Elder Ephraim of Arizona
Born in Volos, Greece in 1927 on the eve of the nativity of St John the Baptist, Elder Ephraim was given the name Ioannis and raised with a deep love for God. At the age of nineteen with nothing more than his mother’s blessing he left home for the Holy Mountain.
Upon his arrival at Mt Athos, St John the Baptist appeared to Elder Joseph the Hesychast informing him that he was entrusting him with a lamb called little Ioannis. He remained in Elder Joseph’s care for twelve years.
Ephraim followed a stricter ascetical life than other monks and unconditional obedience, as the elder knew that after his repose Ephraim would have to render obedience to Christ himself for what awaited him.
In 1973 Ephraim was chosen to become abbot of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou. His quick revival of the spiritual life in this monastery attracted many new novices like bees to a beehive. This success was swiftly noticed by the Council of Mount Athos, which was looking for gifted elders to revive some of the other monasteries on the Holy Mountain.
Like the good and faithful servant in the parable of the talents, the elder was vouchsafed several more monasteries to re-ignite their spiritual life and enlarge them. This gift would prove to be his greatest virtue.
In 1979 the elder was forced to travel to Canada for health reasons. His stay there moved him with compassion for the Christians of the new world who had strayed away from the essence of our faith. He would return to Canada and the US for up to two months every year until he decided to permanently move there in the late 1980s.
Taking the sacred heritage of Mount Athos with him, Elder Ephraim established eighteen monasteries across the US and Canada within fifteen years. He chose the desert of Arizona as his residence where he built his finest monastery dedicated to St Anthony the Great. From there, this spiritual giant of our times guided over thirty monasteries and several sketes, as well as thousands of spiritual children across the world. He reposed on December 7 2019.
Source: Lychnos April-May 2020