Christ is Risen!
Christ of the Hills Monastery is an active monastery still. With its original spiritual director Father Benedict and one of its Hieromonks Father Jerimiah convicted by a Texas Court of Law of Indencency with a Minor, the monastery has had to reorganize the brotherhood under the leadership Abbott Vasili. I have had the pleasure of visiting the monastery both before and after the incident. I believe when one visits it, your will find that it has greatly changed under the leadership of Father Vasili. The services are served with great dignity and on a regular schedule. Hierodeacon Pangratios does an excellent job assuring that the canons of the church are followed in their services. The small brotherhood of about 10 monastics work hard and pray even harder. The brotherhood at the monastery have had to struggle under the cloud that has come over them but their main focus even in this time of trouble has been on the worship of the Holy Trinity.
The history of the monastery is one of searching for canonical orthodoxy. Originally a Roman catholic Monastery, upon leaving the Roman Catholic Church, they incorpaorated as a "Nonprofit corporation" under Texas Law and modeled themselves after the ecumenical monastery "Taize" in France. After further studying of the Orthodox Church, the brotherhood entered into the non-canonical branch of Orthodoxy noted in the website above. After several years of education and interaction with the canonical Orthodox parishes in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, they were eventually directed to seek the protection of the omophorion of ROCOR. Upon entrance into ROCOR, an unusal thing happened, ROCOR allowed the Monastery to remain an incorporated non-profit corporation rather than follow the usual pattern of deeding everything to the Synod of Bishops. They remained in ROCOR for many years, however when the scandal arose about the monastery several years ago, ROCOR sent a delegation to review the Monastery. At the advice of their criminal Lawyers, the brotherhood were told to not allow the ROCOR committe to review everything they requested (financial and property issues) as this could later be used in any settlement against the monastery in a civil court. The ROCOR hierarchy justifiably saw this as disobedience and disciplined the clergy of the monastery and withdrew their omophorion from the monastery. (Note, while their declining of the synod's request was legal under Texas State Law due to their legal incorporation, this was probably a bad decision and it was disobedience to their hierarchal synod0. ROCOR offered to place any members of the monastery who wished transfer to other ROCOR Monasteries, no one took up the offer. Several monks left the monastery but new ones came to take their places and the monastery has continued to exist, all-be-it in a questionable canonical Status. The monks of the monastery were placed under the omophorion of Archbishop LAZAR Puhalo , then of the non-canonical Kievian Patriachate (now he is an Archbishop in OCA with the status of a retired hierarch),Thus they are listed as under the Patriarchate of Kiev on various more current websites that the ones noted above. Several years after being accepted under Archbishop Lazar's omophorion, the Patriarch of Kiev started the Texas Kievian Mission and I note that the monastery is not in that Mission. What its current status is I am uncertain.
Over the past five years, the brotherhood of the monastery continues to exist and struggle in its spiritual life. I know the monks feel a tie to the monastery that goes very deep. They are custodians of the shrine of the Weeping Virgin, which I have seen and can verify after many visits is genuine---I have seen the tears. I have met monks who left the monastery and never found one who did not believe the weeping icon was anything but a true weeping icon. I have attended funerals of Laity, monastics and a ROCOR Hierarch at the monastery and know that one of the great fears of the monastery is the full disestablishment of the monastic institutution and the abandonment of the sacred space of the monastery cemetary with its faithful. Will Christ of the Hills Monastery ever be canonical again? I can not answer, that will be up to the canonocal Orthodox jursidictions, who at present seem unwilling to even discuss the posibility of admission into their jurisdictions for fear of its past scandal. In the mean time, the monastics of Christ of the Hills Monastery continue to do what they feel they have been called to do ---pray and serve God as best they can.
May the Holy Trinity have mercy upon them.
Of interest to note is that Elder Ephriam of the Holy Mountain visited the monastery and as a result of his visit came the desire to establish one of his monasteries in the area. The two monasteries had cordial relationships until the scandal and still maintain limited friendly contact.
edited for grammar and syntax.