Tuesday, January 06, 2009

North Carolina monastics...

...Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery, Weaverville NC.



Matthias said...

Interesting. I knew there was a Greek Orthodox monastery in North Carolina but I had no clue this one existed.

Carolina Cannonball said...

looks like you'll be taking another pilgrimage then?

A Simple Sinner said...

Take your pilgrimates elsewhere....

OCA Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery (Weaverville, NC)
The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery was founded in 1982. At the time, it was called the Monastery of the Exultation of the Most Holy Cross, it was affiliated with the Eastern Catholic Byzantine Eparchy of Passaic in New Jersey, and it was located in Miami, Florida.

In 1985, the monastery began a school, Holy Cross Academy. Among the students at the academy were novice monks, teenagers from the Ukraine who had all been brought to Miami by the monastic brotherhood.

In March of 2001 one of the novice monks, Mykhaylo Kofel, murdered a nun, Michelle Lewis. This young man from the Ukraine confessed to the brutal murder shortly after his arrest.

However, Mr. Kofel also claimed that he had been subjected to sexual abuse by the monastery?s abbot, Fr. Gregory Wendt, and by the abbot?s right hand man, Fr. Damian Gibault. Both monks have denied these allegations, and no charges have ever been filed against them.

On October 27, 2003, with the criminal case against Mr. Kofel still unresolved, the monastery was accepted into the Orthodox Church in America by Metropolitan Herman (Swaiko). The group also adopted a new name, the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery.

In response, the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami sent out a bulletin telling their faithful that liturgy at the monastery was no longer considered to be participating in a Catholic mass. Although the monastery solicited among the Orthodox in the area for new students, the academy was forced to close in 2004.

Mr. Kofel?s guilty plea was accepted by the state of Florida in February of 2005, and he was sentenced to thirty years in prison. After his release, he will be deported to the Ukraine.

The unusually light sentence was the product of months of negotiations between prosecutors and Mr. Kofel?s defense attorney. According to newspaper accounts at the time, while the state wanted to adequately punish the novice for his crime, it also believed that Mr. Kofel had been abused, and that this abuse was a mitigating circumstance.

Shortly after Mr. Kofel was sentenced, the monastery relocated to Weaverville, North Carolina.


I didn't like or trust them 13 years ago when I met them, and don't think I would trust them further than I could throw a city bus today.

How the OCA got conned, I will never know.