Yesterday I had the unique pleasure of visiting a Monastery in Washington,Texas with Sharon and Ernie Sarandos , Ernie’s sister , Georgia and her husband Louie. Ernie, Georgia and Louie are Greeks.
Three nuns came there originally and all they had was a beautiful home and a large barn. Since their arrival, with the help of Monks, they have built a beautiful church and a visitor reception center with a gift shop.
The home was built by a builder for his wife, but he died shortly after the completion and she sold it to the Greek Church.
We arrived about 11:30 and were greeted by the Abbess and one of the Sisters. We were required to wear a skirt and cover our heads the entire time we were there.
After introductions were made, the Abbess took us inside to see the church. It was breath-taking. I was allowed to take pictures of anything but not the Sisters.
We were then taken to the reception center and served Greek coffee and a Greek sweet. What a treat. We visited a while and toured the Gift Shop and then were told they were preparing lunch for us.
I have to tell you it was very hot and the scarves we wore on our heads got very hot. The Sisters do not use hardly any air conditioning, but did turn it down some when they realized we were burning up.
They raise grapes and make two kinds of wine, they have 4 goats that are milked twice a day. They drink the milk and make cheese. Of course, I had to go and visit the goats, and I offered to buy any that they do not want.
They hope to soon make soap and lotions.They make the Icons they have for sale in the Gift Shop. As a first time visitor, I was told to choose any thing in the gift shop, I ask for an Icon of the Saint for which the Monastery was named after.
This is Saint Paraskevi, and the Icon I chose to receive.
The Sister dress in solid black, they have no mirrors, TV or internet. The are allowed to go to town to buy things. They do not eat meat. Three days a week, they have dairy products and eat fish. They work in the beautiful gardens and live a very simple life devoted to prayer.
Our lunch was wonderful. Stuffed Bell Peppers, Shrimp, Green salad, potatoes, and marinated veggies. Wonderful rich bread and wine, from a near by Vineyard. Oh, I almost forgot the cake and fruit for dessert.
I can’t begin to tell you what a wonderful day it was and how gracious the Sisters were to us. Sharon had been there many times before and today she brought them towels, water pitchers, place mats, magazine or wood rack, yarns, a beautiful tray and a lovely plant. Sharon is a very giving person and the Sisters were all so happy to see her again.
The Gift Shop.
Sharon standing in front of cross in courtyard.
Regardless of your religion, if you ever have the chance to visit a Monastery or Convent, you should go and experience the devotion and peace that surrounds you in the presence of women who have given their life to God.