(Unionville, MD) On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, His Grace Bishop Thomas was received by the Sisterhood of the Holy Monastery of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. Bishop Thomas was accompanied by four of his diocesan priests including Father Gregory Mathewes-Green (Holy Cross Church, Linthicum, MD), Father Patrick Cardine (St. Patrick Mission, Warrenton, VA), Father James Hamrick (St. John the Baptist Mission, Lewistown, MD), and Father Raphael Barberg (St. James the Apostle Mission, Westminster, MD).
Following a short service of reception in the chapel, Bishop Thomas welcomed the sisters to their new property and urged all present to do whatever was necessary to ensure that the property would remain an Orthodox monastery. Bishop Thomas and his priests were then led to the dining room where the sisters provided a hot Lenten meal.
Following lunch, Sister Ignatia accompanied Bishop Thomas and the guests on a brief tour of the property. The 131-acre property containing a chapel, a barn, a large farmhouse, a retreat house, and four large homes, had been formerly owned by the Life in Jesus Community (Charismatic Episcopal Church) under Bishop Philip Zampino. It is located in rural Frederick County near Unionville, Maryland, approximately 45 minutes west of Baltimore and an hour northwest of Washington, DC.
Both Father Patrick Cardine and Father James Hamrick had been priests in the CEC prior to becoming Orthodox, and consequently had ties to the property. Father Patrick and Father James attended a CEC seminary there. In addition, Father Patrick and his family had lived on the property for two years. Later, Father James was ordained in the chapel, and served as priest under Bishop Zampino before his conversion to Holy Orthodoxy. Father Patrick and Father James were therefore able to provide insight into the history of the property and the how it was used. Father James told Bishop Thomas and Sister Ignatia, “Since the property went on the market, I have been praying for this place to become an Orthodox monastery.”
The sisterhood, led by Abbess Aemiliane (who could not be present for Bishop Thomas’ visit), and under the guidance of the Most Reverend Archimandrite, Elder Dionysius, recently located on the property.
Bishop Thomas told the sisters that he will be asking his priests whose churches and missions are close by to do what they can do in supporting the work at the monastery. Bishop Thomas indicated that he would arrange for another visit soon so that he could meet Abbess Aemiliane.