January 28, 2015

A Report on Orthodox Monastic Communities in the United States

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America has released a new research report: Orthodox Monastic Communities in the United States.

There are more than 70 Orthodox monastic communities in the United States today. There exists significant diversity among these communities, including in their size, liturgical practices, openness to outside visitors, and educational programs. The Assembly’s Committee for Monastic Communities is tasked with studying and comparing the different monastic communities and practices in the United States. Accordingly, this study was designed as a first step toward that goal.

Read the full 159 page report here (PDF).

Access summaries and links to all of the Assembly's research reports here.

Among the most interesting findings are these ten:

1. Most of the monasteries in the USA belong to the GOA (27%), followed by the OCA (25%) and the Russian Orthodox (24%).

2. Most of the monasteries are female (37 monasteries, 52% of all monasteries), though almost evenly divided with male (34 monasteries, 48% of all monasteries).

3. 23 of the 50 states have monasteries, half of which are in just 5 states.

4. New York has the most monastic communities (13 monasteries, 18% of all monasteries), followed by California (8 monasteries, 11% of all monasteries).

5. 39 of the 71 monasteries in the US were founded after 1990. Only 4 were founded prior to World War II.

6. There are 512 monastics in all US monasteries. The average number of monastics per community is slightly above 7. 39 monasteries have less than 5 monastics. Only 8 monasteries have more than 20 monastics.

7. The largest Orthodox monastery in the US is Saint Anthony's Monastery in Arizona (GOA) with 49. Out of the 8 largest monasteries, 6 belong to the GOA.

8. 53% of all the monasteries use English as the primary language in worship, 16% equally English and another language, and 31% primarily another language. OCA monasteries mostly use English (83%), while GOA monasteries primarily use Greek (84%).

9. 52% of all monasteries use email. 51% have websites.

10. 37% of all monasteries receive a significant number of visitors.