Maybe you can fill us in on those reservations. I'm not aware of anything negative with any of his monastery's. We are on the subject of North America and the Athonite monastery's. Correct? Not monasticism in general.
I'm certainly very pro-monasticism. Just have some reservations about Fr Ephraim. Why are people who have reservations about Fr Ephraim automatically assumed to "have issues" with monasticism?
1) A friend of mine lived in Arizona and was involved in the monasteries for 2 years. He was, during high school, given a prayer rule that was almost 2 hours a night. Attempts to ask for reductions were met with accusations that he was giving in to Satan. This friend was not baptized on his reception to the GOA, so Fr Paisius arranged for him to be baptized on Mt Athos. While I think all converts should be baptized, that is not the policy of the bishop over St Anthony's monastery. So when my friend went over to Athos, they arranged for him to get baptized. When he came back, they told him to go back to the parish he came from (!) and pretend like nothing happened--and told him to *lie* if anyone asked him what happened! They later constructed a chapel off site to do their secret baptisms.
2) Another friend of mine went there about two months ago and was told that he should not even hold a girl's hand before marriage because that was sinful....(ok.....right)
3) One of our Old Calendarist priests was a disciple of Fr Ephraim and was with him when he announced that the Theotokos had appeared to him and told him to go to the ROCOR. Then, a month later, he told him that well, the "mafia" had "approached him" and "thrown him in a car" and threatened to "kill all his spiritual Children" if he did not go back to the GOA, so he did; but he told our priest "you can stay in ROCOR, they won't care about you, you are American." But he told others the Theotokos had told him to go back. So was the Theotokos confused? Or was he lying? Or did the mafia want him for some reason (and if so, why?)
Those are a few of my *reservations* with Fr Ephraim, Fr Paisius, and their circle. Note, however, that I am not *against* Fr Ephraim. It's quite possible that a lot of the nuttiness comes from the people, not from the Elder. However, it is incumbent on spiritual leaders to disabuse their people of these attachments.
To sum it up, my objections are:
1) Promoting disobedience to the local bishops
2) Overstrictness on issues of relations with members of the opposite sex (not as big of an objection as I have with #1)
3) Using alleged visions to back up jurisdictional changes.
4) Creating a para-parish situation in some monasteries.
I must say I am highly impressed with the fact that Fr Ephraim has been able to start all these monasteries and I believe they are having a good impact on the GOA. However, I would like to see greater integration between his monasteries and the regular GOA structure, which I believe would help to alleviate some of these concerns.