Monastery of the Holy Trinity (Guatemala)
The Monastery of the Holy and Life-Giving Trinity, Lavra of Mambre, is a monastery for women under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch near the City of Guatemala in Guatemala. The monastery, which supports the only Orthodox church in Guatemala, was founded in April 1986 by Mother Inés (Ayau Garcia) and Sister María Amistoso.
In 1986, Sister Inés, who was from an influential and well-known family in Guatemala, made an extreme change in her life when she left a Roman Catholic monastic order and became an Orthodox nun in a country without an Orthodox presence. Joined by Sister María, Sister Inés founded Holy Trinity Monastery in April 1986. In 1989, the monastery received a donation of some land on the shores of Lake Amatitlán. The land, at an elevation of almost 4,000 feet near the City of Guatemala, is located near Pacaya, a very active volcano.
On December 6, 1995, His Grace Bishop Antonio Chedraoul of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America, and the Caribbean, of the Patriarchate of Antioch, formally brought Orthodox Christianity to Guatemala with the recognition of the monastery with its three nuns and twenty-five parishioners under the leadership of Mother Inés.
Over the following years the monastery grew, adding buildings to the land donated by Federico Bauer. On November 8, 2007, an assemblage of clergy and nuns, led by Archbishop Antonio, came to Guatemala on the occasion of consecrating the church (Iglesia católica apostólica orthodoxa de Guatemala) at the monastery.
In 1996, the government of Guatemala gave the monastery control of the Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala City. The orphanage was originally founded in 1857 by Rafael Ayau, an ancestor (great-great-grandfather) of Mother Inés. At its founding Don Rafael placed the management of the orphanage in the hands of monks from the charity organization "Caridad". In 1960, the government of Guatemala took control of the orphanage and deported the monks. Under government control, the orphanage deteriorated until in 1996 President Álvaro Arsu took action and turned over control of the orphanage to the nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery, an action that probably no one else in Guatemala would have made.
Since 1996, the House of Rafael Ayau has provided shelter and education to the high-school level to children from newborn babies to adolescents of sixteen years of age, imbued with basic Orthodox concepts. In February 1997, the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord was blessed in the orphanage building. As a priest has not been assigned to the church in the orphanage, services, led by a reader, are routinely held supported by two children's choirs that sing antiphonically. The orphanage is the oldest and largest in Guatemala. Throughout the Month of July 2013, the orphanage relocated from the troubled urban district to the countryside monastery campus.