August 10th, 2016
Diocesan Council Statement: HOUSE SPRINGS
“The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).
There has been a great deal of misleading and inaccurate information that has been spread in the past few weeks regarding the House Springs, Missouri community, and so we find it necessary to offer some explanations of the actions taken by the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America (ROCOR).
First and foremost, to understand these actions, it must be kept in mind that this community became a monastic community soon after its founding. In 1986, Hieromonk Kallistos founded the Holy Cross Hermitage in House Springs, Mo. Three building were donated, expanded, and rehabilitated on the condition that the land and buildings be used for a monastic community. In 2000, Holy Cross Hermitage moved to Wayne, West Virginia, and the parish community which had formed around the monastery was allowed by the diocese to continue to use this property, since there were no monastics at the time to establish a new community. However, Canon 24 of the Council of Chalcedon makes it clear that monastic property should remain monastic property in perpetuity:
“As for monasteries which have once been consecrated with the consent of the Bishop, they are to remain monasteries perpetually, and the property owned by them is to be kept safe.”
Fr. Christopher Stade served this parish until he was no longer able to do so. For a period of time there was a new priest assigned, but after this priest left, the parish community had no priest. It having been the decision of the Diocesan Assembly to establish a female monastic community within the diocese, and there being a group of nuns who were without a home, the decision was made to establish a monastic community on this property and return the property to its intended canonical use.
The primary reasons for these actions were laid out in the letter sent by the Diocesan Council to the parish on June 18/July 1, 2016:
There are many issues about this situation that it would be inappropriate for the diocese to address specifically and publicly. However, we ask those who are Orthodox Christians to not assume the worst about the actions of the diocese when they simply do not have all of the facts. Please know that any legitimate concerns that have been raised are being dealt with, and that our intention is that there be a monastic community to provide spiritual strength to the diocese, and we believe that this is also the best way to ensure that services will continue there to meet the needs of both the nuns and the laity who have been served there. Divine Services are held at the monastery daily and these services are open to non-monastics.
We will not engage in a public battle with regard to this community, or the issues that prompted our decisions. We are bound by pastoral considerations and Christian propriety to not air these matters in further detail. We ask for prayers for all concerned, that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail, and that this community will be granted God’s blessings.