New Monastery Founded

St. Columba Monastery

For more information contact: Fr. Peter Preble | 508-765-5276

SOUTHBRIDGE – On Sunday, June 20th the parish community of St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church voted to found the St. Columba of Iona Orthodox Monastery on the grounds of the church.

For more than a year, Fr. Peter Preble, the pastor of the parish, has been working to find suitable property to found the monastery. One of the parishioners, Mr. Thomas Andrea, suggested that the monastery be founded at St. Michael’s. “It is funny how you can be looking for something and the answer to the question is right under your nose the entire time” said Fr. Peter. “We have been looking at all sorts of property to include the former Camp Bement in Charlton, Massachusetts but God had other plans.” That plan was the property on Romanian Ave in Southbridge.

The monastery will be housed in the present rectory and use the church and the grounds as well as a newly established chapel for services. A services schedule will be published soon but will include daily services as well as a lecture series that will begin in the fall.

Fr. Peter said, “monasticism has a long tradition in the Orthodox Church and we have been without a monastic presence in this area for far too long. The Church is at it’s best when the local church and the monastery work together for the betterment of the world.”

The new monastery has as it’s patron the 6th century Scottish St. Columba of Iona. Know in the Orthodox Church as Our Father Among the Saints Columba, Enlightener of Scotland. He was chosen due to his remarkable history of founding monasteries and his work with the poor. “We hope to emulate his life and work right here in Southern Worcester County. Monasteries are places of prayer and solitude but also or work” said Fr. Peter. “We need to be active in the word to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ to love out neighbor as ourselves.”

For centuries Monastic Communities have been an integral part of the Orthodox Christian Tradition and life. Today monasticism remains an important and vital part of the Orthodox Christian faith. The focus of monasticism is on theosis, the process becoming more like God, of perfection to which every Christian is called.

Historically monasteries were also centers of learning, evangelization and Church planting. In the Celtic lands monasteries were responsible for preservation of the culture and for large collections of the written word as well as liturgical art. Many believe that the Book of Kells was created at the monastery on the Isle of Iona off the coast of Scotland. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. It is a masterwork of Western calligraphy and represents the pinnacle of Insular illumination. It is also widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure – a true work representing Orthodox Christianity.

In 563 St. Columba founded the monastery on the Island of Iona the smallest of the islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. St. Columba and 12 companions founded the monastery and then set out on the conversion of pagan Scotland. In this day and age steady rise of secular materialism, totalitarianism and radical Islam there is a greater than ever need for more Monastic Communities here in the United States. It is also the vision of the monastic foundation to create an Orthodox Center for Church Growth and Evangelism; an academic and practical mission to train and raise up men and women who are called and have a vision for Orthodox evangelism, church growth and the establishment of new Orthodox parishes throughout New England and broader United States. This is very much in keeping with the biblical mandate to “go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt.28:19ff) and very same mission that St. Columba of Iona embarked on many centuries ago.

St. Columba of Iona Monastery exists to make visible the Kingdom of God to the world; is dedicated to a life of prayer, worship, work and service of others; committed to support local Orthodox Parishes in their evangelistic and missionary outreach to the broader community; is set apart as a place of prayer, contemplation, spiritual direction, formation and renewal; a holy place firmly rooted in the sacramental life of the Church.

The Monastery is a pan Orthodox and duel Ritual (both eastern and western rite) and is under the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas. The monastery also has a blessing from His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
Anyone interested in exploring a monastic vocation at the new monastery should be in contact with Fr. Peter at more information can be found on the monastery website:


  1. Fr. Peter Dubinin says

    May it be blessed! Here is a manifestation of our “maturity” as Orthodox in this country. May many more monasteries be planted and grown within this country for the salvation of all. May it be a place of fidelity to the Orthodox Holy Tradition and not a vehicle to promote Romanian ethno-phyletism. Hope everyone keeps in mind, we cannot expect people to “come and see” if there is an expectation they must become “Romanian.” This is truly a joy to see.

  2. Shouldn’t that be “dual” ritual rather than “duel” ritual, unless there was an intended pun.

    • David,

      That is very funny. I will have to change that. Although some would think that duel is rather correct!

      Fr. Peter,

      Yes, Yes, Yes and AMEN. This will truly be an American Monastery. Under the Romanian Archdiocese as that is my diocese but American to the core.

  3. Eliot Ryan says

    I know of other three monasteries under the omophorion of His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America.

    They certainly do not promote Romanian ethno-phyletism. However, everyone has a past … please, allow vestiges of the past. They are enriching. One cannot erase ones own roots and declare himself to be whole.

    The Ascension of The Lord Monastery Detroit, MI

    Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery

    “The nun of 27 years has long since buried her royal roots as founder of The Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, the, first English-speaking Orthodox monastery in the United States.

    But vestiges of those days remain, even at the monastery.

    Portraits of her parents, Romania’s King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, hang in the living room of the A-frame house she shares with another nun.

    Gold and silver icons dating back to the 15th century fill a corner of her bedroom. Antique icons also decorate the monastery’s small, candlelit chapel as do crosses and triptychs, some of which she brought from Europe.

    A small, gold container on a bed stand holds her most precious possession, a handful of Romanian soil snatched during her escape from Russian Communism in World War II. She wants it buried with her.”

    • Fr. David Hudson says

      Eliot, Father Peter Preble is not under the OCA Romanian Episcopate; he is under the Patriarchal Romanian Episcopate. No fear of ethno-phyletism, though. Fr. Peter is a convert himself… and as is clearly stated in the article, the monastery has a very western Orthodox orientation.

      May it indeed be blessed. Axios to Fr. Peter, his parish, and his bishop!

      • It is interesting that from the website, it seems the founders were Aromanians and Vlachs.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        AXIOS indeed!

      • Eliot Ryan says

        Fr. David,
        Thank you for straightening it out.

        What does it mean “the monastery has a very western Orthodox orientation”? My understanding of the “western Orthodoxy” concept is a mixture of humanism and Orthodoxy. The self-worshiping humanism and Orthodoxy are partially immiscible. The product can be some sort of modern Orthodox ideology.

        • Fr. David Hudson says

          Eliot, what I meant by “very western Orthodox orientation” was

          1) Father Peter is a convert himself and is thus in his own personality western, although certainly not in a parochial sense;

          2) The monastery is named for a Western Orthodox Saint;

          3) They have announced that there will be both Western Rite and Eastern Rite services.

          Hope I got that right — my impression.

          And again, the fact that Father Peter’s vision has been embraced by his 2nd-3rd generation ethnic parish, and his foreign-born bishop, is, I believe, cause for celebration… a sweet-smelling savor before God.

          • Eliot Ryan says

            …a short celebration and then readying for battle ahead!

            “When people visit a monastery, they feel that it is a holy place where God is present. Paradoxically, the monastics who dwell in that monastery more often feel the intense spiritual warfare that the evil one is waging against them. When visitors came to one monastery and said to one of the nuns, It is so peaceful here, she replied, You feel the peace, we see the warfare.

            Anyone who strives to fulfill the Gospel commandments, who tries to live truly according to the teachings of the Church, feels both of these aspects to some degree: both the grace of God in their lives, but also the intense battle that the devil and his legions wage against him. The more intensely we strive to serve God, the more the evil one seeks to deter us from our path. This is most true in the life of one who renounces the world and seeks to live completely for Christ.”

  4. And, if I may be bold, the St. Columba Monastery website is another website by LOGOS Web Services.

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