On April 16, 2016, upon the decision of the Holy Synod and upon the application of Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, the Iveron Monastery was opened in the city of Orsk, the Orenburg Region. Nun Xenia (Pashkova) was appointed as the Abbess of the monastery (REGISTER No. 31). But the way to the opening of this convent had started long before the above mentioned date.
The decision on the foundation of the monastery was made by the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, and the Secretary of the Orsk Diocese, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, long before the beginning of its construction. In 2008, a small sisterhood of about 10 women ranged around the senior priest of the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George. It was dedicated to the Venerable Saint Mary of Egypt. The sisterhood was based in the township of Kherson, Gai District, the Orenburg Region. The sisters lived according to a horarium, close to a monastic one. Throughout all those years, Father Sergiy was the spiritual guide of the sisterhood.
April 7, 2013. On the day of the Annunciation, in the district of the Tractor Trailer Plant of Orsk, the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, after the service for the beginning of a good deed, blessed the territory of the future monastery.
Archpriest Sergiy Baranov was appointed as the spiritual guide of the monastery. According to his drafts, the architectural company “Telets” developed the design of the object. The convent was built in the fashion of carré, like the monasteries on Mount Athos. Large-scale construction took place on the area of over a hectare. Within a month, the ground was broken and the foundation was laid. On May 6, 2013, on the eve of the day of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos, the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, blessed the first stone that was to be put in the foundation of the future monastery at the place of the altar.
April 28. The first ever tonsure in the history of the Orsk Diocese took place at the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George of Orsk. Novice Alexander Davydov was tonsured by Bishop of Orsk Gai Irenaeus. He was given the name of Philaret, after Saint Philaret the Meciful. In his worldly life, Alexander was a businessman, and he made a huge financial contribution to the construction of church buildings in Orsk. The Orthodox Gymnasium was one of them. He was a trustee of the Andreyevsky Monastery in the village of Andreyevka, the Orenburg Region. He rendered considerable help for organization of the sisterhood in the township of Kherson. He was awarded with the III and II-Class Orders of Saint Venerable Sergius of Radonezh of the Russian Orthodox Church.
A while after, Father Philaret was ordained to the priesthood and became a part of the clergy guiding the Iveron Monastery.
May 6. On the Monday of Bright Week, and a day before the feast of the Iveron icon of the Theotokos, when the second copy of it was found in 2012, the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, blessed the first stone that was to be put in the foundation of the future Iveron monastery.
The following inscription was made on the stone, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This Monastery was founded in honor of the Iveron Icon of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos in the City of Orsk, during the time of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’, by the the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, in the year of 7521 A.M. and 2013 A.D. on the 7th day of May. Amen.” And a wooden cross was mounted at the base of the stone.
July 7. Novice Tatiana Pashkova was tonsured a nun at the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George. It was the second monastic tonsure in the history of the Orsk Diocese, and it was performed by Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai. The newly tonsured nun was given the name Xenia, after Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg. In three years, Mother Xenia was ordained as the Abbess of the Iveron Monastery of Orsk.
August 27. Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, tonsured three nuns in the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George. Novice Lidia Banina was tonsured a nun and received the name Antonia, after Saint Anthony the Great, the founder of monasticism. Novice Ekaterina Chuchupalova was tonsured a nun and received the name Makaria, after Saint Macarius the Great of Egypt. Novice Tatiana Khramova was tonsured a nun and received the name Seraphima, after Saint Seraphim of Sarov.
August 29. The Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, performed the sixth tonsure at the Orsk Diocese. It took place at the Intercession Cathedral of Kuvandyk. The servant of God Lyubov was tonsured and given the name of Tatiana.
October 26. On the day of the celebration of the Iveron Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, a large litany proceeded from the Church of the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos to the Iveron Monastery that was still under construction. The clerics blessed the over-the-gates icons of Jesus Christ The Pantocrator and the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos. They also sprinkled holy water on the walls of the building.
November 3. 150 fir-trees were planted near the future monastery. The clerics, nuns, future sisters and the parish of the Orsk Diocese leaded by the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, took part in that good deed.
November 20. A delegation of monks from Holy Mount Athos arrived at the Orsk Diocese. The Athonites brought a copy of the Wonder-Working Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Pantanassa” as a gift to the newly-built monastery.
December 11. The Secretary of the Orsk Diocese, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, made a regular visit to Georgia, which has had a spiritual connection with Orsk inhabitants for many years. Father Sergiy brought priceless gifts for the monastery from his trip. People in Georgia feel concerned about our convent and they prayed for the fastest and successful termination of its construction. In order to give spiritual support to the nuns of the Iveron Monastery, Gerasimus, the Metropolitan of Zugdidi and Tsaishi and the Chairman of the Department of the Foreign Affairs of the Georgian Patriarchy, handed us over a photocopy of chiton of the Holy Theotocos, which is reposited in the historical museum of Zugdidi, Georgia.
January 5. Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, tonsured three nuns in the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George. Novice Galina Guller was tonsured a nun and received the name Mikhaila, after Saint Archangel Michael. Novice Vera Dmitrieva was tonsured a nun and received the name Gavryila, after Saint Archangel Gabriel. Novice Svetlana Gerasimova was tonsured a nun and received the name Selafyila, after Saint Archangel Salathiel.
January 25. A funeral service for nun Tatiana (Korovina Lyubov Ivanovna) was held at the Intercession Cathedral of Kuvandyk. The Iveron nuns saw the nun Tatiana to the cemetery where the body of the deceased was buried.
January 30. The Holy Trinity-St. Sergius lavra. A delegation from the Orsk Diocese, led by the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, had a meeting with Hegumen Stephen (Tarakanov), the Dy. Chairman of the Monasticism Department. During the conversation, the future of the Iveron Monastery was discussed, including the issues of the monastery registration and the Canon of the monastic community.
February 25. On the day of the celebration of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos, the domes were set on the building of the monastery.
March 28. The Cathedral of the Great Martyr George. Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, performed one more tonsure. Novice Marina Vorontsova was tonsured a nun and received the name Maria, after the Venerable Saint Mary of Egypt.
March 30. Movie Theater “Mir”. The documentary “Liturgy”, produced and written by the archpriest Sergiy Baranov, had its premiere. It was a significant event in the life of the Diocese.
April 22. On the day of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos, a rite of foundation of the future Church of the Venerable Saint Mary of Egypt was held on the territory of the Iveron Monastery. The Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, blessed the foundation stone. A capsule (box) with the names of the benefactors who supported the construction of the monastery both by their prayers and assets, and with the names of the first sisters and their spiritual father was inserted into the niche in the wall of the church. The capsule was concealed in concrete and the foundation stone was set on it.
April 22. On the day of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos, during the service at the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George, the the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, awarded archpriest Sergiy Baranov for his devotion to the Church of Christ with the right to wear an epigonation.
May 9. On the day of the Great Victory, a fruit garden was laid out in the territory of the monastery. The garden was dedicated to the 700-years anniversary of the Venerable Saint Sergius of Radonezh. After the V-Day parade, dozens of faithful came to the monastery, which was still under construction. Such plants as young apple, pear, apricot, peach, cherry and plum trees, together with the bushes of gooseberry and currants were set out in a vast area. Our benefactors presented us with 120 fruit trees and about the same number of bushes. Many people were eager to help with the garden. The parish of many churches of the Diocese, parents and their children, the Cossacks and the inhabitants of the nearby houses were among them. After the garden was set out, everyone proceeded with improvement of the area, adjacent to the monastery. A while later it was flourishing with a green grove of fir-trees.
May 18. The students from all the Diocese’s Sunday schools got together for a joint lesson, which took place on the territory of the monastery. The lesson was held in a playful way and was called “To live and to serve God.”
The event was also organized in commemoration of the 700-years anniversary of the Venerable Saint Sergius of Radonezh. More than 700 children and their parents from all over the Diocese took part in that event.
The participants learned how to bake prosphoras, built a house, paint icons and apply medical dressings. They learned the Cyrillic script and got acquainted with the lifestyle of Ancient Rus’. They also visited a merry fair and watched the bogatyr heroes fight. In the end, everyone met at the “Kulikovo Field”, where the final battle took place and the “Rusiches” protected their country from the invasion of the unfaithful.
The culmination of the lesson was the Exaltation of the Honourable and Life-giving Cross of Our Lord in front of the monastery. The children assisted in the mounting of the Cross with the help of straps.
July 9. Nun Magdalene (Murashova) reposed in the Lord at the age of 84. A liturgy and a funeral service were held on July 10 at the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George. The clerics and parish from the different churches of Orsk paid their respect to the recently departed servant of God.
Nun Magdalene was tonsured during the period of persecution against the Church. At that time, it was a feat. She had no opportunity to live at a monastery. Thus, she spent 28 years of her life as a nun in a secular world. By God’s mercy, she arrived at the Iveron Monastery just a couple of weeks before she died.
The body of the nun was buried at the city cemetery “Pervomayskiy”.
August 1. The first Divine Liturgy was held at the Church of the Venerable Saint Mary of Egypt. Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, thanked everyone who prayed and helped build the monastery. In particular, the Bishop honored archpriest Sergiy Baranov, who contributed a lot for the good of the convent. He also thanked the sisters who dared to walk the thorny path of monasticism. The Bishop presented Sister Superior Xenia with the Iveron icon of the Holy Theotokos and promised that the Mother of God will help all the benefactors and people who prayed for the Homeland, Diocese, monastery and the hometown.
August 10. the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, awarded archpriest Sergiy Baranov with the III-Class Order of Saint Venerable Andrei Rublev (The Iconographer) – one of the highest church awards – for his work in the construction of the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George the Victorious.
August 31. A delegation of nuns from the Iveron Monastery of Samara came for a visit to our monastery at the invitation of archpriest Sergiy Baranov. They came led by their Abbess Joanna (Kapitantseva) who has been the head of the convent (one of the biggest in Russia) for about twenty years and who was tonsured half a century ago. Father Sergiy and Mother Joanna have had a spiritual relationship for a long while. And now, their friendship became closer as a similarly named monastery was under construction in the city of Orsk and Father Sergiy was appointed as its spiritual guide.
Six sisters arrived with Mother Joanna. They visited the Iveron monastery, examined the vast construction site and were surprised at the scope of work executed within a year. The guests rejoiced together with the sisters of the monastery who were about to move in. They had interesting conversations with the sisters and the spiritual father and were acquainted with the life of the Diocese.
September 5. Archpriest Sergiy Baranov was listed on the Board of Honor of the city of Orsk in the nomination of the “Best citizen of the city distinguished by a noble action”. Father Sergiy is the Secretary of the Orsk Diocese and the head of the Department of Cooperation with Correctional Facilities and the Department of Church Architecture and Icon-Painting. In addition, he is a senior priest of the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George and the spiritual guide of the Iveron Monastery.
September 7. A concert dedicated to the great consecration of the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George took place at the Drama Theater named after A.S. Pushkin. The concert appeared to be a summarizing of 13 years of the parish life. That is why Father Sergiy Baranov was the central figure of the performance.
Father Sergiy is known in the Orsk Diocese not only for being the senior priest of the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George. People around him cannot help admiring his cheerfulness and spiritual energy. He built two churches in the center of the city from scratch. He opened several chapels at the city hospitals and a homeless shelter. Father Sergiy founded a charity organization. He guides imprisoned people at penitentiaries and the sisterhood. He founded an iconography workshop, which became famous all over Russia and outside of it. He paints icons himself and took part in many iconography projects in churches of Holy Mount Athos. Father Sergiy is also a chairman of the board of trustees of the orphanage for the mentally challenged children in Gai. He raises his own six children. He is a spiritual guide of the Diocese’s newspaper “Life in Christ – a word on the faith” published region wide. In addition, he serves his parish and the Diocese in the capacity of its Secretary…
The creative potential of Father Sergiy is impressive. Sometimes it seems to have no limits. All that was reflected at the 3-hour concert performed in one sitting in an informal homelike atmosphere. Multiple friends of Father Sergiy were both on stage and among the audience. Those people have walked together with Father Sergiy in his long, hard, but blessed way.
October 26. The Iveron Monastery. On the eve of the day of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos, the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, performed two tonsures. Novice Galina Vilyevna Tutakova was tonsured a nun and received the name Panteleimona. Novice Stepanida Yakovlevna Kuzmina was tonsured a nun and received the name Hilaria.
October 26 The first Divine Liturgy was held at the main, newly built Church of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos.
The spacious church was overcrowded with people who came to rejoice and celebrate the Feast. the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, congratulated everyone and said, “Today is the day of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos. Our Monastery is dedicated to this icon. The Holy Theotokos became the Panagia Portaitissa of our city and our Diocese. With tears in our eyes and with joy in our hearts let us glorify Our Lord and thank Him and the Most Holy Theotokos for their mercy. Let our hearts be jubilant. Let us thank Father Sergiy, Mother Xenia and the sisters for their work and prayers. They have been praying at night liturgies for many years and God and His Holy Mother heard those prayers and gave favor this place…”
November 16. the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, and the Secretary of the Orsk Diocese met the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchy, who arrived in Orsk in order to examine the newly built monastery. The hierarchy of the Moscow Partriarchy appointed it to the Abbess of Khotkow Stauropegial Intercession Monastery Olympiada (Baranova) and Elizabeth (Pozdnyakova), the Abbess of the Saints Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy in Moscow.
The Abbesses examined the living conditions of the monastic community, and got acquainted with its Canon and the sisters. They pointed out the important characteristic of the convent – prayer is placed before work. The delegates of the Patriarchy came back to Moscow and drew up a report on their trip to Orsk. Then the hierarchs passed it over to the Holy Patriarch.
March 24. Two tonsures into schema took place for the first time in the history of the Orsk Diocese in the main Church of the Monastery dedicated to the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos. Nun Priscilla (Feonova) and nun Hilaria (Kuzmina) were tonsured into schema by the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, assisted by the monastery’s spiritual guide archpriest Sergiy Baranov and hieromonk Philaret (Davydov). Nun Priscilla received the name Matrona (after the Blessed Matrona of Moscow), and nun Hilaria received the name Silouana (after Saint Venerable Silouan the Athonite).
June 2. the the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus,,, assisted by the Iveron Monastery’s spiritual guide archpriest Sergiy Baranov and the senior priest of the Church of Intercession at Kuvandyk city Symeon Antipov, performed a tonsure at the Church of Intercession at Kuvandyk. Novice Olga (Tikhonova Olga Nikolayevna) was tonsured a nun and received the name Eudokia after the Holy Monastic Martyress Eudokia of Heliopolis.
June 28. The Iveron Monastery. The Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, assisted by the monastery’s spiritual guide archpriest Sergiy Baranov and hieromonk Philaret (Davydov), blessed the construction site and the foundation stone for the future Church of the Venerable Saint Sergiy of Radonezh. The Church is located in the middle of the monastery’s garden which was laid out on May 9, 2014 in the memory of the 700-years’ anniversary of the Venerable Saint Sergiy of Radonezh.
October 28. Father Symeon Abramishvili, a monk of the Holy Trinity lavra, Tbilisi, came for a visit to our monastery. This man happened to spend several years near archimandrites Gabriel (Urgebadze), whose sainthood was distinguished by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2012. In his own lifetime, the faithful revered him as a great elder and a saint and came to him very often. Father Symeon’s testimony of the life of the Venerable Saint Gabriel is of great value. The “Life in Christ – a word on the faith” published the interview with the Georgian guest (issues of October 14 and 28, 2015).
January 12–13. The members of the Synodic Department Board on monasteries and monasticism archimandrite Alexis (Polikarpov), the superior of the Saint Daniel Stauropegial Monastery, and hegumenia Viktorina (Perminova), the abbess of the Convent of Nativity of the Holy Theotokos, visited the Iveron monastic community.
The visitors took part in the services, learned the sisterhood’s style of life, talked to nun Xenia (Pashkova), Sister Superior of the monastic community, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, the spiritual guide of the sisterhood, all the sisters and the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus. The spiritual disposition of the sisterhood, its peaceful spirit, and the guides of the monastic community impressed the Committee most favorably.
The sisterhood consists of: two schemanuns, ten nuns and three novices. The sisters treat nun Xenia with love and complete confidence, they respect her as their Sister Superior. The spiritual guide of the monastery archpriest Sergiy Baranov is unanimous with the Sister Superior. The sisters’ style of life proves their eagerness for keeping their monastic rules tirelessly. The sisterhood has both a common and cell prayer rules; a common meal, distribution of the obedience, and a settled order of day. The time is wisely distributed between work and prayer. The sisters are peaceful and like minded. They have good sisterly relations. The internal order of the sisterhood has a good influence on pilgrims and attracts new sisters. Several young monastery workers are willing to become its novices.
The community serves the daily and nightly Divine Office in full. Three churches function on the territory of the monastery: the Church of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos, the Church of the Venerable Saint Mary of Egypt and the Church of the Venerable Saint Seraphim of Sarov. The prayer and the faithfulness of the only Orthodox monastic community in these parts is of great importance for the whole region.
April 16. A meeting of the ROC Holy Synod took place. The members made a decision on opening the Iveron Monastery in the City of Orsk. Also, they ordered the following: “In respect of the application of His Grace Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, the Iveron Monastery shall be opened in the city of Orsk and the nun Xenia (Pashkova) shall be ordained as the Abbess of the above mentioned monastery.”
May 3. On the day of the Patronal Feast of the Iveron Monastery, nun Xenia (Pashkova) was ordained as the Abbess of the monastery. After the Divine Liturgy, that took place at the Church of the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos, there was a litany. The first thirteen nuns of the monastery, who abandoned the world and dedicated their lives to God, participated in it. Their names will come down into the history of the convent, as they were the ground breakers and founders of the lifestyle of the monastic community. They are: Sister Superior Xenia (Pashkova), schemanun Matrona (Feonova), schemanun Silouana (Kuzmina), nuns Antonia (Banina), Makaria (Chuchupalova), Seraphima (Khramova), Mikhaila (Guller), Gavryila (Dmitrieva), Selafyila (Gerasimova), Maria (Vorontsova), Panteleimona (Tutakova), Eudokia (Tikhonova), Elena (Guryanova), and hieromonk Philaret (Davydov), who was a novice on Holy Mount Athos and tonsured a monk at the Orsk Diocese.
After the litany, a solemn ceremony of the ordination of nun Xenia as the Abbess of the monastery began. Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, congratulated everyone with the Feast and presented the monastery with a Paschal egg – the symbol of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Afterwards, the Bishop awarded Mother Xenia with panagia, pronounced the prayer for the ordination to the dignity of an Abbess, laid his pectoral cross on nun Xenia and handed her the staff of an abbess, which is the sign of her spiritual power over the sisters and the rightful governance of them.
August 30. A rite of blessing of the foundation of the new Church in honor of the Venerable Saint Gabriel (Urgebadze) was served on the territory of the Iveron monastery.
Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, blessed the foundation stone and the foundation of the future church. Archpriest Sergiy Baranov, hieromonk Philaret (Davydov), and priest Vladimir Babaka, senior priest of the Kvarkeno District, assisted the Bishop.
A ceramic vessel with earth, brought from the grave of the Venerable Saint Gabriel in Georgia was placed into the niche under the memorial plate together with the list of names of those who prayed and rendered financial help for the monastery, along with the names of the sisters and their spiritual guide. The Church of the Venerable Saint Gabriel (Urgebadze) is located in the monastery garden, not far from the Church of the Venerable Saint Sergius of Radonezh. On this occasion, Bishop Irenaeus donated five thousand rubles for the construction of the church from his own resources.
October 21. The Intercession Cathedral of Kuvandyk. A funeral was served for the Iveron monastery nun Eudokia (Olga Nikolayevna Tikhonova). The spiritual father of the monastery, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, and the spiritual father of the Diocese and senior priest of the Kuvandyk District, archpriest Symeon Antipov, held the service. The Abbess of the Iveron Monastery, Xenia (Pashkova), was also present.
January 3. One more tonsure took place at the Iveron Monastery. Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, assisted by the spiritual guide of the monastery, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, performed the tonsure. Novice Valentina Visyagina was tonsured a nun and received the name Agrippina, after Saint Martyress Agrippina (III century).
February 10. The Governor of the Orenburg Region, Yuriy Berg, visited the Iveron Monastery for the first time. The honored guest was deeply impressed by the scope of construction completed in less than a year and a half! He visited the churches, the bakery, the cells of the sisters, utility rooms, household buildings and the vast fruit garden. The Governor was very surprised to learn that the Abbes of the monastery was Mother Xenia (Pashkova), an ex-Moscovite, who, with the blessing of Bishop Irenaeus, abandoned her successful theatrical career and was tonsured a nun. He was glad to admit that the monastery and its premises are well-appointed and well-designed. The Governor said he had seen a number of monasteries, including the Patriarchal Metochion, but had never seen anything more beautiful than our monastery. He was sincerely interested in the life and daily routine of the sisters. Yuriy Alexandrovich had a monastic meal and said that he liked the unleavened bread, the best in the city. He visited the kitchen and asked what the sisters had for their meals and where they took the products from. When he learned that potatoes, grains and other products were purchased at store prices, he promised to help. Only four days later upon his request, the benefactors donated 10 tons of flour to the monastery.
February 20. Archpriest Sergiy Baranov, the spiritual guide of the Iveron Monastery and the Secretary of the Orsk Diocese, was awarded with the II-Class Medal “Of Merit for the City of Orsk” for many years of good work, achievements in social and cultural activities, and significant contribution to upbringing of the younger generation.
April 5. The Iveron Monastery. A meeting with Natalia Sukhinina took place. Natalia Sukhinina is a Russian journalist and a writer famous not only in Russia, but also in many foreign countries. In addition, Natalia is a social activist and an author of many Orthodox pieces of literature. She spoke about her creative and spiritual journey and about the after-life of some characters of her 11 books.
Mother Xenia (Pashkova), Abbess of the Iveron Monastery, asked Natalia to tell about her pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which she undertook by foot, when she was a reporter of the CPSU Central Committee newspaper “Socialistic Industry”. That walking pilgrimage in 1990 was the first since the Revolution. Pilgrims had not walked to the Holy City before that. The pilgrimage turned her life round. Meanwhile, Mother Xenia told about the threads, which invisibly bind Natalia with our monastery.
At the end of the meeting, Father Sergiy Baranov told everyone that he considered himself as the richest and happiest person alive, as he had that many friends. “We are very happy to have one more – Natalia Sukhinina,” – said the Father, – “We will not only treat her as a friend, but as a member of our monastic family.”
April 16. On the day of Pascha, the monastery shop “Green Buffet” was opened. The shop is located near the Cathedral of the Great Martyr George, at the address: 25, Vasnetsova street, House of Artists.
The monastery’s bakery is the only one in the city, which makes and supplies the shop with the unleavened Lenten bread, baked as per an ancient Russian recipe. The bread is very tasty and healthy.
The idea of a bakery and making our own bread according to ancient recipes belongs to the Secretary of the Orsk Diocese and spiritual guide of the monastery, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, who takes care not only about spiritual issues, but also about the health of many people.
The shop provides only natural products. Pastries of all kinds are its key products. The range of it is wide: unleavened wheat bread, bran bread, brown bread on malt and “living yeast”, malt rye and simple bread, buns, cheese pastry, etc. There is also a wide range of farm dairy products: milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, different kinds of cheese made of cow’s or goat’s milk.
One can surely buy chicken or quail eggs here. You will find many frozen goods here, such as: berries, broccoli, string beans, etc. The brand of the new shop is the monastery tea, both black and green with different herbs. Those who like sweet goods may find themselves a jar of pine-cone jam or bird cherry ground with sugar and a multitude of other sweets.
May 1. A small group of clerics, nuns and public members met near the so-called “Royal House”. In fact, it was a dilapidated house, situated at 11, Pionerskaya street, and transferred under the care of the Church. The House of Merchant Nazarov is a historical site of the city as Crown Prince Nikolas (Nikolas II) stayed in this house on July 24, 1891, on his trip round the country. Nevertheless, the two-storied brick building has been forsaken for a long time. Both its facade and interior are in an appalling condition. The house is in an advanced state of disrepair: the windows are nailed up with rusted iron plates, the plaster has crumbled away, the bricks are missing in some places so that one can see through the walls. The reconstruction of the building started with tiding up the territory, surrounding it: people sawed the logs and boards, picked up the garbage and drove it away to the dump in a big truck.
June 1. The Church of the Venerable Saint Mary of Egypt. Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, assisted by the spiritual guide of the Iveron Monastery, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, performed two more tonsures. Father Sergiy’s parents, Nikolay Semenovich Baranov and Valentina Philippovna Baranova, decided to abandon the world for the sake of God. They were tonsured and received the names Kirill and Maria, after the Venerable Saints schemamonk Kirill and schemanun Maria, the parents of the Venerable Saint Sergius of Radonezh, Wonderworker of All Russia.
July 10. A group of pilgrims consisting of 15 people, led by hieromonk Paul (Gelyastanov), the senior priest of the New Monastery of the Saviour in Moscow, arrived at our monastery.
The newly built monastery has become a spiritual center of the Orsk Diocese and attracts pilgrims both from different parts of Russia and various foreign countries. Guests from the Moscow Patriarchy, pilgrims from Athos and Georgia, spiritual fathers from the Optina Monastery, and from a number of monasteries in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod the Great, Saratov, Voronezh, and multitude of other regions, send their spiritual children in order to get acquainted with the lifestyle of the Iveron sisters. Hieromonk Paul visited our monastery for the third time.
What attracts people who come here? According to Father Paul, the Iveron Monastery of Orsk is unique for its spirit of joy, which came through the spiritual father to the hearts of the sisters. All the sisters are surprisingly cheerful, everyone loves one another and makes no secret of it. You can hardly see a cheerful face at many monasteries in Russia: the monks focus on execution of their obedience, which they accept as their hard duty and bear it like a cross. Everyday night liturgies came as a welcome surprise to Father Paul. He said, they did not have them in Moscow. After all, a nightly prayer gives concentration – the spiritual state necessary for communication with God.
July 17. On the day when the Russian Orthodox Church venerates the Holy Royal Martyrs, an important event in the lives of the Orsk inhabitants took place: the so-called Royal House, the house of merchant V. Nazarov was officially transferred to the Orsk Diocese. The house belonged to an entrepreneur from Moscow, Elena Yurievna Sukhanova. Elena Yurievna, being a very faithful person, made this present to Church in the memory of her deceased husband, who was born in these parts and dreamt about the glorification of the Holy Royal Martyrs.
Before this outstanding event, there was a litany and a Divine Liturgy at the Royal House, held by the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, assisted by a number of clerics who came from all over the Diocese. Many public officials also joined the celebration: Vice-Governor and Deputy Chairman of the Government, supervising the Internal Affairs of the Orenburg Region, Vera Bashirova, the mayor of Orsk Andrey Odintsov, City Council Chairman Viktor Franz, and others.
The owner of the Royal House handed a symbolic key over to Bishop Irenaeus. Then, Vice-Governor Vera Bashirova made a moving speech and awarded Elena Sukhanova with a Letter of Appreciation from the Governor for her great personal contribution to the preservation of the historical heritage of the Orenburg Region. In memory of this event, Elena Sukhanova was also presented with an icon, painted at the Iveron Monastery’s iconography workshop. At the end of the celebration, children let seven doves fly into the sky. The seven doves for the seven members of the Holy Royal Family.
August 19. The Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, assisted by the monastery’s spiritual father, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, performed two more tonsures. Novices Maria and Zoya were tonsured nuns and received the names Elizabeth and Barbara, after the New Righteous Martyress Grand Duchess Elizabeth and nun Barbara.
September 17. A delegation of clerics of the Orsk Diocese and nuns of the Iveron Monastery, led by Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, set off for a pilgrimage to Georgia. When they came back home, they brought a present to the brothers and sisters in Christ – a copy of the main holy icon of the monastery, the Iveron Icon of the Holy Theotokos.
October 1. After a serious and a long-term illness, nun Maria (Valentina Philippovna Baranova) reposed in the Lord. Nun Maria was buried in the monastery’s sepulcher and reliquary.
January 3. The Iveron Monastery. the Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, performed a tonsure. Novice Maria Vysotskaya was tonsured a nun and received the name Rachel, after the Old Testament Righteous Ancestress Rachel.
May 6. The Iveron Monastery celebrated its first jubilee. Five years before, on the day of the Iveron icon, Irenaeus, Bishop of Orsk and Gai, blessed the first foundation stone of the future monastery.
On the eve of the Iveron Icon day, an All-night Vigil was served. Several distinguished guests arrived for the service: the head of the Altai Archdiocese, Metropolitan of Barnaul and Altai, Sergiy, the head of the Orenburg Archdiocese, Metropolitan of Orenburg and Saraktash, Benjamin, along with the ruling Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus. The clerics of the Orsk Diocese, the Iveron sisters and the parish took part in the service. Abbess Xenia (Pashkova) and the monastery’s spiritual father, the Secretary of the Orsk Diocese, archpriest Sergiy Baranov warmly greeted and thanked the guests for coming and sharing the joy of celebrating the feast. The Abbess presented the Metropolitans with the Iveron round loafs adorned with Georgian jelly stones. Afterwards, she presented Metropolitan Benjamin with the icon of the Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon, which was painted at the monastery’s iconography workshop. While Metropolitan Sergiy was presented with panagia with the image of the Venerable Saint Sergius of Radonezh, the Metropolitan’s patron saint. The panagia was also made at the Iveron Monastery, at its jeweler’s workshop. After the service, there was an evening with a festive program and a common meal.
May 18. The 150-years anniversary of the last Russian Emperor Nikolas II, glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church as a Martyr, was celebrated in the Orsk Diocese. The Royal House was the center of the celebration. The house is famous for an event that took place on July 24, 1891, when Crown Prince Nikolas (Nikolas II) stayed in this house on his way back from the East. The previous owner of the House, a very faithful person, Elena Sukhanova, gave the house as a gift to the Orsk Diocese last year.
The former merchant’s mansion was given to the Diocese in very bad condition. The Iveron Monastery was appointed in charge of the house reconstruction in order to preserve the memory of the Holy Martyr Emperor. Throughout several months, a considerable scope of work had already been done. The premises were cleared of garbage and piles of bricks, a new roof was installed, and a project of the building reconstruction was ordered. The project is very costly, that is why the main scope of work has to be done in the future.
June 4. The book “Not of This World” was released. The author of the book is a writer and a poet from Orenburg and a member of the Union of Writers of Russia, Irina Antonova. The book is about how common people seek God and about how God comes to meet people who seek Him. When they meet, a universe wide miracle happens as the transfiguration of a human takes place. The book contains the life stories of the Iveron sisters.
July 14. After a serious and a long-term illness, monk Kirill (Nikolay Semenovich Baranov) reposed in the Lord. Monk Kirill was buried in the territory of the former Pokrov (Intercession) Monastery of Orsk.
August 25. The Iveron Monastery. The Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, tonsured novice Yulia Alexeyevna Beznikina. The new nun received the name Porphyria, after an Elder and an Athonite, the Venerable Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia.
September 21. A Pilgrimage Center with 40 cells is going to be constructed not far from the Iveron Monastery. Archpriest Sergiy Baranov made a speech promoting the idea at a public hearing before the Architecture Committee of the Orsk City Administration. The company “RONO”, which has been constructing church buildings in our region for about quarter a century, will execute the construction. A small copy of the Holy Trinity Cathedral situated at the Holy Trinity-Saint Sergius lavra is going to be built near the Center. The project is being developed. The territory surrounding the future Cathedral will also be arranged: a rock garden made of Orsk jade is going to be there. On the day of Nativity of the Holy Theotokos, he Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, blessed the site of the future Pilgrimage Center.
March 23. The Iveron Monastery. The Main Church of the Iveron Icon. The Bishop of Orsk and Gai, Irenaeus, tonsured novice Natalia Kudryavtseva a nun. The new nun received the name Nadezhda, after the Holy New Righteous Martyress Nadezhda Kruglova, of Butovo.
JSC “Creative Workshop” Publishers, Moscow, released the amended and re-edited book of the Iveron Monastery’s spiritual guide, archpriest Sergiy Baranov. The collection comprises Father Sergiy’s words to the nuns and monks, his answers to questions, sermons, conversations, and articles from different years.
April 7. On the day of the Annunciation of the Holy Theotokos, a service for the beginning of a good deed was served on the territory designated for the Pilgrimage Center. On April 8, construction work for erection of the new monastery complex began. It is remarkable, as 6 years ago to the day, on the next day after the Annunciation, the builders stated to excavate the ground for the foundation of the future monastery.
A wooden cross appeared at the monastery. It was placed in the middle of the Church of the Venerable Saint Mary of Egypt. More than a hundred years ago, one local landlord set this cross in memory of his son in the Orenburg prairies. The monastery’s spiritual father and the sisters decided to prolong the life of the cross, which was in a state of disrepair and could hardly stand on its decayed foundation. That is why the cross was carried out to the monastery and a metallic cross was mounted in its place.
The middle of the May. The monastery’s spiritual guide, archpriest Sergiy Baranov, came back from his visit to Spain, where he had a conversation with the benefactor of the new monastery’s project for construction of the Pilgrimage Center Complex. The schedule of work was approved. According to it, the building of the Pilgrimage Center was going to be constructed and roofed before the beginning of the winter. The foundation was laid and the walls are being erected. A concrete foundation for the future Holy Trinity Cathedral has also been made.