With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, our monastery was named in honor of Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki, the Myrrh-gusher. There is a history to this.
In 2005, then Abbot Jonah was leading the Monastery of St John of San Francisco, in Point Reyes, California. The monastery had completely outgrown its facilities, and it was imperative that we find a new place. After several years of searching, we had nothing to show for it. Fr Jonah went on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, hoping for some inspiration. On the way, we stopped in Thessaloniki. There was a problem with the papers to get onto the Holy Mountain, which were stuck in the Patriarch’s office in the Phanar. It was late October, and it turned out, just before the Feast of St Demetrios, patron of the City.
The second day, I went to the Cathedral of St Demetrios, to venerate his relics. His relics, in a great silver sarcophagus, were in the center of the church. Walking into that huge ancient cathedral (4th Century), the grace and presence of St Demetrios was overpowering. Its was like he came up and introduced himself. I venerated his relics, and said to him: “Holy St Demetrios, I need your help! My papers are messed up, and I can’t afford to stay very long in this city!” Within a few minutes, the ladies of the parish came and took me to the parish hall, gave me lunch and sat and talked with me. They all spoke English. One of them came up to me and said, “So you have troubles with your papers? My spiritual father is the Protos of the Holy Mountain. We can take care of that!” So she pulled out her cell phone, dialed the number, and gave me the phone; and so connected me with the Elder who was Protos of the Holy Community. All was resolved within 30 minutes. St Demetrios is quick!
So I went to the Liturgy in the morning (40 bishops serving!), and then took the bus to Ouranopolis, and the next morning, the boat to Daphne on Mt Athos. It was a wonderful pilgrimage! But I had a sense that I needed to return to Thessaloniki. When I returned, I went back to the Cathedral to say thank you to St Demetrios. He was still in the center of the church, the grace radiating from his sarcophagus. So I said, “Holy St Demetrios, thank you for the wonderful trip to Mount Athos. Now I have another problem. I need half a million dollars to put down on a new monastery. (Then I knew I’d gone “native” and made a vow to the Saint!) And, if you get that money for our monastery, I will build a church in your honor!” Having returned to the monastery, we found a huge and beautiful new property. Within four months, through many donations, we had $500,000 in cash for a down payment! Thanks to the prayers of St Demetrios. Thus, I owe him a church! MJ