Dear Friends of Mount Sinai Monastery,
As Friends of Mount Sinai Monastery approaches the first anniversary of its launch on the Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sinai (January 14, which falls on January 27 in Sinai), the secretary of St. Catherine’s Monastery, Archimandrite Nephon, has asked us to convey the following message:
Please give many thanks from all of us to the donors. We pray to the Christ and Saint Catherine to give them Grace, peace, health and the gifts of the Holy Trinity.
As of Dec 21, 2015, FMSM received $33,263 in donations (following the fractional standard deductions taken by credit card companies). This amount has been transferred in full to the bank account of St. Catherine's Monastery (except for $1,786 in recent donations to be sent in the next transfer), since the staff is volunteer and all expenses are paid for by board members. These funds have been allocated for a variety of uses: building supplies for repairs on the monastery structures (electrical, insulation, and piping), medical expenses for monks, and church supplies.
In addition, a substantial portion will be used for long-needed renovations beginning with monastic cells and other rooms in the wing housing the Monastery library. Built between 1930 and 1950, this area requires significant work on the electrical system, which could be a fire hazard, as well as on the plumbing and wooden floors which are deteriorating.
Regarding the current situation in Sinai, Archbishop Damianos has recently said that the area surrounding St. Catherine’s continues to be the most stable region in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the Greek pilgrimage which formerly supported St. Catherine’s remains virtually non-existent. Visitors from other countries, mainly Russia, had increased during 2015, but with the moratorium on air travel from Russia following the recent air tragedy, Russian tourism has also now ended. Once again, there are few visitors to St. Catherine’s. Those who came to the Monastery Feast Day joined the monks in a special memorial service for the victims of this terrible tragedy.
While FMSM had an encouraging start in 2015, we hope that increasing awareness of its existence will widen the impact of this effort in 2016. Although the monks live a very simple lifestyle with minimal costs for their own sustenance, the cost of maintaining a monument so open to the world as St. Catherine’s are necessarily high. Nonetheless, as Archbishop Damianos has emphasized, small amounts go far in Egypt.
To this end, FMSM’s goal for 2016 is to expand its small base of recurring donations. If you would like to assist in this effort, please tell your friends about St. Catherine's. One way to do this is by liking/sharing our posts on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Friends-of-Mount-Sinai-Monastery-909870469077630). This also causes Facebook to publicize these posts to a wider audience. With the broad interest in the legacy of St. Catherine's, there has been a strong response to our posts from this wider audience of individuals previously unknown to us.
Best wishes for a very joyous and blessed celebration of the Nativity of Christ.