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Diocesan Investigation Turns Up Additional $1.25 Million Mortgage on St. Tikhon’s Monastery Lands

Lawyers hired by Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia to conduct a full title search on the Eastern Pennsylvania Diocesan Center have discovered that the Monastery land on which its Diocesan Center is located (some 86.5 acres) has been mortgaged for $1.25 million. Who authorized this mortgage of St. Tikhon’s Monastery lands, when, and for what purpose, was not disclosed. According to the OCA Statute, it is the Metropolitan Council alone that "decides on the purchase, sale, or mortgaging of property of the Church." (Article V, Sec. 4j.)

The lawyers' findings were first reported to diocesan authorities on November 6th, and then reported to the annual Diocesan Assembly on November 22nd by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, Fr. John Kowalczyk. In his report to the Diocese, Fr. Kowalcyzk stated that titles to the Monastery and its related properties are a “mess”, with titles under various names. In short, it is not always clear who owns what, or who is now legally responsible for what. None of this, however, was reported to the Metropolitan Council during its recent meetings at the All-American Council...

The revelation of this mortgage of property (read about an earlier unknown mortgage here) at St. Tikhon’s came about from the lawyers’ discovery that Eastern Pennsylvania’s $400,000+ Diocesan Center, intended as a residence for the diocesan bishop (and commonly known as the “Blue House”), was built on land not owned by the Diocese, but on land owned by the Monastery. Given the existing, large mortgages on the land, it is not likely the Diocese will be able to correct this situation in the near future. 

Fr. Kowalczyk reported that the lawyer's current investigation, authorized by Bishop Tikhon (triggered by the Synod and Metropolitan Council) into the complex financial, property and legal relationships of the associated institutions in South Canaan, all of which were controlled by Metropolitan Herman for decades, will continue.  Fr. Kowalczyk promised to continue to report to the Diocese as information becomes available. (You can see pictures of the Diocesan Assembly here. No documents have been posted.)

In related news from South Canaan, it has been reported that now-retired Metropolitan Herman is presently moving out of the aforementioned “Blue House”, his residence for more than twenty years, to a new residence, also on Monastery property.  The retired Metropolitan’s new residence had been the home of the late Jacewicz sisters, noted benefactors of the Monastery. The question arises: to whom did the Jacewicz sisters leave their  house, a home that is also built on monastery land: to the OCA, the monastery, the seminary or to Metropolitan Herman personally?   The question is not idle, given that significant additions  have been made to this home recently in preparation for the retired Metropolitan’s move. Who authorized these renovations, and who is expected to pay for them? Does anyone beside the former Metropolitan Herman know? 

Finally, it has also been reported that the former manager of the St.Tikhon’s Bookstore, Archdeacon  Alexei Klimitchev, has left that position and closed his own personal bookstore/jewelry business in Philadelphia. He recently opened a new jewelry store in Honesdale PA, near South Canaan.

- Mark Stokoe 


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