Early Thursday morning June 13, 2002 the Office of Communications of the Orthodox Church in America received a phone call from Mother Cassiana, Superior of the Protection of the Holy Virgin Monastery here for an update on the Hayman Fire.
“While the fire is currently not moving towards the Monastery, it is still out of control,” she reports, “Local and national authorities held an informational meeting for those living in the area. They told us that, so far, this is one of the five worst fires they’ve seen in 25 years. Containment is not expected for at least 70-90 days at best.”
The officials also discussed evacuation plans for those living in the areanear Lake George and along Highway 24, including the nuns at the Monastery.
Mother Cassiana also noted, “Because the local officials will be using a ‘reverse 9-1-1’ method of contacting those needing to evacuate, we need to keep the phone lines clear and ask that people do not call the Monastery.”
As a precaution, all valuables from the Monastery and the entire Monastery Bookstore have been removed and put in storage with the assistance of parishioners from nearby parishes.
“In essence, the bookstore will be closed for the remainder of the summer.” Mother Cassiana said, “This affects our income drastically. We are unable to leave the Monastery for extended periods of time for retreats either, limiting our ability to inform people about the Monastery.”
A parishioner from St Andrew’s Church in Delta, CO, is among those firefighters attempting to put the massive blaze out. “Dewey Wingate is working with the helicopter crews to help slow the fire’s movement.” Mother Cassiana reports, “A dedicated parishoner of St Andrew’s, we ask that everyone keep him, and us, in your prayers.”
“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.”
The faithful of the Church are asked to pray fervently, that the monastery may be spared.
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.
Further updates will be posted as additional reports are received.