Ten years ago it was reported in The National Herald (TNH) that the
Greek Orthodox Holy Synod of U.S. Bishops was saying that some sort of cult
fundamentalism was being practiced in the U.S. by the monasteries controlled by
the monk, Elder Ephraim. But, apparently, no action to speak of ever addressed
Last year, at the fall Archdiocesan Council meeting, Michael Jaharis, the
ranking layman chairing the session, made unprecedented comments about
monastery problems in the Greek Archdiocese. He said that over the years,
some of these monasteries have not respected their proper relationship to the
archdiocese and that a committee was established to look into these matters but
the committee had experienced a “lack of cooperation.” He even likened actions
by the monasteries to a “disease” that must be guarded against.
At the most recent Council meeting this October, while there was no official
discussion of monastery issues, Mr. Jaharis is reported to have said that there
was continued “stone-walling” on the part of the monasteries and that there could
be some “illegal” activity being conducted by or on behalf of the monasteries.
Does this “illegal” activity have to do with money transfers? Over the years,
questions about monastery finances have been answered typically by the monks
with the response: “God provides.”
While there has been a lack of detail at these council meetings, it turns
out that revealing connections have been reported on the Internet and in
public records. A web-site called “Greeknewsliberator.wordpress.com”, which
is now shut down, linked its readers to Emmanuel Mamalakis, of Milwaukee.
Mr. Mamalakis is a parish council member of the Annunciation Church (the
one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) and controls or has controlled several
foundations – non-profit and for-profit. These foundations are apparently moving
money around and some of it is either ending up in monasteries or passing
through them to other entities.
In an ironic twist, Mr. Mamalakis has also been in the news lately for
accusing the former Milwaukee priest, Fr. James Dokos, of mishandling a trust
The IRS Form 990 is a form that non-profit foundations and other
organizations are required to submit to the Internal Revenue Service to account
for their work and finances. These are a matter of public record. Copies of 999’s
related to various organizations led by Mr. Mamalakis and others have been
posted on web-sites. This commentary will not attempt to provide copious detail,
but will cite some sample findings.
In perhaps the most telling “connecting of the dots”, the person listed
as being in charge of the “books and records” of the “International Non-Profit
Assistance Foundation”, ( INPAF), is listed with a Florence, Arizona address.
Florence, Az. happens to be the location of St. Anthony’s Monastery which is
the world headquarters of Elder Ephraim and his followers. This same person
is listed as keeper of the books for the World Assistance Foundation. Is this
just coincidence? Mr. Mamalakis is listed as an officer of both foundations. The
purpose of the INPAF is to “assist other 501 (C) (3) organizations and indigent
individuals”, and that “approximately 90 organizations and individuals have
St. Anthony’s Monastery of Arizona and St. John’s Monastery of Pleasant
Prairie, Wisconsin, are listed as recipients of INPAF funds, and both have
claimed that as religious organizations they are exempt from filing the Form 990.
From 2007 to 2010, the INPAF shows income respectively of some $4.2 million;
$2.9 million; $278 thousand and $825 thousand. For the year 2010 almost $4.5
million was given in “grants and other assistance” in the U.S
The World Assistance Foundation showed a transaction of almost $3.5
million, with a notation that some of it was for “R.E”, presumably meaning Real
Estate, There was “assistance to indigents” for 80 individuals totaling $337,950.
Word has it that at least some of these “indigent” individuals were associated
in various positions within the Church itself. Who are these people that are
caught up in the web of intrigue that is known as the Ephraim monasteries?
A breakdown was not given here, but it would appear that some “indigents”
received some very nice assistance. Why are their names absent from the tax
Many questions are asked in the Form 990. For the INPAF, these two were
both answered with a “Yes”. “Was the organization related to any tax-exempt or
taxable entity?” And, “Is any related organization a controlled entity within the
meaning of section 512(b)(13)?”
A link to the INPAF 990 is at this web-site:” https://bulk.resource.org/
It is clear that complex money transactions involve, in significant part,
the Ephraimite monasteries and people connected with them.. Does this help
explain the slowness of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in their investigation?
Under the rules of the archdiocese, each of the metropolitans is supposed to
oversee the monasteries in their territories. It would appear that this is not
happening, and is unlikely to happen.
St. John’s is in the Chicago Metropolis and St. Anthony’s is in the
San Francisco Metropolis. With it being a matter of public record that these
monasteries are receiving monies that may be of unknown or questionable origin,
shouldn’t the two responsible Metropolitans, Iakovos of Chicago and Gerasimos
of San Francisco, be taking a lead in looking into the matter? And if not them,
shouldn’t the Archdiocesan Council finally take the lead? Metropolitan Evangelos
of New Jersey is the chairman of the investigating committee. Where is his
leadership on this? And where is the Council itself?
Now, one might say, “What’s the big deal, anyway? Non-Profit Foundations
are assisting monasteries and parishes in doing God’s work. Why the fuss?”
Other wealthy players around the country may also be engaged in similar
Well, the thing is, to put it plainly, these monies are supporting a subversive
movement that is undermining the work and integrity of the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese and its Parishes. While no GOA authority has formally announced
this fact, there has been enough evidence of this (for example, see the related
articles on the Gotruthreform.org website) and there have been intimations of
this by serious lay leaders of the Church. An unhealthy religious infiltration is
taking place and the “disease” analogy is not just rhetoric, it is real and it poses
an imminent danger to Orthodoxy in America, and not just the Greek Orthodox
jurisdiction, as we have known it.
Two web-sites have been sounding the alarm about this matter in recent
times. They are Gotruthreform.org, cited above, and WeareOrthodox.com. An
older site, Pokrov.org, also has links to and describes questionable activities of
the Ephraimite monasteries.
Will some courage ever emerge from the GOA leadership to address this
Mr. Cromidas is a retired social agency executive and former parish council president in a GOA parish.