Groundbreaking for Chapel at St. Barbara's MonasteryOn Lazarus Saturday, April 16th, 2011, His Grace, Bishop Benjamin, presided at the ground-breaking for a chapel dedicated to St. Barbara and St. Eugene at St. Barbara Monastery in Santa Paula, CA. For over five years, the monastic community has used the large living room of their house as a chapel. But this arrangement, while workable, is far from adequate and has always been understood to be temporary.
The simple yet elegant design for the 1,450 square foot chapel consists basically of an octagon with an added apse on the east side and an added narthex and porch on the west, crowned with a clerestory and a single cupola. Although definitely different, it is reminiscent of our church in San Anselmo.
In their March newsletter, the nuns recounted a little of the history leading up to the decision to build this chapel. Here is what they wrote:
“The story begins back on the very last day of World War II. Just hours before peace was declared, the young Eugene Lurie, an infantryman and a member of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco, was killed in battle. His grief-stricken family decided to donate to the Church a wonderful piece of property they owned at Point Reyes not far north of San Francisco as a memorial to their departed son. Hence the name of the property: St. Eugene’s Hermitage. The first person to live there was Archimandrite Dimitry Egoroff of blessed memory. He continued to live there for some 18 years, most of that time by himself. After Father Dimitry, because of health reasons, moved away, the Church assigned various people to live there at different times in the hope of developing the property. The latest of these attempts was the founding of the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco on the property. The monastic brotherhood lived there for ten years, only to find itself repeatedly stymied by Marin County officialdom from any construction or other development. Meanwhile, the brotherhood was growing with no space for new monks. So, in 2005, it was decided to move the monastery to a new location outside Manton, California, where it presently remains. Under the circumstances, His Grace, Bishop Benjamin, felt there was no alternative but to sell the Point Reyes property. Proceeds from the sale were divided, a portion going to the Monastery of St. John to build a chapel there, and another portion allocated to St. Barbara Monastery in Santa Paula, for the building of a chapel here as well. Both of these chapels have the name of St. Eugene in memory of the young soldier who gave his life for his country.”