Archimandrite Panteleimon (+1984)
Interview with Archimandrite Panteleimon, Founder of Holy
Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY
From the Editors: Next year, Holy Trinity Monastery will
mark its 75th anniversary. In connection with this, we offer our
readers an interview with Fr Panteleimon given to Pravoslavnaya
Rus' (Orthodox Russia, September 1980), on the 50th anniversary
of the monastery:-Fr Panteleimon, it is 50 years since you began
your monastic path here in Jordanville, where Holy Trinity Monastery
now stands. Where did you perform your monastic labors before that?
-At St Tikhon's Monastery, which now belongs to the American Metropoliate.
-Is that where you took your monastic vows?
-Yes, in 1920. I was 25 years old.
-When did you arrive in America?
-In 1913. It was difficult for my father to support his large family
in Grodnenskaya guberniya, where we lived, so I asked my parents
to let me go to America, where I would earn money and send it to
them, as some of my friends had done. But my mother, who was of
profound faith, feared that the same fate would befall me as befell
some other young people: they would leave for America believers,
but return some time later having lost their faith. So my mother,
letting me to go America, gave me these instructions: "My son,
do not lose God." To this day I remember my mother's words.
-When you came to America, where did you first go?
-To Chicago. There I worked in a sugar factory. I immediately sensed
that it is very easy to lose God in America, since life here was
not the same as at home, in Russia.
-How did the idea to become a monk develop?
-In my prayers, I began to ask God that He led me on the right path.
Besides, Europe was embroiled in the First World War then, and then
the terrible year of 1917 struck Russia. The news from Europe told
me, I guess, that I was no longer to return to my Homeland, and
I now began to seriously think about settling here in America.
-And what did you decide to do?
-In 1918, I entered St Tikhon's Monastery and two years later assumed
monkhood and was first ordained as a hierodeacon, and then a hieromonk.
-How many years did you live in that monastery?
-Why did you leave that monastery and begin to look for a new
place to live?
-Over the course of the ten years I spent at St Tikhon's Monastery,
I saw that it was difficult to live a real monastic life there as
a young monk, and I began to think about finding a place where one
could lead a genuine monk's life. Fr Joseph helped me in this; then
he was still Ivan Andreevich Kolos, a choir director and psalm-reader
in a parish. I met him at the monastery. He came to live there and
revealed to me that he is suffering in his service at the parish
and wants to be a monk. I also told him my intentions. And so we
decided to save a little money to buy a piece of property somewhere.
For this I began work in Sikorsky airplane factory in Stratford,
and Ivan Kolos stayed at his parish for the time being.
-What year was it when you found the right place?
-In 1928, we bought a piece of land which is now Holy Trinity Monastery.
But we continued to work until the property was paid off in full.
During this time, another monk from St Tikhon's Monastery joined
-When did you finally move to the new site?
-In 1930, in the spring, after Pascha, I left my job at the factory
and arrived on the property. Everything here was in a shambles;
all was silent, and not a soul around. A few times I would climb
the hill in the forest, and revel in the quietude surrounding me,
and gazed upon what I owned: an old, two- or three-room shack and
a well nearby, there were four other wells in the vicinity, and
that was all; everything else was forest and silence; a wilderness.
I remember the first thing that I bought: a teakettle. I would exit
the house into the yard, I remember; I would ignite some logs between
three stones and put the kettle with water on top, while I would
go to Jordanville to buy food. I would return by the time the water
began boiling, and breakfast was ready.
-Who were the first monks to join you?
-Monk Jacob, the old Deacon Ivan Morozov, Philipp Pisarik, Monk
Philaret, and later two choir directors joined us: Peter Ivanovich
Kozlov (later Hieromonk Paul) and Ivan Andreevich Kolos (later Archimandrite
Joseph). When Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko, +1960) arrived in America,
we appealed to him to head our monastic brotherhood.
-What did you occupy yourselves with in your new home?
-First of all, of course, with the performance of all the proper
daily services, and in between, organizing the management of the
place. We bought a cow and two horses and began to work the land.
We began to build a barn for hay and started dairy production. From
our own lumber we prepared the materials for our residences, consisting
of 16 cells and a house church. This is when a good carpenter joined
us, Hieromonk Ilia, and in 1935, the church was finished, which,
on the day of its consecration, burned down. This was a tribulation
sent by God to test our faith. Such were the first steps taken towards
establishing our monastery, which, with God's help, is now growing
and growing, and during the 50 years of its existence it has turned
into the lavra of the diaspora. Glory to God for everything!