The Journey to St. Anthony's Monastery

It was the spring of 1995 when Geronda Ephraim and a few others first drove down a dusty dirt road in the Sonora Desert to inspect a potential site for St. Anthony’s Monastery. As they were approaching the property, they all heard church bells ringing out of nowhere. Geronda Ephraim was spiritually informed that this was the place where they should raise the Cross for the foundation of the monastery.
“You show your good intentions to God, but everything depends on Him, on whether or not He gives to you. God is the beginning and the end. His grace is the driving force that activates all things.”– Saint Joseph the Hesychast

The first monks arrived in July 1995 from Philotheou Monastery. After clearing the northeast corner of the property in the blazing summer heat, they placed two trailers there—the first buildings of the monastery. One of the trailers housed the chapel for their daily services, the refectory for their meals, and the monks’ living quarters; the other trailer became the first guesthouse. By the autumn of 1995, more monks arrived. They were soon followed by many young monastic aspirants from various parts of the United States and Canada who wanted to join the brotherhood and assist in the construction of the monastery.

Elder Ephraim planting trees
St Anthony's Construction
St Anthony's Construction inside
Construction Roof
Construction Dome
Construction Roof 2

Geronda Paisios, the abbot, assigns daily work duties and directly oversees the physical and spiritual activities of the monks.

On January 17, 1996, the monastery celebrated the feast of St. Anthony the Great for the first time. In a service presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco, Priest-monk Paisios was enthroned as the first abbot of the monastery and new monks were tonsured. The construction of the main church had begun in the fall of 1995, but had not yet been completed. Thus, a large blue tarp served as a makeshift roof to cover the many of pilgrims who came to honor the saint. Their presence bore witness that the desire for the monastery was strong and would allow no obstacles to stand in the way of realizing this dream.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”– Colossians 3:17

The monastery grounds started to take their present shape with two trailers on one side and another two on the opposite side. This arrangement formed the main courtyard in front of the church. At the same time, the refectory was also built next to the church, following the custom of Athonite monasteries.

“The more you love Him, the more you will receive. The size of His gift, be it great or small, depends on your love, whether it is great or small.”
– Saint Joseph the Hesychast
Construction yard
Construction yard 3
Construction top view
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