Kendalia, Texas- On Saturday, October 30, 2010 the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver sponsored a service project at Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery in Kendalia, Texas. With the blessings of Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, young adults representing three parishes and several Orthodox Christian Fellowship chapters joined Metropolis Youth Director, Dn. Paul Zaharas, and Fr. Nicholas Hadzellis of Houston’s Annunciation Cathedral and OCF’s Southern Regional Chaplain in the effort.
The primary focus of the project was the restoration of a Moslem cemetery which exists on the grounds of the monastery. The Holy Archangels Monastery was established on the site of a former Moslem religious school. Since acquiring the property the Fathers of the Monastery have removed or altered nearly all of the facilities to suit their monastic work, but have allowed the cemetery, which contains some twenty-five graves, to remain undisturbed. While no formal agreement was made in the transfer of property regarding the upkeep of the cemetery, the abbot, Father Dositheos, and Metropolitan Isaiah consider it important to show proper respect for the dead, without bias toward other cultural or religious backgrounds.
Consequently, the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Denver Metropolis organized college students from Houston, Austin, and San Antonio to participate in the project. The young adults assisted the Fathers of the Monastery in the cemetery beautification landscaping around the graves, setting stone monuments upright, completely clearing the grounds of rubble, and painting the fence around the cemetery.
The project, which had been planned for several months, has taken on new meaning with recent news in the United States and Europe. Continuing debate regarding the building of a Moslem center near Ground Zero in New York City is drawing issues of religious tolerance to the forefront. As well, just two days prior to the Holy Archangels effort, and in stark contrast to the restoration work done there, an Orthodox cemetery on the Turkish island of Imvros, the childhood home of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, was vandalized. On October 28th over seventy-five graves were desecrated by unknown perpetrators.
The Fathers of Holy Archangels were most grateful for the help of the young men and women of the Church who willingly offered their time and service. With the added context of recent events, the cemetery service project proved a very positive experience and provided a valuable lesson in religious tolerance and understanding for all participants.
Nov 11, 2010 5:18 PM