8/8/05

Great Schema Nun Benedicta (Braga) Fallen Asleep in the Lord

Rives Junction MI [ROEA Chancery]    It was announced that Great Schema Nun Benedicta (Braga) fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday, August 7, 2005, at her home, The Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan, following a long illness.

Mother Benedicta's body will be in the chapel at the monastery for visitation between 5:00am and 7:00pm on Monday, August 8, and from 5:00am on Tuesday, August 9.  The funeral service will take place on Tuesday, August 9, at 1:00 pm followed by burial in the monastery cemetery.

Reverend Mother Benedicta was born in 1919, in the village of Condrita in Besarabia.  She entered Varatec Monastery located in northern Romania at ten years of age and took the monastic vows at the age of 38.  She graduated from Iaşi University with a degree in Natural Sciences and Education, and served as a school teacher, at middle and high school levels, for the sisters and nuns of Varatec.  She taught music at the monastery, as well as setting up a museum and serving as a museum guide there for many years.

In 1978, she left Varatec and came to join the nuns at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.  Mother Benedicta's lifelong experience of monastic life brought a wealth of knowledge based on the tradition of Romanian monasticism to the community at Ellwood City, where she became abbess in 1984.  Her years in Ellwood City gave her the opportunity to become familiar with American culture in general and Orthodox culture in particular.  The time spent there prepared her for the years to come.

The impetus to form another missionary monastery in the United States was Mother Benedicta's vision and understanding of the need to spread the Orthodox faith further into America.  With the blessing of His Grace, Bishop NATHANIEL, Mother Bendicta, Mother Gabriella, and Mother Apolinaria left Ellwood City in 1987 and went to Terre Haute, Indiana.  There, they set the foundation for what was to become The Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery.  The incorporation papers were made final on March 27, 1987, and were approved by the Episcopate Council in September of that same year.

The time in Terre Haute was transitory as they sought a more permanent place to establish the new community.  After a long and tedious search, they found the Rives Junction Property.  In the second issue of "The Burning Bush," the monastery’s publication, Mother Benedicta remarked, "...through God's will and the donations of the faithful, we purchased a beautiful and quiet piece of property in Michigan.  It includes beautiful woodlands, clearings, and a house at the entrance; ... we moved in on January 16, 1988."  From 1988, the tiny community was slowly but surely established.  The church was named in honor of one the Church's great Feast Days, the Dormition of the Mother of God.

In the spring of 1989, Mother Benedicta's younger brother, V Rev Archimandrite Roman (Braga), who was the spiritual father of the Ellwood City community when they departed in 1987, joined her and Mothers Gabriella and Apolinaria in Rives Junction.  Mother Benedicta assumed the position of Abbess and her younger brother, Father Roman, became the Spiritual Father of the community.  In 1992, Mother Benedicta decided to retire from public leadership of the monastery, and passed the herald on to Mother Gabriella.  Mother Benedicta took the stricter vows of a Great Schema Nun.  Her final years were spent in prayer, reading, and the contemplative life of a Schema Nun.

Mother Benedicta's legacy will remain.  The tradition she brought with her from Romania and established here will continue through the life she led and the continued leadership of Mother Gabriella.

She is survived by her brother, V Rev Archimandrite Roman (Braga).

For more information, contact:
The Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery
3389 Rives Eaton Road
Rives Junction, Michigan 49277
517.569.2873  /  www.dormitionmonastery.com

May her memory be eternal!

         

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