Dear friends of the Monastery,
As we approach the end of the year, with the Nativity Feast and soon the second anniversary of the 2015 launch of FMSM on the Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sinai (January 14/27), we would like to convey the heartfelt appreciation that the Fathers of St. Catherine's have expressed on numerous occasions for all who have been so kind to send donations. The Fathers are praying for your health and well-being.
Your donations have gone a long way to help the Monastery. As of Dec 20, 2016, FMSM received $28,348 in donations for this year. So far, we have transferred $25,000 to the bank account of St. Catherine's Monastery (including some donations from late 2015), and will transfer remaining funds once we have a larger amount to wire to them. Your full donations are sent to the Monastery, since FMSM's staff is volunteer and all expenses are paid for by board members.
As we indicated last year, while the economy for the entire area is still down, because of the decline in visitors to the area, the monks have felt it was imperative to start repairing the decayed structures in the wing housing the Monastery library, where along with other rooms, most of the community lives. For example, plumbing in the building, which was built between 1930 and 1950, had developed leaks, both in the rooms and within the walls. Lower pipes were penetrated by roots of eucalyptus trees growing along the wall, which in some cases caused complete blockages. In addition, mortar on the stone and brick walls was of poor quality, and in some places, removal of one rock could cause a wall to collapse. Wooden floors in the rooms have also been deteriorating.
Towards the end of last year, FMSM had sent a portion of your donations to the Monastery to purchase new carpentry machines to aid in their general repair work, in addition for use in the above project, because the old ones were breaking down and requiring repeated repairs. While there were some delays in starting the major renovation project, it is finally underway, and this year we sent another $15,000 of your donations to help in those efforts. Another $10,000 was sent this year from a special donor to repair the roof of the 17th century church of St Catherine on Zakynthos island, a dependency (metochion) of St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai. There was concern that damage was being done to the walls as well as historic icons in the Church. (The total of these two comprise the $25,000 we sent for the year.) The remaining funds for the year will be sent for continued repair work at the Monastery.
And finally, aside from daily needs, the Monastery is experiencing other challenges due to the region it is located in. At the recent feast day of St. Catherine, Archbishop Damianos asked Orthodox Christians everywhere to pray for serious problems the Holy Monastery is undergoing, unfortunately like much of the Middle East. http://www.mountsinaimonastery.org/news-blog/monastery-feast-day-2016
Also, if you would like to assist in the efforts to help the Monastery, please tell your friends about St. Catherine's and FMSM. 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.
One way to bring the news to a wider audience is by liking/sharing our posts on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Friends-of-Mount-Sinai-Monastery-909870469077630).
Best wishes to all of you for a very joyous and blessed celebration of the Nativity of Christ!