November 1976! A month and year evoking precious memories of ` first steps taken toward our Monastery's foundation. In autumn 1976 we experienced the hospitality of Mother Philomena, Hegumena of the Byzantine Poor Clares of North Royalton, Ohio. During a visit of several weeks Mother Philomena took us to meet Bishop Emil Mihalic at the Chancery in Parma. (Bishop Emil and Bishop Michael were good friends). Although exact dates escape me, Thanksgiving Day was near when Sister Margaret Mary, Prioress of the Byzantine Benedictine nuns invited us to Queen of Heaven Monastery in Warren, Ohio. Sister Julia, their culinary queen insured our gaining weight! Sister Martha is memorable for help in the Byzantine Office of the Hours, providing us with precious material and a generous gift of her time. A year later Sister Martha visited us Sugarloaf to continue her instruction. Because the Liturgy of the Hours along with Divine Liturgy are the gems (and our privileged obligation in the Byzantine Rite) and we remember with deep appreciation the Benedictine Sisters who got us off to a good start.
Our visits with the Byzantine Sisters in Ohio followed a suggestion of Bishop Joseph Daley of Harrisburg- (at that time we were in his jurisdiction.) He advised that some interaction with Byzantine Religious might precede our foundation. All things work together for good for those who love God.
Very early in 1976 the Byzantine Franciscans, who would play so important a part in our future, paid us a visit. Dates are hard to fix, because once begun, the Franciscan presence has continued for forty years and is still a treasure chest of blessings. Father Anthony is now our Monastery Chaplain! The prior of Holy Dormition, then Father [and later Archbishop] Basil will figure prominently as our story unfolds. In 1976 they brought a message from Bishop Michael: What did we want for the foundation? Our request: if possible, to be located on a permanent property; a good kitchen; a worthy Chapel.
Upon return to Pennsylvania Bishop Michael sent us a new member, Sister Miriam Androsko, OSBM, whose age and health necessitated her early return to Mt St Macrina. The enduring blessing was friendship with Sister Helen Schott OSBM (then Sr. Annunciata) and Mother Christopher Malcovsky and the Sisters of St. Basil the Great.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1976 these new friends had first place in our prayers. On Thanksgiving Day, 2016 our love, gratitude and prayer still enfold them. To the first list of names many more have been added- of whom we will write in the months ahead. You who receive this are one of these "many more"!
On the 23rd Day of each months (excluding Great Lent)
Divine Liturgy will be offered to God
in gratitude and thanksgiving!