By: Seminarian Joshua Coolman
On Saturday, September 20th, several students and family members from the St. Tikhon’s Seminary community made a pilgrimage to Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery. Holy Myrrhbearers is located in a rural Otego, NY - about a two hour drive north of St. Tikhon’s. We left the seminary after Saturday morning Divine Liturgy and arrived at Holy Myrrhbearers around lunch time.
After lunch, we were given a tour of the monastery grounds. As a means of supporting the monastery, the nuns keep chickens, sheep and goats. Some of us were able to help out with the farm chores. We moved hay bails into the barn. We also had a chance to interact with the sheep and goats – helping the younger goats become more accustom to humans.
At three o’clock we took a break and gathered in the chapel for Ninth Hour prayers. At the end of Ninth Hour, Mother Raphaela – the abbes of the monastery officially welcomed us and told us how happy she was to see so many young people.
Between Ninth Hour and supper time, we were able to walk around the monastery grounds, visit some more with the sheep and goats, and talk with some of the nuns. Sister Susanna is an iconographer. I met her a little over a year ago at an icon workshop here at St. Tikhon’s. In the passed few years, Sister Susanna has written beautiful festal icons for her monastery.
At one point in the afternoon, Mother Catherine got out her spinning wheel and demonstrated how wool is hand spun into yarn. Just before supper, we also got to see the pair of oxen that are yoked together and used to plow fields. The oxen were very large, but very gentle creatures – reminding me of the verse from the Thanksgiving Akathist: Glory to You for the humbleness of animals which serve me!
We had supper with the nuns at five p.m. During the meal, Mother Raphaela read from a new book by Archimandrite Vasileios of Mount Athos. After the evening meal, we gathered in the chapel again for Great Vespers. After Great Vespers, we thanked the nuns for their hospitality and made the return drive back to Pennsylvania and St. Tikhon’s.