BOSTON.- Abbess Foteini and Sister Theonymphi, nuns at the All Saints Monastery in Calverton, NY on Long Island had notified the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America verbally and also in writing that their spiritual father, Archimandrite Gerasimos Makris, had sexually abused them.
They allege that they had been berated, threatened, and intimidated by Archdiocesan officials whom they named. Archimandrite Makris was the presiding priest at the Holy Cross parish in Brooklyn but he was removed by the Archdiocese and sent to the Saint Luke’s Institute for therapy and a few weeks ago he was reinstated to his previous position at Holy Cross in Brooklyn.
The National Herald reveals today Abbess Foteini sent a letter to Archbishop Demetrios dated February 16, 2018 in which she reveals in detail all that had allegedly transpired and begged for help. The National Herald has verified the authenticity of the letter, which has come into its procession.
Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Chancellor of the Archdiocese did not respond to TNH’s written request for comment.
Abbess Foteini wrote in her letter “Your Eminence, I am once again following up with you regarding the abuse suffered by Sister Theonymphi at the hands of Fr. Gerasimos Makris, our spiritual father. As you know, this has been a very traumatic situation for Sr. Theonymphi and myself as well. We first brought this misconduct situation forward, in the appropriate manner, to His Grace Bishop Andonios, Chancellor of the Archdiocese in October 2017.”
She also wrote that “We are hurt, disappointed and emotionally distressed that instead of being treated with love and respect and in accordance with the Archdiocese Sexual Misconduct Policy, we have instead been berated, threatened, and treated like accusers instead of victims of abuse. His Grace Bishop Andonios and his assistant the Very Rev. Chrysostomos Panos have threatened both myself and Sr. Theonymphi with transfer and exile to Greece to “learn how to be good monastics.” This is completely unacceptable treatment from clergymen as it contributes additional spiritual and emotional pain and confusion to Sr. Theonymphi instead of the compassionate love and healing the Church can offer.”
She also emphasized that “The Archdiocese has not followed its own policy on misconduct and I implore you to please direct His Grace and others responsible to treat us as any other parishioner or lay individual would be treated. Treating us different because we are monastics is not only un-Christian and unacceptable; I suspect it would be illegal to not follow proper steps outlined in the Archdiocese Sexual Misconduct Policy.”
The letter notes that “The direct contradiction of the GOA’s own Sexual Misconduct Policy in our case of reporting sexual misconduct has been as follows:
On October 25, 2017, after reporting abuse, I was instructed by Bishop Andonios that the monastery was to go to Fr. Chrysostom Panos for spiritual guidance and care. This directly contradicts the Sexual Misconduct Policy which states that victims are not to be referred for pastoral care to any clergy involved in the investigation.
After abuse was reported, Sr. Theonymphi was not interviewed nor was she asked to give a detailed written statement of the abuse. The Sexual Misconduct Policy explicitly states that victims of abuse are to be interviewed and provide a written statement.”
Abbess Foteini also wrote to the Archbishop that “on January 25, 2018, Fr. Chrysostom Panos called the monastery clearly angry and yelled at me over the phone instructing me to ‘make Sr. Theonymphi stop worrying’ as I am ‘her superior’ and that he and Bishop Andonios are considering sending us to Greece to learn ‘real monasticism.’ Again, on February 12, 2018, Bishop Andonios also yelled at Sr. Theonymphi over the phone saying he was going to send her to Greece to a ‘real monastery.’ He went so far as to hang up the phone on her. Both these statements were explicit threats made in anger, and not as a pastoral guideline. This directly violates the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Whistle Blower Policy of the Archdiocese.”
“We humbly ask Your Eminence to please help us and assist Sr. Theonymphi according to the policy and please direct His Grace and his staff to stop threatening us, thereby causing more emotional and spiritual distress, confusion, and anguish. We pray that Sr. Theonymphi will get past this very difficult time and we will continue to serve Your Eminence here at the Monastery,” she wrote.
Abbess Foteini included an itemized chronology of events. Among other things she wrote that on “October 26, 2017, the Chancellor is informed via e-mail that a second woman who was a novice at the monastery was also sexually abused by Fr. Makris.”
Because the Archbishop did nothing the nuns have temporarily left the All Saints Monastery. Nun Eisodia has come from Greece and now resides at the All Saints Monastery while Sisters Foteini and Theonymphi are on sabbatical.
On October 9, 2018, their lawyer, G. Michael Stewart sent a letter to Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology where they both studied, as well as to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese alleging “harassment, intimidation, sexual impropriety, sexual assault, failure to report domestic violence and failure to keep them safe. This representation further includes, but is not limited to, claims of harassment, interference with their livelihood, intimidation and failure to keep them safe against the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.”
The National Herald is in a position to know that this issue has reached the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, but it has been ignored thus far.
No reply was issued by Holy Cross School of Theology or the Archdiocese.