By the grace of God and in spite of the manifold temptations and obstacles engendered by the modern world and its prince, the Hermitage of the Holy Cross has continued to grow steadily in numbers throughout the past year. In addition to thirteen tonsured monks and three rassophore-monks, there are now nine novices and three candidates residing at the monastery. The newly-completed St. Panteleimon House has allowed for this growth; however, we are currently at more than maximum capacity, with one candidate residing in temporary housing in the guest house garage and one novice occupying the infirmary room.
At this point in the development of Holy Cross, it is imperative to ensure that the monastery is able not only to house this number of residents but to support them as well. While the existing church and trapeza have been long outgrown, it is simply not possible financially for us to undertake such major construction. There are, however, other needs of the community which, with God’s help, we believe we can meet while at the same time improving our financial outlook for the future.
The most pressing of these needs is a new candle factory. After the fire nearly three years ago, funds were only available to build a new convent to house Mother Theodora. The candle operation was “temporarily” set up in the guest house basement, where it has remained ever since. It is a testimony to the work ethic of Mother Theodora and the monks assigned to her that they have been able to keep the business going for three years working with only a 55-gallon drum! Nevertheless, it is more than past time to rebuild a proper facility for their continually growing business.
It is also extremely necessary to build a dedicated bakery. The prosphora has always been baked in the guest house kitchen, which is less than optimal when the house is filled with guests. It is also far too limited a space to allow for the commercial baking of our kulich and pound cakes. For this reason, the monks have been forced to work all day in town several days a week using the kitchen which Holy Spirit Orthodox Church has graciously made available. It is quite simply not fair to ask the monks to spend all day baking in town during Great Lent and the Nativity Fast; for the past two years we tried to avoid this problem by hiring professional bakers to make our pound cakes and kulich, but the resulting products were less than ideal (to put it mildly). An on-site bakery has become clearly necessary, and in addition will allow the monks to be much more self-sufficient when it comes to bread and baked goods.
We have designed a new work building to accommodate these needs, which in addition will allow all of our tools and equipment, currently scattered all around the monastery, to be consolidated in one place. Finally, it will provide a community room large enough for all the brotherhood to gather together for meetings and spiritual discussions. The preliminary plans for this building are attached.
Finally, we plan this summer to run gas and water lines up our main entrance road. The gas line will greatly reduce our utility expenses, and the water line will allow for the installation of fire hydrants. There have been multiple fires in the monastery’s history, and fire hydrants are sorely needed to mitigate the risk of more fires in the future. Their presence will also greatly reduce our insurance premiums, which have been astronomical ever since the convent fire three years ago.
We plan to begin work in early June. These improvements will be quite costly—around $225,000 for the new work building, and another $75,000 for the utility lines—but for the above reasons we feel that we cannot put them off any longer. Mother Theodora has made a substantial contribution towards the project already, but there remains a long way to go. Our plan therefore is to take out a construction loan and make the payments using the increased candle revenue and our savings in utility and insurance costs. Nevertheless, we would be deeply grateful for any contribution toward these projects, and even more for your prayerful intercessions for the successful completion of this work. May it be unto the glory of God.
With love in Christ,
Archimandrite Seraphim and brotherhood