Moscow, June 16, 2017
The sisterhood of the Nativity of Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery in Saxonburg, PA was forced out of its living quarters on Thursday, as the building was struck by lightning at around 4:45 PM, reports WPXI Channel 11 News.
All of the fifteen nuns were inside when the severe weather came through. No injuries were reported, according to AKV News, although the building is now uninhabitable.
“There was lightning everywhere, and it was a huge crack,” said Abbess Theophano. “The fireman said there’s water damage, there’s smoke damage.”
The fire department was called after the lightning struck, and crews from Saxonburg, Buffalo Township, Herman VFD, and several other companies arrived on the scene, quickly getting it under control. It is believed that lightning struck the rear side of the secondary structure, causing a fire on the second and floor and in the attic. The extent of the damage is unclear, although AKV News sources said the two floors sustained electrical damage.
The nuns had already been struggling, having discovered that faulty construction in their living quarters, the church, and the reception area led to mold, rotting wood, and moisture throughout the entire structures. The mold that permeated the building had infiltrated the HVAC system severely impacting the sisters’ health over the years.
A GoFundMe fundraising page was set up for the monastery, where several people have made donations since the news of yesterday’s fire.
A CrowdRise fundraising page has also been set up since the fire to help cover the costs of the nuns' mobile temporary housing.
The Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery was the first of many monasteries founded by Elder Ephraim of Philotheou, a respected elder from Mt. Athos, who now resides at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona. Founded in 1989, the monastery is now home to thirteen nuns and two novices, who support themselves by making icons, vestments, Baptismal garments, candles, soap, and other high-quality items.
The monastery is first and foremost a peaceful corner of nature, where you can forget for a time your worldly cares and anxieties and you can immerse yourself in a world of silence and prayer.