Extended works to the Vestry Room

The church is now windproof and waterproof, so we shall hopefully go through this winter without further damage to the building. It was a difficult and expensive process, but a necessary one. Kilninian is the heart of our future Monastery and its safe preservation will always be our priority. We cannot always step in and act as soon as we would like to, because we are entirely dependant on the funds we receive from you, the friends of the Monastery, but we do our best.

Apart from your donations, the Monastery receives absolutely no financial support from any institution – ecclesiastic or secular. Neither the UK Government (in all its shapes and forms), nor any of the Churches in the UK contribute in any way to the restoration work of Kilninian or to the founding of the Monastery. We can only do what we make possible by working together.

This time, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to repair Kilninian. After we received the survey and saw the extent of the works that were needed, we decided to prioritise saving the church over building the monastery. We used a large part of the funds we had fundraised for the monastic house so we may take down the roof, replace most of the old timber, buy new stone slates, reslate the roof, replace the bell-tower in its original position, check and repair the entire electrical system and so on and so forth. The much smaller budget we are left with also ended up changing our vision for the future monastic house, which got even smaller than we had initially intended (which was very small already).

This time, we have also been fortunate because Simon and Frances Jennings, a family of very close friends of the Monastery, stepped in a few months ago and offered to fund the restoration of the Vestry Room behind Kilninian. Because of the limited funds we had available, we had not included the Vestry Room in our initial restoration project. I am happy to tell you now that we were able to extend the repairing works so that this small beautiful room, humbly hidden behind the church, may also be saved from further damage. This was only possible through Frances’ and Simon’s generosity and their love for the Saints of the Isles.

The builders now estimate that they will complete the restoration work towards the end of the year. As they advance, I’ve asked them to document the process by photographing every stage of the works. Once I receive their photos, I shall post them here, as a way to thank you all for what we have achieved together and as a reminder of what we can further achieve if we continue to work and pray together for the Monastery.

The trees that ruined the roof in the storm

We finally managed to clean the area to the West of Kilninan. Many of you noted that there were some very tall and unsafe trees hanging over that end of the church. Those were the trees whose branches broke in the storm of November 2013 and fell on the roof, causing all the damage.

It was a very difficult job, because the trees were very tall and it was unsafe to climb them. The tree surgeon we employed pointed out that the trees had begun to rot inside, which made the job even more urgent and difficult (and, obviously, more expensive).

The tallest branches of those trees had also grown among the electric wires, so cutting them down had to be done slowly, part by part, so we do no damage to the electric system on the island.

However, the worst part was the dangerous angle at which these branches hung over the roof. Having invested close to 150 thousand pounds in repairing the roof (actual works, purchase of new timber, new stone slates and all sorts of professional fees), the last thing we needed was another branch to collapse over the roof.

Now, the trees are cut and Kilninian has a better chance to face and survive the future storms (I have no doubt the ocean will ‘bless’ us with many more over the coming decades).

Once the trees were down, it was safe to put back the original bell-tower (you can see it in the photos below). I feel immense joy looking at this ancient church being slowly brought back to life. I also feel endless gratitude to you all – this was done ENTIRELY through your donations.

Please continue to support us and please be generous. Have trust that your contribution, as small as it is, will help us more than you realise. This is particularly true if you can pledge for a monthly donation. We still have a lot of work before us, and nothing can be done without all of us working together.

I look at all we have achieved and I feel I am witnessing a miracle. Thank God for blessing this work, and thank you for fulfilling it. Let us continue, let us finish what we have begun. And one day, not too far in the future, let us come together to the Monastery and pray. Who doesn’t need prayer today?…

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Repairing the roof (and dealing with Insurance)

This summer has been so tiring, it is a miracle for me that I have made it through. However, this has also been the most beautiful summer since I started working for the Monastery, because I spent so much time in the Isles, mostly running the four Celtic Pilgrimages we organised. On the other hand, though, I barely had a chance to breathe, let alone keep up with posting and my inbox (I dread the thought of opening my inbox and facing the hundreds of unanswered emails waiting for me).

I attach a few photos I’ve taken at Kilninian during our last two pilgrimages. Work on repairing the roof is advancing well, thank God. By the beginning of autumn, we hope to have the church wind and water proof again. The builders told me that the pillars and most of the timber in the roof were the original wood (from 1755!), and that even at that time, they hadn’t used new timber. Instead, the roof of the church was built from recycled wood coming from shipwrecks, old doors, tables and so on.

We have had some bad news from the Insurance company, which have decided that they will only cover twenty thousand pounds of the total expense (which now looks set to go beyond one hundred thousand pounds). After days of frustration, we have decided that we are too small to fight this battle. Realistically, we would end up paying more on seeking legal advice and ordering new surveys than what we could (potentially) get from the Insurance company. We decided to simply let go of it and trust that God is in control of all aspects of the foundation of this Monastery. Rater than waste my energy on this, I shall focus on working more for the Monastery and praying harder.

Keep praying for me, and keep supporting the Monastery. By God’s grace, what was once only a beautiful dream is now slowly turning into reality. May God bless all of us.

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A Wonderful Piece of News

I want to share with you the wonderful news that we have started the repairing works at Kilninian, our 1755 monastery church. Six months after we started our fundraising campaign to repair the roof, we have secured the one hundred thousand dollars we needed to start the works.
This miracle is entirely thanks to you. Your generosity, your prayers, your constant encouragement to keep going, to keep working, to hold on to my hope in Christ: this made it possible to even begin the work to establish the Monastery of All Celtic Saints on the Isle of Mull, and this will make it possible to finish it.
Please share this great news with everyone you know has made even the smallest donation to our monastery. I have a few emails, I can post things here, but most of the funds have come from your fellow parishioners, your friends, your family, people whom I have met only once and to whom I have never had the chance to say thank you. Please forward this email to them and thank them on my behalf and on behalf of our Monastery.
We own Kilninian. We have raised the funds we need to buy the land around it. We have now started the work to make this ancient building wind and waterproof again. By the grace of God, the last thing we need to do is raise the funds to build the actual monastic cells; we have two years to do that, until the summer of 2018.
For the time being, let us rejoice in this great news. Together, and under God’s blessing, we have saved a site of major importance to the Celtic Christian heritage of the world; we have saved one of the oldest still standing churches in the Scottish Isles. Together, and under God’s blessing, we are getting very close to returning Orthodox monasticism to its Celtic home after more than a thousand years.
May God bless you, the Friends of the Monastery – each of you, known and unknown to me (but always known to God) – for your love and your sacrifice.

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Our New Website

Our new website is ready. It took us many weeks of work, but it was all worth it. Apart from the beauty and simplicity of its design, we now have a website that is more pleasant for you to use and much easier for me to manage.

You will discover in time all the new features and the great ways to use it. I want to draw your attention to just three of its main advantages, that may go unnoticed otherwise.

First, you are now using an absolutely safe website. The main Monastery site (www.mullmonastery.com) and our Bookstore (shop.mullmonastery.com) are both SSL certified and financially secure. This means that all your transactions – all donations, booklet sales, pilgrimage payments and so on – are perfectly safe. We are determined to continue to invest work, time and money to make sure your data is entirely protected. Online safety is vital today, and we shall do all in our power to keep the website as safe and secure as possible.

You will also notice that all transactions – including donations – can now be done by credit or debit card, as well as PayPal. Many of you are not using PayPal, so it is important to provide you with other options to support the Monastery and pay for your pilgrimages and booklets.

The other thing you may see is that the website now has two different blog areas: the Monastery Blog (or simply ‘Blog’) and the ‘News’ section (the one you are reading now). We did this because I wanted to differentiate between the spiritual posts and the more practical ones dealing with the life of at the monastery.

Finally, the new website allows you to stream the podcasts we record for Ancient Faith Radio – Through a Monk’s Eyes. Very soon, I shall start recording shorter, but more frequent podcasts on topics that I wouldn’t normally approach in the current podcast. These will be much more personal, and perhaps much more interesting to you precisely because they will be on topics close to my heart. Once uploaded, they will be available for download exclusively through the monastery website, as a way to raise funds for the monastic house we need to build in 2018.

That’s it for now. I am terribly happy about the new website and I shall develop it further and upload more material (new posts, photographs, videos, podcasts etc) after the end of our first Celtic Festival this summer, which started this Saturday.

Please say a small prayer for Catalin and his wife Mihaela. Catalin built the new website, while Mihaela single-handedly took care of their two very young children, so he and I could have countless hours (usually after mid-night) about the website. I am immensely grateful to both of them, as I am to each of you who contribute in so many and creative ways to the realisation of this wonderful common dream: the Monastery of All Celtic Saints.

May we all be blessed.

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