(Ellwood City) - Several weeks ago, a groundbreaking took place at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, just off Portersville Road in Wayne Township, beginning a year-long expansion and renovation project (PDF available here).
“We’ve spent a lot of time planning and preparing for this renovation,” said Mother Barbara, secretary of the Monastery. “It’s all very exciting.”
Construction began on June 18 and will continue for at least a year. Called the 2012 Expansion Project, the construction will focus on making the monastery more available to visitors and allow a more peaceful experience.
“The renovation is not intended to benefit the sisters [of the monastery], but intended to benefit all those who come visit the monastery,” said Mother Barbara.
The 2012 Expansion Project is a $2 million endeavor, with $700,000 being used on the first wave of the project. The first wave, according to Mother Barbara, is fixing the immediate needs of the monastery first, and the second wave will finish the remaining areas if funds are available.
“We are focusing on the important areas first,” said Mother Barbara, “and as more funds become available, we’ll see how much more we can do.”
For the first phase, the football field-size monastery will improve its all-purpose meeting/classroom, enlarge the gift shop and hospitality room, fix the handicap restrooms, build a new garage, improve kitchen storage, and repair sidewalks and parking.
Mother Barbara said that the main goal of the project is to better meet the needs of the people. She said that many people visit, but they often have trouble with the amount of room they have, especially if the visitors must be inside because of weather issues.
The Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration all began in 1967 when Mother Alexandra, former Princess Ileana of Romania, had a dream to provide a place where American Orthodox women from all ethnic backgrounds could come to live the monastic life and benefit from a liturgical cycle in English.
Through the years, the monastery continued to expand and attention of such a holy place began to grow. Mother Alexandra was succeeded by Mother Benedicta who arrived from Varatec Monastery in Romania in 1978.
Under Mother Benedicta’s leadership a complete cycle of liturgical prayer was established and the strong monastic tradition she had lived in her homeland took root as well. Mother Christophora, the current abbess, was elected in 1987, and since then, the monastery has continued to develop, both spiritually and physically.
“We encourage everyone of all faiths and religions to visit the monastery and see the hospitality it has to offer,” said Mother Barbara. “Even the UPS man says how peaceful it is up here; anyone can enjoy this beautiful place.”