Building Projects in St Paisius Monastery in Arizona
It is with joy that we write to describe the building of our new monastic quarters and guest center.
On the first day of the new year, back in 2001, the sisters of St. Paisius Monastery awoke to their first day on the newly purchased monastery property. Within days, they were already hosting a group of visitors for the feast of the Nativity, celebrated on January 7th. Even bare necessities were still all boxed up but somehow a meal was prepared and all rejoiced. That background scene of trying to make do, while gracefully fulfilling our desire to offer hospitality to those who come, repeated itself time and again over the following decade. For years, the total living quarters in the monastery consisted of a tight 7,000 square feet. Sisters were living in barns and outbuildings, all the while doing their best to offer hospitality to guests, seeking to hide the labor it required for the most minimal of tasks. Food, drinking water, dirty dishes were hauled up and down the back road day after day. Furniture was switched around in rooms to accommodate the pressing needs of the moment, which changed from one day to the next. Underlying all of the many labors was the pressing reality that the monastery (which still just consisted of a ranch house) was not set up to function properly as a monastic center, so even small tasks took great effort.
In 2003, the second floor was added to the main house, enabling all the sisters to live under the same roof. Meanwhile all services were conducted in the dearly loved (but very small!) Chapel of St. Anastasija. Though we barely fit ourselves, we would at times have up to one hundred guests squeezed in as well. Seeing the priority for a larger church as paramount, arduous work on the catholicon began in 2004. Now the catholicon stands as a joy to all.
From year to year the number of guests continues to increase; this year the monastery opened its doors to about 1500 visitors. As a continued response to the growing influx of faithful visiting the monastery, the sisters (of whom there are now 20) have begun the next phase of the monastery’s development. This includes the construction of a new building, designed to adequately house the Abbess, the nuns and the young students of the monastery’s Holy Protection Home School. Once completed, the original house will become available for a more suitable use as a guest center, including much-needed guest accommodations and an expanded bookstore, with an adjacent room for receiving and greeting visitors. Relocation of the bookstore from its former building will in turn provide more suitable accommodations for the many visiting clergy.
The expansion of our monastic community reflects the will and desire of our ruling hierarch, His Grace Bishop MAXIM, to offer a place of solace and healing for those who visit. We are committed to receiving those who come so as to contribute, in whatever way we can, to the spiritual renewal and healing of those who are seeking it. And this brings us to the main purpose behind the current construction project. The dormitory, designed as a monastic dwelling with separate cells for the sisters, provides an opportunity for the monastic sisterhood to deepen its interior life of sustained prayer—the heart of our monastic calling. Solitude and service—prayerful contemplation and action—might be viewed as mutually exclusive, but in the monastic life, it is quite the opposite. As it is the monastic’s greatest service to pray for the entire world and for all those known and unknown to her, so, it is this prayer, humble as it may be, that we hope is our greatest service and spiritual offering. We remain grateful to those who feel led to labor together with us in the establishment of this monastery as a place dedicated to love for God and neighbor.
To those who have already donated of their time and financial resources to begin this project, we offer our sincerest gratitude and our faithful prayers in the monastery’s liturgical services. In order to complete the project, we again turn to you and to any who feel led to offer the needed financial support. We humbly rely on your generosity.
together with the sisters in Christ with me