1519 Washington St, Calistoga, CA
REPORT FROM CALISTOGA
December 14, 2009
We are happy to say that Mother Melania and the sisters who moved to Holy Assumption Monastery have been very kindly received there both by the Orthodox community and the townspeople of Calistoga in general. The monastery is located only a few blocks from downtown, so the sisters often walk there (some for exercise in the early morning, others to do errands later in the day), and they tell us it's amazing how often people roll down the windows of their cars to say, "Welcome to Calistoga! So glad you've come!"
It turns out that the monastery chapel serves as something of a parish church for a small multi-ethnic community of Orthodox faithful. The sisters continue to be amazed when the "parishioners" ask for a blessing to wash the dishes, bring desserts, etc., and then are profusely thankful for being allowed to help! So far, nobody has been turned down!
Holy Assumption Monastery has its own priest, Hieromonk Sergious, as well as a couple in residence, Ben and Sarah Smith, who care for the beautiful grounds and have worked with Father Sergious for years to restore and upgrade the deteriorating monastery buildings. It also has a beautiful chapel, a replica of the church at Fort Ross adorned with exquisite iconography. And, for those who have been wondering, yes, it has cats--and more. When they arrived, the sisters found their new residence already occupied by three bunnies, an African grey parrot named Petey, a conyer (a small green parrot) named Oscar, a cockatiel named Morris, and two cats. Ashley is an orange cat, who is 18 or 19. Hallway (so named because he was found in a hallway) is maybe 13. They are both very sweet (although Hallway is apparently the champion fighter of the neighborhood) and delighted to have such a number of new domestic servants.
The animals, of course, have been concerned to make sure that the sisters who have come find a way to help support them. So, the sisters have been busy devising ideas. In the short term, they will most likely be making candies, jams, baked goods, and various types of crafts. In the long term, they are looking towards developing communion wines. We will keep you posted as these plans develop.
In the meantime, you just might want to consider a visit to and the beautiful Napa Valley, where you now have close friends.
The days leading up to The Big Move...
Wednesday, October 21, 2009. After sharing a final liturgy together, the work of loading up the moving van begins...
Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009. The Big Day.
The Big Day arrives and the entire community chants the joyous Paschal irmoi together one last time as a send-off. The sisters then line up to make prostrations and ask forgiveness of each other before departing in peace.
Calistoga or bust!
Glory to God! After an all-day road trip, the sisters arrive safely at Holy Assumption Monastery.
Friday, Oct. 23, 2009. The day after is... loads of fun!
(Stay tuned for more photos...)