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Complete Email Exchange between a Concerned Pilgrim and the Canadian Metropolis

about the Quebec Nuns Shopping Spree in Ohio


The following article is an excellent example of the methodology used by Geronda Ephraims
monasteries to invalidate a story; i.e. to render a historical event and reality as non-existent as
if it never happened. It concerns a shopping excursion by the nuns of Quebec which was
publicized on the website of the store they visited; a letter from a concerned pilgrim to their
bishop; a month of silence during which the store deleted their blog, facebook, and twitter post
concerning the nuns visit. After the posts were deleted, a priest affiliated with the monastery
responded to the pilgrim gaslighting and stating it never happened and was not in actuality
true. The concerned pilgrim responded to the priest and did not receive anything back. The
concerned pilgrim re-wrote the bishop complaining about the priests offensive response and
again asking for an explanation of the nuns excessive spending habits. The bishop replied
stating he was unaware of the incident and would ask Gerondissa Thekla. The bishop has yet to
respond. Lehmans have chosen not to comment on what happened to the posts that were
deleted. This is the standard stonewalling methodology of the Greek Orthodox Church in North
America, especially when it comes to the monasteries under their jurisdiction. If such strong
tactics are used to cover-up and silence such a small incident that could be embarrassing to a
monastery, one can only imagine what kind of strong-arming the monasteries use when its a
major incident.
These screen shots of the original Lehmans blog page and the facebook post prove that it is not
in anyones imagination and the nuns shopping excursion was a real event. Screenshots of the
emails have also been provided.
The following is the original post, the email exchanges between a concerned pilgrim and
Metropolitan Sotirios and Fr. Followed by some observations made on the now defunct St.
Nektarios Monastery Tumblr page.
December 16, 2015: The administrator for the blog belonging to Lehmans Country store
posted an article entitled, A Visit from the Sisters of Le Troupeau Benit, describing a visit by
the Quebec nuns during the previous week.
The original article from Lehmans (click the product names to see prices from their
catalogue)
Last week our store was blessed with an interesting visit by a group of sisters from Quebec,
Canada. These ladies live in a Greek Orthodox religious community and apparently use many of
our products, as they came prepared with a LONG list of items they needed! The Sisters run a
cheese factory called Le Troupeau Benit (The Blessed Flock) where they make and sell cheeses
made from their very own sheep and goats.

Beth Smith handled the order entry and had many of us running around gathering items for these
ladies. They spent most of their day at the store with a short leave in the afternoon for lunch at
Mrs Yoders Kitchen in nearby Mt. Hope, Ohio. The Customer Service counter was piled so high
we finally had to find another place to gather their wares. The items ranged from milk bottles,
Aladdin lamps and canned meat, to lamp parts, cast iron kettles, how-to books and many
miscellaneous housewares items.
Our staff member Roger helped them load up, and in the conversation discovered they live the
Lehmans lifestyle of gardening, cheesemaking and many other self-sufficient skills. They have
electricity, but it frequently goes out on them. This trip was to get items to help when the power
leaves them in the dark. Hurray for the Aladdin lamp! They had two vans with seats down and
loaded all the goods into them, then had a 10-hour drive back home to Quebec.
We were honored and blessed to serve this very special group of sisters, and we thank them for
their visit. We hope the products they purchased will be beneficial in aiding their noble ventures!
For more on these intriguing and enterprising women,
visithttps://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/inauguration-of-new-cheesemakingfacilities-for-le-troupeau-benit-quebec-monastery/
NOTE: Lehmans linked the article on this blog about the nuns inauguration of their
cheese-making facilities. They also used the photos of the nuns from this article in their
blog.
December 16, 2015: The 1st email sent to Metropolitan Sotirios (the pilgrims name has
been left out for privacy)
Your blessing, Despota,
I recently came across a webpage from a hardware store in Ohio. The owner mentions that a
couple nuns from the Quebec monastery drove 10 hours to his store to fill up two vans with
thousands of dollars of merchandise (fancy $200 oil lamps, cases of canned meats, and lots of
other items for "when the power goes out.")
http://countrylife.lehmans.com/a-visit-from-the-sisters-of-le-troupeau-benit/#more-25113
As an orthodox Christian who has donated money to our monastery here in Ontario, I am very
concerned. Though I only get to visit the monastery on the Feast Day, I don't know much about
them and I have been advised that any websites not actually run by the monasteries are
"poisonous wells" and not safe for reading. But now I am wondering, after seeing all the
survivalist items on the webpage that the monastery purchased, are the monasteries some sort of
apocalypse cults like the Mormons? I was under the impression my donations were for the
upkeep of the monastery, not preparation for some possible armageddon scenario.

Why are the nuns buying $200-$300 oil lamps when the hardware stores have them for $30-$60
a piece? This seems like an excess. Why did the nuns drive to a remote village in Ohio to
purchase all these supplies which can also be purchased in Quebec or Ontario for much cheaper?
The exchange rate is so bad right now.
As their bishop and spiritual father, do you condone these excessive shopping habits?
January 10, 2016: 1st response to the concerned pilgrim twenty-five days after the first
email. Interestingly, Metropolitan Sotirios did not respond. A priest from Montreal
responds. However, the email was not sent to this priest, nor does he explain how he
obtained the email or why neither the Metropolitan nor the monastery responds. However,
it reflects the fact that there is no concept of confidentiality in the Metropolis of Canada.
Fr. Nicholas does cc the Metropolis and the Monastery in his email response. It is also
significant that the response only came after Lehmans deleted all their posts about the
nuns and Lehmans apparently refuses to comment on why they deleted all their posts.
Papadeoi Family papadeoifamily@hotmail.com

Mr. ___
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Father Nicolas. I am a priest at a Greek Orthodox
church in Montreal. I am a fifth generation priest. I have served the same parish, same church,
for over 36 years.
It has recently come to my attention that you had sent a letter to his Eminence Archbishop
Metropolitan Sotirios, voicing your concern about a certain website you had visited online
mentioning that certain nuns from Quebec had visited this place of business to purchase, as you
mentioned, items for when the power goes out.
From day one, which was 25 years ago, I, along with my entire family, have whole-heartedly and
voluntarily helped in any way possible for the prosperity of this blessed monastery. We need to
recognize the holy purpose of these blessed individuals for their contributions to society as a
whole.

I informed myself of the situation created by your concerned and albeit imaginative letter. I must
say that I was very saddened.
I will not get into details, but I would like to express to you that what you have read and voiced
as a concern is not in actuality true.
I pray that you have the opportunity to visit this monastery.

I kindly thank you for reading what I have written.


Father Nicolas
January 17, 2016: The concerned pilgrim responds to Fr. Nicholas email.
Your blessing Fr. Nicholas, thank you for responding to my concerns.
The website I had visited is run by Lehmans Hardware and Appliances Inc. and described in
detail the nun's visit, as well as the items they bought. The quote -This trip was to get items to
help when the power leaves them in the dark.- is direct from the owner of the store, Galen
Lehman, who also wrote the blog.
Unfortunately, the blog, and Facebook post that detailed the nuns visit were all deleted shortly
after I voiced my concern to the Metropolitan-although I have included the entire post at the end
of this email for your convenience.
The number of years youve volunteered at the monastery does not lend credibility to your
words.
I recognize the necessity and holy purpose of the monastics in this worldI have been helped on
numerous occasions by the monastic's prayers, not to mention the spiritual recharging I receive
from visiting a monastery.
This is where my concern is: why would Canadian nuns would drive so far to a remote town in
another countryespecially when our dollar is so lowto spend an enormous amount of money
on survivalist products? It brings to mind many of the stories we read about paranoid and
fanatical Mormons!
Furthermore, why did they buy so many cases of canned meat, when monastics are forbidden to
eat meat, and meat is forbidden to be served at monasteries? ALL the products they purchased
are available in Quebec at a much cheaper price, especially considering the exchange rate!
The whole affair seems sneaky, as though someone is hiding something.
Dismissing my letter as imaginative feels manipulative, and I would like an apology for what
you said to me.
My letter raised honest concerns about potential misappropriation of funds and superfluous
spending. Why pay gas for a 20 hour round trip, and pay over the double the price for products
they can get in their own province? Its a waste of money! Is this what my donations are
purchasing? I don't understand why you would lie to me.
So, do you know the details, but dont have a blessing to explain, or are the details more
damaging than I suspected?

Are you insinuating that Galen Lehman, the owner of Lehmans, and writer of the blog detailing
the nun's visit is a liar? Was the Facebook post on Lehmans page, which had 358 likes and 49
shares was not in actuality true?
I find it impossible to believe that a store owner would invent a story about nuns from another
country driving to his store.
Galen Lehman listed all the items they bought, with the links to the stores catalog (thus
revealing the price). He wrote they were there for the entire day, and that the Customer Service
area was piled so high that they had to find another area for all their wares. They filled two vans
with the seats down. Why would Galen Lehman fabricate such a thing?
Quite honestly, I wouldnt feel comfortable donating to this monastery considering their
spending habits, and I will have many conversations about how that money is being spent.
Your blessing,
_____
January 17, 2016: The concerned pilgrim writes the Metropolitan again about the issue
Your blessing Despota,
Awhile back, I sent you a letter voicing some concerns about the Quebec Monasterys excessive
and superfluous spending on survivalist supplies at Lehmans Hardware and Appliance Inc. in
Ohio.
A detailed list of what the nuns boughtwith links to Lehmans catalog including the prices
was once on their blog spot. Unfortunately since the time Ive first written you, this blog post, as
well as Lehmans Facebook posts about the nuns have been deleted (dont worry, I have included
it at the end of the email, in case it was deleted before you read the contents).
Anyways, I did not receive a response from you. However, I received a duplicitous response
from a parish priest in Montreal, Fr. Nicholas. I must say, the content of his letter does not help
the monasterys cause but rather raises more suspicion about the sneakiness of this whole
affair....
Fr. Nicholas claimed that my letter was imaginative and he was very saddened. The 358 likes
and 49 shares on the original Facebook post would lend me to believe that it is not imagination.
Furthermore, Fr. Nicholas claimed that what I read and what I have voiced as a concern is not in
actuality true.
The content of Fr. Nicholas letter is deceitful. I was rather shocked considering Fr. Nicholas
began the letter with boasts of his being a 5th generation priest, serving as a priest for over 36
years and volunteering at the monastery for 25 years. He finishes the letter with lies and, in
essence, the absurd accusation that the owner of Lehmans Store lied on his blog about the nuns
visiting and filling two vans full of survivalist supplies.

Fr. Nicholas informed me that my concern that the nuns drove 10 hours out of the country to a
remote Ohio town to spend thousands of dollarswhen the Canadian dollar is so lowon all
these supplies (canned meat, fancy Aladdin oil lamps, etc.) was not in actuality true. My
concern was also that all these survivalist supplies, as well as all the farming and cheese-making
supplies that they bought, are all available in Quebec for much cheaper (though the cases of
canned meat are a different brand name).
Furthermore, Fr. Nicholas hinted at knowing the details but could not get into them. The lack
of transparency combined with his deceitfulness has raised even more concern. What
kind of show is being run here?
Your blessing,
__________

January 20 , 2016: The Metropolitans 1st response to the concerned pilgrim almost a
month later.
Dear ____
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of
the Holy Spirit be with you always.
Thank you for your e-mails of December 16, 2015 and January 17, 2016, regarding the purchases
of the nuns of Panagia the Comforter Monastery from the Lehmans Hardware and Appliances
Inc. I do not know anything about this. I have asked Abbess Thekla for an explanation and then
I will write to you.
Yours with fatherly love and blessings,

Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios


Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada)
January 21, 2016: Reply of the concerned pilgrim to Metropolitan Sotirios
Thank you, Your Eminence.
Your blessings and attention in this matter are very much appreciated.
With love in Christ,
February 19th, 2016: The concerned pilgrim writes Metropolitan Sotirios again after
hearing nothing back for a month:

Your blessing Despota,


Imagine my surprise when I looked at my calendar, and discovered it had been well over a month
since I first asked my simple question, regarding Geronda Ephraim's Quebec Monastery's
exorbitant shopping trip to Ohio.
Such a straightforward question! Have I offended you in some way, that you feel that I don't
deserve an answer from someone in your office? Is it that you're too important and busy to
answer questions? Is there someone else I should be writing to?
Is the silence itself your answer? I don't understand what I'm supposed to glean from being told
I'd be hearing from you, and then being forgotten.
I understand that you are a very busy and important man, and that you have so much to deal with
all of the time. I feel as if no one is listening at the house of God. That your Abbess is living up
the high life, buying whatever she pleases on her secret shopping sprees. Despota, please write to
me, and tell me that it isn't so. That things are not as bad as they appear to be.
With love in Christ,

February 23, 2016: A man named Basilios Roccas responds on behalf of the Metropolitan:
Dear Mr.,
I am following up on the letter of His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios to you dated January 20,
2016 regarding the purchases of the nuns of Panagia the Comforter Monastery from Lehmans
Hardware and Appliances Inc.
His Eminence stated in that letter that he had asked Abbess Thekla for an explanation and that he
would write to you after that. I regret to inform you that unfortunately Abbess Thekla fell sick
with pneumonia while on a pilgrimage to Arizona recently, and as of last week was still in
Arizona. She presumably has not had the opportunity to reply to His Eminences letter, and this
is why His Eminence has not replied to you.
As soon as His Eminence receives the information he requested form Abbess Thekla he will
write to you.
Sincerely,
Basilios Roccas
Secretary to the Metropolitan
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada)

86 Overlea Blvd. Toronto ON M4H 1C6


Tel: 416 429-5757 Fax 416 429-4588
February 24, 2016, The concerned pilgrim responds to Basilios:
Thank you, Basilios. I look forward to reading what she has to say.
Since then, there has been no response by either party. And this is the classic monastery
tactic. Invalidate the claim. Erase as much evidence and trace of whatever the incident was.
Answer any further inquiries with, It never happened, or Its all in your head, or It
may seem like that is the case, but it isnt how it is. This is the formula used by Greek
monasteries to invalidate the stories they do not want circulating about themselves. Only
positive stories that shed a good image upon the monasteries can be validated. Anything
else is rendered ridiculous or never happened. This is why one rarely hears negative
things about the monastic communities here in America. They have the most effective
damage control system to silence others. If one is a spiritual child, then they are ordered
through strict obediences not to speak. If the spiritual child does not obey then the
shunning starts, first from the Abbot/Abbess and their monastics, which is also spread to
the lay pilgrims (be careful around that individual, theyre not mentally stable, or they
have unhealthy ideas and have been saying things that arent exactly true about Geronda
and the monasteries, etc.). These discreet statements that are meant to be cautionary
warnings (but are many times gossip and slandering), create a fear and anxiety among the
lay pilgrims concerning the individuals they are being warned about. This, in turn, creates
its own process of shunning and ostricizing the individual away from the monastery and
monastery pilgrims until a) they repent and toe the line with absolute blind obedience to
the Elder or b) the individual permanently separates themselves from the monastery as
they no longer feel welcome when they visit.
The St. Nektarios Monastery Tumblr page also had some observations about the exchange
rate combined with excessive spending:
Are the nuns preparing for the last days?
One wonders: Why these nuns would drive 10 hours out of province and country to purchase
items readily available in Quebec? Especially when the Canadian dollar is so low (1 CAD =
0.72453 USD, thus 1,000.00 USD = 1,380.21 CAD; 1,000.00 CAD = 724.53 USD). Not to
mention all these items have to be declared at the border, though there are numerous ways to
enter Quebec illegally without border checks. The cost of gas for a 20 hour round trip which
include tolls, plus food and snack expenses, are also not cheap. Some of the American
monasteries along the border have bank accounts in Canada (usually under a trusted pilgrims
name, or a shell account) and they send up the Canadian dollars they receive in donations to be

deposited there. It is unknown if the Canadian monasteries do the same down here for the US
dollars they receive from pilgrims.
The few convenient routes from the monastery to the Lehmans store are still a few hours out of
the way from the MI, NY, and PA monasteries that the nuns sometimes visit for feast days, or
privately on regular days.
Perhaps they did not want locals of Quebec to be scandalized with the thousands of dollars spent
on things which may seem superfluous. Because why pay $30 for an oil lamp at their local
hardware store (http://www.homehardware.ca/en/cat/index.htm/IndoorLiving/Housewares/Decor/Decorator-Lighting/Oil-Lamps/_/N-ntkmx) when they can drive 10
hours to buy $300 Aladdin Deluxe Brass oil lamps (https://www.lehmans.com/p-3182-aladdindeluxe-brass-table-oil-lamp.aspx)? One wonders why such fancy, expensive lamps are needed
for when the power goes out?
In September 1999, some of the heads of the monasteries stayed at St. Nektarios Monastery in
New York as a stopover before Archbishop Demetrios enthronement (Saturday, September 18,
1999). Due to Hurricane Floyd, the monastery lost its power and some of the basements were
flooded (this was before Geronda Joseph spent half a million dollars+ on a generator to power
the main buildings). Hieromonk Chrysostomos and Father Kassianos went out and purchased
regular oil lamps and lamp oil for each room/monastic. If Gerondissa Thekla followed this
pattern, then that is around $6,900 (9,523.42 CAD) for the 23 nuns to have their own lamp
(compared to the $690 it would have cost them at their local hardware store). If the nuns
purchased lamps for all the different buildings on their property
The canned meat is also a curiosity since monastics are forbidden to eat meat by the orthodox
canons (interestingly, bishops who are also tonsured monastics tend to ignore this canon here). In
some cases, out of economia, monastics who are very ill will be given an obedience to eat meat
for strength.
It wouldnt be for the goats. Though goats will eat almost anything, farmers know that you never
feed goats meat, meat byproducts, or food prepackaged for your carnivore pet such as dog food
or cat food. For the most part it is illegal to feed animal byproducts to any ruminate animals
(http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/GuidanceComplianceEnforcement/Guidancef
orIndustry/UCM052385.pdf).
Sometimes, out of economia, non-orthodox workers may be served or permitted to eat meat at
monasteries during construction. In extreme cases of economia, pilgrims might be given a
blessing to hunt on monastery property. In 1999, Geronda Joseph gave Gerasimos Kourkoumelis
permission to hunt Canada Geese at St. Nektarios Monastery, NY. This was allowed for a twofold purpose: 1) to create a bond with Gerasimos and soften him to the church 2) to eliminate the
Geese that were destroying the grass and golf turfs of the property.

With the excahnge rate, the canned meat products are more expensive than those sold in Canada.
https://www.lehmans.com/c-89-canned-meat.aspx
Who knew the end of the world would be so expensive
http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/