Christminster Monastery Moving to Canada
(Dom James M. Descehene sent out this notice today. We wish him well in his move and thank Reader Polycarp for his beneficence. His generosity in time will undoubtedly be repaid in eternity. -- BJ.)
To all friends and benefactors of Christ the Saviour Monastery:
As all of you know, our existence as a western-rite Benedictine community within the Russian Orthodox Church has not been without its struggles. It has only been by the grace of God, the gift of patience, and the prayers and support of our friends and benefactors that we have managed to endure through the past thirteen years.
In 1993, under the loving oversight of Archbishop Hilarion (then Bishop of Manhattan), our existence as a canonical entity separate from the Orthodox Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Royal was formally established. Since that time we have lived in , , and finally in , in the small house that contains our worship and living space. At the time this was adequate for present needs, but it allows no room for growth in new monastics or the reception of guests or retreatants. We have received men and women as extern oblates, and we treasure their prayerful support. But the true growth of a monastery is measured in its professed monks, and we have not been equipped to seek such growth. We have had to turn away a number of inquirers or encourage them to become Oblates as a temporary measure.
Now, thanks to the vision and material help of some benefactors, we have been invited to move to , in the city of Hamilton. Here the vision and efforts of Reader Polycarp (Robert) Sherwood have built the Oratory of Our Lady of . In looking to staff this mission, Mr. Sherwood turned to us, inviting us to move into a monastic building adjacent to the Oratory - a building that he has purchased and is refurbishing precisely to suit the needs of a growing western-rite Orthodox Benedictine monastic community. This is to be the new home of Christ the Saviour Monastery - Christminster - with the Oratory serving as its monastic church.
Generous support for this work is being provided by Mr. Sherwood, Fr. John Connely and the parish of St. Mark's in , and the Saint Lawrence Trust. Archbishop Hilarion graciously obtained from Bishop Gabriel, whose episcopal oversight includes Eastern Canada, a blessing for this move. Further encouragement for this mission has come from Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Diocese of , and from Father Paul Schneirla, Vicar for the Western Rite in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and a long-time friend and supporter of Christminster's work. All of these have recognized the spiritual value to western-rite Orthodoxy of a fully functioning monastic community in the ancient Benedictine tradition.
We anticipate moving sometime in late 2007. In the meantime, much work needs to be done, both in disengaging ourselves from our present monastic home and in readying our future home in . We ask the prayerful support of everyone during this time, with its inevitable disruptions and adjustments.
Among the most difficult aspects of this move will be leaving behind very dear friends and supporters here in and the area. Our wish would be that everyone near and dear to us could just move with us so we could maintain these wonderful relationships. God seems to be calling us out of a comfortable and familiar world into a hopeful but unknown future - not very far away, to be sure, but within an unfamiliar culture and in a new country. It is always difficult to uproot oneself, but especially so as one grows older and tends to prefer stability and avoid change. Indeed, Saint Benedict calls us to stability even as he directs us to hearken to God's voice calling to us. It cannot have been easy for the patriarch Abraham to begin, at an advanced age, his journey of faith, leaving behind the old familiar world. But he is the icon to all of us of heeding the call of God, at whatever cost, and welcoming it as the only wholesome choice to be made. With Abraham, we believe that God, in calling us into a new path and a new place, will remain present and faithful, guiding us, as he has most assuredly done over the years.
We ask of all our friends and benefactors your continued prayers and support for our mission, and for an increase in vocations to the monastic life in the western-rite Orthodox tradition of our holy Father Saint Benedict.
The Rt. Rev. Dom James M. Deschene
Abbot of Christminster