On Saturday, January 22, 2011, five intrepid families, many who included three generations (yiayia, mamma, and grandkids), braved the near-zero temperatures, and embarked on the second annual Monastery Pilgrimage. This year, our parishioners were guests of (Gr. Igumeni) Abbess Fotini at All Saints Monastery at 1676 Middle Road, in Calverton, Long Island (phone: 631-727-8505).
Our families, grandparents, parents, and children alike, look forward to these pilgrimages, to edify their Faith, to learn and gather insights on how to grow closer to Christ, and to strengthen the bonds of our community.
Prayer is Central to the Monastic Life of a Greek Orthodox Monk or Nun. Because they live the monastic life, the nuns are expected to pray around the clock. Formal prayer sessions are scheduled every three hours of every day, including midnight and 3 am.We joined the sisters for Vespers on Saturday night, and then retired to their hall for dinner. Abbess Fotini welcomed us, and talked with us briefly about the monastic life. During dinner, the abbess read homilies for our edification while we ate in silence as do the sisters every night. After dinner, we returned to the chapel for Compline before retiring for bed at a nearby hotel. Overnight, while we were tucked snuggly in our beds fast asleep, the sisters would awake again at midnight, and then at 3AM to gather in prayer in the chapel. The following morning, we returned to the Chapel for Orthros (Matins) and the Divine Liturgy, which was followed by another meal, at which the
There's an interesting story regarding All Satins monastery from a few years ago. A 92 year old woman who's life long desire was to live "the angelic life," was finally tonsured as a Nun there. A brief history of the monastery and the story of Chrystalla Petropoulou appears below.
Interestingly, Fr Nathanael attended seminary with two of the sisters.
Greek-born Chrystalla Petropoulou, of Long Island, NY fulfilled a lifelong dream. At the age of 92, she became a nun in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Aided by her relatives and the Greek Orthdox population in Calverton, Petropoulou was one of the leaders in the community effort to build this monastery. In 1997, Petropoulou herself deposited $13.00 in a special bank account. This $13.00 became the basis of the fund-raising effort to get the monastery built. Petropoulou later donated thousands more, and some of her relatives did the same. The largest donation received, in the amount of $125,000.00, was given anonymously.
In 2005, when the monastery was completed, Sunday services began. But the monastery lacked nuns. Unfortunately Petropoulou, who had dreamt of this since childhood, was now too sick and frail to do it alone. All of that changed when Brandenburg (of St. Louis) and Kallis (of Detroit) agreed to move into the Calverton monastery last August. Petropoulou followed on their heels in September. In all, five women currently live at the Calverton Monastery, and two others are expected soon.