Who needs help?
Two nuns need your help. Antonia and Porphyria. They live in the mountains of Ahladeri in Evia Greece. Severe rainstorms damaged their monastery, the Holy female cenobitic Monastery of Saint Antonios. Actually it's just an old detachable house beside the small mountain church of Saint Antonios, but the problem is not the safety of their shelter.
The vast amounts of rainfall created a rift that threatens the church and a permanent structure they started building to house the monastery a few years ago. Also there is the grave of the late father Antonios Kikizas, but nevertheless another rainstorm like that may drag everything down the cliff.
Who are these people and why are they staying on that mountain?
Back in the 70's a young woman seeking spiritual refuge and guidance heard about a very gifted priest-monk. She went on to meet him and he addressed her most inner thoughts, filed her heart with joy and lifted the burdens turbulent souls usually carry. The woman's name was Katerina and the priest's father Porphyrios, who in contrast to his humble looks and poor health proved to be a lot more than extraordinary. In fact today he is one of the most prominent new saints of the Orthodox Church, Saint Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite
Katerina found the spiritual father she was seeking for and followed him, not only in a spiritual path but also in the wilderness of the Greek mountains. Father Porphyrios was an Athonite monk but a severe illness forced him to leave the Holy Mountain and the ascetic way of life he was used to. He spent 33 years from 1940 to 1973 serving as a priest at a Hospital's small parish in downtown Athens. After the mid 70's he was living in a temporary d.i.y shelter in Milesi outside Athens where he finally founded The Holy Convent of the Transfiguration of the Savior. Then at the late 80's he started spending time frequently at a small mountain church, (Saint Antonios), on the mountains atop Ahladeri beach in Evia.
He chose the spot in Ahladeri because he was preparing himself to return permanently to Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain. The conditions in Ahladeri's mountains were quite similar to those of Mount Athos. Not as harsh though, so his weak and ill body could have some time to adapt and subsequently withstand the severe conditions of the Holy Mountains' wilderness, where he was planning to end his days.
Some spiritual children of his, bought him an old retired ambulance
and with a few adjustments that became his home in Ahladeri. Katerina and
a few more spiritual brothers and sisters, was with him, taking also care of his frail health because by now father
Porphyrios had suffered a few heart attacks, he was blind, he had cancer
and terrible skin infections.
The ambulance was parked in front of the small church of Saint Antonios in the middle of nowhere. The Elder was living in the patients space of the ambulance and his spiritual children were sleeping either in the drivers compartment, in the small church, or out in the open air if the weather was good. Father Porphyrios finally managed to get to Mount Athos, where he died in 1991
Another important figure for both Father Porphyrios and Katerina was father Antonios Kikizas who was the spiritual father of Saint Porfyrios. In 1993 after father Porphyrios' departure in 1991, Katerina started spending her time between Ahladeri and Athens. That's because she was taking care of father Antonios Gikizas, who after suffering severe strokes was left unable to move or even talk. Father Gikizas was an extremely educated monk-priest, who was part of the law staff of Athens' Archdiocese, but he preferred to live in a tiny basement flat and devote his life to prayer and serving those in need than to pursue his rise in the Greek church's hierarchy. He finally died in that flat in outer poverty in 1999.
After father Gikizas death in 1999, Katerina took his body to Ahladeri and burried him behind the small
church of Saint Antonios. Then she became a nun under the name Antonia in 2002 and she
founded the Holy female cenobitic Monastery of Saint Antonios at the exact same location.
The other nun of the monastery today was also part of the fellowship that
initially followed father Porphyrios, now called Porphyria, having
become a nun in 2018.
The newly founded monastery was already well known to the local people but within the years many people apart from the nearby communities, found consolation and peace by travelling up these mountains and spent sometime with Elder Antonia, at the place where father Gikizas is buried and Saint Pophyrios prepared himself for his final journey.
Why don't they leave this place and camp somewhere else?
They cannot leave this place to
just roll down the cliff, and move their shelter to safer ground maybe only 500m away. That's because
these grounds have spiritual significance unequal to anything else for
them and the people visiting.
Why are these priests important to anyone else?
Both of them gave an adamant example of what deep and unconditional love may feel like to anyone close to them. They helped countless persons to recover from severe illnesses, but in contrast to that they welcomed theirs as a gift that would keep them humble. They always avoided any short of personal gain, either fame, wealth or power. They showed to anyone around them what no discrimination means. Finally above all they still radiate vividly the aforementioned qualities to anyone going through their lives and deeds.
What will they do if they get funding?
The money are needed to secure the grounds on the mountain slope with a heavier construction than the one they build immediately after the disaster. The local community, friends and family are doing their best but having started the erection of a permanent building before the disaster and the immediate repairs that took place after the disaster, have exhausted their means of financing.
The problem is twofold. One is that the supporting construction must be of such durability that makes it too expensive, and secondly it must be in place before next winter.
Why don't they help themselves?
There is no time to collect the money as the amount is to vast for the local gathering, and also the materials needed are beyond the capacity for donations of the local factories that help them initially with cement etc. After the disaster a video by a visitor was uploaded and by that they where able to raise the money needed for cleaning the place from the rocks and the dirt and also to make the repairs needed to keep the church open for the people. You can view it here (The text is in Greek)
I 'd like to help them but do I have to be an Orthodox Christian?
By all means no.