The first stage is a house that we purchased in the Fredericksburg area, with enough space for six to ten monks, a chapel space and trapeza space adaptable for 35 people with a large kitchen. This will allow the monastic community to form, as well as a lay community, and to develop to the point where it needs to expand to a larger location.
This house/complex will later function as an metochion/podvorye of the monastery, when brothers are in town on business, as a dependency of the main monastery, or developed as the St Tabitha House or women’s monastery.
During Phase I, the brothers will mostly work outside the monastery, in pastoral, teaching, health care or other appropriate kinds of jobs, and contribute part of their income for the support of the community. There would be a common account for the common expenses; but each would keep some of his own earnings to use at his discretion. However, as the community grows, and develops its industries and sources of income, the need for outside employment will decrease. At some point, when there is mutual agreement, the brotherhood will switch to an entirely koinobitic life, and each will place all assets into the common ownership.
Also during Phase I, the community will develop industries that will eventually provide adequate funds to support the monastery. This may include a bookstore, publishing, teaching and seminars both live and online, and so forth. This depends on the talents and abilities of those who join. We are also looking at wood working, and other kinds of crafts, to be sold.
The Skete will develop additional buildings on the site: a chapel, workshops, and more cells. We also plan to develop gardens and an orchard, in addition to chickens, ducks and turkeys. We will also look into the feasibility of a small fish pond. We would like to sell some of this produce on a roadside stand.
This phase of development will last for a number of years.
Phase II envisions a large house on a large remote property with the availability of acreage to expand. The house would then be modified and further buildings added to expand the space as needed, and a church, trapeza (kitchen and dining hall), workspace and guest quarters would be added. The first stage should include individual cells for 12 monks; which could be added to, depending on need and resources. The Abbot’s quarters, with reception area and office; the monastic library and work rooms; offices, and meeting space.
A retreat center, with a chapel, meeting rooms, a library and guest rooms, a kitchen and dining room, will need to be developed. Some of these rooms would be for pilgrims, with multiple bunks in each room; some individual rooms; and a small wing of deluxe accommodations for VIP visitors. The retreat center would be a major source of income for the monastery, and complement a bookstore and retreat/educational ministry.
Another house for nuns and widows should also be acquired in proximity to the monastery.
It is important to develop as much self-sufficiency as possible, with solar power, water resources and ecologically sound waste disposal. The most efficient technologies should be employed to facilitate this. The property should also provide for some basic gardens and orchards, and space for chickens and goats.
To facilitate the growth of the community, the best situation is to be free of mortgage payments, so that the community can earn its own living by its own work. A mortgage usually would require ongoing requests for donations. While this gives people a chance to participate in the building of the monastery, the best situation is for donations to be used for capital expenses, such as new buildings, equipment, vehicles and such. Even better, to use donations for charity.