Church members to take a pilgrimage

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By Special to the Monitor

Monday marks the end of the summer and for a nearby Orthodox Monastery, the celebration of its annual feast day, the Feast of the Archangel Michael.  Each year this annual pilgrimage draws visitors from throughout New Mexico and Southern Colorado.  

Members and the priest of Saint Dimitri Orthodox Church will join in the annual event with Rev. John Hennies, who serve as the priest at the Divine Liturgy, which will begin at 10 a.m. at the monastery church.  

The Monastery of the Archangel Michael, founded in 1993, is set on approximately          15 acres located amidst the high desert foothills of the Jemez Mountains in northwestern New Mexico in Cañones near Abiquiu.

 The monastery is blessed with a year-round natural spring that originates on the property, as well as a large stream that crosses the monastery grounds.  It is also at some distance from major population centers, which is beneficial to a monastic community.

Monasticism, which comes from the Greek word for a solitary person, is the ancient Christian practice of withdrawal from the world in order to dedicate oneself fully and intensely to the life of the Gospel.

Currently in addition to the monastery superior, Hieromonk John, there are a half dozen men who are members or seeking to be members of the brotherhood.

The life of Monastery of the Archangel Michael is centered around the daily cycle of services that are conducted in Saint Michael the Archangel Monastic Church, consecrated on Aug. 30, 2003 by Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).  The main work of this monastic community is one of prayer and repentance; however, the brotherhood makes a living by providing hand-dipped pure beeswax candles to a number of churches. The monastery also has a guesthouse, the Holy Archangels House of Ascent and is available for visitors who call in advance.

The monastery facilities presently are limited. Saint Michael the Archangel Monastic Church is the center of the daily services. A former small farm house is the main monastic building that houses cooking and eating facilities as well as the monastery office and provides a work place for making candles. A “monk’s row” of separate cells is also in use in an area restricted to lay people.

 The construction of more cells is planned, as well as construction of a monastery trapeze. Since 2008, development of a cemetery that will offer burial to both members of the brotherhood and laymen has begun.

Members of Saint Dimitri Orthodox Church will gather at the church parking area on 39th Street at 8:30 a.m. Monday to share rides and directions to the monastery.  For additional information, call Hennies at 412-5707.