Prayer Request:Wild Fires threaten Saint Herman of Alaska Monastery

Fires in California

His Grace Bishop Maxim of the Western American Diocese urges all of our Orthodox faithful to offer prayers for the protection of the St. Herman of Alaska Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Platina, California.

Wild fires are quickly approaching the Monastery grounds and the Monastery is in great danger of being burned down. The Monastic Community has been evacuated and are seeking refuge in the neighboring parish of Redding, California.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - 4:58 p.m.

An Email from Fr. Damascene to His Grace Bishop Maxim

Your Grace, Bless, Master!

I'm writing this from our office in Platina, and will return soon to Redding with Monk Paisius. We just went up to the monastery briefly. At 3 pm, Monk Paisius talked to the district supervisor of the fire crew at the top of the ridge on which our monastery in located. The monastery is not yet out of danger. The fire has slightly broken over a ridge which is two ridges away from our monastery, and it also gone down into the gorge, where it is moving closer to the area directly below our monastery. The fire crew, however, is very pleased with the fire's behavior. It has given them time to make a 20-foot-wide fire break along the top of our ridge, and to prepare more fully for a back burn, which is a controlled burn to clear away shrubs and trees along the edge of the fire break. The fire break, together with the back-burn, will make it so that the fire will have no "fuel" if it reaches the top of our ridge. The fire crew are planning to do the back burn today, and are just waiting for a little more favorable conditions. The back burn itself is somewhat dangerous, since if the wind changes the controlled fire could become uncontrolled. So, the situation is better today than it looked yesterday, thanks be to God. However, things could change for the worse, depending on the weather. We are extremely grateful for all the prayers that have been offered on our behalf, and we ask everyone to keep praying. The fire crew wants us to remain evacuated from the monastery, so we are spending the night in Redding. Asking Your Archpastoral blessings and prayers,

In Christ, hieromonk Damascene

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 - 1:07 p.m.

A message from Fr. Damascene of the St. Herman Monastery to His Grace Bishop Maxim:

Fr. Damascene informed His Grace that he called Platina this morning and was told that the fire is not spreading in the direction of the Monastery. Fr. Damascene and Monk Paisius have left to Platina to talk with firefighters and forest rangers. The other monks will remain in Redding until further notice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 - 5:37 p.m.
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,

The Monks have evacuated from Platina and are now in Redding with us (St. Andrew's). They brought down all of their vehicles loaded with possessions of the Monastery. They are collected at one parishioners home right now and we will be finding them accommodations this evening. The fires are still raging. The forest Service just set a back fire on Noble Ridge (the winds were favorable) as a mans of cutting out fuel for the main fire to go over the Ridge. The smoke at Platina was so thick you could barely see or breathe. We will be having Vespers and Compline at St. Andrews tonight.

The nuns at St. Xenia Skete are still there and have not had to evacuate yet, but are on high alert. Two of our parishioners went up today with trucks to bring down Monastery possessions to Redding We still are awaiting to see what they will be doing.

The Monastics will probably be staying in Redding for a while, secondary to the extreme fire conditions (over 875 fires are going in Northern California from a Saturday lightening strike) and the smoke is quite thick. The sky in Redding is like overcast with ash falling.

Please keep them all in your prayers. We ask God's help to send relief to the Monastics, the fire fighters and others made homeless.

Thank you for your prayers and blessings to all of you,

Fr. Michael Boyle, Parish Priest
St. Andrew Fool-for-Christ Serbian Orthodox Mission Parish Redding, California