The Divine Life of St. Nazianz
MYSTERIOUS EVENTS IN THE WISCONSIN WOODS
Chances are most American Catholics have never encountered a Byzantine Catholic monastery. I hadn’t until my wife and I found one hidden in northern Wisconsin. Its name, Holy Resurrection Monastery, conjures up images of ancient, onion-domed churches in Eastern Europe. But this particular monastery traces back only three decades to, of all places, Australia.
Holy Resurrection’s abbot, Nicholas Zachariadis, has an unusual life story that reflects a millennium of ecclesiastical history. Nicholas was born in 1957 in Cairo, Egypt. His father was Greek Orthodox; his mother belonged to Egypt’s tiny minority of Greek Catholics. Nicholas’s family immigrated to Australia in the 1960s. At the time, Melbourne was home to the world’s largest expatriate Greek community.
As a young man, Nicholas studied theology at an Australian seminary that amalgamated Jesuit, Anglican, Methodist, and Presbyterian instructors under one theologically elastic roof. He later transferred to an all-Catholic seminary that employed Carmelite, Franciscan, Passionist, Redemptorist, and Dominican theologians. Nicholas was ordained a Dominican priest in 1987. His ordination was unusual in that his bishop was from the Byzantine branch of Catholicism, which is relatively unfamiliar in the West.
After living in a Greek-Catholic monastery in Italy, Nicholas returned to Australia, where he dreamed up a three-part plan to prevent Byzantine Catholicism from being eclipsed by modernity. Step one was to become formally consecrated as an Eastern-rite monk. Step two was to found a monastery to popularize ancient Byzantine liturgies. Step three was to do it all in California.
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