ST. NAZIANZ — A group of Eastern Catholic monks is offering people the opportunity to participate in retreats, largely to help support the new evangelization.
Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis, who oversees Holy Resurrection Monastery in this Manitowoc County village, said offering retreats “gives us so much fulfillment and purpose of life (and) should be shared with others.”
“That’s what evangelization is about — spreading the Good News, sharing with people the treasure you have,” said Abbot Nicholas. “So that’s why we have retreats. We’re enthusiastic about it and very excited. It gives us great joy and strength of faith and love for Christ and the church, and we want to share that.”
The monks moved to Holy Resurrection Monastery last year after living for several years in California — at one location in the Mojave Desert in Newberry Springs, and the other location in Valyermo, northeast of Los Angeles. In addition to Abbot Nicholas, the monks include Fr. Maximos, Fr. Moses, Fr. Basil, Br. Ambrose and Fr. Patrick, a visiting monk from Canada.
For more information
about the retreats, visit www.hrmonline.org, call (920) 881-4009 or visit the monastery at 300 S. Second Ave., St. Nazianz
There are 12 guest rooms for retreatants on the second floor of the monastery. The building, which dates to the 1860s, was formerly known as St. Mary’s Convent and the Maria Haus bed and breakfast. It has a chapel, conference room, guest lounge, kitchen, dining areas, gift shop and plenty of land alongside a small lake.
The monks have hosted retreats since moving to St. Nazianz. Their retreats have drawn people from throughout northeastern Wisconsin and other states, Abbot Nicholas said. Retreats are open to adults and accompanied minors.
“As part of the new evangelization, we go to some of the parishes in the Green Bay Diocese and talk about the Eastern churches and our monastery, so that’s how some local people find out about us,” Abbot Nicholas said.
- The monastery holds three types of retreats.
- Day visits can be geared to individuals or groups, and they can be informal or formal.
- Residential retreats also are available for individuals, who join in the monastic life, including participating in prayers and meals and perhaps visiting with one of the monks for spiritual direction.
Group retreats for no more than 12 people. The monks can organize a program for a few days in which talks are presented and attendees participate in liturgical services, have an opportunity for confession and become immersed in spiritual activities.
Abbot Nicholas said retreat participants often are intrigued by what they see and experience.
“A lot of people say, ‘We’ve been Catholics all our lives and we never knew that there were Eastern Catholic churches,’” Abbot Nicholas said.
“People want to know more about the Eastern Catholic churches.
“Some people, particularly the younger generation, don’t even know much about monastic life – Eastern or Western,” he said. “A lot of people, even very intelligent people and educated people – and sometimes people who were educated in Catholic institutions, have only a caricature of what it means to be a Catholic, and that’s unfortunate. I think they learn a lot at our retreats.”
One of the retreats offered recently at the monastery was titled “Feasting and Fasting.” This hands-on cooking retreat with a spiritual dimension was led by Fr. Moses. Prior to becoming a monk, he went to the Culinary Institute of America and served as a private chef aboard a yacht in the Greek Isles and as a chef in the New York area.
Upcoming retreats include:
- The Mass, East and West, April 12-14. Abbot Nicholas will oversee presentations on how the Eastern liturgy and the Western liturgy are similar and different, and what they can learn from each other.
- The Jesus Prayer, May 24-26. Fr. Maximos leads this retreat focusing on the Jesus Prayer.
“They’re not meditative — they’re contemplative prayers that distract us from all sensory and even intellectual distractions and emotional distractions so that we can have a more intimate and direct encounter with God himself,” Abbot Nicholas said.
“Once we get people here, I think they’re never disappointed because the retreats are interesting,” said Abbot Nicholas, noting that the monks also use the retreats as a leading source of income for the monastery. “I don’t think we’ve had anyone who came and didn’t have a really exciting and positive experience.”