Gerontissa Theophano and the Sisters express their deep gratitude for the outpouring of prayers, love and support from all facets of the community and across the country in this time of crisis. "This is what gives us the courage and spiritual strength to move forward through the grace and protection of God and our Holy Mother, The Theotokos".
Help, Love, and Support Comes to the Monastery
Many Churches, Philoptochos Organizations, and individuals have come to the aid of the Monastery. The following touches on a few of these offerings of love.
On a beautiful autumn day at the Hermitage Pan-Orthodox food festival, 9-yr. old Alex, his brother Harry, and his friend Andrew, made and sold lemonade to help the Sisters. They raised over $150.
His Grace Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Diocese of Eastern America came from New York to spend time with the Sisters, give his support and make a personal offering.
The Antiochian Women's Organization of the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland sponsored a beautiful luncheon to help the Sisters with their expenses. Many thanks to Fr. Demetrios, Khoury Tammy, Khoury Rula and Zelfa Khalil for their love and prayers
Background Information - Lightning Strikes the Monastery
On Thursday, June 15th, as Sisters were reading Vespers, a bolt of lightning struck through the roof of the Monastery into the new HVAC unit on the 2nd floor, starting a 3 alarm fire. Sisters had time only to remove the Holy items from the church before the firemen arrived. All personal belongings were left behind.
Six area volunteer fire departments responded to their 911 call, deploying twenty-five fire trucks. The extent of the damage is unknown. The living quarters bore the brunt of the fire with water damage sustained in ceilings and floors. The entire building has been affected by smoke damage, electrical and water damage, making the structure unsafe and uninhabitable. The insurance company has brought in a national adjuster from their Major Case Unit because of the size of the mitigation. All the contents of the building that are salvageable must be removed and fumigated and taken off site so that the entire building itself can be repaired, fumigated and cleaned.
Sisters are looking to secure mobile housing to live on the property until the building is pronounced safe and completely mitigated which will take over 7 months. Amongst other items, our insurance company is not covering the costs of temporary housing. Estimates to repair and replace items are exceeding $500,000.
Sisters are asking for help to cover costs for housing and for items needed to subsist. Donations can be made by:
- Mail to: Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery; 121 St. Elias Lane; Saxonburg, PA 16056
- Gofundme web site: Sisters in Crisis
- Crowdriser web site: Fire at Nativity of the Theotokos
The Monastery just recently completed major mold mitigation inside and outside of the church and living quarters, replacing all 3 HVAC systems, duct work, and windows as well as the building envelope reconstruction on the entire South and West walls of the building. The mitigation and renovation took 2 years and now they are faced once again by a building that is uninhabitable.
Click on the images below.
Pan-Orthodox Church Hierarchs Respond
His Eminence Bishop Savas of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh: Many have heard that the Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery near Saxonburg, PA suffered a lightning strike and fire today. By God's grace and the Panagia's protection the sisters are safe, and total destruction of the monastery was avoided. There is extensive damage to the newly renovated upper floors, and the materials for their hand-crafted work are lost.
His Grace Bishop IRINEJ of the Serbian Diocese of Eastern America: I have just learned of the Greek Monastery in Saxonburg being burnt after having been hit by lightning. I cannot tell you how deeply sorry I am for the same! Please convey my sympathy and paternal love to Gerondissa and her cherished Sisters....We are prepared to offer the Sisterhood use of our St. Sava Shadeland Camp in Springboro, PA.....
His Grace the Right Reverend Thomas of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America: God bless you. Please be assured of my prayers for you as you deal with this lightning strike. I was relieved to hear no one was hurt.
Area Priests Respond with a Plea for Help
The Very Reverend Father John Chakos: Dear Gerontissa and beloved sisters, I just learned of the devastating lightning strike and damage to the monastery. I am most thankful that none of you were injured. The Holy Protection of the Theotokos is always with you. Once we know the extent of the damage and how much the insurance will cover, I believe more than ever that we must proceed with a plan that hastens construction on the new facilities. In a Christ's love.
Archimandrite Father Demetrios Carellas:Yesterday afternoon, lightning struck the living quarters of the Sisters at the Nativity of the Theotokos Monastery. Thanks be to God, none of the sisters were injured. However, the damage to the living area will require that some mobile homes be brought on to the property for temporary residences for the Sisters.Having had the honor to serve as Chaplain of Geronta Ephraim’s first Monastery in the USA for over 21 years, I am entreating each one of you to remember Gerontissa Theophano and the Sisters in your daily prayers; and to offer whatever financial support that you can. Please also share this email with everyone on your respective lists. Brother Clergy, please let your parishioners know as well! In this way, several thousand people will get this very important appeal for prayerful and financial support.