English Edition

Nuns grateful, firefighters well fed, icons unscathed as lightning starts fire in Greek Orthodox monastery

Moscow, June 19, 2017

Photo: Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery Photo: Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery

A fire broke out in the living quarters of the Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery in Saxonburg, PA after the building was struck by lightning on Thursday, June 15, as previously reported. An update has been posted on the monastery’s website, offering more details, a message from the sisterhood, and the prayerful words of local hierarchs and clergy.

Despite the tragedy, the sisterhood remains hopeful in God, and grateful to all who have supported them in their time of need. “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,’” the message reads.

The monastery was struck through the roof, lightning hitting the new HVAC unit on the second floor, causing a three alarm fire. The sisters were praying Vespers at the time, and had time to remove the holy items from the church before firemen arrived, although all personal belongings were left behind. The monastery had recently completed a $250,000 two-year renovation project, which included replacing the HVAC systems.

Photo: Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery Photo: Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery
One young visitor, Xenia, who was witness to the tragedy, believes the Mother of God was protecting her monastery. “There was a miracle,” she writes. “Some of the icons that were big and very special that we didn't get out of the house, they didn't get burned or dirty or completely anything, even though they were on the floors that got really damaged. Really, Panagia loves this monastery. If She wouldn't protect us, it would have been BAD.”

Meanwhile, the firefighters were grateful for the sisterhood’s hospitality, even in the midst of the accident, reports Trib Live. “They had so many cookies and cakes,” Saxonburg Fire Chief Chris Ballina said. “You name it, they had it. They were running around with Gatorade and water.” Firefighters have come to expect such from the monastery, Ballina added. The department has responded several times to automatic fire alarms, and “They're always baking,” he said. “They're taking care of us, that’s for sure. I brought fifteen boxes of cookies back last night Every time we leave that place I gain about three pounds,” he said. The pilgrim Xenia notes that the monastery gave away all the food it had to the firefighters.

The living quarters were the most damaged by the fire, also sustaining serious water damage, although the entire building has been affected by smoke, electrical, and water damage, making the structure uninhabitable. As previously reported, the sisters are now in need of funds to bring mobile housing to the monastery site, which is not covered by insurance.

Donations towards the monastery’s mobile housing can be made by:

Photo: Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery Photo: Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery
The heavenly protection of the Theotokos was reiterated by His Grace Bishop Savas of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh: “By God's grace and the Panagia's protection the sisters are safe, and total destruction of the monastery was avoided.” His Grace Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Diocese of Eastern America also offered his prayers, and the use of the St. Sava Shadeland Camp in Springboro, PA. His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America also wrote, “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.”

The monastery’s chaplain of twenty-one years, Archimandrite Demetrios Carellas called upon his fellow clergy and faithful to help the monastery in any way possible: “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.”

Again, donations towards the monastery’s mobile housing can be made by:

19 / 06 / 2017

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