Early Wednesday morning June 20, 2002 the Office of Communications of the Orthodox Church in America received a update phone call about the Hayman fire in Colorado from Mother Cassiana, Superior of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Monastery.
“The latest reports from the National Forest Service have not been promising for us. It appears the steps being made to control the fire are not having the success they had expected on the eastern flank.”
This does not bode well for the Monastery, since weather reports are calling for winds from the north today, blowing the fire directly towards the Monastery. With flames shooting several hundred feet into the sky, Mother Cassiana and the nuns at Protection Monastery are extremely exhausted physically and mentally from the constant fear of not knowing if the fire will turn in their direction.
The first concern of the firefighters is to attempt to contain the fire where it threatens homes and people. This leaves entire sections of wilderness burning out of control. Fire fighters from a dozen states are battling the fire just south of Denver, attempting to prevent more homes and towns from being destroyed.
“The town of Woodland Park and its 8,000 residents are on stand-by for evacuation, not far from us,” Mother Cassiana reports, “The fire fighters are doing everything they can to help those of us in the path of the fire.”
With the entire Monastery Bookstore packed away in storage, the nuns have also temporarily lost their main source of income.
Because of the interruption in daily life, the nuns have been unable to travel throughout the Diocese informing the faithful about the Monastery Community. “Usually, summer is very quick here and uneventful.” Mother Cassiana said, “Unfortunately we will never forget this one.”
Even though the fire is currently not moving towards the Monastery, it is still is out of control,” she reports, “At the informational meetings with local and national authorities, the fire continues to burn through wilderness at an unbelievable rate.”
Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America encourages all to pray for the safety of those near the fire, “We need to remember the Monastery so it may be spared, for the fire fighters and their safety and for those who have lost their homes and those endangered of losing theirs in the region. Through our prayers, God will strengthen them and provide safe haven.”
“Established in 1993, the monastery is home to several nuns, who over the years have labored to not only build a strong Orthodox community, but have built a physical complex that includes a beautiful chapel, quarters for the nuns, guest rooms, and a refectory,” according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “Should the fire reach the monastery, it would be a tremendous loss, not only for the monastic community, but for the many faithful who regularly visit and support the monastery.”
In cooperation with His Grace Bishop TIKHON of San Francisco, additional updates and information will be available through the website of the Orthodox Church in America at http://www.oca.org.
For those who wish to contact the Monastery via regular mail:
Protection of the Holy Virgin Monastery
2343 Country Rd 403
P.O. Box 416
Lake George, CO 80827-0416
Further updates will be posted as additional reports are received.