November 21, 2011
Wayne, WV: "An American Monastery with a Russian Spirit" – The
Orthodox Business Association visited Holy Cross Monastery
On November 16-18, representatives of the Orthodox Business
Association (OBA) visited
Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, WV. The purpose of the visit was
to meet with representatives of the Holy Cross Monastery Benevolent
Committee (HCMBC) to discuss the details of "Project Kellia" and to
become more acquainted with the holy habitation, which the
Association seeks to assist.
Representing the HCMBC were:
His Grace George, Bishop of Mayfield, Vice Chairman
Serge Lukianov, Diocesan Liaison
Hieromonk Alexander (Frizzell),
Reader Peter Lukianov, Media Director
George Rogatchev, Engineering Liaison
Representing the OBA were:
Igor Popov, Association President
Reader Igor Shafranov, Food &
Ms. Maria Malysheva, Administrator
Skorobogatova, Childcare Division
a tiring journey along the winding roads of West Virginia, the
guests arrived Wednesday evening and were greeted by the abbot of
the monastery, His Grace George, Bishop of Mayfield.
held a small reception for the guests, during which he thanked them
for making the long journey, and for continuing their support and
love for the monastery. On Thursday morning, they prayed at the
early Midnight Office and Divine Liturgy, and afterwards the monks
prepared a breakfast using eggs, cheese, milk, and bread, all of
which were produced at the monastery. After breakfast, Bishop George
accompanied the guests on a full tour of the monastery grounds,
church, workshops, and farms. They examined the ongoing construction
of a three new cells and visited the proposed site where more cells
will be built as part of Project Kellia.
With the current brotherhood at 21 monks and novices, Holy Cross
Monastery is one of the fastest growing monasteries in ROCOR. The
monastery has a waiting list of approximately ten monastic
candidates that are not able to enter the monastery because of the
lack of available housing. The challenge is unusual because it is
Hieromonk Alexander (Frizzell), the dean of the monastery, said: "On
one hand we are being overwhelmed with monastic candidates and
opportunities for cooperation with people who have the skills to
place the monastery on a solid physical foundation. On the other
hand we are struggling to pay our bills and provide proper housing
and food for the members of our community," Facing this new
challenge, the monks firmly believe that this is the
Providence of God.
"Such tribulations must have a purpose – that is, we must be humbled
by trials and difficulties so that buildings and physical
achievements do not come before spiritual growth," said Fr.
The Orthodox Business Association has teamed up with the HCMBC and
the Eastern American Diocese to raise awareness of the difficulties
that the monks are faced with as they try to expand the monastery. "The
relationship between the monastery and the OBA was formed only very
recently, but it has developed very rapidly," said Fr. Alexander.
"This remarkable association of people of great piety and goodwill
was informed by others about the existence, history, and growth of
our monastery, as well as its role in diocesan spiritual life."
OBA took the initiative to launch "Project Kellia"
in order to raise funds that are desperately needed for the
construction of new monastic cells.
While many things need to happen before the project consisting of a
number of cells in a monastic dormitory is fully designed and
funded, the project received the blessing and full support of His
Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, who serves as chairman of the
On November 1, 2011, Bishop George and Fr. Alexander met with
representatives of the OBA at their official headquarters in
Brooklyn, to discuss the details of Project Kellia. His Grace
invited Association President Igor Popov and his co-laborers to
visit Holy Cross Monastery and experience the monastery's way of
life, spiritual program, and natural surroundings.
"Our time together was very short, but I think it was extremely
fruitful," said Fr. Alexander. "We took them through the entire
monastery and tried to acquaint them with every aspect of our
monastic life from the Divine Services to our farming activities and
production of incense, soap, candles, and other items."
One of the main sources of income for the monastery is the sale of
hand crafted soaps and pure monastery honey. The monks use milk from
the monastery goats to produce their high quality hand crafted
soaps. The large apiaries produce an abundant supply of pure
monastery honey to feed the brethren and the hundreds of pilgrims
who visit the monastery annually. In order to provide milk for the
monastery soap and food for the brethren, every day the monks must
carefully tend to the vegetable gardens and take care of the
monastery bees, chickens, goats, and cows. The monastery farm
provides the monks with fresh vegetables, honey, eggs, and milk,
from which the monks even produce homemade cheese.
Yet, despite the hard work being done by the brethren, the monastery
is still having difficulty making ends meet. Collaboration with the
OBA affords the monastery an opportunity to improve its financial
situation, which will not only help the brethren, but will also make
a tremendous contribution to the spiritual life of the Diocese.
Alexander believes that, in years to come, the OBA will be a
catalyst which conceives of, supports, and encourages others to
support projects which are extremely necessary for the life of the
monastery and the diocese. "They are helping to raise the profile of
the monastery so that many other people, God willing, will become
not only benefactors of, but true co-laborers with the monks of Holy
As part of this collaborative effort, the OBA has arranged for
Russian architect Aleksey Naumovich Neiman to visit Holy Cross
Monastery with the hope that he would design a new cathedral and
master plan for the physical expansion of the monastery.
Aleksey Naumovich is a lifelong artist who has designed several
churches in Russia and Belarus. After his retirement, he decided to
dedicate the rest of his life to help design Russian Orthodox
churches and monasteries at no cost. Currently he is helping design
a new church complex at St. John’s Mercy House in Brooklyn, NY, and
a new monastery building and chapel for St. Elizabeth the New Martyr
Skete in Jordanville,
NY. "More impressive than his portfolio, is his vibrant personality,
huge smile, and sincere Orthodox piety," said Fr. Alexander. "The
spiritual kinship we found from this initial meeting will, I
believe, be the foundation of our future cooperation."
Visiting Holy Cross Monastery for the first time, Aleksey Naumovich
explained that the experience had a huge impact on his soul. "This
is an American monastery with a Russian soul," said Neiman. "Having
no prior connection to the Orthodox faith or Russian culture, these
American converts have wholeheartedly embraced the ancient
traditions of Russian monasticism. Anyone who comes here immediately
feels this overwhelming love, which is the basis of our Orthodox
Aleksey Naumovich enthusiastically agreed to help Holy Cross
Monastery design a new church and a master plan for necessary
monastery buildings such as a refectory, administrative offices,
monastic cells, and a center for pilgrims.
The beginning of Project Kellia has revealed many other potential
projects that the HCMBC and OBA are investigating. "We, members of
the Orthodox Business Association, are grateful to the Lord God for
the opportunity to take part in the joint "Project Kellia" with the
Eastern American Diocese," said Association president Igor K. Popov.
"Having begun the realization of this project by organizing a visit
for Moscow architect Aleksey N. Neiman, we soon saw other
opportunities to aid this truly marvelous place."
The OBA is hoping to create a brand called "The Orthodox Farm,"
which would promote various products that are being produced in the
many different monasteries of the Eastern American Diocese.
hope that the idea for ‘The Orthodox Farm,’ born within the
Association, will finally begin its development here, at Holy Cross
Monastery, whose superior production of various goods we plan to
offer to the Russian marketplace in New York and New Jersey in the
near future," said Popov.
By promoting the goods produced by the monasteries of our Diocese,
the OBA hopes to increase revenue to the monasteries. This will lift
the heavy financial burden that is placed on them so that the
monastics can focus on prayer, instead of on survival. Members of
the Association are preparing a detailed plan to launch "The
Orthodox Farm," and hope that others will join them in supporting
"The success of the Association and the projects that we are
organizing, will depend on the level of participation from the
clergy and faithful of the diocese," said Popov. "God has blessed us
with many incredibly talented pastors and people who have a lot to
offer the Orthodox community. By uniting our Orthodox people, we can
better serve the Church and together overcome the challenges that we
face. Not only do we need help with current projects, but we need
more ideas for future endeavors. We encourage everyone to visit our
website and become members of the Orthodox Business Association."
The visit to the monastery was completed with a Diving Liturgy on
Friday morning, during which visitors had an opportunity to receive
Holy Communion after preparing through Holy Confession.
was vitally important that our work began with repentance and prayer
at Holy Cross Monastery," said diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge
Lukianov. "Finding different ways to support the work of the Church
is important, but we must never lose sight of our main goal – to
achieve eternal salvation. All of the different projects and the
work that we do must ultimately help us to save our souls and lead
us to become better witnesses of our Holy Orthodox Faith. If our
intention is to help the Church, then we must begin by helping
ourselves become better Christians, and then God will bless our
After the Liturgy, the guests gathered in the monastery library for
a final meeting with the monks. They finalized a short-term plan to
continue their joint venture and thanked the brotherhood for their
love and hospitality.
In conclusion, Igor Konstantinovich said, "I would like to express
our sincere gratitude to Bishop George, the dean, the clergy, and
the whole brotherhood of this monastery for the warmth and love with
which they greeted us. May the Lord help and fortify us in this good
Those who are interested in supporting Project Kellia should contact
the diocesan administration at
and also register at the Association’s website
A new website for the Holy Cross Monastery Benevolent Committee and
Project Kellia is currently under construction and will be published
in the near future.
Republication of materials must include a reference to:
"Eastern American Diocese www.eadiocese.org."
Office of the Eastern American Diocese