictions or my 
personal problems in any depth or honesty with anyone. I wanted to belong; I craved intimacy; I 
wanted to be loved. I also wanted to have fun and be happy. I now understand that I felt bad about 
myself, despised myself, I was ashamed of my family and of myself. I felt embarrassed before the 
rest of the world, miserable. In my efforts to be wanted and accepted by others, I managed to make 
one blunder after another in my relationships with others. At the evening youth group at the 
Presbyterian Church I met people who were more like me. I understood them. We had a common 
background. I was looking for friendship but I wasn't ready to give nor did I know what to give as a 
friend. I was not happy at high school. I did not feel that I belonged to any group. Academically I 
was not that enthused about the curriculum. I had a great deal of difficulty expressing myself in 
essays and reports. My writing skills were poor, and I was ashamed of that. 
When my mother finally remarried in 1976, I did not become any happier. My step-father, 
Robert Karbach, was a teacher like my mother and had also been divorced for many years. He had 
three children of his own. Robert was always kind to us, but he wasn't my father. My life was 
broken, and I didn't feel much happiness deep down inside. At 15 I was in a state of rebellion and 
had drifted far from my mother. My new step-brother, a large and angry teenager, had moved in 
with us and became the cause of constant tension and complaints in our house. In a way I felt that it 
wasn't really my home any more. I was not able to articulate my pain. I wanted a fresh start, so I 
decided move to Irvine to live with my father.  

My move to Irvine in January of 1978  
My move to Irvine in mid-January, 1978 provided me with an opportunity to make a new 
beginning. I established new relationships but I did not find friends with whom I could share what 
was deep in my heart. I felt like an outsider looking in. I made new friends through surfing, parties, 
and dances. The vast majority of these interactions ended fruitlessly. 

I continued to be involved in the Episcopal Church. My grandparents had moved a few 
years earlier from Burbank to Mission Viejo, a fifteen minute drive from my father's house in 
Irvine. When not working on Sunday mornings, I often drove the short distance to Laguna Hills to 
join my grandparents at the St. George Episcopal Church. I felt quite comfortable there. My 
grandparents were always happy when I would spend time with them, especially at their church. 
The Episcopal youth group there was cordial but not transforming. I later became involved with the 
Young Life movement in Irvine. This provided me with Christian fellowship with people at my new 
high school. I became close friends with a classmate who not only became a companion but served 
as a kind of mentor as well. During a Young Life retreat in the winter of 1978, I began to seriously 
think about prayer. My experience of prayer was very primitive, but I began to comprehend the 
person of Jesus Christ and the message of the New Testament. I began to attend church with more 
hunger, attention, and conviction. I went to the Episcopal Church, to Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, 
and a few times to a Lutheran Church. I continued my involvement with Young Life during the 
spring of 1979 and signed up to participate in the Work Crew program for one month during the 
summer of 1979 at the Woodleaf Camp near Challenge, California about two hours north of 
Sacramento. This became an important turning point in my life. I headed off to the University of 
California at Santa Cruz in autumn, 1979 as a born-again Christian hungry for Christian fellowship 
and instruction. I believe that my renewed life as a Christian kept me from falling headlong into all 
sorts of pits during my first semester at UCSC.  

As a teenager I held a series of part-time jobs: first doing yard work and later working in 
restaurants. I developed relationships with my employers and with fellow employees, that is, with 
adults outside my family. This helped me to glimpse life beyond high school. In fact, I looked up to 
my employers to such an extent that I considered restaurant management as a possible career at one 
point. In the spring of 1978 I started working at the new Neiman Marcus department store in 
Newport Beach. This world of glamour and fashion did not significantly attract me. In fact I think it 
had the reverse effect. These values of style and fashion were pursued, desired and respected by 
others, but I despised them. The fine clothing, styles, jewelry and perfumes simply masked the 
emptiness that I sensed around me. 

One of my main interests in high school was Spanish literature. I began studying Spanish 
in the seventh grade and continued through high school. I was fortunate to have an extremely gifted 
teacher for my final two years of high school. He introduced me to many great Spanish-language 
writers: Miguel de Unamuno, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, Benito Perez Galdos, and Federico 
Garcia Lorca. Living in Southern California, I also had ample opportunity to practice Spanish— 
whether at work or traveling down to Baja California. From that time on I had a great yearning to 
visit the countries of Latin America. 

Surfing became a very big influence in my life and, oddly enough, I believe it prepared me 
to consider and later embrace the monastic life. At twelve years of age I acquired and repaired an 
old surfboard and a used wetsuit. I soon met some friends with whom I would travel down our Palos 
Verdes Peninsula four miles to the beach every Saturday morning on a skateboard, carrying our 
surfboards under our arms and a small backpack on our backs holding wetsuit, towel, and lunch. As 
the years went passed we bonded ever more closely and focused much of our energy into the sport. 
Surfing kept us in great physical shape, it also gave us a sense of belonging or identity, and it gave 
us some [empty] role models. Surfing took a lot of time away from our studies, but I also think that 
it kept us out of a lot of trouble. It required great commitment, extreme effort, the bearing of 
adversities, such as a lack of sleep, the necessity to tolerate the cold weather and water, and to 
accept disappointment when after days of planning the waves failed to materialize or the weather 
was too adverse. It also compelled me to work so that I could pay for equipment and surfing trips. 
The desire for bigger and better waves and fewer crowds (with which to share the waves) led me to 
long for adventure, solitude, and simplicity.  

These factors awoke in me a desire to be far from densely populated Southern California. 
The allure of larger and better waves further afield kept leading me away from home. In the end I 
was only too happy to enroll at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), since Santa Cruz 
was known for having some of the largest, best, and most consistent waves for surfing on the 
California coast. Surfing led me to UC Santa Cruz where I first encountered the Orthodox Church. 

I originally applied to UC Berkeley and a few other schools to study Physical Sciences. I 
was presented with the option of the two year UC Berkeley Redirect Program in which I would take 
my lower division classes at UCSC and later be eligible for automatic transfer in my junior year to 
UC Berkeley into the School of Physical Sciences. However, I personally liked the idea of UCSC, 
because of the proximity to the ocean and to surfing. In addition, I looked forward to taking classes 
in Oceanography at UCSC, which had an entire program in this discipline at the graduate level. This 
choice harmonized well my disdain for life in the suburbs, my educational choices, and the 
possibility to study at a smaller university. 

While my academic interests were focused primarily in mathematics, my father continued 
to emphasize that if I were to study physics, I would learn how to solve problems and how to think. 
I arrived at college with a resolve to further my education in Physics and Spanish literature, but by 
the end of my freshman year at UCSC, I began rapidly to lose my interest in Physics. I was drawn 
more and more through my love of the writings of Miguel de Unamuno and Jorge Luis Borges to 
the entire breadth of authors that we were studying in my Spanish literature classes. 

Encounter with the Orthodox Church 
In the week following registration I became involved in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. 
They met in a small room about a fifteen minute walk from Merrill College where I lived. A few 
weeks into the semester I became acquainted at Intervarsity with James Paffhausen (Metropolitan 
Jonah). He offered to lead one of the small Bible study groups that would meet in each of the 
separate colleges on the UCSC Campus. Soon only the two of us remained in our specific Bible 
study. This meeting rapidly became for all intents and purposes an Orthodox Catechism class. At 
the same time I was involved in two other evangelical groups: Christian Ambassadors and the 
University Christian Fellowship. I felt rather awkward in the first of these two groups, partly due to 
their emphasis on door-to-door evangelism. This was something I was neither prepared to do nor 
felt to be the appropriate way to express my Christian faith. 

It was in James Paffhausen's dorm at Stevenson College that I first became acquainted 
with the Tradition of the Church, the Ecumenical Councils, iconography, church hymnography, 
monasticism, the Holy Fathers, etc. Even then he had a significant Orthodox library. Later James 
invited me to come with him to church services, first in Saratoga and then at the St. Nicholas 
Cathedral (Moscow Patriarchate) in San Francisco. I first attended St. Nicholas Church (OCA) in 
Saratoga in November of 1979. During the Christmas holiday James invited me down to visit him at 
his parents' house in La Jolla, California for a few days. During the time that I was a guest in his 
parents' house, we visited Priest Roman Merlos and some of the parishioners of the Our Lady of 
Kazan Church (Moscow Patriarchate). In meeting these people I was moving one step closer to an 
appreciation of Orthodox Christianity and reception into the Orthodox Church.  

Soon after our acquaintance James Paffhausen advised me to reacquaint myself with my 
own liturgical roots in the Episcopal Church. His intention was for me to learn something about 
prayer and worship in circumstances that were more familiar to me, but quite different from the 
evangelical groups with which I was then involved. I found the Episcopal parish in Santa Cruz very 
insipid and uninspiring, and after a few services I did not go back. I had found something far more 
appealing in the Orthodox Church. 

Priest John Newcombe 
The biggest influence on my spiritual development came with my return to the university 
in January 1980. The Priest John Newcombe had just been assigned as the acting rector of St. 
Nicholas Church in Saratoga, the closest OCA parish to our UCSC campus. [Priest John 
Newcombe, then a celibate priest, was later tonsured a monk by Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) of San 
Francisco and the West on Holy Thursday, 1981 and given the name Anastasy. He left the OCA and 
was received into ROCOR in December, 1983. He died on May 8/21, 2004 as Archimandrite 
Anastasy and was buried in the Russian Orthodox Cemetery in Sacramento, California.] Fr. John 
was around fifty years old at that time. He served in a solemn manner, spoke very clearly, 
welcomed us warmly, and then asked if we would like to come to his rectory. I was not even a 
catechumen at the time, but he welcomed us with the words: "So I understand that you want to 
become monks." I was a little dumbfounded since I hardly knew what the Orthodox Church was: I 
had only been to about three services. He invited us in, cooked us a full lunch, showed us some 
books of interest on the Orthodox Faith and began to discourse with us not only about monastic life 
but especially about a subject to which he would return every time that we met him: the difference 
between the Orthodox Church and Western Christian Churches.  

I cannot underestimate the impact on my life of this meeting and all subsequent 
conversations with Father John. There were three main aspects to what he taught me. First, he 
instilled in me a love and respect for the monastic life at a time when monastic life was almost 
inaccessible to Orthodox Christians in the United States; second, an awe of Orthodox theology and 
sacramental theology; and third, he dissected the psychology and mindset of American 
Protestantism and to a lesser degree Roman Catholicism. My initial meeting with him left a very 
strong impression. He had a big impact on how I saw everything. He was also quite outspoken. He 
had the most decisive affect on my subsequent decision to become a monk. For the next year and a 
half he guided my development as an Orthodox Christian: instructing us unceasingly, always 
available on the telephone, regularly giving us books, leaflets, icons and especially cassettes of 
beautiful Orthodox chant that were all so new to me. Father John Newcombe was also highly 
critical of many people in our own Orthodox Church. This polemical and adversarial aspect of his 
talks eventually had a detrimental affect on our Orthodox campus fellowship. Each of us went our 
own way; our communication was limited for many years.  

[MP] Bishop Mark 
I first met [MP] Bishop Mark (Schaviakin) of Ladoga at the very beginning of 1980 at the St. 
Nicholas Cathedral (Moscow Patriarchate) in San Francisco. James Paffhausen had been tonsured a 
reader for Our Lady of Kazan Russian Orthodox Church in San Diego by [MP] Bishop Mark 
(Schaviakin). A humble man who lived very modestly, he epitomized the tragedy of the 
ecclesiastical divisions of the twentieth century. He was scorned as something of an agent of the 
KGB by the representatives of ROCOR and as someone not able to lead the OCA with the new 
direction and identity represented by the Autocephaly. [MP] Bishop Mark had great love for the Church, 
the Divine services, and the monastic tradition. He had some Finnish stock but had no use for their 
rigid Finnish nationalism. He was caught between worlds and, consequently, a lonely man. Long 
absent from life in a monastery, he was to become even more isolated after his retirement in the 
mid-1980s.  [MP] Vladyka Mark welcomed us warmly and opened for us a path into Christ's Church. In 
1980-81 we would drive from UCSC to San Francisco every three or four weeks to attend services, 
spending time with [MP] Bishop Mark as his guests. He shared with us much about the Church, monastic 
life, and Valaam monastery where he had lived for nearly two decades. This introduction to the 
Church by a monastic helped me to feel very much at home in the monastic life. He loved to tell 
stories about his monastic life. He noticed that we were interested and waited on his every word. He 
had a vast library in his living room that also intrigued me. Since most of the books were in 
Russian, this kindled within me a desire to learn what lay inside these books. I later saw the 
monasteries of the Russian north as my own Church heritage. [MP] Bishop Mark always made time for 
us. We learned to make candles, prepare the trikyrie and dikyrie, remove wax from the church floor, 
and also watched him make prosphora. He showed us the vestments that he would take care of and 
how he made his own Episcopal mitres.  [MP] Bishop Mark served in a very beautiful orderly and 
dignified manner. Later as his heart grew weak, serving would put a tremendous strain on his 
health. This was a great sadness for him. 

My catechism took place under the guidance of Priest John Newcombe and through the 
constant instruction of James Paffhausen during the winter and spring of 1980. At the 
recommendation of Priest John, I was received into the Russian Orthodox Church by [MP] Bishop Mark 
on the feast of the Annunciation on March25/April 7, 1980—being also Bright Monday—at the St. 
Nicholas Cathedral (Moscow Patriarchate) in San Francisco. 

How I lived my Orthodox faith on campus. 
I spent a good portion of my freshman year studying. I was very fortunate to have a calm, 
quiet roommate during the second half of my freshman year. Every evening I would read from The 
Northern Thebaid, about the monastic saints of northern Russia, and then I would walk out in the 
dark into the garden below my college and recite the Jesus Prayer. Of course, I was young and my 
heart was full of delusion. I was ignorant of many basic aspects of our Faith. Nonetheless my desire 
to live a godly life and to follow the monastic path was gathering steam. During my two years in 
college, I read The Orthodox Church, The Orthodox Way, The Church is One by A.S. Khomiakov, 
His Life is Mine, In Search of True Wisdom by Sergius Bolshakoff, The Monk of Mount Athos, The  
Northern Thebaid, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, Orthodox Spirituality by a Monk of 
the Eastern Church, Anchored in God, The Way of a Pilgrim, A Wonderful Revelation to the Whole 
World, and the Faith Series by Father Thomas Hopko, along with many shorter articles and essays. 
Although I still had my eyes open for some young woman, my last romantic relationship 
at UCSC had passed. My other friends from high school and youth groups ceased to have the same 
interests and goals that I had, and our interactions became less compatible with my new life. 

Holy Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, California  
During the summer of 1980, at the invitation of Priest John (Newcombe), I lived at the 
Holy Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, California. Both James Paffhausen and I stayed upstairs 
in the main convent building for about two months that summer under the spiritual direction of our 
spiritual father. At that time two elderly nuns (in their 90’s) lived downstairs. We helped out 
cleaning and restoring the convent with the idea that possibly it could serve for the foundation of 
some future monastery. We usually read some short prayers together on weekday mornings when 
there was not a feast appointed. Father John would make us breakfast and then talk with us if he 
was not interrupted by a phone call. He would talk about monasticism and then speak about future 
possibilities. He would always state that it is very important that a monastery be founded for 
Americans, where converts would be welcome, where decent people could come and learn. He 
returned to this theme frequently. He also often stated that he didn't want this for himself but for 
others. He was content with his cell, with a few good books, with peace, and a prayer rope.  
That summer this became my dream: that I could participate in the founding of our own 
monastery, under the direction of Priest John, not for Greeks or Russians but for Americans. He 
planted this in our hearts. This remained our dream to carry out and fulfill. Throughout the summer 
we cleaned, painted and repaired various sections of the monastery. I learned to make prosphora and 
began serving regularly as an acolyte. We also took trips to the Kazan Icon Skete in Santa Rosa, 
where I was further exposed to the monastic life. There I met Archimandrite Dimitri (Egoroff), Sr. 
Joanna (later Abbess Susana) and Nun Victoria (later Abbess Victoria). These individuals helped 
me to begin my life as an Orthodox Christian, and involuntarily they exercised a great influence on 
my life. They always took good care of me and treated me with genuine tenderness as their son, as 
their little brother, every time I visited, even until the present day. Nun Victoria and Sr. Joanna had 
witnessed all sorts of nonsense in the way that clergy viewed and spoke about the monastic life. 
While neither of them today has a large monastic establishment, it should be noted that the times in 
which they began their monastic life were not conducive to establishing stable monasteries. 

My First Visit to the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in July, 1980 
On July 6, 1980, during our summer in Calistoga, James Paffhausen and I, with the blessing of Priest John Newcombe, drove four hours north to the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery.  This proved to be a very pivotal event in my life's path.  I found the monastery to be very strange at first, but I was intrigued because I saw that they were living the type of life that I had been reading about and that I longed to emulate.  When we arrived, the monastery was desolate. After Small Vespers and an evening meal we retired until around 10:00 p.m., at which time an All-night Vigil with Divine Liturgy was served. The singing was rather plain and brisk, bats flew through the temple a few times during the service. The church had never been finished, tar paper could be seen on the walls and ceiling behind the studs and rafters, stubs of candles burned on several second-hand candlestands, the church was lit with oil lamps that were filled at least once during the Vigil, and the entire church was censed several times during the course of the service.  Since this monastery was in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, James explained that we were not to receive Holy Communion. This service may seem simple in retrospect, but at my impressionable young age, diligently pondering the monastic life, here I tasted what I had been seeking. After the Divine Liturgy there was a simple meal in a refectory whose walls contained iconographic sketches that had never been finished. I witnessed the monastic life in a small skete secluded in the mountains, on a feast honoring the Forerunner of the Lord.  At that time there were very few places on the West Coast where one could attend an All-night Vigil in English, let alone on a weekday and lasting most of the way through the night.  The fact that this monastery was not in communion with either the OCA or the Moscow Patriarchate and the rustic facilities was hard to accept at first.  

The monastic brotherhood then consisted of Abbot Herman, Hieromonk Seraphim, Riassaphore-monk Peter (now Hieromonk Juvenaly), and perhaps three other brothers. Later that morning after resting, James and I went on a walk with Father Seraphim along the county road that passes through the monastery land. We each had partially developed thoughts about the monastic life. Everything that Father Seraphim said was very inspiring. I think that he was happy to speak with a couple of young people who were seriously interested in the monastic life. Our encounter and conversation that day was pivotal in my own life. I observed Hieromonk Seraphim as a teacher of the Orthodox Faith and of the spiritual life. I saw that I had much to learn from him and from the unpretentious way of life at this monastery. At one point in our walk James bluntly told Father Seraphim that we were intending to start a hesychast monastery. I gulped.  At the time James did not know how absurd this sounded.  Hieromonk Seraphim, silently saying the Jesus Prayer as he walked, then gently spoke about sobriety and the need to think humbly of ourselves.  He recommended reading The Arena by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov (which James had in his collection) and began to speak about delusion or prelest. (I later witnessed Hieromonk Seraphim responding in a mild way to a number of other people who came to talk about exalted themes like hesychasm). This day marked a milestone in our lives and a very important point in our spiritual development. Later in the morning we had a talk with Abbot Herman who made recommendations about what we should do at our campus, how we should gather to pray, and how we should organize talks.  He offered to help us out with some literature.  I kept all these ideas in my head.  The next year I continually reflected back on my visit to the monastery as a model of what I wanted in the monastic life. 

UCSC September 1980-June 1981 
When I returned to the university in September 1980, I started studying the Russian 
language, too. I saw the Russian language as a key to helping me unlock the treasures of the 
Orthodox Church. I saw the vast sea of literature that existed in Russian. I wanted to understand the 
services that were conducted in so many churches in Slavonic and to understand not only the 
Russian sermons but also to be able to communicate with the older parishioners who had a lifetime 
of heritage in the Orthodox Church and who could not speak English very well. I put a lot of effort 
in learning to speak Russian, which came easily to me. During that school year, I took one class 
entitled: ―Russian Religion taught by Donald Nichol and another on the novels of Dostoevsky. 
Reading these novels was a great inspiration to me during that semester. The figures of Bishop 
Tikhon and Elder Zosima continued to evoke my zeal for the monastic life and the entire spiritual 
tradition of the Church. At the same time that I was reading Dostoyevsky, I read for my spiritual 
enrichment Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky. In this volume I read about a man who had left schooling 
to pursue the monastic life without looking back. There was no hardship that he was not ready to 
endure for the sake of his spiritual quest in learning and acquiring the wisdom of the Holy Fathers.  
While I was enthralled by the writings of Dostoyevsky, the story of Elder Paisius was on an entirely 
different level.  

Visit of Hieromonk Seraphim Rose to UCSC 
Our Orthodox Christian Fellowship began to grow.  That small group eventually produced a large number of clergy and monastics, including Hieromonk James Corraza of the Old Joy of All Who Sorrow Cathedral in San Francisco, California. 

On May 15 Hieromonk Seraphim Rose was invited to visit our university to address our World Religions class taught by Noel Q. King.  Two guests from the future Evangelical Orthodox Church, Marion Cardoza (later Priest Seraphim Cardoza of Rogue River, Oregon [ROCOR]) and his friend Daniel Ogan (afterwards an iconographer) also attended Father Seraphim's talk.  It is amazing how pivotal this talk proved to be for Marion Cardoza, John Christensen, James Corraza and others.  I think that we had studied hard, and were ripe to hear a living word.  I had always treasured this talk which was taped by James Corraza and distributed widely among friends.  Seven years later I was instrumental in seeing this lecture being printed as a separate book entitled God's Revelation to the Human Heart.  

Father John (Newcombe) presented to me the monastic life as he had experienced it on 
Mount Athos and later at the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts. With 
my first introduction to the Orthodox Church I was also being guided in the monastic life. Father 
John always shared with us the love and nostalgia that he had for the peaceful and beautiful days 
that he had spent in the monasteries. So much had occurred in his life since his quiet Roman 
Catholic childhood that the quiet and peaceful times that he experienced in prayer both in his cell 
and in church served as a remedy for his soul. Looking back, it is no surprise to me that I followed 
the leanings of his heart and accepted them uncritically. He spoke so clearly and powerfully, with 
such conviction, and I implicitly trusted him and accepted his views without much analysis. His 
scathing critique of modern American society I also adopted. To me it was an apologia for the 
monastic life. Together with [MP]Bishop Mark representing the tradition of Valaam Monastery, under 
Father John's instruction I did not need a big push to head for the monastery. 

In June of 1981 I stood at a crossroads. My life had changed tremendously in the last two 
years. Many things both outward and within me changed at the same time. My spiritual father, 
Hieromonk Anastasy, had moved to Oregon. Due to the divisions within our OCF my relationship 
with James Paffhausen had soured. Hieromonk Anastasy had characterized him as someone who 
was going to go the way of the OCA. Nonetheless, as James had graduated that May, there was less 
tying me to UCSC. I had already decided not to pursue my studies in Physics, and now the political 
correctness in Latin American Studies began to adversely affect me to the extent that I was losing 
my interest in studying Spanish literature. At that time I could not see Spanish literature as a key to 
helping me to unlock the tradition of the Church. I did not see how it would help me to study 
theology nor would I use it in the monastic life. I stopped looking at my university studies as a way 
to pursue my goals. Realistically I did not have the patience and clear guidance at that point in 1981 
to settle down, focus, and finish college. My interests were leading me to the monastic life. 
In the early summer of 1981 both Hieromonk Anastasy and James Corraza had moved to 
Oregon. With these two people—my closest acquaintances at the time—in the Portland area, I 
resolved to head north to Oregon to look for work. I had visited a few other Orthodox Churches in 
Southern California but all of them seemed rather dull at the time. I wanted what I had experienced  
in the Bay Area, and so I left and headed north. Departing in the middle of July of 1981, I drove 
Archimandrite Dimitri (Egorov) from Santa Barbara to Santa Rosa. While I drove Archimandrite 
Dimitri from Santa Barbara, he lay in the back seat almost the entire time. He was saying the Jesus 
Prayer, and every few minutes would make some sort of soft cry. As I knew very little about prayer 
at that time, I considered it strange. Later I shared some aspect of this with Mother Victoria. In a 
very matter-of-fact manner she told me that he was accustomed to praying like that when he 
traveled. In reflecting I saw how God conceals His true servants. 

St. Herman of Alaska Monastery 
I reached St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina on the afternoon of July 28 [1981] en route to Portland.  Neither Abbot Herman nor Hieromonk Seraphim were there at that hour—only a few novices.  I decided to stay to help prepare for the 1981 St. Herman of Alaska summer pilgrimage.  I was quite happy and willing to contribute my efforts;  I looked forward to participating in the Divine Services and experiencing the monastic life.  However, I had no intention of staying at the monastery.   I looked forward to being involved in establishing the monastic life with Hieromonk Anastasy as my instructor and spiritual father.  

Pilgrims began to arrive just before St. Herman’s feast day from all over the West Coast and even overseas.  [ROCOR] Bishop Alypy of Cleveland visited on the feast day and [ROCOR] Bishop Laurus of Holy Trinity Monastery visited later in the week.  The feast was followed by a week of  classes on the Orthodox Faith and was designed to present the foundations of the faith primarily to converts and cradle Orthodox who wanted to know more about their faith.  There was a decided missionary tone to the "Pilgrimage."  The curriculum consisted of Church history, Orthodox doctrine, liturgics and chanting, and an explanation of the Book of Genesis by Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose).  Priest Alexey 
Young, who was very close to Fathers Herman and Seraphim, came from Etna and gave several of the classes.  There was also a slide show about Valaam Monastery and its elders.  This was accompanied by music of the monks of Old Valaam singing Valaam chant.  Since St. Herman of Alaska had laid his monastic beginning in that monastery, this slide show helped to give a background and context to the whole week.  This also was one of the things that most intrigued me: pictures and stories of the way monks lived in a traditional monastery, especially one such as 
Valaam where [MP] Bishop Mark had laid the beginning of his monastic life.  Here I encountered a context in which I could learn all about the teaching of the Church, and in which I could participate in the full cycle of services in the English language.  There was a daily explanation of the lives of the saints and the scripture readings.  The monastery was remote and cut off from the world.  I felt peace here.  It was also important to me that they were actively disseminating the Orthodox Faith.  

I talked to Hieromonk Anastasy on the telephone and, as he had not made any arrangements for me in Portland, I was in no hurry to go.  Finally, one day one of the monks sat next to me and asked me what I was going to do.  He asked if I had thought about staying at the monastery.  Of course, I had, but I knew that my family would be absolutely against it.  I also did not think that my spiritual father would give me his blessing to stay.  It should be stated that there were people, both pilgrims and monks who regularly bad mouthed the Moscow Patriarchate and the OCA 
from almost the first day that I came to the monastery. People around the monastery pejoratively called the OCA "the Metropolia."   They called the Moscow Patriarchate the "Soviet Church."  [MP] Bishop Mark had told us that not only ROCOR but Abbot Herman as well was "making politik," as he would express himself.  So there were a number of different reasons that I hesitated to join the monastery.  I talked with the Abbot, Father Herman, and asked him if it was possible for me to stay.  He told me that I could and that he would be happy to talk with Hieromonk Anastasy.  One day we  called him from Redding.  I asked his blessing to stay at the monastery.  He gave his blessing but, I could sense, very reluctantly.  I do not believe that he ever had full confidence in Abbot Herman.  

Family reaction 
My family's reaction was strong and clear: they did not agree with my choice. They 
thought that first of all I should finish college. They thought that monasticism was a waste of my 
talents. They thought that it was wrong if I did not get married and have a family. They felt that I 
had lied and deceived them. My grandfather had actually called the university to see if I was 
registered and had learned that I was not. So it was not a surprise to them when they learned where I 
was. Since I had stayed in the monastery in Calistoga the previous summer, my decision was not so 
unusual. My decision to become a monk triggered a rift between my family and I, whose traces still 
mark our relationship today. They feel that I have rejected them, that I do not care about family, in 
fact, that the Orthodox Church does not care about the family, etc. For many years it was very 
painful for me to write, talk, visit or interact with my family.  

Life in the Monastery 
I stayed the first few months at the monastery soaking in the monastic life without making any commitment.  In late November, 1981 I petitioned to be accepted as a novice.  On the feast of St. Herman of Alaska, celebrated there at the monastery on December 12/25, 1981, I was clothed as a novice.  I was very happy at that time.  I lived that first winter in an unheated cell.  I would put on several coats and use extra blankets to stay warm but I had my own partitioned cell, my icon corner, and spiritual books.  I had only one robe.  My life was centered around the Divine Services, my obediences, and my prayer rule.

During my novitiate I performed the usual obediences of a novice: I cooked, cleaned the church, cut firewood, helped in carpentry and construction projects, made elementary automotive repairs, etc.  In the spring of 1982 I began building a new set of cells which due to my lack of experience had many shortcomings.  However, as the future showed, this experience proved to be valuable. 

I soon began to assist with research for the monastery publications. I was gradually trained to do post-production work on the monastery publications, such as collating, stapling and cutting.  Later I was instructed how to use the old letterpress. Late in 1981 I began to help with research for the book Russia's Catacomb Saints. I would cross-reference citations and facts, analyze sources, write synopses of periods of persecution, movements in the early years of the Soviet regime and episodes in the life of the Church. I enjoyed this work very much. During the first two years I spent at the monastery my involvement with missionary trips to Redding, Etna, and Medford was very limited. Since I was a young novice, I was kept out of harm's way. Gradually I was included and often this involved the showing of slide shows on Holy Places in America, Valaam Monastery, Mount Athos, the New Martyrs of Russia, or some other theme.  

An important aspect of my monastic experience began during the fall of 1981.  After Compline the brothers were given an opportunity to have "revelation of thoughts" with Hieromonk Seraphim.  Although Father Herman was the abbot, Hieromonk Seraphim more often heard the confessions of the brothers and the revelation of thoughts.  This helped to lift the burden from my soul on a daily basis.  This continued regularly four or five times a week until mid-August, 1982.  At the same time, I became accustomed to going to Confession.  I did not have much experience with confession with Hieromonk Anastasy.  I think that he realized that I had to become at home in the Church first and that this was very foreign to me.  It was very hard in the beginning to accept correction.  Hieromonk Anastasy also had been reticent to correct me as was Abbot Herman later.  I distinctly remember that at one point during the first six months I made the remark to Hieromonk Seraphim during Confession that I was like everyone else.  I remember hearing him sigh.  I believe that he made a remark to the extent that this showed what a long way I had to go.  When I realized what I had said, my conscience stung.  I was very embarrassed.  I also had a number of lessons to learn in asking blessings to undertake some project.  Once when I was making some simple furniture item out of leftover wood, Hieromonk Seraphim asked me what I was doing.  When I explained, he asked, "Did you get a blessing to do this?"  Of course, I had not.  

Central to our monastic life was the monastic cell-rule of prayer.  At a certain point each monastic aspirant would be assigned a prayer rule.  It was the practice of the monastery for each monk to retire to his cell in the evening and there do his cell rule.  Because of the absence of electricity, it fit well with our life to perform our cell rule in the evening after Compline.  It was not easy to accustom myself to this.  I did not have good habits of self-discipline. It also kept the brothers from talking after evening prayers which were read in common in church.  We also had the habit that when we drove to Redding or on any journey that we would begin the journey with the Optina five hundred prayer rule.  This also brought a blessing on the journey and limited talking.  During Father Seraphim's lifetime when we went on any long trip, we would also bring the Horologion, Menaion, and Psalter and read the Vespers or Matins service that would otherwise have been omitted.  This produced in us a monastic world view and helped with our identity as monks.  Fundamental to our monastic formation were the evening talks that were delivered in the refectory primarily by Abbot Herman.  After the reading would finish, we would all be gathered around the table.  I soaked up every word that he or Hieromonk Seraphim had to share.  Sometimes I would record it in my journal that evening or during the next day.  In 1981–82 we did not have any editions of the Lives of the Saints, the Synaxarion or the Prologue.  Abbot Herman was able to share substantially the entire life of a saint or a righteous one from recent times without a text or notes.  He had a superb gift for relating the lives of the saints and the righteous ones of recent times.  His memory was very sharp and he was able to involve his listener in what he was trying to emphasize.  For those who listened intently it was quite an education.  The first books that I read at the monastery were Abba Dorotheos of Gaza, The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism, Unseen Warfare, Spiritual Homilies of St. Macarius of Egypt

Hieromonk Seraphim Rose 
Hieromonk Seraphim was usually the first or second one to church every morning. He often began the morning prayers himself in the Narthex. He would serve Matins without fail every day unless there was a literal all-night vigil which would be too much stress on his physical condition.  At times he would come to the cliros during Matins and help to lead the singing, either reading the canon in Slavonic or translating verses on the spot into English for the instruction of those gathered.  Every day, regardless of whether the Divine Liturgy was to be served or not, he would give a sermon on the theme of the daily Epistle or Gospel reading.  The Divine Liturgy was always served on Saturday and Sunday.  

He had great love for the nature that surrounded the monastery.  I reveled in this, too.  Up until I was ordained a priest, I would regularly take a book and hike up our mountain every Sunday, feast day or whenever I had the chance and find some new secluded spot in which to pray and read.  In October 1981 we were able to hike to the top of Mount Yolla Bolly (8,000 ft) located about twenty-five miles from the monastery.  Here at the top Fr. Seraphim read about the ascetic feats of the western desert dwellers of the Jura Mountains as we sat atop that chilly peak.  It was a beautiful glimpse of the world that he loved and which greatly impressed itself on me. 

In the autumn of 1981 Hieromonk Seraphim taught a class every other morning from his notes for a summer seminar that he had begun four or five years previously.  This course eventually became dubbed as the "Orthodox Survival Course."  It was his analysis of the history of Western philosophy, political history, and religious development from the time of the Great Schism.  He felt very strongly that an acute analysis in this manner showed the fruits of the schism of Rome from the Church and how the consequences of this schism are expressed in the history of Western culture.  In the following spring Hieromonk Seraphim sought to include me in the classes that he was teaching to one Seminary student who was taking correspondence courses through the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville.  Father Seraphim had questioned me several times whether or not I felt I was being challenged.  I was actually afraid that he would send me back to the university, which I do not believe was his intention but which was my greatest fear.  We also had classes in Russian which were crucial in providing me continuity with the one year during which I had studied Russian in the university.  At the same time I made it a discipline that whenever Hieromonk Seraphim or anyone else was reading in Slavonic on the cliros that I would walk over and look on at the text.  By the mid 1980s I was able to translate Slavonic into English without much difficulty.  The illness and repose of Hieromonk Seraphim was a great tragedy in my life.  It left us all stunned.  It happened so unexpectedly.  At first I did not suspect anything serious.  It seemed that he merely had a bad case of constipation.  He took a turn for the worse.  The heat in the valley was intense, approximately 115° F, and therefore we did not want to make him worse by taking him to Redding.  When we finally did the news was shocking: a section of his large intestine had ceased to function.  An operation began immediately.  Gangrene was already setting in and peritonitis of the stomach cavity developed.  It affected all his internal organs.  Having only one functioning kidney from an early age his system was not sufficiently strong to battle this condition.  Within several days Hieromonk Seraphim died.  

Abbot Herman and I drove back in the hearse from Redding to the monastery on September 3 with Father Seraphim's body in a coffin.  When Archbishop Anthony and Bishop Nektary arrived, Abbot Herman spoke to them about the details of the funeral and burial.  I was to be tonsured a reader on that day.  However, I stated that I did not want to become a reader, but rather that I wanted to be a monk.  I clung steadfastly to my desire for the monastic life that I had formed under the direction of Hieromonk Anastasy, [MP] Bishop Mark, and my first year at the monastery.  The funeral was attended by approximately 120 people.  I was so overwhelmed by all those events that I do not remember many details.  I remember Hieromonk Anastasy came for the funeral.  Before the Divine Liturgy, Novice Stephen and I were tonsured riassaphore-monks at the coffin of Hieromonk Seraphim by Archbishop Anthony.  In the monastic tonsure I was given the name Gerasim, with St. Gerasimus of the Jordan as my monastic patron and receiving this name in honor of Archimandrite Gerasim (Schmaltz) who had settled at Monks' Lagoon and devoted his life to the veneration of St. Herman of Alaska.  It was in such a context that I embraced the monastic life. 

Soon things began to change in our St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.  More brothers came, our conditions were very crowded.  We were busy with our publications, including Russia's Catacomb Saints.  We spent a good deal of time that long, dark autumn with the regular celebration at sporadic times of the Divine Liturgy.  Gradually I began to participate more and more in the administration of the monastery.  Our abbot was frequently absent on little excursions here and there.  This was a pattern which would continue to develop until he was forced into reclusion in April 2000.  There were no longer two experienced monks here capable of guiding me in the  monastic life and providing stability in the monastery.  Now there was only one priest in the monastery to conduct the Divine services and to serve the Liturgy.  

We scrambled to salvage Hieromonk Seraphim's legacy.  We attempted to patch together projects that he had left unfinished.  In late 1982 discipline in the monastery gradually started to wane.  This was a process which extended over many years.  We no longer experienced the same 
regular instruction.  I began to have serious doubts about how I would remain in the monastic life.  I remember becoming habitually angry or wrathful.  I recall it being a long, wet and lonely autumn in 1982, and a few months later the monastery church would burn down.  I had a temptation to leave at the end of November.  But I did not know where to go?  To what other monastery could I go?  (We were quite prejudiced toward the New Calendar, so that eliminated a number of options).  I wanted to live a real monastic life; I saw that our monastic life was beginning to crumble. 

 Abbot Herman, sensing that I needed a challenge, assigned me to go over a translation of One of the Ancients: the Life of Schema-archimandrite Gabriel of Kazan and Pskov.  This obedience continued for the next few years.  In this manner I kept my study of Russian going the entire time that I was in Alaska (1983–1986).  During the long, dark storms of the Alaskan winter, by kerosene lamp and candles I continued to study, translate, and edit.  This later proved to be very providential to me during my subsequent visits to Russia. 

In March 1983 Monk Nazarius was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Anthony.  Abbot Herman arranged to travel to Spruce Island to spend Holy Week and Pascha of 1983.  There he prayed and conceived the idea of reestablishing monastic life at Monks' Lagoon.  He felt that this dream was now possible and that perhaps some new phase was ahead for the mission of our brotherhood.  On the memorial day of Archbishop John's repose, I was tonsured as a reader over Archbishop John's coffin in his sepulcher by Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco.  

In the spring issue of the Orthodox America newspaper, we advertised a pilgrimage to 
Spruce Island to take place just after the feast of Transfiguration that August. It was kept to a group 
of ten people, seven of whom traveled from the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery, and three others 
who joined us in Portland, Oregon. Abbot Herman planned that we would go with enough supplies 
to settle there and reestablish monastic life there if it worked out. Most of the brothers that went 
were chosen primarily for their loyalty to and trust in Abbot Herman. We were also younger and 
more physically fit than the ones who stayed behind. We arrived in Kodiak on August 26 in the 
afternoon. We were met at the airport by Guy Vurick (later Hieromonk Gerasim). We went to 
venerate the relics of St. Herman of Alaska and were welcomed warmly. (We gave no explanation 
about the sixteen huge bags and duffels that we brought.) We were given some prosphora and the 
keys to the chapel at Monks' Lagoon. We held vigil on Saturday evening for the feast of the 
Dormition around which our pilgrimage centered. The next morning there was a baptism in Monks' 
Lagoon, and John Christensen was clothed as a novice.

Abbot Herman, Riassaphore-monk Juvenal, Novice Michael McGee, Novice John, Peter 
Karat, and I stayed while our traveling companions left at the beginning of the week for home. 
Initially a few of the natives were ready and willing to help. At the beginning of the St. Herman of 
Alaska Seminary year on September 2/15, Bishop Gregory and Archpriest Joseph Kreta visited with 
a boat load of seminarians. They were friendly and served a moleben in the Sts. Sergius and Herman 
chapel as well as a pannikhida at Archimandrite Gerasim's grave. Then they met with Abbot 
Herman and told him that he did not have their blessing to stay there and needed to leave. It was a 
very confusing and disturbing time. One of the main points of friction was a brochure entitled 
Father Gerasim: Guardian of St. Herman of Alaska that we had distributed among the local natives. 
This brochure had statements in it declaring that Archimandrite Gerasim did not belong to the 
American Metropolia and had always belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. 
Abbot Herman used this to draw the sympathy of the natives. It was a subtle device that excused 
him from needing to have the blessing of the ruling bishop of the Diocese of Alaska to live at 
Monks' Lagoon. (He did not have his own bishop's blessing to do this either). The land at Monks' 
Lagoon technically belongs to the Ouzinkie Native Corporation. We did not have their permission 
or consent to live there either, nor had we asked for it. This was complicated by an article that we 
published in The Orthodox Word, copies of which we had brought with us, which contained the 
phrase: "The eastern end of Spruce Island shall be given to Father Herman for him to do with as he 
likes." We found ourselves in what I can describe in retrospect as a ridiculous position trying to 
justify our unauthorized actions at every turn.

A few days later en route to Ouzinkie we learned that we could rent a small building 
several miles away at Pleasant Harbor. Here we could legally keep all our belongings. We would 
have a place to stay if the Diocese of Alaska or the Ouzinkie Native Corporation were to try to 
"kick us out." That evening on September 5/18, the eve of the commemoration of the miracle of the 
Archangel Michael at Chonae, we learned that we could buy a piece of land on which we could 
build our own monastery building and from where it would not be hard to stay from time to time at 
Monks' Lagoon and plan to eventually resettle there. Subsequently this day became the feast day for 
our Spruce Island metochion. 

When Abbot Herman left from Kodiak to California, to the surprise of the clergy in 
Kodiak, we had not. Later in the fall Archpriest Joseph Kreta came out to Monks Lagoon and put a 
combination lock on the chapel. Soon Riassaphore-monk Juvenal and Peter Karat departed. Novice 
Michael and Novice John remained with me. Novice John stayed at Pleasant Harbor most of the 
time while Michael and I stayed at Monks' Lagoon.  

That fall of 1983 we experienced one painful event after another. One of the most difficult 
was a meeting with Archpriest Joseph Kreta in November, 1983. One gloomy afternoon while we 
were buying supplies in Kodiak, Novice Michael and I walked into his office to talk and politely 
give our greetings. He sat us down and within a few minutes began a tirade, he turned bright red, 
was totally incensed, was speaking with all his might. I was terribly hurt. For many years this was 
my overwhelming, horrible impression of Fr. Joseph Kreta—until it gradually became clear that he 
was not the problem. He started to tell us that Abbot Herman sounds so "spiritual," that what we 
think we are doing at Monks' Lagoon was so "spiritual," but that we were totally misled, 
uninformed, and were spreading lies about St. Herman, Archimandrite Gerasim, and the Church. 
This went on for at least thirty minutes. It had a reverse effect. I hated this man for a long time. I did 
not understand that he wanted to break through our defenses and bring us to our senses. 
Hieromonk Nazary arrived on Spruce Island in late November. With the onset of winter 
and the presence of a priest we then spent most of our time at Pleasant Harbor. At the time his 
presence gave us more stability. (Of course, he had not been sent by the ruling bishop). In early 
December we arranged with an escrow company in Kodiak to buy a piece of land at Sunny Cove on 
Spruce Island. Since this land had first been glimpsed on the feast of the Archangel Michael in 
September, we called it St. Michael's Skete. 

Winter presented new difficulties. One day Novice Michael tried to leave from Monks' 
Lagoon but became hopelessly lost in a snowstorm and barely returned by nightfall. He left for 
good a few weeks later. (He remains a lifelong friend). During the second week of Great Lent, 
Hieromonk Nazary was summoned to San Francisco by Archbishop Anthony. We then learned of 
the suspension of Abbot Herman as Abbot and as a priest by Archbishop Anthony. Hieromonk 
Nazary had left with our liturgical vessels and antimension at the request of Archbishop Anthony. 
Having just been given a set of chalices by the dying Archimandrite Macarius of Bluffton, Canada, 
Abbot Herman sent Riassaphore-monk Juvenal up to Alaska soon afterwards to bring that set to us 
for safekeeping and future use. Abbot Herman made the brothers in Platina choose between loyalty 
to him and obedience to the Church. Soon all the monks who had remained at the St. Herman of 
Alaska Monastery left for Medford, Oregon. Sadly, almost all of them subsequently left the 
monastic life. Novice John and I were cut off from contact with most of our Orthodox friends and 
community. We were cautioned by Abbot Herman about communicating with others who were no 
longer loyal to him. We were very confused about what to do and to whom we were to be 
accountable. This was the beginning of a long, sad legacy, characterized first and foremost by our 
isolation from the Church.  

Throughout 1984 and 1985 we worked on the construction of St. Michael’s Skete. I threw 
myself into this task. I was able contribute to this project in a constructive manner with my heart, 
mind, and will. In the late summer of 1985, Abbot Herman asked Br. John Damascene to go down 
to Platina to assist with the production of The Orthodox Word and do missionary work. At the end 
of 1985 Abbot Herman came up to Spruce Island. By that time he described how he had the 
blessing of some bishop to serve. From then until Lent of 2000 he continued to serve in defiance of 
having been suspended from the priesthood. He was our abbot, he asked us to trust him and 
explained his rationale. I knew that this was wrong but to remedy the situation would have required 
me to completely leave Spruce Island and move to some other monastery, which in those years were 
in very short supply. At that point I did not feel that I had a bishop to whom I could turn or one to 
whom we were accountable. I always believed that the problem that Abbot Herman had with 
Archbishop Anthony could have been remedied. Abbot Herman painted the local OCA hierarchy in 
such bad colors that I did not pursue asking their mediation. 

That winter I went through for the first time the entire correspondence (several hundred 
pages) between Michael Z. Vinokouroff and Archimandrite Gerasim Schmaltz. We were kindly 
provided copies by the Alaska State Library in Juneau, Alaska. I deeply delved into Archimandrite 
Gerasim's world, his isolation, his sorrow, his frustration and his joys. I would regularly walk to 
Monks' Lagoon, where he had lived, and stay there for a few days. I would climb through one of the 
windows on the Sts. Sergius and Herman Chapel to circumvent the lock on the chapel doors. 
At first our relations with the natives in Ouzinkie were good. Some friends soon moved to 
Anchorage for a few years. When we went to get the mail, very few people were friendly. We had 
confused them. We were expecting them to take sides, our side. Many of them were told that we 
were not in "their" church. Their initial enthusiasm was gone. Some people looked at us as 
"squatters." Some simply looked the other way when we passed. In Kodiak a few of the seminarians 
asked us, "When are you going to join our Church?" Instead of offering hope to the natives, we 
unwillingly stirred up division. Abbot Herman did not see it that way, but he was not living there.  

With the arrival of the Nuns Brigid, Maria and Sophia on Spruce Island at the beginning 
of September, 1986, I returned to the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina. I had become 
isolated in Alaska. This solitude was not the best thing for my spiritual life at that time. Now a time 
of intense activity was about to begin. New brothers had arrived to test the monastic life: Mark, 
David, and James. One distinctive trait of this period was that whenever Abbot Herman would 
speak in the refectory, he would work himself into a tirade against bishops or whoever else  
questioned him. This would lead into an endless explanation of how he had been unjustly treated or 
persecuted, how Archbishop John had been persecuted, and how Archimandrite Gerasim had been 
ostracized. I began to be inwardly pained at how these formerly "profitable tales," that had 
strengthened my monastic life, had turned into attacks on everyone who questioned us. I dreaded 
these ordeals which in 1987-1989 could last several hours. It was a pain that I bore alone. 
Riassaphore-monk Damascene was living at the St. Xenia Skete in Wildwood, California, 
where he worked on The Orthodox Word. Henceforth most of his time was spent on our monastery 
publications and in writing the book Not of This World: Life and Teaching of Fr Seraphim Rose .  
As Abbot Herman was busy visiting various communities connected to the Holy Order of Mans 
(HOOM, afterwards the Christ the Savior Brotherhood), I spent most of my time coordinating 
the affairs at the monastery, except as regards the publications. I honestly gave my best efforts to 
solidify and practice our monastic life there at the Monastery. I had a conviction that it depended 
upon my personal effort to live the monastic life. I was responsible for being an example. The 
approaching millennium celebrations and the entrance of the former EOC parishes had brought 
hope into the life of the Church, but we were not able to participate in this directly. Justifying his 
need to minister to the HOOM communities and his distrust of almost all Orthodox bishops, Abbot 
Herman had found a charlatan bishop in New York, Pangratios, who called himself the 
Metropolitan of Vasilopoulis (city of Queens). 

Our brotherhood prospered outwardly, that is, it grew in numbers, in the quality and size 
of our structures and property. Our publications increased in number and quality. Our sales had 
increased as well. In September 1987 we poured by hand the foundation for our new our monastery 
catholicon. I experienced hope during this period that our monastic life would become healthier.  

Mt. Athos pilgrimage 
In May of 1987 the former novice Michael, with whom I had lived in Alaska, invited me 
to make a pilgrimage to Mount Athos. My pilgrimage to Mount Athos was a return to the source of 
our common monastic life. I was going there to witness the fullness of our monastic tradition. We 
spent two weeks there and visited eight monasteries and a number of sketes. I did not have many 
significant meetings with spiritual fathers at that time. I was not looking for that. In fact, I had been 
discouraged to do that. I was looking for information to augment what was presented in a book I 
was helping to prepare for publication, Contemporary Ascetics of Mount Athos, but I did not have 
substantial success. Nevertheless, some of the personal contacts proved to be important. I came 
back with great personal resolve to struggle in the monastic life. Everything about Mount Athos 
made perfect sense to me. We walked for hours along the old paths of the Holy Mountain. We 
attended an All-night Vigil for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross at Xeropotamou Monastery.  
The most important thing that I gathered for our own monastic community was the feel, rhythm and 
practice of Athonite monastic life. Mount Athos has remained as a model to me ever since. 

A Year of Hope 
1988 was a year full of great hope. Beginning on Lazarus Saturday waves of people were 
baptized at our monastery. People were drawn to our monastery, to our publications, to the zeal or 
our witness. This brought encouragement to us. We represented what was taking place throughout 
the whole world, the revelation of the Orthodox Church to the world at large. We presumed that we 
were the future of the Church. The construction of our catholicon went forward rapidly and we 
raised the main dome on the feast of St. Athanasius of Mount Athos on July 5/18, 1988. 

Abbot Herman Defrocked 
In July Archpriest Stefan Pavlenko of Burlingame and Archpriest Peter Perekrestov of San 
Francisco brought Ukaz #11/35/68/36/141 of July 12/25, 1988 from the Synod of Bishops of the 
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia stating that by decree of the Council of Bishops Abbot 
Herman had been defrocked. He did nothing but ignore it and state that he had already been 
received by Pangratios, that these bishops were jealous, that the Russian Church Abroad was itself 
not recognized by others, and that these bishops wanted to destroy his godly work and reputation. 
He regularly returned to his stand that he was being persecuted for defending Archbishop John 
(Maximovitch). We were urged to always value the blessing of Archbishop John, not of some 
worldly bishop. Now a period of outright schism had begun.

It is painful to me, even now, that I remained in schism all that time. Since I had a slightly 
broader experience of the Church than the other monks, I should have been the one to put my foot 
down or leave. I was not silenced when I disagreed or objected, but was often mocked and 
ridiculed.  I grew to avoid direct conflict. I gradually accepted what was taking place. Perhaps this 
is why Abbot Herman was content for me to remain in the monastery and deal with day-to-day 
matters. I had acquired considerable knowledge of many aspects of the monastic life and the 
monastery functioned smoothly in his absence. 

Valaam Society of America 
Most of our missionary outreach in the late 1980s and through the 1990s was conducted 
through the auspices of the Valaam Society Bookstores. In late 1986 Abbot Herman had created the 
Valaam Society of America. This was supposed to be a lay organization that would support and 
defend monasteries and proclaim traditional Orthodox Christianity. Although it never really took 
shape as he desired, there was success in opening about forty Orthodox bookstores/chapels 
throughout the United States and even in other countries. These served not only as economic outlets 
for selling our books but primarily as missionary centers to proclaim the Orthodox Faith. This took 
place just prior to and contributed to the rapid growth in numbers of converts to the Orthodox faith 
that was witnessed in 1987-1989. Our monasteries were involved intimately with many of these 
stores. We could be sent at little more than a moment's notice to promote and support the Orthodox 
Faith and monasticism. I regularly gave lectures and slide presentations at these stores from 1989 to 
2000. After my ordination to the priesthood I would regularly serve in the chapels of some of these 
stores, specifically those in closer proximity to the monastery: Chico, Reno, and later Redding.  

Russky Palomnik 
Beginning in 1988 a wave of pilgrims started to visit from Russia. With these new 
contacts from within Russia there arose the idea to resume the publication of Russky Palomnik. It 
would be published under the auspices of the Valaam Society of America. This magazine used the 
title of a large format popular Russian Orthodox magazine of the late nineteenth century and 
followed to some extent its content. At first we would publish the magazine in California and ship it 
to Russia to individuals with whom we had established contact. Later we established what we called 
the "American Orthodox Mission to Russia in Moscow, primarily as a foundation that would 
publish and distribute the Russky Palomnik magazine. I was active in proofreading the Russky 
Palomnik and with distribution through the mail. The publication of this magazine added a heavy 
new workload to Abbot Herman's responsibilities and this necessitated that I spend more time 
handling the general affairs of the monastery. I saw that the work of Russky Palomnik would bring 
us into close contact with Russian monasteries and perhaps strengthen our monastic life. With my 
knowledge of Russian, this work became for me a major source of edification. 

Involvement with Publications 
During the late 1980's I began to be regularly involved with the editing the annual St. 
Herman Calendar. Because of my love for the liturgical life of the Church and the saints of God, 
this was an obedience into which I annually put a lot of my time and effort. In 1989 and 1990 I 
prepared for publication translations of Elder Leonid of Optina and Elder Anthony of Optina. I also 
spent time annotating a whole volume of the letters of Elder Anthony that we used in several other 
publications. Working on these hitherto unpublished works allowed me to maintain my proficiency 
in Russian. We also saw this as a way that we participated in the glorification of the elders of 
Optina Monastery who had been guiding lights in our own monastic life in Platina. 

Western Europe 
In April, 1990 I traveled to Bergamo, Italy to attend a conference on Optina Monastery. It 
was attended by a number of ecclesiastical personalities and scholars from Russia as well as from 
the West. (Here I met the late Metropolitan Pitirim of Volokolamsk, Archimandrite Innokenti 
[Prosfirin], as well as His Eminence Archbishop Evlogy of Vladimir and Suzdal.) While in Italy I 
was also able to visit the Comunita Contemplativi di Gesu, a Roman Catholic monastic community 
that focused on Eastern Orthodox spirituality. These monks had published outstanding books on St. 
Paisius Velichkovsky and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain in the Italian language. They had 
forged close bonds with many monks from Romania. I was also able to visit a Roman Catholic 
Benedictine community that was then located in Desio. The abbot, Father Adalberto, was a 
specialist in Russian Orthodox monasticism. These monks were extremely hospitable and 
welcoming. The monastics that I met there I found to be very serious and very interested in our 
monastic tradition. Their example, their communities, and their research inspired my monastic life.  

Alaska and Russia 
In June of 1991, I returned to Alaska with Riassaphore-monk Raphael (now Abbot 
Ioasaph), and Novice Zachariah along the AlCan Highway, sending the nuns who had been living in 
St. Michael’s Skete back to California.  

In August of the same year, I made my first trip to Russia. I first traveled on a Christian 
Ecology tour for two weeks and stayed for another four months. It was my goal to spend time at the 
newly reopened Valaam Monastery, to know its way of life, to study the tradition, to gather 
information about the elders, and to form contacts between our monasteries. We were dearly 
welcomed by Abbot Andronik, but in his absence the confessor Hieromonk Geronty, was formal, 
curt and somewhat cold. Eventually I learned that he had heard some rather accurate reports about 
Abbot Herman's uncanonical status as well as some speculation about his work in Russia and his 
personal character. Hieromonk Geronty inferred from the use of a Nicholai Roerich painting on the 
cover of Russky Palomnik that Abbot Herman was presenting the Orthodox tradition in a very 
undesirable manner. This cast a shadow over my stay at Valaam. 

During that same trip to Russia Abbot Herman had received as a personal gift a gold cross 
from His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II. We were led to believe that our ecclesiastical situation was 
being resolved or was not as bad as other people said. After I left Valaam to visit other holy places 
in Russia, I headed to Pechori near Pskov. Our dear friend Katherine Rees was staying in the 
vicinity at the time under the direction of Elder Adrian. We were very fortunate and were received 
with great love by him and by his disciples. I spent about a week there, going regularly to the 
Church services in the different chapels around the monastery, going to confession to Father 
Adrian, speaking with the monks and praying in the caves. I also met Archimandrite John 
(Krestyankin) there but did not converse with him at any length. 

One of the most important journeys of my life took place in late November--early 
December, 1991. I accompanied a young hierodeacon from St. Petersburg to the Republic of 
Georgia. I had no previous interest in Georgia or the Georgian Church, but it turned out to be very 
pivotal in my spiritual life, in my life in the Orthodox Church, and for the future of our St. Herman 
of Alaska Brotherhood. This pilgrimage and the subsequent relationships that I formed with the 
clergy and laity of the Georgian Church were the most important steps in my monastic life. At first 
the people, their language, their culture, their churches seemed strange. 

Georgian clergy 
The most remarkable event of all was my meeting with the elder Schema-Archimandrite 
Vitaly of Tbilisi. Fr. Vitaly was the last in the lineage of the Glinsk elders and reposed one year 
after our visit in 1992. We had quite a time convincing his fellow ascetic, Schema-Abbess 
Seraphima, to take us to see him. The house was situated below the road behind a non-descript 
wooden gate. He met us at the bottom of the stairs with a prostration to the ground. However, since 
we had not been introduced, I had no clue that this was the elder himself, as I did not know that that 
is how a well-known elder would meet his guests. As it dawned on me that this was him, I was 
completely humbled. He proceeded over the course of the next two hours to sit on his knees in front 
of us and to weep the entire time that he spoke to us about the true elders he had known and those 
still alive. He spoke to us about bishops who practice the Jesus Prayer. His humble words evoked in 
me the desire to confess my sins right then and there. This was definitely the most amazing 
conversation/discourse of my entire life. Here was a spiritual giant living in obscurity. When I later 
returned to St. Petersburg and related this event to Hieromonk Boris of the Valaam Metochion, he 
said in reply: "He is a great starets." During his funeral in December, 1992, he opened his hand and 
grasped the scroll containing the Prayer of Absolution.  

Leaving the residence of Schema-archimandrite Vitaly, we headed to the Patriarchate for a 
scheduled meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Ilia II, who welcomed us, invited us to meet with 
people in the Patriarchate, to visit the churches and monasteries as their guests. I was impressed by 
their warm open hospitality. Years later I would come to know His Holiness more closely. 

Department of Missions and Evangelism 
We were encouraged to visit the Department of Missions and Evangelism headed by an 
Archimandrite Daniel (Datuashvili), now Metropolitan Daniel of Abkhazeti., who was out of town. 
I was not interested in meeting him because I felt that, if they needed a bureaucracy to do 
missionary work, it could not be of any value. Nevertheless we went, and there I met the Priest 
Pavle (Pachuashvili), now Metropolitan Nikoloz of Kumurdo and Ninotsminda. This man came 
alive when we entered. He shared with us everything that they had done and were setting out to do 
in the realm of missions and evangelism. I presented to Father Pavle a copy of Russky Palomnik 
magazine with the first installment of a short biography of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose). I explained 
to him that I was from the monastery where he lived. He took it with great interest and informed me 
that I must meet Archimandrite Daniel. He said that he would be most interested, and he felt that I 
should meet him. I shook this offer very casually because, after our meeting that morning with 
Schema-archimandrite Vitaly, I had no wish to meet with someone whom I assumed was merely a 
bureaucrat, once again convinced that one did not need a department of Missions and Evangelism to 
spread the Orthodox Faith. We were shown some pictures of their missionary work and some 
literature. I did not realize then how significant my meeting with these people would be, who would 
later help me through the most difficult years of my monastic life and eventually help me to obtain 
the clarity to return from schism to the Church.  

Several days later Father Pavle came to our hotel and asked if I would join him to attend a 
house blessing to meet Archimandrite Daniel. Here I encountered a man who was to serve as a 
father in the faith to me for many years, an example of pastoral care, of tact, of patience, of wisdom 
and service. In a very modest way without presupposing anything he took me under his wing that 
day. The service was a paraklesis with the full blessing of the house. This was followed by 
fellowship at the table led by Archimandrite Daniel. Everything that happened to me subsequently 
in Georgia and in my relations with the Georgian people, I owe to Metropolitan Daniel. He made it 
all happen. No matter what anyone would have to say about him, I cannot adequately express the 
debt I have to him in my heart. 

When I first met Archimandrite Daniel and Father Pavle they were simply priests. I valued 
them as kindred souls. However, within five years an entire crop of young men, almost all of them 
my age, were consecrated to the episcopacy. When I first met them, our monastery was in schism 
from the Church, however, because of the ecclesiology (or lack thereof) that was being hammered 
into us, I rationalized the matter. It was in their midst that I first truly understood and experienced 
the Church. They had something that I was not experiencing. They lived the Church as a family. 
After the ebb of communism, they were as children being gathered by God their Father into the 
body of His Son. Seeing their life, their witness, their faith, I knew that the Church was real, living 
and that it did not have to be Greek or Russian. (This also was a revelation to me. This point has 
been emphasized to me in relation to the United States by Metropolitans Daniel, Nikoloz, Isaiah, 
and Dimitri in a very eloquent way.) My conviction is very strong that without this experience and 
without their guidance and friendship I would not have lasted in the monastic life or perhaps 
remained an Orthodox Christian. These men have been dear friends to me for the last eighteen 
years, at times the closest people in the whole world to me. 

I returned to the California in January against my own desire. In Russia and Georgia I had 
encountered a Church that was alive; it was growing; people were praying, confessing, and fasting. 
This strengthened my experience of the Church. I saw this was an antidote to our isolation, both 
geographical and ecclesiological. 

In 1992 on the Sunday of Myrrh-bearing Women, in 1992 I was tonsured as a monk by 
Abbot Herman in our St. Herman of Alaska Monastery Church. The tonsure was long overdue. I 
had become a monk earlier over the coffin of Hieromonk Seraphim, and while I had taken the 
plough and looked back, I never wished to do anything else.  

St. Paisius Abbey 
In 1990 our St. Herman Brotherhood heard that the newly formed Christ the Savior 
Brotherhood was going to sell their land in Forestville, California (formerly designated as the 
Central Abbey of the Holy Order of MANS). Abbot Herman tried to get their leadership to oppose 
this. He thought of different ways to utilize the property. At certain times I would be involved.  

By 1991 the first St. Paisius Missionary School was held there. The Missionary School, 
which took the place of the St. Herman Summer Pilgrimages, due to the lack of viable facilities in 
Platina, continued each July up through 1999. During the eight or nine years that it functioned I 
taught Liturgics on about three occasions and Ascetic Theology twice. In later years we developed a 
St. John of Kronstadt Pastors' Conference, a St. Theophan retreat (on their respective feast days in 
late October and mid-January), and a popular Women's Retreat. Eventually a women’s monastic 
community was established there along with a school for teenage girls known as the Lyceum. In 
2001 this community moved to Safford, in eastern Arizona.  

Theophany Skete 
Theophany Skete began in 1992 in Chico, California as a missionary outreach program to 
those in the "punk" movement. Several young men had come to the monastery from such a 
background. In turn they wanted to reach out to their peers. A number of monks were regularly 
involved in various aspects of this ministry. After the monastic tonsure of some of the participants, 
my own involvement increased. In 1994 the magazine Death to the World was launched. It was 
designed as an outreach to young people from the counter-culture. It was published until about 1999 
and then again in 2006 the zine was revived by young Orthodox converts in Orange County.  

Return to Alaska 
On September 14/27, 1994, Monk John, Novice Martyrius and I and returned to Monks' 
Lagoon. Monks Ioasaph and Theophil were already there on Spruce Island. When we arrived, I 
informed Monk Ioasaph that he was to return to the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery. This did not 
go over well at all. Monk Ioasaph had spent the last three years on Spruce Island and had worked 
hard to form relationships with the local clergy, the St. Herman Seminary, and the Ouzinkie natives. 
The primary reason why Abbot Herman had asked him to come to Platina is that he did not want 
Monk Ioasaph to be either the model for the young monastics nor to be their superior. He was asked 
to return to Platina to help build the monastery refectory. Monk Theophil stayed for another six 
months. My main task was to orient the young monks to life on Spruce Island, to make sure that 
they learned how to get around the island on foot and by boat, to initiate further construction, and to 
try to provide a clear, coenobitic monastic life.  

Ordination to the Priesthood 
Abbot Herman arrived in early November. He discussed with me the plans that he had 
made. An Archimandrite Innokenti (Veniaminov) had stayed several months at the St. Paisius 
Abbey and at a friend's ranch in Shingletown in 1994. Afterwards Abbot Herman and 
Archimandrite Innokenti (Veniaminov) had persuaded Metropolitan John of St. Petersburg to 
perform the ordinations of several monks of our monastery. They had obviously blurred the reality 
of our monastery's canonical status and that of our "bishop." Nevertheless, we were long overdue 
for a second priest in the monastic community. In terms of seniority and involvement in the lives of 
the monks, I had been asked many times to consider ordination to the priesthood, but I never had 
wanted to have anything to do with either Pangratios or any of his fellow "bishops." I returned to 
Platina, and prepared to go to Russia to be ordained to the holy Priesthood together with Hieromonk 
Damascene and an Orthodox deacon. We left for Russia on December 12, 1994.  

A very special occasion took place in Moscow a few days after our arrival. We visited 
Hieroschemamonk Raphael at the Valaam Metochion. While other people were talking and few 
were paying attention to what he said, I heard him clearly state out loud, "They will be ordained to 
the priesthood, then they need an island and an antimension." I cannot tell you how I felt at that 
moment. One friend was talking and had paid no attention. Another friend had said: "The Elder is 
prophesying, But my friend had no idea what Father Raphael's words meant. Father Raphael then 
continued to converse with us about his time as a desert-dweller in the Caucasus Mountains. 
I was ordained by Metropolitan John to the diaconate on feast of St. Boniface, December 
19/January 1, 1994/5 at the Church of Sts. Symeon and Anna on which day Father Damascene had 
been ordained to the priesthood. I was ordained to the priesthood at the Church of Sts. Symeon and 
Anna on the feast of the Ten Martyrs of Crete on December 23/January 5 1994/5. On my arrival 
back at the monastery, Abbot Herman decided that I would spend one year at the monastery, 
serving regularly and not traveling anywhere.  

Return to Alaska 
I returned to Alaska on January 4/17, 1996. In my absence after Pascha in 1995 the 
brothers, having received expressed consent of the Ouzinkie Native Corporation (but without any 
Episcopal blessing), built a 10 X 10 chapel on a knoll above the beach at Monks' Lagoon in honor 
of the feast of the Meeting of the Lord, to which feast the original chapel at Monks' Lagoon had 
been built in the late 1820s or early 1830s. This chapel was very important in the development of 
our life at Monks' Lagoon. It provided us a place to pray which we had built with permission. 
Around this chapel our monastic life on Spruce Island began to grow. When I arrived Riassaphore- 
monk Andrew (Wermuth) was then alone at Monks' Lagoon. We spent that spring arranging our 
monastic life. 

Immediately after my arrival we received a large anonymous donation. With this money 
we resolved to begin the restoration of the cell of Archimandrite Gerasim, which was rapidly 
sinking into the ground. Monk Ioasaph had already discussed the strategy and method of repair. 
That Lent we would fast until about 2:00 o'clock while chipping the frozen earth out from under his 
old cell. We worked on our hands and knees on the frozen volcanic ash digging holes in which to 
set piling. As we made progress and began to raise the cell, we felt great consolation: the monastic 
legacy at Monks' Lagoon would not disappear, and our efforts could overturn decades of neglect. 
We thought: "Did anyone else have any use for Archimandrite Gerasim's cell and monastic labors?" 
Soon after Pascha, Monk Moses and Novice Timothy arrived. We steadfastly continued 
our daily prayers at the small Meeting of the Lord chapel and devoted the bulk of our efforts to 
restoring Archimandrite Gerasim's cell. We celebrated the Divine Liturgy about four times a week, 
baked prosphora, built some small log and earthen cells for ourselves, enlarged the gardens, cleared 
the trail to St. Michael's Skete, and caught fish to help feed ourselves. At this time I experienced 
tremendous personal growth. Some restlessness that I had felt in my soul was gone. I was able to 
devote myself in prayer, labor, even in pastoral work. I grew to love Alaska even more. I had a very 
rustic cell, but I utilized my time well and helped to prepare for publication letters of Archimandrite 
Gerasim. Some of these were included in the book Abba Gerasim: and His Letters to His 
Brotherhood, and others appeared in The Orthodox Word. This was an important project for me 
which I only finished later in Platina. It involved extensive research into people and places of the 
local islands about whom little written record has been left. It gave me a more endearing love for 
the local Orthodox people and all the hardships and disappointments that they have experienced.  
In September three more monks and novices arrived from the St. Herman of Alaska 
Monastery. Our monastic life grew more stable and guests were able to benefit and participate. In 
November, 1996 Abbot Herman visited. He gathered Monk John, Monk Andrew and I. He strongly 
reiterated his conviction that we had the blessing of St. Herman to establish monastic life at Monks' 
Lagoon. He emphasized that Monks' Lagoon belonged to St. Herman to do with as he saw fit. That 
no one else would bother and no one else cared about monastic life at Monks' Lagoon. It was up to 
us alone. This was a challenge and we did feel motivated. He then gave Monks John and Andrew 
instructions to begin cutting down the trees just north of the old beach house (an earlier attempt to 
build a monastery in Monks’ Lagoon). We were to begin building an entirely new monastery 
edifice. Eventually we would seek the proper occasion to tear down the old beach house and extend 
this new monastery building right over where the beach house now stands. We spent that winter 
gathering materials, hauling logs, sawing lumber, drawing plans, and placing footings for 
construction in the spring. We were growing close as a monastic community. We learned to work 
well together, to respect one another, to bear one another's burdens. Our life had little outward 
consolation, yet we were happy to have the opportunity to live there and serve St. Herman in 
whatever way we could.  

That winter there were at times more than ten of us at Monks' Lagoon. We ate in common, 
shared cells, crammed into the church together, and labored hard side-by-side. Monk John did much 
of the logistical work and for this reason was often in Kodiak. He began planning an 
educational/vocational program for young men which eventually became the St. Innocent's 
Academy. We did not communicate well. I did not appreciate his efforts and how he worked. I had 
almost nothing to do with this program, in fact a serious problem developed in that Monk John 
became the funnel for our communication and orders from Abbot Herman. It was very hard to tell 
what was being communicated. Our isolation at Monks' Lagoon and this mode of communication 
heightened my growing distrust for decisions being made by Abbot Herman and, in fact, any 
direction that began to come from Forestville. Not only had some unfortunate choices been made at 
Monks' Lagoon, not only was our relationship with the Church totally unacceptable, but we were 
receiving some very confused signals about our life and future at Monks' Lagoon. We were being 
censured by other monastics and close friends of the monastery for distrusting Abbot Herman if we 
dared to question any decision or topic. I am sure that my distrust was noticeable. I was absent for 
about six weeks that summer. During that time Monk Paisius stayed at Monks' Lagoon to oversee 
our monastic life. Construction on our new monastery building proceeded rapidly. 

Upon my return we began to put the roof and tower on the new monastery coenobium or 
residence. In November an eviction notice was brought from the Ouzinkie Native Corporation 
(ONC) and presented to us. We were ordered to vacate the premises by May 15, 1998. A series of 
articles came out in the local papers, eventually court hearings were arranged, and a resolution was 
set forth by a judge in Anchorage. The case was dropped; the judge ruled that the monastery 
building would not be torn down but that the monks were not to live at Monks' Lagoon without the 
expressed permission of the ONC.  

My heart was heavy all during that spring. The impending eviction colored our lives 
considerably that winter and spring. However, we put up the dome on the top of the new monastery 
building on the feast of the Three Hierarchs in 1998 amidst absolutely beautiful, calm weather, such 
weather being quite rare at that time of year. We continued to make the monastery habitable and at 
the same time started to stockpile our supplies on St. Nilus Island. There was a lot of public support 
for us from the Kodiak community at large. 

We left Monks' Lagoon on May 15, 1998 for St. Nilus Island (a fifty-acre island one half 
mile south of Spruce Island). We had received permission from the owners to stay there, acting as 
care-takers. In May we began construction on a church dedicated to St. Nilus of Sora on the Island. 
Monks Andrew, Adrian, and I used the timber we had milled at Monks' Lagoon and ordered more 
from local sawmills. Still stinging from our eviction from Monks' Lagoon, we put our effort into 
carving out a new life for ourselves on St. Nilus Island. Monk Martyrius returned from Mount 
Athos in June; I left for Russia with Monk John that month on a research project. Monk Martyrius 
spearheaded the completion of the chapel and the raising of the dome in the spring of 1999. 
Abbess Brigid, then living with a number of sisters at St. Michael's Skete on Spruce Island 
had been alienated from Abbot Herman for some time. She had been seeking to move the sisters to 
a more stable location, one less affected by choices made by others which could abruptly impact the 
life of the nuns under her direction. When she was asked to move to St. Nilus Island by Abbot 
Herman in January, 1999, she left for Kansas City, Missouri with several other sisters. One nun 
returned to Wildwood, California. Nun Neila, inspired with the obedience given by Abbot Herman, 
to move to St. Nilus Island, took up residence on the small wind-swept island, while the monks 
returned to St. Michael's Skete. Nun Nina was sent that month from the St. Paisius Abbey to join 
Nun Neila on St. Nilus Island. They have both remained there ever since. Negotiations began and 
the St. Nilus Island was purchased from the Irwin family in 2003. Today there are four sisters there. 

Departure from Alaska 
I left in June, 1998 with Monk John for Moscow. We did research in Moscow and then in 
St. Petersburg at the State Archives. We also made several side trips: to Optina, St. Sergius Lavra to 
pray at the relics of St. Innocent of Alaska, and to visit a well known singer, Hieromonk Roman, 
who was living in the woods about thirty miles from Pskov. When I returned to the U.S. in 
September I was asked to come back to Platina. I was needed there. 

Second Pilgrimage to Georgia 
In late 1998 I reestablished contact with the Georgian Orthodox Church. I was invited by 
Bishop Nikoloz of Bodbe to join him on the St. Nino's Way pilgrimage in July, 1999. My second 
pilgrimage to Georgia brought entirely new depths to the relationships that I had established in 
1991. Furthermore, they were crucial to the direction of our monastery and my close friends—as 
well as to my experience of the Church. My interactions, conversations, the Church services and the 
whole of what I observed there provided the final strength that I needed to lead our brothers back 
from schism and into the Church. 

I joined St. Nino's Way on July 2, 1999 in the cathedral city of Urbnisi, the site of an 
important Church council in 1102. We journeyed on foot each day from town to town so as to reach 
Mtskheta on the eve of the feast of the Twelve Apostles, the patronal feast of Svetistskohveli, the 
patriarchal cathedral. This was a missionary pilgrimage of prayer, a forty day procession at the 
beginning of each summer, following the path that St. Nino took to bring the Christian faith to the 
people of Iberia. This was the eighth year of the St. Nino's Way. Along the route Bishop Nikoloz 
preached many times a day, sometimes to the participants, sometimes to a crowd of faithful 
gathered in church, other times at an improvised movie theatre, around the dinner table, or stopping 
in a village for a glass of water. Every few days there were baptisms en route. 

These were very blissful days. I had no responsibilities. The bitter-sweet experience of our 
life on Spruce Island was distant. I was with people whom I loved and who loved me—who were 
offering their lives to God in missionary service to their neighbor.  

Collapse: Return in September of 1999 and unraveling of Abbot Herman's escapades. 
After returning from this beautiful pilgrimage to Georgia in 1999, I was asked by Monk 
Dorotheus to visit the St. Paisius Monastery in September. There he informed me of some very 
grave problems that concerned Abbot Herman. This began a whole series of visits to Forestville in  
the fall and winter of 1999 to resolve how we were going to deal with Abbot Herman and as well 
how to address the larger question of our untenable situation regarding the Church. It was now 
crystal clear that we were in schism from the Church primarily because Abbot Herman was a 
fugitive from ecclesiastical justice, from accountability to his bishop. He had found a compromised, 
uncanonical bishop who really could not in turn question Abbot Herman or hold him accountable. 
The people involved in these discussions at the time were primarily Priest Michael Oyer, Priest 
Philip Tolbert, Monk Dorotheus, Abbess Michaila, Nun Xenia, Monk Paisius and at times a few 
others. (They deserve my respect by virtue of the leadership that they showed and their willingness 
to assess the breadth of our predicament). Priest Michael Oyer and Priest Philip Tolbert represented 
tacitly twenty other priests who were connected to the Christ the Saviour Brotherhood. 
Gradually we understood that our main task was to return to communion with the Church. 
This was the real issue. At the time we were not ready to think clearly on this subject. We had all 
sorts of baggage that we had inherited: the portrayal of people in the canonical Orthodox Church as 
simply desiring recognition, the purported spiritual bankruptcy of SCOBA, the danger of ―slick 
Orthodoxy, the indispensability of the Old or Julian Calendar, and modernism as the ultimate 
plague of the Church, etc. This is what Abbot Herman had drilled into us over the years. 
In an important sense I was very fortunate. I had established and maintained contacts with 
the Orthodox Church in Georgia and in Russia, I had been on pilgrimage to Mount Athos, and I had 
friends in other jurisdictions such as Hieromonk Jonah, who had recently established a monastery 
several hours away at Point Reyes. But we had had so much negative reinforcement against 
canonical Orthodox jurisdictions that very few people would hear about joining one of them. It 
should be noted that this was still eight years before a reunion would take place between the 
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate. Our personal sympathies were 
with the former but we also had been influenced to see them as enemies or adversaries who would 
treat us as a cult, with the goal of dividing us and humiliating us. We did not see the Moscow 
Patriarchate as an option due to the limitations imposed by the Tomos of Autocephaly, restricting 
the number of Patriarchal parishes to forty. By entering the Moscow Patriarchate at that time we 
would have been in outright ideological opposition to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. The 
other Orthodox churches were for the most part on the New Calendar, and so we did not want to 
consider them as options for our home in the Church.  

Jerusalem Patriarchate 
In the autumn of 1999 we were considering the possibility of petitioning to be received 
under the Jerusalem Patriarchate. Their representative in the United States, Priest George Jweniat, 
assured us that they would welcome us, that it might take time, but that since they were on the Old 
Calendar and were traditional, we should consider this. This option presented the possibility to keep 
all of our monasteries and parishes under one bishop. Priests Michael and Philip were regularly in 
contact with priests of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. We kept meeting with Father George Jweniat 
regularly that winter. 

A few weeks before Great Lent, I traveled with a group of Christ the Savior Brotherhood 
priests to Jerusalem. It was not so much a pilgrimage as an effort to influence a decision by their 
ailing Patriarch Diodorus and those who surrounded him to receive us into the Jerusalem 
Patriarchate. Our group consisted of the Priests Stevan Bauman, James Robinson, Patrick Tishel, 
Philip Tolbert, and Michael Oyer and the layman Thaddeus Hardenbrook. Fr. George Jweniat 
joined us there in Jerusalem. We met with Metropolitan Timotheos, Metropolitan Alexios and later  
separately with Metropolitan Cornelios, who was the most frank, honest and clear bishop with 
whom we spoke. He stated clearly that he disagreed with receiving parishes in the United States but 
was quite pleased with the verbal and pictorial accounts of what we represented.  

Georgia—Third Pilgrimage 
At the end of this trip to Jerusalem traveled to Georgia for the week before Lent in search 
of further counsel on these matters from the bishops that I knew there. I also treasured the idea that 
the Georgian Church might be willing to receive us (monasteries and parishes as well). I was with 
Bishop Nikoloz almost the entire week. While there I met with the ailing Metropolitan Konstantine, 
Metropolitan Daniel, Bishop Dimitri (who said, "Don't bother with Jerusalem, come to the Georgian 
Church"), Bishop Grigol, Bishop Isaia, and others. 

Meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Ilia II 
I was able to speak privately with His Holiness Patriarch Ilia II and Bishop Nikoloz 
together. I discussed the predicament of our brotherhood. I stated that we were under a non- 
canonical bishop. I explained to him why we went to Jerusalem and what we had accomplished 
there. I explained that I expected to wait a long time to hear from Jerusalem and that there would be 
little resolution (which is one of the main reasons I came to Georgia). Patriarch Ilia II said first of 
all that it was unfortunate that we had actually requested formally and in writing to be received by 
Jerusalem. He stated that because of that petition he could not act upon any request from us. I 
explained that there were not only several monasteries and sketes involved but also about twenty 
parishes throughout the United States. He was quite clear. He said that it could have been done 
differently. Because of this, he stated, the Patriarchate of Georgia could not really do anything at the 
present time. He asked a series of questions about canonical issues, about the number of clergy, why 
we were under Pangratios in the first place, etc. He asked about our monastery: who were the 
priests, who ordained them, and why we had submitted a letter from Metropolitan Pangratios to 
Metropolitan John, when the former was not canonical in the first place? He asked if there was 
anyone under suspension, ban, or defrocked in the monastery? When I mentioned that Abbot 
Herman had been defrocked, he asked that regardless of whether or not he is retired, is he not still a 
member of the monastery?  

His Holiness was straightforward, very clear; he quickly focused on all the problems from 
various angles. He said that it was very unfortunate that we had complicated our own position and 
that we need to be very patient as these matters are usually not resolved very quickly. He asked us if 
we had turned to the Russian Orthodox Church. I mentioned that I had learned that they were 
hampered by the statutes of the Tomos of Autocephaly. Patriarch Ilia then said that he had spoken 
to Patriarch Bartholomew and had told him that he needed to start receiving communities on the 
Old Calendar, for he thought that this was the best solution. He did not say that he would not or 
could not help. He expressed his own serious reservations about the Jerusalem Patriarchate. He also 
asked if this group of priests realized that they would need to be ordained. Throughout his talk he 
was very kind, even tempered (which is his hallmark), he asked questions that flowed one after the 
other. He used a phrase that Metropolitan Cornelius had used as well in Jerusalem, obman
―cheating others, specifically in regard to attempts to exercise the priesthood outside the Church, in 
schism, or to pose as bishops and priests. I gained enormous respect for him for his clear, candid, 
and pastoral response. I also had seen such great evidence of his pastoral work. I know that he has 
continued to pray for us. He prayed for our return to the Church. He has continued to guide us by 
blessing his fellow hierarchs to keep in contact with us and visit us.  
I did not return with any quick solution, but I knew what we had to do.  

Return from Schism 
One of the most sorrowful events of my life took place during Holy Week, 2000. I 
traveled at the end of Lent to Spruce Island. I informed Abbot Herman that not only his monks and 
nuns but a large group of priests who had been his spiritual children were formally requesting him 
to step down as abbot, to stop serving the Divine services and to return to California to take up 
residence outside the St. Xenia Skete at Wildwood, California, to cease offering spiritual counsel, 
and to lead a life of repentance and reclusion. It may be hard for those who read this to understand 
how difficult that experience was. I had to communicate this to a person whom I had hitherto 
regarded as my spiritual father, to whom I had hitherto shown obedience, to a person who had set 
himself above the law, above the Church, and above the censure of the Church. The problem was 
that we did not have a bishop. I felt that I had no one to whom I could turn. We had been fooling 
ourselves for years, lying to ourselves and to others, enabling our former spiritual father to stand on 
his own pedestal and continue his divisive work against the Church. We returned together from 
Alaska during Holy Week to the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery. We arranged for him to live in a 
cell outside the gates of the St. Xenia Skete in Wildwood, California. 

Now our task was to return to the Church. Our idea at the time (that is, in late 1999 and 
early 2000) was to keep our group together, to be received into some Church or diocese that would 
include all of us as we were. By April we already knew that this would not work, that the Church 
administers itself geographically and hierarchically, and not ideologically. Ultimately, this was the 
practical implication of the ecclesiology of Abbot Herman, that the Church presents Herself to the 
world ideologically. Therefore there were certain issues, not dogmas, which are to be non- 
negotiable and for which we have to stand: the Old-calendar, monasticism, the zealot movement, a 
tsarist political world-view, etc. We were to be irreconcilably opposed to those who did not hold 
these positions or who presented the Orthodox Faith without these elements. 

At the beginning of Holy Week I sent a registered letter to Metropolitan Pangratios 
informing him that I was ceasing to serve, that I would return his antimension to a priest of his 
choosing, that I could not recognize him as a bishop, and that I was seeking to be received back into 
the Orthodox Church. Our monastery would be without a priest until we were received back into the 
Orthodox Church. The response was amazing. It must have been an answer to everyone's prayers. 
Pangratios sent out instructions suspending everyone. Many ―priests ordained by him were very 
upset with me because now they had to deal with this major problem immediately, not gradually. 
They had not yet explained to their flocks that Pangratios was not a bishop by any stretch of the 
imagination. They had hesitated because of the repercussions that this would create. Because we 
had declared that he had no episcopal authority, he insisted on exercising what he did not have. It 
was actually ludicrous, and most people involved understood this quite clearly. May and June 
passed slowly, painfully. We had to field questions from the faithful and beg them to be patient. 
Many people felt that we had been dishonest with them. There is some truth to this. We were trying 
to make some substantial change for quite a while and had not been able to provide a solution. In 
our criticisms of other dioceses and parishes we ourselves ended up being the imposters.  
The nuns in Forestville had developed very good relations with Priest Milos Vesin in 
Chicago and through him with the Serbian Orthodox Church. However, we had not considered the 
Serbian Orthodox Church seriously at that time. In late July, 2000 we met with His Grace Bishop 
Jovan of the Serbian Orthodox Church at the St. Sava Camp in Jackson, California. Protopresbyters 
Janko Trbovic and Petar Jovanovic were present and served as translators. He made a few simple  
statements which greatly moved us. First of all he calmed our fears that the Church was not in the 
real estate business. Secondly, he stated several times that the Church's concern was for the 
salvation of our souls. This he placed as the key criterion. We were very impressed by the principles 
upon which he based his statements and replies. We learned that he had entered the monastery at 12 
years of age and therefore understood us and monasticism. 

Around the same time we arranged to meet with Archimandrite Nikolai Soraich in San 
Francisco. I was quite pleased with the meeting, I felt that his statements and answers were 
satisfactory but in our discussions with other clergy afterwards there was very strong resistance to 
the OCA. One priest went as far as to say, "I feel from them a mean and acquisitive spirit." This 
seems to me primarily a reflection of what we were taught by Abbot Herman as a residue of the rift 
between ROCOR and the OCA. 

I traveled to Eugene after Labor Day and met with a representative of Bishop Longin, 
Archpriest Milorad Loncar, on September 6, 2000. He recommended that since we already had 
initiated contact with Bishop Jovan and that since we were a monastery within the territory of the 
Western American Diocese that it would be best that we pursue talks with Bishop Jovan. He argued 
that since we already had been invited by Bishop Jovan to visit Los Angeles when Metropolitan 
Amfilohije of Montenegro would be there, then we should go and submit our petition to Bishop 
Jovan at that time in the presence of Metropolitan Amfilohije. If Metropolitan Amphilohije were to 
give his approval, then everything would proceed smoothly.  

Reception into the Serbian Orthodox Church 
Hieromonk Damascene and I met with Metropolitan Amfilohije and Bishop Jovan in 
Alhambra at the Diocesan office on October 2, 2000. Metropolitan Amfilohije looked like an 
Athonite monk who had just emerged from his cell. In fact that day he told us his own stories about 
Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain whom he had known well. We showed them our ordination 
documents, the statistics of the brethren of the monasteries, the incorporation papers of our 
Brotherhood of St. Herman of Alaska, etc. We explained the circumstances that had led us into 
schism. We discussed the present status of Abbot Herman. We presented our monastery typicon. 
We brought copies of our publications and pictures of our monastery. We spoke until late afternoon. 
We asked to be received into the Serbian Orthodox Church. 

The nuns from the St. Paisius Abbey were to come the following day with their close 
friend Priest Milos Vesin from Chicago. He served as translator for them and already knew 
intimately of their struggles and problems. They actually scheduled a specific date to be received 
into the Church, October 23-24, at the St. Paisius Monastery in Forestville, California. It had not 
been clear to me that at that very time the two bishops had resolved to receive us. Otherwise we 
would have scheduled a date then and there. In any case it took place on our patronal feast of St. 
Herman of Alaska on November 27-28, 2000. This was confirmed by Episcopal decree #656 of 
November 15/28, 2000.  

Election as Abbot 
Back in 1983, I had already assumed the responsibility for the formation of the New 
Valaam Monastery upon Abbot Herman's departure from Alaska. I was very young at the time. 
Nevertheless, I was entrusted with the day to day running of our monastic community on Spruce 
Island during the absence of Abbot Herman until September 1986, when I returned to the St. 
Herman of Alaska Monastery. Since the disbanding of our St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood in 
Platina during the spring of 1984, our monastery had been in steady decline. With the arrival of 
people interested in the monastic life, I was needed at the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery to help 
the monastery function as a cenobitic community. With the formation of the St. Paisius Monastery 
in Forestville, California in 1991, the responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the St. 
Herman of Alaska Monastery became my main responsibility as Abbot Herman had settled in 
Forestville. This continued until January, 1996 when I was sent to Alaska again with the intention 
of forming a more cohesive monastic brotherhood on Spruce Island, now as both a priest and a 
monk. I remained there in Alaska until June, 1998. By that time we had already been evicted from 
Monks' Lagoon, and had settled on St. Nilus Island. I was directed to return to the St. Herman of 
Alaska Monastery. It was not clear to me exactly why, but at the time I assumed it was because our 
efforts at Monks' Lagoon had come to an end. Abbot Herman was then very involved in missionary 
and educational programs centered at the St. Paisius Abbey and therefore he wanted me to 
administer the monastery in Platina. 

When I returned from the Republic of Georgia, Abbot Herman had ceased being able to 
administer any of the communities with effectiveness. Soon I was called upon from all sides to 
provide leadership. It was something that I felt very awkward about doing. However, in my travels 
and through the relationships I had formed, I had some very clear ideas about how wrong our 
"positions" were and how desperately we needed to make some fundamental changes. These were 
changes that Abbot Herman was both unable and unwilling to make because they would have 
required him to accept accountability to the Church which he had been avoiding for fifteen years. I 
was very surprised by the trust that not only the monks placed in me but also the nuns and fellow 
pastors of parish communities. In 2000 when our communities were received by His Grace Bishop 
Jovan of Western America, it was a foregone conclusion that I would be elected abbot. Nonetheless, 
Bishop Jovan had the brothers elect me. He elevated me as Abbot on November 28, 2000.  
There were many things to which I now had to accustom myself, specifically to show 
accountability to a bishop, and to a bishop that expected accountability. He expected to be informed 
of what took place in our monastery, when we left the monastery for any significant length of time, 
and with whom we were serving. At first we felt a little hampered but as we saw that the Church did 
not consist merely of our individual activity, we felt that an immense weight had been taken from 
us. This awareness has helped us to understand what constitutes the Church. 

Since that time I was supported by the brothers of our monasteries with inward and 
outward obedience, with respect and self motivation. I have seen our community grow stronger and 
all of the monks mature. Our liturgical life is now consistent, not sporadic. The Divine Liturgy is 
celebrated peacefully, the brothers receive Holy Communion regularly, yet also with preparation. At 
the direction of Bishop Jovan we took steps to prepare some of the monks for the possibility of their 
ordination to the priesthood. When I severely broke my ankle on July 4, 2002, the monks took over 
an increased responsibility for every aspect of our monastic life. By God's Providence at that time 
Bishop Jovan transferred Hierodeacon Hilarion to our monastery. On February 14th, 2009 he was 
ordained to the Holy Priesthood by His Grace Bishop Maxim. When I left the St. Herman of Alaska 
Monastery in 2009, I appointed him to be the next abbot as stipulated by our by-laws. He was 
confirmed and then elevated by Bishop Maxim. 

In 2001 I began to make regular pastoral visits to Spruce Island in my capacity as abbot to 
oversee the monks and as a priest to celebrate the Holy Mysteries. Except for a year and a half 
hiatus following the time that I had shattered my ankle, I have visited Spruce Island every six or 
seven months since 2000. Usually I arranged a two-week stay and focused on celebrating the Holy 
Mysteries both at St. Michael's Skete and at St. Nilus Island. I began to do this according to the 
counsel of Bishop Jovan. 

Just before Great Lent in 2001, we were contacted by our ruling Bishop, His Grace Jovan, 
to contact Archimandrite Nikolai Soraich. He requested our help to stabilize the conditions in the St. 
John of Shanghai Monastery in Point Reyes Station. At the time I was not aware of the extent to 
which Archimandrite Nikolai had divided the community or driven some of the monks away. 
Nonetheless, in hindsight his request proved to be very providential, for it supplied the catalyst for a 
renewal of the relationship between Hieromonk Jonah (now Metropolitan) and our monastery. I 
think that everyone has benefited enormously. In July 2006 after a long search the St. John of 
Shanghai Monastery moved to a location across the valley from our monastery. We now have 
regular contact and pilgrims often split their visit between the two monasteries. 

After being received back into the Serbian Orthodox Church, great work still loomed 
ahead of us. We had been helping and overseeing several missions for a number of years and had 
direct responsibility for the faithful in Chico, Reno, and Redding. After we had been received into 
the Church, we arranged for the faithful in these missions to be received as well. However, we did 
allow them to consider what would be best for their missions.  

The well-being of the Chico mission was complicated by the fact that Riassaphore-nun 
Sophia headed the mission there. Bishop Jovan directed that it must be a mission parish under the 
Bishop, and that she should find a monastic community in which to live. This was very upsetting to 
her and the entire community went through many changes. Eventually the community was received 
into the Serbian Orthodox Church. It later closed because of the existence of a healthy OCA mission 
that had been started in Chico in the late 1990's. When the OCA priest in Chico retired in 2005, 
Hieromonk Damascene and I were invited regularly to serve there from 2005 to 2008. 
The Redding mission presented its own problems. First of all the experience of the faithful 
was limited to life outside the Church. We had to explain to them how we had originally defrauded 
them of being members of the Church. We had instilled in them and others a bizarre dichotomy 
between "World Orthodoxy" and "True Orthodoxy." Finally in 2002 Bishop Jovan assigned the 
Priest Michael Boyle to their community and our involvement rapidly diminished.  

I was involved in the St. John the Baptist community in Reno from 1987–2004. Between 
2001 and 2003 I served there as a priest every few months.  In April 2003 Bishop Longin ordained 
the Priest James Barfield for the St. John the Baptist Mission. Afterwards I have been only remotely 
involved with pastoral questions.  

Arrival of Bishop Maxim in July, 2006 
His Grace Maxim was enthroned as Bishop of Western America on July 30, 2006. Bishop 
Longin who had been the administrator of our diocese for four years had only been able to visit the 
monastery on a few occasions. Bishop Maxim brought with him unique gifts and background for 
this task: his experience in the life of the Church as the son of a priest, as the spiritual son of Bishop 
Atanasije (Evtich), his thorough education in Athens, and his life as a monk of Tvrdos Monastery. 
Very broadly educated, knowing five languages, endowed with musical and artistic talents, he came 
ready to serve the Church. His youth and good health have enabled him to visit regularly all of the 
parishes in our diocese and our monastery. He keeps his eye on our monastic life, he inquires about 
the brothers' well being, he has involved us in diocesan work and examines carefully what we 
present to him for his blessing, whether it be a publication or a request to serve or travel 
somewhere. This has given us a further education in the Church and what a bishop is. Bishop 
Maxim asked us to assist with the translation and editing of two volumes of articles by his own 
spiritual father, Bishop Atanasije Evtich, entitled Christ: the Alpha and the Omega and Emmanuel: 
The Only Begotten and Firstborn among Many Brethren

As a priest of the Serbian Orthodox Church I have taken part in the National Sabors of the 
Serbian Orthodox Church which were convened in Los Angeles in 2003, in Detroit in 2006, and in 
Canton in 2009. 

Brazil, Ecuador, and South America 
In 2002 we received a request from His Grace Bishop Mitrophan through our own bishop, 
His Grace Longin, asking if a Brazilian Hieromonk, Abbot Pedro, could come and stay at our 
monastery to become acquainted with the monastic life. He arrived in September of 2003 with no 
knowledge of English and very little knowledge of the teachings of the Orthodox Church. He did 
not speak Spanish either, although he could understand much of it. During this time period I had to 
seriously revive my Spanish in order to communicate with Abbot Pedro. I had used Spanish only 
In February, 2006 I received a letter from Jacobo Quintero Touma of Guayaquil, Ecuador. 
very sporadically over the previous twenty years. This reawakened my thoughts about the Orthodox 
Church in Latin America. It was painful to hear of its desperate plight. In this letter he briefly 
related the story of their mission and asked if we knew any Orthodox bishop who would be willing 
to help them. He had been on a pilgrimage to St. Anthony's Monastery in October, 2005 and had 
been given by Abbot Paisios the necessary information to contact me. Abbot Paisios did this 
knowing of the grief experienced by the Orthodox in South America in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. 
I replied to Jacobo in Spanish (to his surprise) and asked for detailed information so that I could 
compile a report and submit it to my bishop, at that time Bishop Longin. On the basis of our 
correspondence I submitted an initial report to Bishop Longin. I then asked his blessing to make a 
trip to Guayaquil and assess the actual circumstances of their mission.  

A new, interesting, and challenging chapter in my own life began. I journeyed to 
Guayaquil in late June, 2006 and stayed there for two weeks. I became acquainted with the people 
and the culture and shared with them introductory instruction about the Orthodox Faith. I baptized 
several people who had been prepared by Jacobo through a period of catechism. Upon my return I 
compiled a report to His Grace Bishop Mitrophan, to whose diocese the South American parishes 
actually belong. 

In October, 2006, I traveled to Recife, Brazil to participate in their ―Orthodox Theological 
Week. I had been in close contact with the clergy and faithful in Northeastern Brazil since before 
Abbot Pedro had arrived in September, 2003. I met with the clergy and faithful, discussed their 
problems, asked about their needs, visited their missions, and told them that we would try to help. I 
also discussed with Archpriest Alexis Pena Alfaro (an El Salvadoran national and native Spanish 
speaker) the possibility for him to visit and serve in Guayaquil in his position as dean of the South 
American parishes of the Serbian Orthodox Church. I visited northeastern Brazil again in late July, 
2008. This was entirely a pastoral visit. I also visited Caruaru in the Pernambuco State and gave 
lectures there. Leaving Recife I visited Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and met with one family and 
one priest there. 

I made my second missionary trip to Guayaquil in late January, 2007. At this time I served 
the first wedding of two converts to the Orthodox Faith in Guayaquil in early February. My third 
visit to Guayaquil took place in November, 2007, again in June, 2008, July of 2009, and in May of 

Pilgrimage to Serbia: February, 2009 
I arrived in Belgrade on February 17, 2009 for what proved to be an amazing pilgrimage. 
It left a very deep impression upon my heart and soul. I visited many monasteries, including several 
in Kosovo. I had been prepared by my monastic life and eight years of interaction with the clergy 
and faithful of the Serbian Orthodox Church. I was accompanied most of the time by Iguman 
Mihailo of Fenek Monastery who had stayed with us in both Platina and Alaska for four months. I 
spoke several times at the theological faculty and had two television interviews. I spoke with a few 
bishops, specifically His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije and Bishop Irinej of Bachka. I was 
extremely edified by the life of the faithful, the monastics and the bishops. I was humbled to 
experience the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church, to receive the blessing of His Holiness 
Patriarch Pavle, and to receive the love and trust of the Serbian Orthodox people. It highlighted 
what a great blessing has been poured out upon us since the time that we returned through 
repentance to the Serbian Orthodox Church. I am humbled by their witness, by their suffering, and 
by their love. I give thanks to God for how He has shepherded us through His Church. 

St. Vladimir’s Seminary 
I came to St. Vladimir’s Seminary full of prejudice. It has been a very rewarding and 
challenging experience. Originally Metropolitan Jonah asked me to study for one year. However, at 
the end of one year I saw how little I really knew. I saw how deficient my own formation was. 
Therefore I received a blessing to continue my studies for another year. During my second year I 
grew to value what the seminary was offering: an in-depth critical study of what we actually 
believe, what the Church teaches and what it is our task as pastors to proclaim to the world. 
Academically I have been seriously challenged, especially in the area of writing essays with an 
argument and a coherent presentation of a sustained theological argument. I would state that Canon 
Law, Patristics, Bioethics, Contemporary Church History (Orthodox Christian Identity), Iconology, 
New Testament, and General Hermeneutics have been the key challenging courses. In none of these 
areas did I have adequate preparation. At the present time I know where to turn and to whom I 
should turn for answers. I have benefitted above all by key faculty response and challenge both in 
class and in principle. On the basis of these two years I understood that to finish a third year and 
complete the entire course of the Master of Divinity degree would truly present a well-rounded 
preparation for continued ministry in the Orthodox Church. 

Summer in Western Alaska 
In the Summer of 2010 I had the opportunity to travel through 35 villages and towns in 
Western Alaska primarily by boat and small plane. In many of these villages I was simply a guest 
and witnessed the life of the Church as an outsider. In about ten of these villages in some capacity I 
ministered, either to serve the Divine Liturgy or Vespers, celebrate a baptism, hear confessions, or 
to serve a funeral. Such an experience of the Church in this remote region was a rich educational 
experience. I caught a glimpse of whom the flock consisted. In many of these villages I was 
introduced as a candidate for the episcopacy. While I was treated respectfully and asked to respond 
to questions, I did learn quite a bit about the people, their manner of life, their church customs and 
culture. It gave me a good indication of what my responsibilities might someday be. Only the 
extreme southwest of the diocese, a few communities in the Prince William Sound and the Pribiloff 
Islands was I not able to visit. 
Educational data: 
Pedregal Elementary School: September 1967-June 1972. 
Malaga Cove Intermediate School: September 1972-June 1973. 
Palos Verdes USD Marine Biology Summer School: June-July 1973, June-July 1974. 
Ridgecrest Intermediate School: September 1973-June 1975. 
Rolling Hills High School: September 1975-January 1978. 
University High School: January 1978-June 1979. 
University of California, Irvine September 1978-June 1979. 
University of California, Santa Cruz 1979-1981. 
[New Valaam Theological Academy 1981-1983, 88-91. 
St. Paisius Missionary School 1992-1995, 1997. 
St. Vladimir's Seminary Summer Institute, 1994. 
Clergy Seminars in the Serbian Orthodox Church from 2001 to the present.] 
Currently enrolled in St. Vladimir’s Seminary August 2009 to present.
June 2012

Subject: FW: Sharing for those who have time to read this all: the life journey of (former) Platina Abbot Gerasim (Eliel)-would-be, OCA new bishop?
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2012 13:56:42 -0600

 "Biographical Sketch", of (former abbot of Platina Monastery), Gerasim (Eliel) a candidate to be made
an OCA bishop:
....which yields us, a lot of more recent times history of the formerly-ROCOR Platina Monastery, and valuable testimonies about Fr. Seraphim, plus the problems of former-abbot, Herman Podmoshensky, etc.

***The main value of this biographical sketch, is...the history of Platina Monastery of recent years, from
about 1980 onwards, till now....( and also of the chaotic divided condition of Orthodoxy in America, and the world!!!)-

Subject: Sharing for those who have time to read this all: the life journey of (former) Platina Abbot Gerasim (Eliel)-would-be, OCA new bishop?
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2012 12:00:28 -0600

(This negative comment appears to be a criticism of him, by a member of the OCA, ( a 'Nina', or a 'Rebecca Matovic'?, whoever either of them are?), suggesting that he may be..perhaps....unqualified.. to be made an OCA bishop?)...and about which specific OCA  matter, I personally have nothing,  to express my  opinion about., I cannot give such an  opinion. 

But for those who have the time to read his own composition of his own life-biography (the link given below), a MONUMENTAL work!
-one learns many things about him, and the various Orthodox influences that he encountered., and about the tortured history of the Platina monastery, at least from when
he arreived there, up to the present time..

As far as I know, most if not all, of what he says here is the truth, only as seen through his own eyes. Others have somwhat different slants on these events and people.
Plus, for anyone unfamiliar about the actual history of the Platina monastery, this honest  work reveals a lot of valuable and truthful information (!!!)

I personally knew most of those persons he encountered in his Orthodox  life journey., at least here on the west coast, though I might give a different interpretation of some of them, as my personal experiences with them, especially with Herman Podmoshensky, were not exactly what he witnessed..
One needs to devote an hour or two, to read and digest it all.
Rd. Daniel Everiss

Category: Historical information about the fall of former ROCOR Platina Monastery,
and also criticisms of 'Gordon-Gerasim Eliel', to be .... consecrated as a new OCA bishop, etc.

WHY should we....... care?

Because this factual accounting, tells us a lot of truth, about what actually happened to OUR St. Herman of Alaska, Platina monastery, in northern California, co-founded by our saintly Fr. Seraphim (Rose) and, a monastery once  the pride and joy of our Russian Church Abroad, but brought down to destruction by it's former rebellious abbot, Herman Podmoshensky, who is still alive, unrepentant, but in poor health & wheel-chair bound, living in a mobile home owned by the monastery, down the mountain from the monastery, in  the tiny town of Platina & cared for by monastery brothers.  He still legally owns the monastery property! but recognizes no living bishop, 'only St. John Maximovitch in Heaven'.

From all that I personally know of all of this, MESS, and I unfortunately know too much!,  this account is exactly the truth, sad to say.
Rd. Daniel Everiss  

Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2012 08:00:51 -0400
Subject: Fwd: tangled web
From: "j.mceachen" <>
To: "j.mceachen" <>
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 8:20:29 PM
Subject: tangled web

Speaking about this book length 'Biographical Sketch' by  'Gordon-Eliel'- Abbot Gerasim" (link is below)- 

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott

This is a muddled, confusing, even narcissistic, self-serving autobiography. I have never read anything like it. But the below analysis, done by a lifelong Russian Orthodox man formerly of Ansonia, CT, is only a slightly less confusing summary.

Stop the railroad in the DOS (i.e. the OCA's 'Diocese of the South')
After reading the lengthy Biographical Sketch (above,) updated by Abbot Gerasim
(Eliel) on June 6, 2011 AND reading that the DOS Episcopal selection committee has
decided to submit only one name for consideration, I came away disappointed in
the person reflected in the Biographical Sketch. Clearly, the interaction
between the Holy Order of Mans (HOOM), Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, St.
Herman of Alaska monastery at Platina, CA, the long time abbot of the monastery
Fr. Herman , aka Gleb Podmoshensky, and of course, the primary person of interest,

Abbot Gerasim, aka Gordon Eliel, is extremely complex and confusing. Abbot
Gerasim's lengthy biography did little to make it easier to comprehend the
various plots, sub plots, characters and actions involved.

This chronological summary may make things easier to understand.

1968. HOOM founded by Earl Blighton. Discussion of the cultish beliefs of HOOM
are for another time.
1969. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood founded by Gleb Podmoshensky (later
Fr.Herman) and Eugene Rose (later Fr.Seraphim).
1970-May. Fr.Pangratios Vrionis pleads guilty to counts of sodomy and one
count of corrupting the morals of a minor.
1970. Pangratios deposed by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
1974. Blighton dies.
1978. Vincent Rossi assumes control of HOOM.
1978. Jonestown massacre in Guyana . Over 900 cult members dead in mass
1979. Gordon Eliel enters the University of California, Santa Cruz.
1980. March 25. Eliel received into Orthodoxy at the St.Nicholas Russian
Orthodox (Moscow Patriarchate) in San Francisco.
1981. July 28. Gordon Eliel arrives at St.Herman monastery, Platina, CA
(ROCOR). He came to visit and stayed . He did not return to UCSC.
1982-Prior to. ROCOR makes charges of moral improprieties against Fr. Herman.
1982. Fr. Seraphim Rose dies.
1983- Spring. Fr.Herman, Eliel, and others from the Platina monastery attempt to
take over Monk's Lagoon in Alaska. They are rebuffed by OCA Archbishop Gregory
and Fr.Joseph Kreta.
1983- Late. Vincent Rossi, of HOOM, meets with Fr.Herman (Podmoshensky).
1986- Early. Fr.Herman (Podmoshensky) accepted under the omophorion of Bishop
Benedict, aka Samuel A.Greene, into the Archdiocese of Vasilopopulis under
Metropolitan Pangratios Vrionis. No Orthodox church recognized Pangratios as a
bishop and his diocese of Vasilopoulis as being canonical.
1988. July 12. ROCOR deposes Fr.Herman.
1988. HOOM "converts" to Orthodoxy under deposed and non-canonical Metropolitan
1992. Novice Eliel is tonsured a monk by deposed priest Herman. Valid or
1993. Winter. Monk Jonah goes to Russia under the auspices of the Valaam
Society, which is a part of the Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, to work on
Russky Palomnik.
1994. Dec.19. Monk Gerasim Eliel is ordained a deacon by Metropolitan John in
St.Petersburg, Russia.
1994. Dec. 23. Monk Deacon Gerasim is ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan
John in St. Petersburg, Russia.
1999. Fr.Benedict Greene is indicted for child abuse. Benedict left the
Archdiocese of Vasilopoulis and was received into ROCOR in 1991 as a priest.
1999. Metropolitan Pangratios' criminal record is made public via the Internet.
2000. Holy week. Podmoshensky forced to step down as Abbot of the Platina
2000. Nov.27-28. Platina accepted into the Serbian Orthodox church.
2000. Nov. 28. Fr. Gerasim (Eliel) elevated to Abbot of the Platina monastery.
2009. Fr.Gerasim moves to the OCA presumably at the request of his old friend
Metropolitan Jonah .

I realize that there were other significant occurrences that happened in this
time period but the above are the most pertinent to this discussion.

From the above, we can see that Fr.Gerasim Eliel did not exactly observe proper
Orthodox order and canonical practices in numerous instances including:

1. He served with suspended Abbot Herman from 1983 to 1988.
2. He served with deposed Abbot Herman from 1988-2000.
3. He served in a schismatic and non-canonical monastery from 1983-2000.
4. He was tonsured a monk by a deposed priest.
5. He was ordained to the priesthood by a foreign bishop who was acting on false
information provided by a deposed priest. Monk Gerasim was aware of all this.
6. He committed a criminal act by breaking into and entering an Alaskan
monastery church illegally.

Some of the "irregularities" are obvious on its face. However, I think some
additional comments are in order.

Novice (Eliel) exercised very bad judgement during Great Lent 1984 (p.16-17 of
the biography) when Eliel learned about the suspension of Abbot Herman for
Apparently, Herman was charged with sexual improprieties by ROCOR but the
sentence was mitigated to a suspension for disobedience. On p.17, Fr. Gerasim
"all of the monks who remained at the monastery left for Medford, Oregon".

Well, not all. Eliel and Monk John stayed.

Fr. Gerasim further states…"We were very confused about what to do".

QUERY: Why was Eliel confused? The other monks were not "confused". It was a
no-brainer. The other monks took the only reasonable and honorable route and
left the schismatic and non-canonical monastery. Eliel stayed in schism.

If Fr.Gerasim was confused and didn't know what to do in a case with such a
seemingly simple resolution, how can we trust Gerasim's discretion when faced
with the inevitable problems that he would regularly encounter in the
performance of his duties as Diocesan Bishop?

Eliel's ability to think rationally is shown again in his agreement to be
ordained by a metropolitan six thousand miles away. In December 1994, when the
ordination took place, Monk Gerasim was serving under a deposed priest in a
non-canonical jurisdiction, headed by a deposed Metropolitan not recognized as a
bishop by any Orthodox church.

Fr. Gerasim skims over this canonical irregularity by admitting…..
"Afterwards, Abbot Herman and Archimandrite Innokenti (Veniaminov) had persuaded
Metropolitan John of St. Petersburg to perform the ordination of several monks

What a clever way of saying that they lied to the Metropolitan so that the
ordination was performed under false pretenses. Invalid ordination??????

Is this the kind of conduct we can expect from a newly consecrated Bishop

In discussing the turmoil caused by the disclosure of the criminal record of
Metropolitan Pangratios in 1999, Fr. Gerasim says on p. 27……
"It was now crystal clear that we were in schism from the Church primarily
because Abbot Herman was a fugitive from ecclesiastical justice, from
accountability to his bishop."

Unbelievable. Hello. Anyone there? It was crystal clear years ago that the
monastery and it's members were in schism. No amount of rationalization can
alter that.

Is Fr.Gerasim really suitable to be Bishop of the Diocese of the South?

The two primary scriptural references that are generally cited to illustrate the
desirable qualities of a bishop are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:7-9.
Look what Timothy says.

"A bishop then must be blameless, ……of good behaviour----not a novice, lest
being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
Moreover, he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he
fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

St. John Chrysostom said…."every virtue implied in this word. The bishop's life
should be unspotted so that all should look up to him……"

Several questions to ask…

1. Is the record of Fr.Gerasim blameless?
2. Does he have a proven record of "good behaviour"?
3. Is his life "unspotted"?

Finally, Fr.Gerasim's record of jurisdiction hopping must be considered. He was
brought into Orthodoxy by a priest in the Moscow Patriarchate; shortly after, he
became a novice at the Platina monastery for years when it was under the ROCOR:
he was schismatic for many years without any bishop and finally with a
schismatic and non-canonical bishop; then when it came time to find a canonical
church in 2000, he, along with other members of Christ the Saviour Brotherhood
approached the Jerusalem patriarchate and the Church of Georgia. The OCA was not
considered, presumably because they were on the "new calendar" and were thought
of in a very bad light because of the years spent under ROCOR. And yet, after
exhibiting an anti-OCA attitude for years (see his deliberate provocations
against the OCA at Monk's Lagoon in Alaska) and holding the OCA in the worst
possible light for so many years, all it took to wrench the Abbot away from the
Platina monastery was a phone call from an old friend who apparently offered him
an entry into the OCA episcopy. Is this to be the primary qualification for the
episcopy, i.e. that he is a long time friend of the first hierarch?

In short, although I have no vote in this matter, my vote would be a resounding


Nicholas Skovran, Sr.
June 14, 2012.