April 19, 2010

Elderly Woman, 92, Becomes Orthodox Nun

Elderly Woman, 92, Becomes Nun in Greek Orthodox Church

April 18, 2010
Patricia A Ziegler
Associated Content

Her Childhood Dream Realized at Last, 92-Year-Old Woman Becomes a Nun

Greek-born Chrystalla Petropoulou, of Long Island, NY has fulfilled a lifelong dream. At the age of 92, the Mattituck resident has become a nun in the Greek Orthodox Church.

The April 18, 2010 edition of Newsday reports that Petropoulou, seated in her wheelchair, officially became a nun on April 17, 2010 at the new All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery in Calverton, Long Island. Along with Elizabeth Brandenburg, aged 28, and Maria Kallis, aged 27, Petropoulou received a new religious name and a new black habit.The three women each had hair in the shape of a cross ceremonially snipped from their heads.

Petropoulou a Driving Force Behind the All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery

Petropoulou, aided by her relatives and the Greek Orthdox population in Calverton, was one of the leaders in the community effort to build this monastery. In 1997, Petropoulou herself deposited $13.00 in a special bank account. This $13.00 became the basis of the fund-raising effort to get the monastery built. Petropoulou later donated thousands more, and some of her relatives did the same. The largest donation received, in the amount of $125,000.00, was given anonymously.

A Monastery Minus Nuns

In 2005, when the monastery was completed, Sunday services began. But the monastery lacked nuns. Unfortunately Petropoulou, who had dreamt of this since childhood, was now too sick and frail to do it alone. All of that changed when Brandenburg (of St. Louis) and Kallis (of Detroit) agreed to move into the Calverton monastery last August. Petropoulou followed on their heels in September. In all, five women currently live at the Calverton Monastery, and two others are expected soon.

Prayer is Central to the Monastic Life of a Greek Orthodox Nun

Because they live the monastic life, the women are expected to pray around the clock. Formal prayer sessions are scheduled every three hours of every day, including midnight and 3 am. Although she is often up at those hours anyway, Petropoulou will likely be excused from any prayer sessions which are scheduled for the middle of the night.

Always Wanted to Be a Nun, but Life Got in the Way

Born in Cyprus, Petropoulou never married and has no children. Although she'd wanted to become a nun "since the day I was born," life stood in the way. Her family moved first to England, then to the United States, where there was no monastery available in which she could have studied. When she grew older, she stayed at home to care for her elderly parents.

From Dream to Reality at Last

In the end, the dream of her childhood has become a reality. Speaking through an interpreter, Petropoulou told Newsday reporters, "I don't care about doctors. I don't care about medicine. I just want to die at the monastery."