Wildfire threatens St. Barbara’s Monastery in Santa Paula, California

Santa Paula, California, December 6, 2017

Photo: dowoca.org Photo: dowoca.org
    

A message appeared on the website of the St. Barbara Orthodox Monastery (OCA) in Santa Paula, California yesterday, stating that the nuns have evacuated due to a wildfire that broke out on Monday, on the monastery’s patronal feast day.

“Due to the Thomas Fire which began in a Santa Paula canyon last night, our community has voluntarily evacuated to Oxnard and Santa Barbara,” the message reads. Thankfully, the monastery’s valuables are safe: “The monastery relics and cats are safe. Thank you for your prayers and we will try to post updates as they come up.”

His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin also posted a short note on the website of the OCA Diocese of the West: “Today (December 4th), following the celebration of the first feast day of the Monastery of St. Barbara in their new chapel, a fast-moving fire driven by high winds broke out within a mile of the monastery. The nuns and their neighbors have been evacuated.”

An article on the Orthodox Church in America’s website note that the “Thomas Fire” began Monday evening in a canyon near Santa Paula, 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and by early Tuesday morning it had to spread to about 31,000 acres, forcing thousands of locals to flee their homes.

The monastery had celebrated the Divine Liturgy for its patronal feast earlier on Monday, for the first time in their chapel of Sts. Barbara and Eugene, which had just been consecrated in May, after years of labor. The 25th anniversary of the monastery’s establishment was also celebrated. That evening, as Abbess Mother Victoria and the nuns were sitting down to dinner, the fire broke out within a mile of the monastery, leading to the sisters’ evacuation to nearby communities.

“It appears that the buildings survived,” Archbishop Benjamin reported on Tuesday morning. “But, as no one can actually go to the monastery due to evacuation efforts, we do not know for sure,” he added.

Prayers are requested for the monastery and all who are in harm’s way.

Massive wildfires spread throughout northern California in October, forcing the nuns of the Our Lady of Kazan Skete in Santa Rosa and of Holy Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, both of the OCA, to evacuate as well.

12/6/2017

See also
Orthodox dioceses responding to northern CA wildfires Orthodox dioceses responding to northern CA wildfires Orthodox dioceses responding to northern CA wildfires Orthodox dioceses responding to northern CA wildfires
Wildfires continue to spread quickly throughout northern California’s wine country. In this dire situation, Orthodox hierarchs and dioceses are calling for prayers and arranging for material help to be brought to the suffering.
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Emergency services are investigating the possibility of arson, as local residents claim to have seen arsonists. The mayor of Prilep has asked the police to find and punish the perpetrators. The fire near the monastery has continued for 15 days; it was possible earlier to defend it by the efforts of the emergency services and hundreds of volunteers.
Nuns grateful, firefighters well fed, icons unscathed as lightning starts fire in Greek Orthodox monastery Nuns grateful, firefighters well fed, icons unscathed as lightning starts fire in Greek Orthodox monastery Nuns grateful, firefighters well fed, icons unscathed as lightning starts fire in Greek Orthodox monastery Nuns grateful, firefighters well fed, icons unscathed as lightning starts fire in Greek Orthodox monastery
Despite the tragedy, the sisterhood remains hopeful in God, and grateful to all who have supported them in their time of need. “Gerontissa Theophano and the Sisters express their deep gratitude for the outpouring of prayers, love and support from all facets of the community and across the country in this time of crisis. ‘This is what gives us the courage and spiritual strength to move forward through the grace and protection of God and our Holy Mother, The Theotokos,’” the message reads.
Comments
Alexander Wilson12/9/2017 7:45 pm
May God preserve this monastery. My son is a monk in the UK.
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