Though he doesn’t have a drop of Russian blood and has spent most of his life serving in Greek churches, he became the center of the tightly knit Russian community that has developed under his care. As a monk, he spent six months at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, and considers himself a Russian priest. His parishioners agree.
“The local Russian Diaspora revolves around him. Many trust him above anyone else and consider him a spiritual guide,” says parishioner Sergei Alexeev, 32.
Most of his parishioners are Russian women married to Mexicans, who are usually non-believers. Some of them met on the internet and “ended up having a miserable life,” says Fr. Nektariy. When their husbands beat them and take away their passports, these women go to the only person they know will be able to help.
“I feel it is my sacred obligation to help these people, because they are Orthodox, my flock and my children,” says Fr. Nektariy. “They had no one here in Mexico; they were orphans, but not anymore. They have the Church and we protect them as much as we can.”
If he sees that the family union is irreparably broken, the abbot tries to get the woman’s passport back, and pays attorney’s fees if they sue to keep the children. Over the years, Fr. Nektariy has had to confront many an angry husband and refuse to give up the wife who found sanctuary through him. He is all too used to receiving threats. He says he is not afraid:
“Somebody has to defend them, to give them faith. If I take care of my community, God will take care of me. We are doing the right thing.”