On Friday evening, I went with Fr. Alexios, Fr. Panayiotis, and three parishioners to the village of Ptolemaida, about 2 hours west of Thessaloniki, for the monastic tonsure of one of Fr. Alexios' spiritual children, and a friend of mine, Theodoros.
I had never been to that region of Greece, and it is really quite scenic, with lots of mountains.
We arrived about 5:30 at the monastery (see two photos above). Although technically a monastery, it is not one in the traditional sense. Rather, it serves as a home for the metropolis' celibate clergy, who have parish assignments throughout the metropolis. Each metropolis has such a place, and this one, dedicated to St. Cosmas Aitolos, belongs to the Metropolis of Florina.
Here is a small chapel on the grounds of the monastery.
Metropolitan Theoklitos of Florina arrived around 6:00 and we went into one of the small chapels inside the monastery and had an agiasmo (blessing of the waters, see above). We then began Vespers (see below).
Toward the end of Vespers, the candidate, Theodoros, was led into the chapel where he made prostrations to the bishop, all four sides of the room (i.e. to everyone present), and then to each of his parents, kissing their hands as a sign of taking their blessing to become a monk. The bishop then tonsured him, giving him the new name of Fr. Chrysostomos (see above and below).
Here is the new monk after having each part of his new attire blessed and put on -- the cassock, and the exoraso, the hat, the veil, the belt, and finally a cross with a prayer rope. The service ended, and the tradition is for everyone present to greet the new monk and ask him "How are you called?" (i.e., what is your new name?), to which he responds, "Chrysostomos, monk."
After the service, Fr. Alexios showed Nikos (left), one of our parish council members, the Gospel from the Altar. The whole thing was written by hand by the monastery's abbot on parchment.
After visiting for a while with all those who had gathered for the service, we then left and had dinner at a local restaurant before making a late return to Panorama.
On Sunday, Fr. Chrysostomos was ordained to the diaconate and today, on the Feast of St. Nektarios, he was ordained to the priesthood. Axios!