On Monday, July 10, the eve of the feast of Venerable Sergius & Herman of Valaam (July 11 n.s.), Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY celebrated its own feast, the tonsure of Riassophore Monk John (Weeks) to the Lesser Schema and Novice Stephen (Manduke) to the Riassa. This grace-filled event took place just as the Holy Church is finishing the Apostles’ Fast.
For the elder fathers of the monastery brotherhood, this event was not only a joy as they see their ranks replenished and strengthened, but also a reminder of their own vows and – very importantly – a witness to the many pilgrims who perhaps for the first time were able to observe such a commitment to Christ.
Fr. John is an American convert to Orthodoxy who left his home to dedicate himself to his salvation in the monastery a few years ago. His obediences have involved the care of elderly and sick brethren, cleaning the church, and taking care of the mail. He also corresponds with prisoners, encouraging them in their struggles. In monasticism he has been given by the abbot, Archimandrite Luke, the name of the Holy Apostle Paul.
Fr. Stephen comes from the family of a priest. His father is Archpriest Nikolai Manduke. At a young age he decided to dedicate his life to his salvation in monasticism. It is interesting to note that he has a relative among the New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia, the Hieromartyr Vladimir (Medvediuk), his great uncle. He has now started upon the next step to the angelic life. May our Lord strengthen both him and Monk Paul, and may the Most Holy Theotokos guide them on their path to Christ.