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Church

A Holy Place of Sacred Peace, Prayer and Spiritual Refuge in Denver

February 4, 2022

BOSTON – In the city of Denver, Colorado, there exists a hidden treasure, a place of sacred peace, prayer, and spiritual refuge: the Holy Hermitage, called the Brotherhood of Saint George. It is located at 361 Forest Street and is led by priest-monk Christodoulos Papadeas, a spiritual son of a modern righteous personage, Metropolitan of Ganou and Chora (in Eastern Thrace – European Turkey), Amphilochios Tsoukos.

Metropolitan Amphilochios is the spiritual successor of Saint Amphilochios Makris of Patmos, whom the Ecumenical Patriarchate ranked among the Saints of the Church a few months ago. As an Archimandrite, initially in African countries and later for a number of years as the Metropolitan of New Zealand, he dedicated his life to sacred missionary work and to the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.

The priest-monk Christodoulos Papadeas was spiritually nurtured at the side of His Eminence Amphilochios at the Monastery of Archangel Michael (Taxiarchis) at Tharri on the Island of Rhodes and continues to walk in the spirit of patristic spirituality and wisdom – in the footsteps of his Elder, Metropolitan Amphilochios.

Priest-monk Christodoulos Papadeas explains to young men and women the Patristic Tradition of the Orthodox Church.(Photo provided by Priest-monk Christodoulos Papadeas)

In an interview with the National Herald, when asked what exactly is the Hermitage of Saint George, he said that “it was created with the blessing of our local bishop, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, and by the prayers of my ‘Geronda’, Metropolitan Amphilochios of Ganou and Chora. It was founded in 1999 with the purpose, as is the purpose of the Church in general, to encourage our people – the flock of Christ. Saint George’s is a small monastery where the daily services of Orthros and Vespers are said, and the Divine Liturgy takes place two to three times a week. We encourage the people in this simple way. I became a monk under Geronda Amphilochios in Rhodes and the Dodecanese (and in other islands), and learned to offer this ‘Way’ of the Church, with simplicity and with prayer. There are no monasteries or monks here in Colorado, so it was an opportunity to give this part (offering) of the Church here.”

The Hermitage of Saint George and Fr. Christodoulos is ecclesiastically under the Metropolis of Denver and Metropolitan Isaiah, who since 1999 sends Fr. Christodoulos also to substitute for parish priests in the Metropolis and to fill-in for parishes that do not have a full-time priest.

Priest-monk Christodoulos Papadeas with his spiritual father Metropolitan of Ganou and Chora Amphilochios Tsoukos and pilgrims of the Metropolis.(Photo provided by Priest-monk Christodoulos Papadeas)

When asked how the Hermitage is maintained financially, he replied, “by the people, by the kindness of our people. Of course, Greeks (people of our Archdiocese) come, but also Romanians, Serbs, etc. – and they are all pleased with our offering. We try to be inclusive of all the Orthodox here in Denver – we are also invited to their parishes.”

When asked if young people are coming, he replied, “but of course they are coming! However, apart from those who can and do go once in a while to the motherland, our youth here in America do not often have the opportunity to see with their own eyes monasteries and monks, at least not till now here in Denver. Since God has counted me worthy to have lived in Rhodes and Patmos and to associate with the devout and prayerful monastics there, can I not want our youth here to have a similar experience? When the Church is complete, along with her monastic tradition, then the young person begins to seek within himself the truth, the right, God Himself. When he or she compares the given ways of society in general with the life of a monk – then they are positively affected in Orthodoxy. When the young person actually sees monks or nuns devoted to Christ and His Church this way, he begins to wonder within himself. But if this tangible tradition of the Church is missing, in order for the young person to see and feel, then what should he be looking for? What I want to say is, that the presence of even a small monastery like ours, is a great help toward a deeper spiritual life – especially for our young people. In this otherwise secular society, the youth want to know and to say that ‘my Church has something special.’”

Priest-monk Christodoulos Papadeas with his spiritual father Metropolitan of Ganou and Chora Amphilochios Tsoukos. (Photo provided by Priest-monk Christodoulos Papadeas)

He added, “now, our young people have in mind that here in Denver we have a monastery, a monk. But since the youth do not know about the solitary/monastic life, what does this mean? Well, little by little they come… It is enough that they hear from their mothers and grandmothers, ‘I will go to the monastery’ or ‘let’s go to the monastery’ or ‘I went by the monastery.’ Is this not something great for our time and for this place? Now there is a place where morning and evening prayers are said daily in both Greek and English. The youth are given to wonder in a positive way – a good question arises in their souls. And this grows into interest and then – they come! As the young person’s life progresses, so does his desire for something truly authentic, that is the need we all have – the need for God.”

Father Christodoulos pointed out that “our former Archbishop Demetrios visited our Hermitage as did our current Archbishop, His Eminence Elpidophoros; he came to venerate with great joy during his three-day first visit to the Denver Metropolis.”

When we asked how he lives, and if he takes a salary, father Christodoulos said, “I get a ‘salary’ from Christ. Every day He encourages me with His presence.”

Responding to, “all that’s fine, but you have to eat!” he answered, “yes we do, and the people take care of us. Every day the monastery remains open from early in the morning until sunset, and people pass by to light a candle and to pray … and our pious ladies also bring food.”

Asked how he met Metropolitan Amphilochios Tsoukos, he said, “with the help of God, when I was young and searching to find my way, I went to Mount Athos many times. Finally, God opened the way and I went to Patmos, where the ever-memorable Fr. Pavlos Nikitaras (then Abbot) said to me, ‘God sent you.’ And he introduced me to Gheronda Amphilochios Tsoukos.”

 

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