First the swine flu quarantine shut down their bakery and coffee shop, leaving the monastery without its main source of income for many weeks; scores of parishioners lost their jobs and turned to the monastery for help; the monastery car broke down, bills and rent on the church buildings had to be paid. The brethren barely made ends meet.
Then came the worst blow. Abbot and only ROCOR priest in the country Fr. Nektariy Haji-Petropoulos got very sick. First it was foot surgery, then acute colitis, and then kidney stones. In October he was hospitalized for severe kidney problems and was in critical condition for 72 hours.
“I was minutes away of death,” he wrote in an email on November 2, “For some reason God is pushing me back to work.”
After at least three surgeries Fr. Nektariy returned to his duties of serving the needs of the growing population of Russian immigrants, and even felt well enough to attend the Western American Diocese pastoral conference in San-Francisco Novermber 6-9.
His prolonged sickness however left a gaping hole in the monastery’s funds; Fr. Nektariy still needs treatment, medicine and most likely, a surgery next year.
“Our finances couldn't be worse today,” wrote Fr. Nektariy. “We have no health insurance in Mexico, so whenever any of us gets ill we only in the Mercy of God.”
Before the monastery was founded two years ago, Russian Orthodox Christians went to Greek or Antiochian churches, and some even converted to Catholicism.
Since then Holy Trinity Monastery became in the words of the abbot “the spiritual heart of the Russian Diaspora” and now serves the needs of local Russians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Moldavians and Mexicans. The services are conducted in Slavonic; Russian diplomats and ambassadors bring their families on weekends, and the brethren are a necessary part at the celebrations at the Russian Embassy.
“We are with our parishioners at the most important moments of their lives, from house blessing…to promotion or sickness,” said Fr. Nektariy.
The monastery is very active in the local community: it provides medical and psychological aid in Russian to alcoholics and drug addicts, domestic violence victims; provides legal assistance to Russian women in case of a divorce from their Mexican husbands and questions of child custody; assists the needy and the unemployed. They teach the fundamentals of the Orthodox faith to their parishioners; accept pilgrims from all over the country.
Two years ago, the monastery had only a small chapel, a refectory and cells. But the number of parishioners grew so much, that the brethren had to convert the refectory into a part of the church, and the garage into a refectory. The monks now eat in the kitchen. If they have the means, Fr. Nektariy hopes to put a roof on the courtyard next to the garden to have an outdoor refectory.
To continue their service, the monastery needs your assistance. Please help them in their good work!
To see full report, please see: mexico_report.pdf