On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, my nephew, Dr. Scott Michael Newton, and I traveled from Sewickley, Pennsylvania the long distance deep into the mountains near Wayne, West Virginia to visit Holy Cross Monastery, a monastic institution of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.


Scott is a parishioner of St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, and a student in the St. Stephen’s Certificate Program at the Antiochian House of Studies.


Scott and I have an interest in St. Panteleimon the Great Healer and Martyr since at least 1999,when we had the first recognition of emergency medical workers at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania.


Scott is a nurse professional at the highest level with international experience. In 1999, he was among the first to bring an ambulance to be blessed at St. George Church in Carmichaels on the Feast of St. Panteleimon. His interest has continued.


This was Scott’s first visit to Holy Cross Monastery. This was at least my third trip. More than a dozen years have elapsed since I traveled with parishioners from Holy Trinity Mission in Fairmont, West Virginia to visit the monastery.


Guestmaster Father Philaret and Father Gabriel from the monastery made us immediately feel welcomed when they learned of our plans to come for the Feast of St. Panteleimon.


We traveled in Scott’s recreational vehicle and planned to stay at Beech Fork State Park near the monastery, as we anticipated the guest house would be filled. We arrived at the monastery prior to the 6:30 PM vigil on Tuesday evening.


It was heartening to see the growth of the monastery since my last visit. New living quarters for the monks had been completed. The new church construction was well underway. Other new buildings were visible on the grounds.


On Tuesday evening, we attended the vigil for the feast which lasted for several hours. The church was overflowing with very attentive young families accompanied by numerous children. The vigil filled the heart, mind, and soul.


On Wednesday, the festal celebration began with a blessing of water at 8:00 AM and continued with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy followed by a Festal Moleban to St. Panteleimon. This was an additional several hours of nourishment.


Metropolitan Nicholas, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, officiated at the vigil and services on the day of the Feast with concelebrating clergy. Monks from the monastery sang the responses.


The feast day services were attended by an overflowing group of young attentive families including children. The line of faithful partaking of the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ seemed never-ending.


All visitors were hosted on Wednesday by the monastic community for the festal luncheon. Abbot Seraphim and the monastic brotherhood were very welcoming to us. The bookstore and monastery grounds were open for visiting.


In the afternoon we visited the bookstore and talked with Father Sergius, Father Gregory, Father Ignaty and others of the monastic community. We spoke with visitors who had come from great distances for the Feast.


Our visit concluded on Wednesday evening with attending the Ninth Hour and Vespers. We departed with grateful, warm hearts filled with great joy and plans to return for more visits.


The monastery has been growing and thriving in West Virginia since 2000. The celebration of St. Panteleimon receives great annual attention at the monastery. Thank God we had the opportunity to be a part of the celebration this year.


Protopresbyter Rodney Torbic

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