MAFA conducts appeals as needed to raise funds for the monasteries and the Holy Community of Mount Athos. These are in some cases emergency appeals when funds are needed on short notice, and in other cases project appeals — fund-raising efforts to support projects — for example, restoration projects like the recent appeal on behalf of the Axion Estin Cell.
Emergency Appeal following fire at Grigoriou Monastery
The Mount Athos Foundation of America (MAFA) is issuing an emergency appeal on behalf of Grigoriou Monastery following a fire at the Monastery on July 26/27. MAFA was founded by members of the Friends of Mount Athos in the Americas in 2017 to provide support to the Holy Mountain when needed.
The Monastery has informed us that the fire completely destroyed the building housing its electromechanical equipment and all the equipment within. The Monastery is now temporarily operating with a bare minimum of power. Electricity for its kitchen facilities, refrigeration and other essentials is being provided by two older generators, one dating from the 1960s.
The total cost of restoring this facility is estimated at €405,000 ($445,780), including €205,000 ($225,640) to repair damage to the electromechanical equipment and €200,000 ($220,140) to construct a new building to house this facility. The estimates were developed by a Thessaloniki-based company (www.technomat-shop.com) that has a good track record of work on Mount Athos, and have been reviewed and accepted by MAFA. Fortunately the destroyed building was located outside the perimeter of the Monastery’s historic old buildings, which were undamaged.
The impact of the fire most noticeable to pilgrims visiting the Monastery has probably been the noise and pollution created by the old generators. This situation will worsen as we move into the cold season. The Monastery continues to welcome pilgrims with the traditional Athonite hospitality in spite of this major setback, but the fathers at Grigoriou are now harder pressed to keep things going.
The Mount Athos Foundation and The Friends of Mount Athos in the Americas call upon all who read this to help. Has your life been enriched by pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain? Have you received the hospitality and spiritual blessing of that experience? Or are you perhaps looking forward to a future pilgrimage? Please take this occasion to give back by helping in a time of need.
Some Unseen Effects of the Fire
The timing of this setback is creating added financial stress for the Monastery. The Greek economic crisis had already delivered a triple blow to incomes from the rental properties that make up a large part of monastery endowments:
- inability of tenants to make normal rental payments,
- the influx of immigrants fleeing the Syrian war who have taken refuge in emptied apartment buildings, and
- the Greek government’s elimination of tax exemption for rental properties owned by the monasteries
On top of those losses, Russia withdrew its financial support for the Holy Mountain earlier this year when conflict arose between the Moscow and Ecumenical Patriarchates over the situation in Ukraine.
Finally, because the damage in this case was not to its historic buildings, the Monastery cannot draw upon European Community funds for restoration.
The result is that the Monastery is now, and will be for the coming years, facing some serious cash-flow issues. The drain on Grigoriou’s financial resources will, in turn, impact the Monastery’s ability to maintain its historic buildings, precisely at a time when reduced preservation funds from the European Union are anticipated.
You can help! A member of the MAFA Board of Directors who has been a pilgrim to Grigoriou has generously pledged to match all donations up to a limit of $8,000. This is his way of “giving back” to the monastery that has meant much to him. Perhaps you, too, are a grateful pilgrim who has experienced the living spiritual legacy of the Holy Mountain, or perhaps you are someone who views this World Heritage site as a treasure to be maintained and appreciated. You can help, and your donation will be doubled by this member’s generous donation.
The cumulative result of many donations, large and small alike, will help us reach our goal of restoring the Monastery’s loss. Together, we can help the Monastery weather this storm at a time when its resources are already significantly compromised by world events.
Please donate to help the Monastery recover from this destructive fire.