Efstratios Magoulias, or Yianni as his friends call him, is a native of the Annunciation parish in Modesto, California. Having completed his bachelors in Classics (with an emphasis in ancient Greek culture) at UC Santa Barbara, he is currently a 4th year Master of Divinity seminarian candidate at Hellenic College Holy Cross, Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Yianni loves sharing what makes him smile, in the hope it too makes others smile. Throughout the St. Helen's Pilgrimage, Yianni will be writing and reflecting on his experiences with various churches, monasteries, and adventures with his fellow schoolmates. Yianni hopes all of the iPilgrims at home following along will also have the opportunity to one day visit the Holy Land, Constantinople, and Greece in order to strengthen and experience their faith in Jesus Christ, first hand.
The OCN is pleased to share with you written excerpts and photos from the 2017 St. Helen’s Pilgrimage of the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. The students started their pilgrimage on May 21st and will return to Boston on June 26th. This is a wonderful opportunity for the students and we look forward to learning about their experiences.
Day three of our pilgrimage was the feast of the Ascension. We had the blessing of attending liturgy on the Mount of Olives at the spot where Christ ascended! Liturgy took place with the Patriarch of Jerusalem present and we were able to receive the Holy Eucharist on the hill where Christ took His last steps. We then drove to a monastery dedicated to Christ speaking with the Samaritan woman (St. Fotini) which is built on top of the well where He met her and offered her “Living water”. Jacob’s Well, dating back to the Old Testament, was a holy place for not only the Christians, but the Jews as well. The abbot and protector of the monastery, Fr. Ioustinos, told us the history and took us to the well which is underneath the altar and Soleas. Fr. Ioustinos had water drawn already for us. He insisted that we all be quiet as he poured a cup of water into the well. We waited… and waited… and waited. After 5 seconds, the water finally splashed into the spring. The well, again that dates back thousands of years, is just over 40 meters deep. Fr. Ioustinos pointed out to us on the outer doors of the monastery the indentations from gun shots, as well as how his life as been threatened many times by continuous persecutions, even to this day. In 1979, extremists stormed the monastery and martyred the previous abbot, now St. Philoumenos, while he was in the church preparing to serve for his nameday. His body now lays incorrupt on the right side of the church. Fr. Ioustinos asked us an interesting question, “Although we have so many saints, do you ever wonder why some remain incorrupt and never decay?” He answered his own question saying, “They do not decay for the rest of us who still live and who are doubting Thomases; who, like the apostle Thomas, refuse to believe fully until they have seen with their own eyes”. Fr. Ioustinos wished us safe travels and asked for our prayers to keep the church safe.
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