In a quiet local area, nuns at a beautiful local church and monastery were busy last week honoring traditional Eastern Orthodox Christian Holy Day ceremonies and planning for upcoming services.
The Church of the Holy Prophet Moses is located at Saint Nicholas Monastery, an Orthodox Christian monastery for women. Services for The Feast of The Nativity were celebrated in January, according to the traditional Christmas calendar for the faith, said Mother Andrea - the well-known local leader of St. Nicholas Monastery.
Visiting Reverend Father Ioan Radu, of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia, is officiating the many special services throughout the month.
Mother Andrea of Saint Nicholas Monastery, visiting the Rev. Father Ioan Radu (ROCOR) and his wife, Matushka Rodica, in The Church of the Holy Prophet Moses, preparing for upcoming Holy Days.
Born in Romania, he has lived in the U.S. since 1978, and is now an American citizen residing in New York. He regularly serves at the ROCOR Cathedral in Manhattan.
Many have come to meet him, and will continue to see him while. have baptisms done while here is in the area through the end of January. He is visiting the sick, blessing peoples homes and businesses and performing the other Holy Mysteries of the Orthodox church.
"All of the people I have met here are wonderful," he said. "If I may say, you are living in paradise."
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were celebrated on Jan. 6 and 7.
"There are two upcoming special services for the Greater Sanctification of Waters for the Feast of the Theophany," said Father Ioan. "That celebrates the baptism of Christ."
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m., there will be a Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great for the Eve of the Theophany and the Great Blessing of Water. There will also be a 5 p.m. service that day.
On Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 10 a.m., there will be the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the Great Sanctification of Waters of Holy Theopany, that continues with blessings of waters started the day before.
"It is a pretty miraculous day," said Mother Andrea of the Jan.19 service. "The priest is petitioning that the water is made the water of the Jordan. All around the world on that day, priests are blessing water, and the entire plant Earth is being sanctified."
They not only do the ceremony at the church, they even go to the Caloosahatchee as well, to bless local waters.
The church is located off Evergreen Road, and is inspiring with its beautiful artwork and in a delightful bookstore and gift shop that helps raise funds. There is also a library to educate.
Mother Andrea is a whiz at writing, e-mails and cell communication, and is in constant motion coordinating activities. But she states that her true goal is to maintain peace and "create an island in the city."
The Saint Nicholas Monastery Bookstore is a little known local treasure, which expanded last year, with more artistic books, icons and gifts than before. It is managed by Sister Christina, and all are invited to visit by appointment. The sister's contact information is to call 691-1775 or to mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to visit.
The church itself was restored last year, still awaiting some painting and finishing touches. It had extensive damage in 2004 with Hurricane Charley.
The official address for The Church of the Holy Prophet Moses is 111 Evergreen Rd. in North Fort Myers. To get to the church, turn off Evergreen to Gail Street and turn right into the first drive, entering through the rear of the building.
Donations can be mailed to 1340 Piney Road, North Fort Myers, FL 33903-3822.
To arrange to see Father Ioan during his visit, or for more information on the services, call the church at 997-2847.