Diocese: Bulgarian Diocese
Deanery: Bulgarian Diocese Chancery
34700 Palomares Rd
Castro Valley, California 94552-9624
Holy Cross Monastery is located about one hour southeast of San Francisco, California and only half an hour from the heart of Silicon Valley. Although we have a Castro Valley address, we are actually 11 miles distant from the town of Castro Valley itself. The closest city to us is Fremont, which is a little over 5 miles away.
Palomares Road, on which our monastery is located, is a 10-mile rural county road with no cross streets that runs between 580 Freeway and Highway 84 (also known as Niles Canyon Road). Our main entry at 34700 Palomares Road is located at the 6.68 mile marker.
Schedule of Services
The clergy of our monastery serve under the omophorion of Archbishop Alexander, who shepherds both the OCA’s Bulgarian Diocese and the Diocese of the South.
Services are conducted in the languages best understood by those worshipping with the Fathers, who conduct most of their services in English, but can accommodate pilgrims by serving in Church Slavonic, Romanian, Greek, Bulgarian, and other languages as the need arises.
Services open to the public at our monastery are as follows:
6:00 PM Great Vespers (except Holy Saturday)
10:00 AM Divine Liturgy (preceded at 9:30 AM by the Hours)
Our Sunday morning Liturgies are followed by an Agape potluck luncheon
Special services for Holy Days during the week are sometimes open to the public as well. When weekday public services open to the public are scheduled, evening services usually begin at 7:00 PM and morning Liturgies usually begin at 9:00 AM.
For a list of scheduled upcoming services open to the public, please see our monastery calendar.
The daily monastic cycle of services throughout the week are reserved for the monastic brotherhood and the time of these services fluctuate. They can be attended by arrangement.
Holy Cross Monastery began with our founding Abbot, Archimandrite Theodor. He always dreamed of founding a monastery one day for the greater glory of God. In 1965, while he was very young and after he had been ordained as a priest for just one year, his devout mother suddenly and unexpectedly fell asleep in the Lord. He was an only son, so his mother left her inheritance to him; since she knew of his holy intention to build a monastery one day.
This legacy from his mother was the seed from which Holy Cross Monastery would one day take root, but it was not enough to acquire property suitable for a monastery. So he labored in the Lord’s vineyard as a parish priest until he met his first disciple (Father Stephen, the monastery’s current abbot) in 1970.
When he heard this young man talk about his interest in pursuing the monastic life, he asked him if he would be interested in helping him build a monastery. “The days when emperors, tsars, or kings will build monasteries for us are past,” he said. “If we want a monastery, we shall have to build one ourselves.” It was then, in 1970, that they made their holy vow that one day, by the grace of God, they would build a monastery together dedicated to the Holy Cross.
It took those monks nine additional years to save enough money to buy property suitable for a monastery, and then, in 1979, with the blessing of their diocesan bishop, they purchased a rural estate that would become Holy Cross Monastery.
For over 22 years, that original parcel with its residence and chapel comprised the monastery. The monks themselves performed most of the labor that transfigured that rustic property into a frontier of Paradise. They also stacked every stone in its retaining walls and during their first year (in 1980) planted the majestic Redwood trees that tower behind the cross shrine in the eastern corner of the original parcel.
Holy Cross Monastery existed and thrived by the grace of God and through the hard work of its monks. Although friends and supporters have given and continue to give donations to help us, the monastery was essentially self-supporting from its founding in 1978 through 2013.
During those first 35 years, the monks of our monastery never sent out appeals for donations or even passed a collection plate in their monastery chapel. Whatever friends, supporters, and visitors ever gave of their own free will was gratefully and humbly accepted, however, and used for the glory of God by the monks. But essentially, the brotherhood was self-supporting.
For twenty years, a stipend they received from a small parish they served was the monastery’s principal support. Then, after our founding abbot, Father Theodor, retired from serving as a parish priest, our current abbot, Father Stephen, worked in secular employment at one of Silicon Valley’s largest law firms for fifteen years.
Beginning his employment there at the height of the “Dot Com Boom”, Father Stephen rose “like Joseph in Egypt”, receiving promotions and advancements to the point that he eventually became the Manager of New Business Development for the law firm’s litigation department, receiving a salary comparable to that of some of its attorneys.
This unexpected income over a fifteen-year period (until 2013) enabled our monastery to thrive and develop in a number of ways. Primarily, it enabled us to acquire two adjacent parcels from our neighbors, when they put their homes on the market before retiring. The monastery comprised only 1.7 acres originally, but with the acquisition of a neighbor’s property in 2002, the monastery doubled in size to 3.5 acres. With this acquisition the monastery acquired an additional residence and gained a private entry that is not shared with neighbors.
In 2012, the monastery acquired a third parcel with 5.6 acres, which has brought the total size of the monastery property to over 9 acres. This third property included an additional residence, which our brotherhood is currently renovating.
In 2013, Father Stephen’s position at the law firm was eliminated and since that time the monastery’s support comes from his monthly social security check and the generous donations of the faithful. Our founding Abbot, Archimandrite Theodor, fell asleep in the Lord in June of 2014.
Although our monastery can easily accommodate up to 12 monks, our brotherhood currently consists of only three monastics: Hegumen Stephen (Abbot), who cofounded the monastery with Archimandrite Theodor in 1970, Hieromonk Peter, who joined them in 2000, and Subdeacon Lubomir, who first entered the monastery in 2012. Although a number of other men have aspired to become novices here over the years, “many are called, but few are chosen.”
Holy Cross Monastery serves Orthodox Christians of all ethnic backgrounds and all cultural traditions. Services are predominantly celebrated in English, but are often also heard in Romanian, Church Slavonic, and Greek. Many faithful regularly attend services at the monastery. Orthodox faithful of all backgrounds come here for baptisms, requiems, and other sacramental blessings.
The Fathers do their utmost to make every visitor feel that their monastic dwelling is a spiritual home to anyone who comes to them for spiritual nourishment. Our monastery exists as a haven of spiritual tranquility, tolerance and kindness, not only for the local owls, deer, foxes, and raccoon, but for all who come to partake of the Monastery’s peace and befriend the Fathers. The beauty and harmony of the Monastery and its environs speak for themselves and speak to the soul and heart of anyone who loves God, humankind, and nature.
Our Lord said: “Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). In this tumultuous and tempestuous world, the Lord has few places in which to lay His holy head. Monasteries provide the Lord with sanctuaries of calm and quietude, where He can rest His holy head and where those who seek Him and love Him can embrace Him. God resides and dwells among us here at Holy Cross Monastery, where the monks strive and struggle in their imperfect way to serve His every need.