Under the direction of His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, with the blessing of the Ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus, First-Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and under the protection of the stavopegial men’s monastery in Jordanville, NY, on the 7 of January, 2007, on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, Holy Trinity Skete (later monastery) of Mexico City opened its doors for those Orthodox faithful living in Mexico from the countries of the former Soviet Union, who have begun to receive spiritual care for the first time. With this aim in mind the Hieromonk Nektariy (later Archimandrite) was assigned Abbot and after that the Dean of the Mexican Deanery.
Archimandrite Nektariy (Hadji-Petropolous) Founder and Abbot
Archmandrite Nektariy the current spiritual father of Holy Trinity Monastery has a Greek and Persian background. The story of his family is closely tied to the land and lie between the Black and Caspian Seas. His childhood passed in Sukhumi, Istanbul and Teheran. At the age of 12 years he came to New York City with his father’s family, from where he was invited to Mexico by his spiritual father, Bishop Pavlos Nazianos of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Although the idea to found a monastery belongs to Bishop Pavlos, who perform the monastic tonsure over schema-monk Nektariy in 1982, nonetheless, it was never realized due to the murder of the bishop by a Catholic of ultra-radical views at the exit of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Mexico City in 1984. During the course of many years after that tragic event, Father Nektariy continued his faithful service in the Greek Cathedral in Mexico City.
In 1996 Schema-monk Nektariy together with two novices began preparations to found a monastery in Argentina. However, just at that time Mexico received jurisdictional recognition and the newly enthroned metropolitan asked Father Nektariy to stay. With this ended the plans of building that monastery.
In 1998 Schema-monk Nektariy joined the Jerusalem Patriarchate in North America with the firm intention to found a monastery according to the Julian Calendar and operating under the strictest monastery traditions. However, the only thing he was accomplishing was to serve in a Palestinian parish community. In a struggle to understand the Will of God, he, being a simple monk, during the course of a long period travelled about visiting dozens of monasteries in the Holy Land, Greece and the Balkans, and finally, he requested to be received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
He entered Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, and after some time was ordained to the diaconate by the Ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus, and little later he was ordained to the priesthood. After that, in January of 2007 with the blessing of Metropolitan Laurus, he returned to Mexico to celebrate the Nativity of Christ and on that day officially open the doors of Holy Trinity Skete for Russian speaking Orthodox faithful living in within the bounds of that country.
In September of 2008 Metropolitan Hilarion First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in the Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco, CA, Hieromonk Nektariy was elevated to the rank of Abbot and on January 17, 2012 Archbishop Kyrill elevated him to the rank of Archimandrite in the Holy Trinity Monastery of Mexico City.
Archimandrite Nektariy has several academic degrees in the fields of Theology, Medicine and history. He is fluent in six languages.
The Monastery and its Inhabitants
In Holy Trinity monastery there are 5 monks. All of them are of differing ethnic backgrounds. And there is not one Russian. All of them have a higher education and speak in several languages. The monastery also has two sketes within the country of Mexico.
Daily Services are conducted according to the liturgical cycle of a typical Russian Monastery adapted to the schedule of the duties of the monks. Divine Services are performed in Church Slavonic, with the occasional practice of Spanish. Amidst the parishioners there are Mexicans who have receive the Orthodox Faith, however the main objective of the monastery is to convert to Orthodoxy the local population, but to care for those faithful Orthodox living in Mexico that are of Slavic origin.
Possessing a higher education in the realm museum curating and the restoration of historical buildings, Father Nektariy has been able to restore an old building in the Colonial, Californian style. It is located in one of the prestigious areas in the center of the city, containing a church, refectory and monastic cells.
Archimandrite Nektariy says: “We wanted to enrich the exterior of the monastery with elements and materials of the Spanish style, using wood, mosaic “Talavera” and iron. We created a design for candle stands and analogians from wrought iron, which became actual works of art.” Without a doubt this is a traditional Russian monastery, but its décor does not contradict the Spanish architecture of the building, representing a mixture of Russian and Spanish cultures. “At the present time, in order to accommodate more people, the garage has been redone into a refectory and a salon for receiving guests.” The building belongs to someone else and the lease is costly due to its privileged location.
“Mexico is a huge country and it not easy to devote the required attention needed for all of the missions within its bounds.” “We are active in social work, providing assistance and consultation the area of immigration; we provide help to Russian women going through divorce or who have problems with providing for their children born of Mexican citizens; we offer medical and psychological assistance in Russian for those afflicted by alcohol and drug abuse; we assist the unemployed, homeless or those who have such issues due to immigration problems.” “We are pleased to affirm that the people trust our Church and even those who are not believers or are not baptized or confess a different religion, all regardless of ethnic background in a time of need flee to our aid.”
The greatest problem lies in the insufficiency of funds. The work of the monastery is supported solely by the personal efforts of the monks, who are forced to work outside the monastery, for example as a professor at the university. Despite all of this, the daily needs on increase and the situation becomes complicated.
A growing interest in the Orthodox Faith and monasticism by the locals is being observed. “To the present day, they are my spiritual children and are in my care. In the future I hope there will be a parish where Divine Services can be performed in Spanish.” “We have made many translations and we would like to publish them, but we do not have sufficient means. According to need we conduct Divine Services in Spanish and other languages.” “Glory to God we have a rich variation of cultures in our multiethnic community, where most people are Russian, but we also have Serbs, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Bulgarians, Georgians, Armenians, Greeks and Moldovans; naturally there are Orthodox Mexicans.”
In January of 2012 by decree of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia the Holy Trinity Skete in Mexico City received the status of monastery. Simultaneously, it became the administrative center of the Deanery of Mexico City entering into the Western American Diocese. Archimandrite Nektariy was appointed Dean.
Currently, the coordination of labors of the deanery’s twelve missions in Mexico are performed by three hieromonks from the administrative center, located at Holy Trinity Monastery.
“Our existence is a miracle, veritable proof of the Grace and Mercy of God, in as much as, despite all of our needs and suffering, we have become the heart, the soul and the conscience of the Russian Orthodox community in Mexico.”