November 16, 2011
Vasilis Bakos, born in a suburb of Boston by Winthrop by a pious family, was a diligent student at the Theological School of the Holy Cross in the 1980's, of a courteous nature and devoted to the Orthodox Faith. He followed and assisted the then Bishop Anthimos Drakonaki of Boston, who is now assistant Bishop with the title of Olympus.
When Vasilis finished the School in 1985 he fell off the radar for some time, until it became known that he had gone to Mount Athos and had become a monk at the Monastery of Simonopetra.
Today he is a monk, has been renamed Iakovos, is the dentist of the Monastery of Simonopetra and the rest of Mount Athos, and these days, after 26 years, is found in Boston invited by Metropolitan Methodios with the permission of the abbot, Fr. Elisha. He is exploring the possibilities of establishing a Monastery in New England.
To the questions of the "National Herald" as to when, how and why from the beautiful and scholarly Boston he became a monk on Mount Athos, he said that "immediately after graduating from the Theological School in June 1985 I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, then I spent three months in Greece and went to the Monastery of Simonopetra to the vigil for the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. I stayed five days and I decided to become a monk there."
When asked if he decided this suddenly, he replied: "No, I always desired to become a monk especially after I read the life of St. Anthony the Great, when I was at the Theological School." He added, "and I was in a search where I can find this monastic life, this relationship with God where I wanted to give more of myself."
Regarding Dentistry, Fr. Iakovos said that "this was a necessity that existed in the Monastery and because I had some practical knowledge from my childhood. When I became a Novice in the Monastery I went to a dentist with whom we started talking, so eventually I said 'it's a shame because the fathers need to leave the Mountain for simple procedures, for a cleaning, a filling.' And so we started in 1993, and there was professor at the University who came to the Monastery. I was an assistant for two years after which he sat in his chair and left me to do work on his own teeth, so slowly slowly I started, actually I was self-taught since I was now a monk, and it would not be appropriate to go to University."
For being here today, Father Iakovos said, "His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston for a long time wanted to establish a monastery in the Metropolis of Boston to equate with Simonopetra. In the summer he visited the Monastery, he asked the Elder for me to come here to investigate what can be done."
On whether it will be a male or female monastery, Fr. Iakovos replied: "At the moment it is male, but if there is demand from females we will be able to think for a female as well."
Regarding whether it is a Metochion (dependency) of the Monastery of Simonopetra on Mount Athos, he said, "It is too early to discuss this, for now we live according to the desire of His Eminence and respond positively to help him in this way; it is still too early."
When asked where the Monastery would be established, he said: "As you know, we have a large area of land of 200 hectares at the Camp and it can be done in a more remote place to avoid hindering the life of the Monastery by the Camp, nor the Monastery to prevent the life of the Camp."
About a Roman Catholic Monastery sold near Worcester, he said that "I went and saw it and I think that it is feasible to do there."
Father Iakovos sees as the most likely place the land in Camp Contoocook of New Hampshire because, he said, "there is space," while to the question of how to populate the staffing of the Monastery he said that "this is God's work" and added "because God needs to speak in the hearts of men."
To the question of how they will maintain the Monastery financially from the Metropolis, by literally the people, Father Iakovos said: "Everything is a synergy by which the people will certainly give, and yet God will put his hand and there will be a blessing of the Lord."
Translated by John Sanidopoulos