Monastery of Pantanassa (Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales)
|Monastery of the Holy Mother of God "Pantanassa"|
|Approx. size||4 monks|
|Location||Mangrove, New South Wales, Australia|
|Music used||Byzantine Chant|
|Feastdays celebrated|| Nov 10 (Metochion)|
Bright Saturday (Monastery)
|Official website||none advertised|
The Monastery of the Holy Mother of God "Pantanassa" (Queen of All) is a monastic community for men under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. The monastery is located in Mangrove Creek and Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales (west of Sydney), and was established in 1976 under the omophorion of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of Australia. The current abbot is Archimandrite Stephanos; there are currently 2 priestmonks (including the abbot), one monk and one novice in residence.
In 1976, shortly after the beginning of Archbishop Stylianos' tenure, the Archbishop established the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of our Lord, with Archimandrite Stephanos (Pantanassiotis) being the abbot and residing at St Arsenios House. Fr Stephanos resigns from Vicar-General and devotes himself to the monastery, where he is widely sought out for confession; however, even though the monastery is situated in Earlwood, Sydney, it is a principle of the monastery that no weddings or baptisms are conducted.
In the early 1990s, the monastery has its first novices, and Fr Stephanos decides that an inner-city hermitage was no longer the an ideal situation. Building begins at Mangrove Mountain at a temporary site on the side of the mountain, below a 200m (approx. 680ft) cliff; it was anticipated that, once the temporary site was complete, construction would begin at permanent site on top of the mountain. In 1995, the temporary site was complete, and the brotherhood moved from Sydney to Lower Mangrove Creek. This caused Holy Transfiguration Monastery to revert to a parish, and Archbishop Stylianos placed the brotherhood under the patronage of the Mother of God "Pantanassa" ("Queen of All: formed by two Greek words - Πάντα meaning All, Άνασσα meaning Queen)
1995 turned out to be a busy year. In the early 1990s, Fr Stephanos has a number of women who wished to pursue the monastic life; these women were, eventually, sent to a monastery in Greece. However, the desire to lead the monastic life in Australia was, after a few years, accepted by Fr Stephanos, and so these four nuns made up the first sisters of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, who began residence at St Arsenios House with Fr Stephanos as the spiritual father. In 2003, Holy Cross Monastery moves to Mangrove Mountain, 5km from Pantanassa Monastery, and St Arsenios becomes the Sydney metochion for Pantanassa Monastery.
What was planned to be a temporary site at Mangrove Creek, after numerous administrative setbacks, eventually became more permanent, with an iconography studio, extra cells and storeroom built near the original complex. However, the brotherhood never forgot that it was only supposed to be temporary; finally, on May 27, 2005, having obtained local government permission, Pantanassa Monastery began excavation on the monastic site on top of Mangrove Mountain, and Archbishop Stylianos announced an Australia-wide fundraising campaign.
On July 16, 2005, the foundation stone of the main church ('katholikon') was laid by Archbishop Stylianos, assisted by Bishop Seraphim. Soon after, the driveway for the new monastic complex was finished, making possible the construction of the new complex. The first phase of this construction - the church and first part of the living quarters - was begun in February 2006. Construction continues, and at Easter 2006, was well underway.
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After moving to become the Pantanassa Monastery in 1995, the Brotherhood built a small site to live in until they built the complex that would be the monastery. In 2005, the Brotherhood, after numerous difficulties, began excavation at this site, located 50 metres from cliff-face; in 2006, construction began.
Current Monastic Complex
Currently the Brotherhood lives, works and prays at a small monastic complex on the side of Mangrove Mountain, below a 200 metre cliff, where there is a small chapel dedicated to Sts Ephraim and Isaac the Syrians, living quarters sufficient for the monks, an iconography studio (the primary source of income), a candle-making factory, St. Joseph's joinery workshop. Other structures from the complex include a secluded cabin named after Elder Paisios the Athonite (+1994), a set of beehives, a timber cabin used for confessional and bookshop, an outdoor chapel with a 6 metre timber crucifix used during the Ecumenical Patriarch's 1996 visit, and a cave dedicated to St. Anna. There are also numerous dams on the property for water, the largest dam being adjacent to St. Patrick's fields.
New Monastic Complex
Building works started on the new monastic complex site at the top of the mountain on 27 May 2005. The preparatory works began with excavating the mountain to provide three flat levels for buildings to go on, which were completed by the July 2005 foundation ceremony. During further excavation, a 400 metre (~1350 ft) driveway through forest to the building site was constructed and completed in August 2005. There are three stages involved in the construction of the new monastic complex:
- Currently being completed; includes the new chapel and the first section of the living quarters, sufficient for the present number of monks.
- Includes the remainder of the living quarters for the monks and the office.
- Includes the iconography studio and guest accomodation.
- Other structures include the confessional, the library and the refectory (opp. entrance of church, adj. to main entry).
The new monastic complex is designed to have the layout and aesthetics of a traditional Athonite monastery by having the main church in the middle of a cloistered quadrangle. This formation is intended to have a fortress effect, by appearing solid and uninviting to outsiders, its few openings giving little opportunity for interaction; whereas to those welcomed into the complex, having a softer style of architecture and opening with a continuous arched cloister and details reminiscent of Athonite structures.
Bibliography and Links
- Pantanassa Monastery, "The Building of a Monastery", in The Greek Australian VEMA, June 2005, page 12/30.
- Holy Monastery of Pantanassa (monastery appeal site)
- Model of Monastery (after construction)
|Orthodoxy in Australia: Monasteries|
|Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia|
| Male: Pantanassa | St George | St John |
Female: Gorgoepikoos | Holy Cross
|Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia|
| Male: Holy Transfiguration | Archangel Michael |
Proph. Elias | St John the Baptist | Holy Trinity
Female: Our Lady of Kazan | Presentation
| Male: New Kalenic (Serbian) | St Sava (Serbian) |
Female: St Anna (Antiochian) | Nativity Skete (Serbian)