St. John of San Francisco Monastery (Manton, California)
|Monastery of St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco|
|Approx. size||~20 members|
|Music used||Russian Chant; Valaam-style Znamenny Chant|
|Feastdays celebrated||19 June/2 July|
|Official website||Official website|
After the departure of the sisterhood of Our Lady of Kazan Skete from St. Eugene's Hermitage to their present location, Bishop Tikhon blessed the formation of a male monastic community in October 1996 with Abbot Jonah and one novice. Twelve years and the election of the founding abbot to Metropolitan later, the brotherhood has two priestmonks - including Abbot Meletios - along with six stavrophore monks, one rassaphore monk and eight novices (including one priest-novice), living at a new property in Manton, California.
In 1951, a property was donated to the Metropolia, and was called St. Eugene's Hermitage. Hmk Dimitry began to live on the property, living a monastic life and attempting to build a monastic community. This was unsuccessful, and in 1968 Hieromonk Dimitry was removed from the hermitage and assigned to parish ministry.
After this, many other attempts were made at a new monastic community, none of which came to fruition. In 1980, work began on a new chapel at the hermitage, and in 1983 the Community of the Holy Cross, led by Mother Barbara, began to reside at St. Eugene's Hermitage. The chapel was finished in 1988, was consecrated in the same year, and placed under the patronage of St. Sergius of Radonezh.
In 1996, the Community of the Holy Cross moved to Santa Rosa and were renamed as the Skete of Our Lady of Kazan. In October of that year, the Monastery of St. John, led by Fr. Jonah, was established at St. Eugene's Hermitage, with two members of the brotherhood.
This brotherhood, like the sisterhood before it, also took hold and grew. In July 2004, Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley tonsures three members of the community to the small schema and one to the rassaphore. At this point, there are nine members of the community.
The brotherhood continued to steadily grow. By the middle of 2005, there were 12 members of the community, and the brotherhood decided that remaining at a hermitage - with an expected capacity of four - with a brotherhood of twelve was untenable, and began to look for a suitable property, hopefully in the Washington area.
However in May, 2006, the brotherhood entered into proceedings to purchase land in Manton, California, that was perfectly suited to the brotherhood's present and future needs; on June 26, the purchase was completed, and the brotherhood planned to move in by the end of July . The first Divine Liturgy on the site of the new property was celebrated on July 2, on the feastday of St. John Maximovitch. As the monks moved to Manton, the brotherhood decided that St. Eugene's Hermitage would remain as a skete of the monastery, with Frs John and Silouan based there - the former to be more accessible, the latter in view of medical treatment. Fr. Silouan has since recovered and moved to the main monastery.
Since early 2007, the monastery has grown with the addition of two celibate priests, one of whom was made rassaphore during Lent of 2008. There are also a number of new novices, which has necessitated the beginning of a new phase of growth and expansion on the monastery property.
In January 2008, the brotherhood issued its first CD of music, recorded by its own choir and featuring American-influenced chant, entitled "The Eyes of All Look to Thee."
In September 2008, Abbot Jonah was elected as Bishop of Fort Worth, auxiliary to Abp. Dmitri of the South. In his stead, Archimandrite Meletios (Webber) was chosen to be the second abbot of St. John of San Francisco Monastery. Since then, the brotherhood has continued to grow to 20 members.
At the Monastery, Matins and Vespers are generally begun with 20 minutes of silent, communal prayer of the Jesus Prayer. For all changes and variations due to the Festal Cycle, please see the monastery's website, which posts a weekly and monthly schedule which are both revised frequently.
How The Monks Support Themselves
Online Bookstore Their recently redesigned online bookstore can be accessed here: http://www.stjohnsbookstore.com/
Retreats & Lectures Information on their various retreats and lectures can be found here: http://monasteryofstjohn.org/retreats.html
Music Recordings Their CD entitled Eyes of All Look to Thee with Hope. Description from the CD: "The CD includes 24 selections from Matins, Divine Liturgy, and two paraliturgical pieces. It represents many of the different styles sung at the monastery, Valaam and Byzantine chant, as well as music specially composed to meet the needs of the community. It is our monastery's vision that a uniquely American chant will gradually develop, growing from the seeds of our inherited traditions. As they take root in American soil, this chant will become an organic hybrid of different influences from our own folk melodies and harmonies, rooted in the traditions of our ancestors and drawing from the springs of the memorable melodies of the Carpatho-Rus and the timeless and other-worldly modalities of western Gregorian chant and it counterpart, Byzantine chant." Their CD can be purchased on their online bookstore: http://www.stjohnsbookstore.com/node/1061
Candles From the early days at St. Eugene's Hermitage in Pt. Reyes until today, their main source of income has been it's candle production. They are 100% natural beeswax. They burn with a warm glow, driplessly and without smoke. -- visit their website for more candle information: http://monasteryofstjohn.org/candles.htm