The Most Rev. Archbishop Anthony 5432 Fernwood Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90027
I kiss your right hand and ask your archpastoral blessing. According to your request I am putting into writing information concerning the circumstances surrounding my leaving Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston, Mass. Also I've included information which I felt was pertinent, as it reflects the general life of Holy Transfiguration Monastery.
After serving as a novice for three years, I was tonsured into the Great Schema on the feast of the Meeting of our Saviour In The Temple, February 2/15, 1978. During my novitiate I was sexually assaulted on two separate occasions by Fr. Panteleimon: once in his room, and a second time in the room of a former monk of the Monastery who had reposed a short time before.
The first time in his room, the circumstances leading to his sexual assault were thus: I had gone to speak to Fr. Panteleimon in his room. He was lying on his bed, and his room was totally dark. Groping my way to the side of his bed, I took his blessing and sat on the floor next to his bed. After a few minutes of speaking with him, he told me to sit on the edge of his bed, which I did. While speaking to me he began rubbing the inside of my leg towards the crotch. Within a short time he began fondling my penis [nature/genital]. Unaware of it at that time because of the darkness of the room, he had already exposed his own penis. This I found out when he all of a sudden told me to put my hand on his penis. Being already quite embarrassed by his actions, I was shocked to hear him say this and could not bring myself to do it. He then asked what was wrong? I could not answer. He then said, "Don't you see how much your Papa loves you, that he allows you such boldness with him?" He then took my hand and placed it on his own penis. I was so embarrassed and shocked at this point, that although the room was too dark to see anything, I nevertheless turned my head away towards another direction, and slowly removed my hand from where he had placed it, and in a short time left his room.
The second sexual assault took place as I've said above in another room. I had been waiting outside this room on the second floor corridor opposite the room designated as the Monastery Library. There were a number of people besides myself waiting to go in to see him. Then came my turn. As I entered, again as before, the room was completely dark, and not being that familiar with the room I had to struggle a bit to find the bed where Fr. Panteleimon was lying, being directed by his saying, "over here". I finally found the side of the bed and took his blessing. Again I made an attempt to sit on the floor next to the bed, when he said: "no, sit here next to me"; so, I sat on the edge of the bed. But within a few minutes while trying to speak to him, he said to sit closer. As I did so he placed his hand on my penis and began at once to fondle it. Then he insisted that I get closer, and so I nudged myself closer. He then said: "no, closer", and though I made an attempt to get close to the side of him there was no room on the bed. Then speaking in a slightly irritated tone, saying that I didn't understand him, he said: "Lay on top of me." I was so shocked to hear this that I almost gasped, but he reached out and began pulling on my arm, saying all the while to lay on top of him. The first thought I had was that I was going to crush him by my weight, but he was being very insistent.
Being intimidated by the thought that he is the Elder, I submitted, though I was quite horrified. Immediately he began to open my cassock and trousers while he himself was already exposed. He began fondling my penis while kissing me on the mouth and eyes. So horrified was I by all this, yet I didn't have the courage just to jump up off his bed, though I wanted to. You think to yourself that he is the Elder, the Abbot, he wouldn't do so wrong a thing as this. You even try to rationalize in your mind somehow, but this nightmare continued. I took the only course I felt I had left open, and I began praying to the Mother of God within myself, saying over and over again, "Most Holy Mother of God, save me." I lay there for what seemed like hours when at last there came a knock at the door and someone said: "Elder, you have a phone call." He got up to take the phone call, and so he had to leave the room, and I saw my chance, so I quickly closed my garments and left. I hardly slept that night.
The following night I had decided to go and speak with Fr. Isaac concerning this matter. I was very nervous as to how I was going to present this to Fr. Isaac. I began the conversation with something like: "You know this thing the Elder does with touching you in certain areas?", when Fr. Isaac interrupted saying that: "the Elder does this sort of thing for the alleviation of the next person's carnal warfare." That, "obviously this sort of thing was not for you." He asked if I was having a lot of carnal warfare over it. I said "No", but I was certainly having a lot of mental warfare because of it. I then told Fr. Isaac that I preferred not to go through this sort of thing again. He said that he would speak to the Elder about it.
After this complaint about those goings on, I began to experience a growing distance between me and Fr. Panteleimon. I often confronted Fr. Isaac about this feeling, but he would either try to make nothing of it all, or worse yet, he tried to convince me that I was severely paranoid and suffered a persecution complex. We had strong disagreements over this issue until finally I ended by giving in.
In 1979 it was my turn to make the trip to the Holy Land and Greece. I believe you're aware from Fr. Panteleimon's own testimony in his letter to you, Vladika, that each year he takes two newly-tonsured monks to the Holy Land and Greece with him. While in the Holy Land and on the mainland Greece, we three (that is Fr. Panteleimon, Fr. Gabriel, and me) slept in the same room together. However, once we were on the island of Oinousis it was different. There we each had our own private room. At one point Fr. Panteleimon called me to see him, and as always he was lying on his bed. I sat next to the bed on a small stool. His conversation seemed to be centered around his last visit to Oinousis, the year previous. He was telling me how that then when Fr. Justin was there with him that Fr. Justin was a very quiet person and really didn't talk much at all, and so he really didn't have someone to talk with, but that with me he felt much more at ease. At this point he began to stroke the inside of my leg towards the crotch. I started to feel very nervous now, and then he changed the conversation saying: "You don't know just how sorry I am that I have been so distant from you these past few years." At that moment I understood that not only had I not been mistaken in my estimation of Fr. Panteleimon's feelings towards me, but also I knew that Fr. Isaac deliberately tried to convince me that I was paranoid and had a persecution complex. Now I knew the truth from Fr. Panteleimon's own mouth. From this point on I kept my distance from Fr. Panteleimon, Every morning after we had a bite to eat after Liturgy I would go to my room and wait until it was quiet. Then I would leave my room as quietly as possible, and would spend the whole day out away from the Convent. Towards the end of our stay there Fr. Panteleimon called me in to see him, and in a slightly irritated tone he began to question me as to why I was not going to my room right after Liturgy to rest and be quiet? I was afraid that he suspected the real motive for this, and so I said that right after having something to eat I was not able to go to bed, as I felt quite awake, and needed to get out and move around. He seemed to accept my excuse and just said that I should have told him this before. But the truth was that I felt very intimidated by his personality, and knew not how to get away from those roaming hands of his.
Upon our return to the States, I confronted Fr. Isaac, the first chance I had, with the Elder's own admission concerning his being distant from me, and I asked what he now had to say concerning all this. His only reply was: "Fr. M., you are capable of being a good monk;" something which did not make any sense to me in this context, and seemed to be trying to avoid the conversation.
During my first week back at the Monastery I was informed that my temporary helper, Novice Michael, was to replace me as cook. Being cook was a 7 day a week job, and I was not given a permanent helper, even Novice Michael only helped me on a temporary basis. In one letter I wrote to the community from the Convent where we stayed in Greece, I intimated, in a somewhat joking fashion, that maybe Novice Michael would become the new cook. Fr. Isaac told me that Novice Michael had asked for the obedience, and that they had tried him out at different other obediences, but that he had too hard a time at handling them. Therefore he asked if I would mind letting him take the obedience. I felt that he was capable and so I agreed.
While Novice Michael was cook he was tonsured Rasophor Monk, being given the name Ignatius. During his time as cook there arose a dissension between Fr. Ignatius and another Rasophor Monk named Simeon (why, I'm not exactly sure). But it seemed to be a bitter one, and one which grew with time. Then some unexplained things began to happen while Fr. Panteleimon was away. Fr. Ignatius would often not find his skoufos where he would hang it, only later to find it in the kitchen refrigerator with some food in it. Other times during midnight Liturgy when he would take off his skoufos, at the Lord's Prayer, and would put it back on after we received Holy Communion, there would be wood ashes inside of it that would fall all over him. Other times there would be Icons missing from outside of his room and then reappear with something else in the frame. These and many other things, too many to recount, were happening for quite some time. When Fr. Panteleimon got back things quieted down a bit. Then one day, while I was helping Fr. Ignatius in the kitchen, Fr. Panteleimon came in, and seeing me there, asked to speak to me privately on the back porch. He wanted to talk to me about this matter involving Fr. Ignatius, and all these things happening to him. He wanted me to understand that he had been praying about this situation a lot and that, "Through prayer I have come to the understanding that Fr. Ignatius has been doing all this to himself." I was surprised, to say the least, to hear this from Fr. Panteleimon, especially as most of the community had suspected Fr. Simeon because of the problems between the two of them. Fr. Panteleimon saw that I had a hard time believing it, so he tried even harder to convince me saying that Fr. Ignatius used to take a lot of drugs while in the world, and that sometimes there is this recurrent problem where a person is not aware of what he is doing, and that also he is looking for attention. Then, just a few nights later, while I was working in the kitchen, I had to leave for a few minutes. When coming back, as I entered the kitchen, Fr. Simeon was coming out in a hurry and bumped into me. I asked him what was his hurry? He pushed me aside and ran up the back stairway to his room. I immediately looked into the refrigerator and found a skoufos with two lemons in it. I called Fr. Isaac right away and told him that I just caught the culprit who was doing all these things to Fr. Ignatius. Fr. Isaac asked who it was, and I told him that it was Fr. Simeon, and asked if he wanted me to go and tell Fr. Panteleimon. He said no, that he would go and tell him himself. After a few days I went to see Fr. Isaac concerning this matter, and asked him concerning Fr. Panteleimon's revelation through prayer about Fr. Ignatius, especially as it proved false. He said that when Fr. Panteleimon gets a thought and it doesn't go away, then he prays about it, and if it still doesn't go away, he accepts it as a revelation from God. So I said then what about this one, since obviously he was wrong? He said that it is not always right, but that more often it is. Things got a lot worse with this monk, and shortly after the time Daniel Miller (the former Fr. Mamas) left, Fr. Ignatius left also.
Another similar incident involved Fr. Mamas' (Daniel Miller's) leaving, and Fr. Panteleimon makes mention of it in his letter to you, Vladika. Inasmuch as Fr. Panteleimon tries to make something out of this in his letter to you, I thought to write about this incident also. After the two letters left by Fr. Mamas were found, everyone was in a lot of sorrow. Some of us, though, suspected what happened, particularly when it was determined that nothing else happened to him. Then at the next community meeting (Synaxis), Fr. Panteleimon informed the community that during the night on the day of his departure, Fr. Panteleimon prayed the whole night as to what happened to Fr. Mamas, and that through prayer it was revealed to Fr. Panteleimon where Fr. Mamas was, and how he got there. We were never told at that point where he was, only that he was in the area, nor with whom he was staying, only that Fr. Panteleimon had tried to make contact but had not been successful. After the meeting I had to make bread that evening, and had gone to the bakery to prepare things when Fr. Isaac came to ask if I would like a helper. I thanked him, and as he was walking out of the bakery I said: "Fr. Isaac, I know where Fr. Mamas is." He seemed to be genuinely surprised, and asked where I thought he was? I said that I didn't think, but that I knew, and that he was at Elenor's house. He said, "How did you know?" I said that I thought that it was so obvious that I couldn't understand how it was that they themselves didn't realize it. The next day I was speaking to one other fathers, Fr. John, the Monastery mechanic, and told him concerning Fr. Panteleimon's "revelation" about Fr. Mamas, and what I told Fr. Isaac afterwards. Fr. John said: "Sure, I knew where Fr. Mamas was. It is as plain as the nose on your face. Anybody could figure that out." But then we heard more and more about this, until finally I heard it being read during the reading of Fr. Panteleimon's letter to you, which was read to the whole community. It was obvious now that Fr. Panteleimon was passing this off as a genuine revelation, and in the light of what I had already experienced in regards to Fr. Ignatius' situation, I just could not believe that they would openly declare such a thing.
I believe that it was about a year ago, though I might be mistaken about the time, yet I remember that it was when Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Mass., held a Pan Orthodox Conference. Amongst those attending was an Ethiopian Bishop Gregory. It seemed he heard about the Monastery and wanted to come for a visit, which he did. Fr. Panteleimon was cordial towards the man, and it seems he was educated in Greece as he spoke Greek quite fluently. He was invited back again by Fr. Panteleimon and I believe he attended a service also. At one point Fr. Panteleimon invited him to stay for a meal. Contrary to custom he was placed at the head of the table in the abbot's seat. Whenever Fr. Panteleimon spoke to him he addressed him with "Despota" (Master). In the conversations they held in the hearing of all, Fr. Panteleimon was saying how that basically "we say the same thing", but that they do not accept the Council of Chalcedon. This seemed to be highly irregular for many of us, as we were taught and understood that the Trapeza was an extension of the Liturgy, and therefore we wear our Rason and Koukoulia to trapeza always. One father was particularly bothered by it, as he related it to me later, because he went to Fr. Ephraim and asked him: "What business did Fr. Panteleimon have putting that heretic at the head of the table? Let him sit at the side table like we do with all the other heretics!" The father that said this was Fr. Hohn, the Monastery mechanic, and I agreed with him when he said we should have just gotten up and walked out of that trapeza.
One more situation that has put the Monastery in a serious position involves a project with the burning of waste oil.. Waste oil is the oil product from automobiles. When you put new oil in your car the gas stations take the old oil and dump it into a separate barrel. This oil is burnable with the use of a special furnace. There is nothing illegal in this as long as you fulfill the requirements and standards set by law. Holy Transfiguration Monastery does not. However, the Monastery went ahead knowing that this was an illegal act on their part. Not that this was enough, but they even allowed people to go out to pick up this oil, which is itself an illegal act, as by law you must be licensed to be able to pick up waste oil, and these people, of whom I was one, were never told that this was an illegal act. But like myself, there have been others who refused to do it when we found out. However, they have since received a license to pick up waste oil. But they have never received permission or licensing either to store or to burn waste oil. Indeed, one other person who was caught at doing the same thing, informed the authorities on the Monastery's illegal use of waste oil. Therefore, the Monastery received a letter from the Environmental Office ordering them to cease and desist with the burning of waste oil. Yet the Monastery continued despite all this. I felt at one point that should any legal complaint be brought against the Monastery, I wanted it clear, that I was not a part of this, so I went to Fr. Isaac and told him that this is wrong. He said that the Monastery was very close to receiving their permit to burn waste oil. I then asked: "How are you going to get a permit for a 5,000 gallon tank that you have already buried without a permit?" He had no answer. Not only where they told to cease and desist with the burning of waste oil, but that if they continued, they could face a $25,000.00 fine, and a prison sentence of up to one year for each person involved. It was at this point when Fr. Eugene, who was helping to pick up the waste oil, found out about this and went to Fr. Isaac and told him to get somebody else. Could one imagine what a scandal this would be not only for the Monastery, but for the Synod as well, if these people had to face these charges in court?
Even with regard to the monastery cemetery there are illegal acts. Perhaps for us Orthodox, there is no problem with the thought of digging up our buried dead after so many years, but we are not in an Orthodox country. Yet knowing that this is not permitted by law, the Monastery has gone ahead and dug up some of the fathers that were buried. I know this because I was one of the fathers who helped dig them up. What if someone from the town of Brookline were to go and check the graves against their records and notice that there are fewer graves than what they have records for? What problems could arise from this also. And do you think that if we were to go to Fr. Panteleimon that he would listen to us on any of these accounts and stop these illegalities? Once though, he became very nervous when someone had taken pictures without his knowing it, and only later showed them to him.
Concerning the charges made by Fr. Gregory and Daniel Miller (formerly Fr. Mamas), it was not until some time just before Great Lent this year that I heard anything about them. How this evolved is interesting. Before we heard anything concerning these accusations there had been the on-going legalities between Daniel Miller and the Monastery over the printing of St. Isaac the Syrian. Then around the end of January and the beginning of February, of this year, Fr. Panteleimon was in a really depressed state which most, if not all, in the community were aware of. I remember speaking with Fr. Barnabas, the Archdeacon, about this very thing. I said that Fr. Panteleimon really seems down in the dumps of late. Fr. Barnabas said yes, that he does, and that he mopes around a lot, doesn't want to go to the Skete in Maine or for that matter doesn't want to do anything. I asked him if he thought this was over the situation that involved the printing of St. Isaac the Syrian. He said no, he didn't think so, and I said I didn't think so either, that whatever it was, it sure must be serious, and he agreed.
Then some time later Fr. Eugene and I were speaking together, and he was telling of his having to go to see Fr. Panteleimon over some personal matter, and that while there Fr. Panteleimon told him that there would be two Bishops coming to the Monastery to make an investigation, as he was being accused of immoral conduct by both Fr. Gregory and Daniel Miller. He also said that Fr. Eugene should not mention him being "warm" with Fr. Panteleimon to the Bishops as this could put him in a difficult position. Fr. Eugene then asked me if I thought that there might be any truth to these accusations. I said: "Of course not!" Fr. Eugene then dropped the subject. Then about two weeks later, while I was working in the kitchen one evening, Fr. Isaac came in to speak with me. During our conversation he also informed me that two Bishops were coming to the Monastery (it seems that the Monastery was under a definite impression at the time, even right up to the day the Bishops actually came, that they were going to hold their investigation at the Monastery) to hold an investigation concerning certain charges made against Fr. Panteleimon. I asked him what the charges were? He said that: "Fr. Panteleimon was being charged with acts of homosexuality by Fr. Gregory and by Fr. Mamas." Fr. Isaac then told me: "We have to be careful of what we say if questioned by the Bishops". I asked why would the Bishops question us? He said, "If Fr. Panteleimon is being accused with acts of homosexuality then obviously these things would have had to be done with his monks, and therefore the Bishops would want to question us." I then recalled to Fr. Isaac the situation involving myself with Fr. Panteleimon, and what his, that is Fr. Isaac's, explanation of Fr. Panteleimon's actions were, namely that this was done for the alleviation of the next person's carnal warfare. He said that's right, and that "there were people out there who wanted to get rid of the Monastery, and Fr. Panteleimon, who are using this now." He said that in order to keep this from happening, I should be willing to lie for Fr. Panteleimon, and that I would even tell the Bishops I was willing to die for him." I asked what two Bishops were coming? He said, Bishop Alypy and Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles. I was glad to hear Archbishop Anthony's name mentioned as he was respected by Fr. Panteleimon, who spoke highly of him in the past. Whereas with Bishop Alypy, we were given the feeling by Fr. Panteleimon that he was not a person favorable to the Monastery for a long time. And Fr. Isaac confirmed this by telling me that the "reason Archbishop Anthony was appointed as one of the investigating Bishops by the Metropolitan was that he and Fr. Panteleimon had a mutual respect for each other, and therefore he would be the one Bishop on the investigating committee who would be favorable to us, as Bishop Alypy didn't like Fr. Panteleimon, giving a very definite impression to myself that Bishop Alypy could not be unbiased in his judgment.
After the meeting with the Bishops things seemed to quiet down around the Monastery. At first I thought this was a favorable sign. But there was one thing which no one seemed to be able to explain, and that was why did the Bishops not come to the Monastery as we had been told by Frs Panteleimon and Isaac? Then I heard from Fr. John, one of the monks, who had been told by Fr. Lazarus, a Deacon in the Monastery, that, contrary to what was expected, Archbishop Anthony of Los Angeles had turned against us. I couldn't believe it and asked where he, Fr. John, got his information? He said that he would tell me but that I had to promise that I wouldn't tell anyone. I said, "O.K." He said, "It was Fr. Lazarus." Fr. John gave me the impression that Fr. Lazarus got this information first-hand. I asked was it from Fr. Isaac that he got this information? He said he couldn't say where, and that it didn't matter, and what difference did that make to me.
More and more we were being given reports during community meetings (Synaxis) that a lot of support was coming in not only from the Metropolitan, but from a number of other quarters as well. We were told at one of these meetings the following by Pr. Panteleimon:
[Exact words transcribed from a tape recording]: "At the request of our Metropolitan I wrote my answer. When I met the two Bishops that came to visit they didn't request that I make any written answer, so then I didn't even think of sitting down to make a written answer, until Vladika Metropolitan telephoned and asked details. He had already spoken to Archbishop Anthony, and had heard, I guess, from the side of our Synod, and asked how we understood the situation. Then I said to him that -- 'No, No', he said, 'you have to sit down and' -- then I said to him that I was disappointed that they didn't stay, and that's when he said that, 'individuals should also start writing, especially within the community, so that they 'would express them- selves.' Of course a lot of letters have been written by a lot of people, clergy and laity, and so there is a great pile that the Metropolitan has, and I can't see -- and he said himself that he doesn't have much time, but that he is pleased he has the letters because he can always point to them to say that there are people responding. He says he just reads enough to see if it's in favor or if it's you know, uh, expressing favorably situations then he puts it in the same pile, etc.' He was quite encouraging about our situation here, my situation in the Monastery. He said that 'You know that it is in my diocese and I'm the ruling Bishop', and I said: 'Yes we know that', and also, 'I'm the Metropolitan", meaning that even if it wasn't his diocese he is still the Metropolitan, so he said that, "If I want to, I could take it out of the hands of everyone.' But, of course, I said to him that, ',You would be accused of trying to cover up just like our late Metropolitan was accused by some people in our own Synod, and Bishop Gregory. He said, 'It was for that reason that I haven't intervened, but not that things can be done independently of me.' And so I said to him, 'I wish dear Vladika that if there is going to be anything done that it is going to be a canonical trial based on the Canons, and not a committee situation because then we are not dealing with Canons, and we are not dealing in a Church manner'".
During all of these events we were under the strong impression that Fr. Panteleimon would undoubtedly be exonerated of these charges. Not only this, but also the fathers making these charges had been so discredited in the eyes of the community that they were looked upon by us as being deserving of the greatest pity. I was myself very concerned that my one brother and his family would hear concerning all this, and would become concerned about me, therefore, I decided to speak to my brother on his next visit. It was Thomas Sunday and my brother had called earlier in the week to say that he would be down for Liturgy. I would like to point out that my brother and his family are members of the Synod parish in Concord, N. H. After Liturgy I had an opportunity to take my brother aside to speak to him about this subject. I began by telling him the accusations that were being made by Frs. Gregory and Mamas. He listened for a long while, but with a look of doubt in his eyes. I felt that he was having some difficulty in believing that all this was just a trumped up charge. Therefore, I felt it necessary to explain what had happened to me in the past with Fr. Panteleimon, and how when I had "bad thoughts" concerning this how that Fr. Isaac explained that the Elder does this for the alleviation of the next person's warfare. My brother looked at me with a much more questioning look on his face than before, and I began to feel very uneasy. My brother then said to me: "Fr. M., I don't pretend to know much about the monastic life, nor have I read that much about it either, but this sort of thing is wrong by worldly standards, so how much more in the spiritual life?" I was left speechless. I began to think about it, and the more I thought the more I realized that of course this is wrong. It was as though someone had turned on a light. How stupid I had been all this time, and how stupid they must have thought I was, to have accepted such a ridiculous and juvenile explanation for such an obvious offence. After leaving my brother and returning to the Monastery, as we had been spending the afternoon with our mother at a local nursing home, I began to recall something Fr. Eugene told me back some time earlier when Fr. Panteleimon informed him of the Bishops coming, and that was when Fr. Eugene asked me did I think that possibly there could be any truth to these charges. I realized that Fr. Eugene might well know something that I did not. I decided that I had to speak to him to learn what exactly it was that he knew.
When I got back to the Monastery I was in a very devastated state, and felt like I couldn't breathe. Shortly after I returned, Vespers began and a few people asked me: "Are you feeling well?" I said, "Yes, why do you ask?" They said that I looked very pale, and I felt that way, but I was afraid to admit it, as I would have to give a reason for it. I don't remember at what point, but I saw Fr. Eugene and told him I had to talk to him privately, and to meet me in the back woods. When we met, I told him all that I had related to my brother, and what my brother told me in reply. I then said that I had come to realize that these accusations about Fr. Panteleimon were true. He then said that he had tried to tell me before, but that I had defended Fr. Panteleimon, and so he got worried that I might say something to Fr. Panteleimon or Fr. Isaac, and he would be in trouble as a result. I told him that I didn't understand at the time, but now things were clear. I then asked him to tell me what it was that he knew? I was not prepared to hear all that he had to say, if one could ever be prepared to hear such things: all manner of homosexual abuse, from oral sex to homosexual intercourse. I mention this only because I wish all of the Bishops to know what a feeling of revulsion I experienced within myself. I was drained physically after hearing all of this, and told Fr. Eugene not to say any more, but to let me sit down for a minute until I come to myself. He was a bit worried looking at me and said: "Fr. M., you're not going to do anything rash now are you?" I said: "Look, we have to get out of here and get to the Bishops right away, because the way things are going right now they are going to find Fr. Panteleimon innocent, and we are going to be stuck with this hellish life for the rest of our lives." We were even told by Fr. Panteleimon that after he is proven innocent in an ecclesiastical court that he could not be accused of the same charges later. I felt our only hope was to get to the Bishops before this happened, and to testify as to what had happened to us.
Fr. Eugene and I made plans to leave the Monastery. At one point, Fr. Eugene thought it might be better to call a Bishop while still in the Monastery but I disagreed as I knew their tactics with people who for any reason made waves for them, and in this matter they would make it awful for sure, knowing that you were attempting to expose what was going on. However, our plans were changed at the last minute, and we ended by leaving in the middle of the night, having gone to a motel in the area. The night that we left we had another Synaxis for the whole community, where two letters were read to us that were written in defense of Fr. Panteleimon. One can well imagine how both Fr. Eugene and I felt having to sit there and listen to this knowing what we knew. Speaking for myself, I was boiling over, and almost went right in there in the midst of them all and accuse Fr. Panteleimon openly. So I decided that it was best that I just leave. I forgot to mention that during the week prior to our leaving I had approached another father, Fr. John, who I felt I could confide in about this matter. When I told him what I believed he said: "You mean when Fr. Panteleimon puts his hands in your drawers? I don't care if he is as queer as a three dollar bill. I live my life the way I want. I don't care what he does. I put a lot of sweat and blood into this place, and so have you, and you're going to throw it away over that? Don't be stupid. I'm not here to judge the Elder. That's just his way. He's simple like that, and I don't believe he really understands about those sort of things. If you ask me, you better forget about it. You put too much of yourself into this place, you want to see it go down the tubes?" I realized that I was not going to get through to him at all, but also I realized that I may have jeopardized my situation there as he might tell Fr. Isaac, or Fr. Panteleimon. So a day or so later I went up to him privately and said that I wanted to thank him for keeping me from making a bad mistake, and decided that he was right. I shook his hand, and he said: "That's o.k. What are brothers for?" I truly did not like being this deceptive. Also during that week I had to pay a bill for my mother, and so I gave the money to Fr. Isaac and asked if he could give me a check right away as the bill was over-due. He said: "Let's go upstairs and I'll give you a check right now." When we got to the third floor landing, Fr. Lazarus was walking down towards the shipping room. Fr. Isaac seeing him told him that "Fr. Panteleimon had some Pascha breads to be mailed out right...", but couldn't finish talking when Fr. Lazarus spoke loudly, and in a demanding tone , said to get him the breads with the addresses, have them put into plastic bags, and upstairs then he would take care of them. I said to myself: "Boy! If I ever talked to him like that I would have been in hot water!" But knowing what I already knew, that Fr. Eugene had walked in on Fr. Isaac in his room while he was combing Fr. Lazarus' hair, I was not so surprised.
When we left, we went, as I have already said, to a motel. From there I called my brother and told him to come and pick us up, and that I would explain more when he came. After Fr. Eugene made arrangements to fly home, my brother and I took him to the airport and said good-bye. From there my brother and I picked up my mother and brought her home with us. The reason for bringing her home at that point was that every Sunday she would come to Church at the Monastery, and I didn't want her to learn of my leaving that way. After getting to my brother's house, some time in the late evening Fr. Isaac called my brother's house. My brother answered and Fr. Isaac told my brother that Fr. Eugene had returned, which he did but for only a few hours, as he left shortly afterwards. My brother said: "Put him on the phone." When I heard Fr. Eugene's voice I then asked to speak with Fr. Isaac to see what it was that he wanted. "What do I want, Fr. M.? I want you to come back to the Monastery, just as Fr. Eugene has come back." I said: "Just like that, after all that you and Fr. Panteleimon have done? Did you not do all those things? Didn't you?" He said: "Look, Fr. Panteleimon promises he is not going to do this sort of thing any more, so why don't you come back?" I told him that I could not trust them. He said: "The Elder has decided to retire, and that he will go to the Skete in Maine, where he will be close by for advice in Church matters, and where he'll be available for whenever we need his 'special talents"'. And I said: "When is he going to retire? I've been hearing about this for years." Fr. Isaac said: "Not now". I said: "When then, in a month, two months, six months, a year?" He just repeated: "Not now". I said that I wanted to see the Metropolitan and to let him work this out. Fr. Isaac said: "If you go to the Metropolitan now he won't understand." I said: "Are you telling me that I can't go to see the Metropolitan. "No", he said, "I'm just saying not now". I said, "Why?" He said, "He won't understand." I said: "Are you telling me that the Metropolitan, whom you people have been praising all this time, who is supposed to be a very alert and spiritual person is not going to understand?" He then said: "This is what happens when people are disobedient like you and Fr. Eugene were. You people had no business talking amongst yourselves, and Fr. Eugene had no right to tell you those things, and now look: you are out of the Monastery." I said: "All I want to do is to go to the Metropolitan about this." He said, "Come back now, and after the trial we will even pay for your fare to go to the Metropolitan." I said: "Would you put that in writing?" He hesitated. I then said: "Why don't the two of us, just you and I, go together and speak with the Metropolitan about this whole thing?" He said: "It wouldn't work." I said that Fr. Panteleimon has to leave the Monastery. He said: "And then what?" I said: "Then we could bring someone else to oversee the Monastery's life, and to make sure that things begin to straighten out there." He said: "That wouldn't work" and "who would we bring in?" I said: "Let's have a bishop come 2 or 3 times a year to give confession. You would have to go to confession to him regularly, and then the rest of us could go freely to confession to him so that tabs are kept on all the goings on there." He said, "And who would we bring, which Bishop, the Metropolitan?" I said: "Why not?" He said. "No, no. This won't work." I told him: "I'm sorry that there is no way possible I could come back!" He said: "Fr. M., you don't want to destroy the Church?" I said: "All I'm doing is going to see the Metropolitan." He said: "I want you to know that this thing that happened between Fr. Eugene and I was a singular situation. I went to confession to Fr. Panteleimon about it, and he gave me a penance for it, and that was the end of it." (Let me relate now that which Fr. Eugene had related to me prior to our leaving the Monastery, and that which he informed Fr. Isaac about upon his return of the same day that we left, namely that Fr. Eugene had told me of his involvement with Fr. Isaac. Fr. Eugene told me that at one point while Fr. Panteleimon was away, that Fr. Isaac was filling in for Fr. Panteleimon in these homosexual activities. That some time after Fr. Panteleimon's return Fr. Isaac had informed Fr. Panteleimon concerning this. Fr. Panteleimon was upset about this, and told Fr. Isaac that this was not permitted amongst brothers, that this was only permitted between a spiritual father and his disciple. Fr. Isaac then told Fr. Eugene that Fr. Panteleimon did not want them seeing one another any more. Fr. Eugene asked why, and Fr. Isaac gave Fr. Panteleimon's explanation. But then Fr. Isaac said just one last time he would allow Fr. Eugene to be close with him. They went to another room, and Fr. Isaac exposed himself to Fr. Eugene. Fr. Eugene asked if he could kiss Fr. Isaac's penis, but Fr. Isaac told him that this would be too much now, but allowed Fr. Eugene to fondle Fr. Isaac's private parts.) Therefore, Fr. Isaac, knowing that I knew about this wanted to clear himself in my eyes by saying that he had gone to confession about this. I said: "And what about Fr. Lazarus and you?" Fr. Isaac said that "There was nothing wrong in my combing Fr. Lazarus' hair" that "neither Fr. Lazarus or I had any carnal warfare as a result of it." Then he asked me that "If I combed your hair or you combed my hair would you have carnal warfare?" I told him that I would never permit such a thing, and that "even if nothing else happened between you and Fr. Lazarus, this in itself was way out of order and not permitted." I asked him: "Is Fr. Lazarus a baby that he can't comb his own hair?" He asked: "What was wrong in it?" I became exasperated by this conversation, and at this point ended it.
Not 15 minutes had gone by after this phone call when Fr. Anthony Gavalas called. I was very surprised as he does not know my brother, to have found his telephone number. Actually before I left the Monastery his was the one number that I took, thinking that he would be a support to me. I have known Fr. Anthony Gavalas for over 25 years, and so I felt very close to him, though our contact has been very limited. Now he was calling me, and the tone of his voice was like when you call someone on their name day or some holiday, it was a joyous voice. I felt instantly that something was wrong. I would have expected a more solemn voice, saying: "I heard you left, what happened, what is wrong, can I help?" But what did he say? "Fr. M. how are you?" I asked: "Father who told you to call?" He said: "I can't say". I said: "Then I can't talk to you". He said: "You don't want to destroy the Church?" (The same words Fr. Isaac had used shortly before in his phone call to me.) I asked again, "Who told you to call?" He again repeated: "I can't say." I asked: "Did the Monastery tell you to call?" He said: "No". I asked: "Did the Monastery ask someone else to ask you to call?" He said: "I don't know". He then said: "I thought you loved me!" I said, "Who asked you to call?" His final answer was: "I can't say". So I told him that I could not speak to him, and closed the phone. How could I feel free to speak to him when someone else had put him up to make the call? Obviously, he would report back to them concerning what I would have to say. And I was very careful about saying anything as I felt that this information should have been reserved for the Bishops only, as the investigation was still going on. And as far as my wanting to contact Fr. Anthony Gavalas later on, I would have asked permission from the Bishops first.
Vladika, I ask your forgiveness for making this such a long letter. But believe me, there is much more that could be said. I am not ignorant of my own failings and short comings. Therefore, I see this all also in the light of my own sins. Yet I never hid this from their eyes or ears, confessing my sins as the scriptures command, I did bring up to them many of these things that I have mentioned herein, indeed, if not all and much more, and to no avail. I only hope that with the aid of the Synod of Bishops, and above all else, God's great mercy and long-suffering, that things can somehow be corrected. May it be so. Amen.
With much respect to our Synod of Bishops,
and much love in our Saviour, your unworthy and sinful servant,
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