Nun Makes Serious Allegations to Police About N.Y. Monastery

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 11/13/2010
Sister Christonymphi turned over a bag of money to police. TNH Archives
Sister Christonymphi turned over a bag of money to police. TNH Archives

BOSTON — Sister Christonymphi Fitzpatrick, a nun at the St. Irene Chrysovalantou Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery in Astoria, N.Y., has left the monastic life after giving police a bag with as much as $285,000 and telling them there allegedly were incidents of sexual relations between church officials and youths of both sexes — some underage — while it was under the authority of Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana, who left for Greece, saying he was resigning for “health reasons.” Fitzpatrick’s testimony was given to police over a seven hour period from Nov. 6 until 2 a.m. the next day, and detailed scenes of sex and unexplained bags of cash being in the possession of church leaders, The National Herald. According to sources who did not want to be identified, she gave a detailed account of acts that included members of both sexes.

Saying she feared for her life, Sister Christonymphi, 26, who became a nun at 14, left for an undisclosed location.

That happened as a three member Patriarchal Exarchy team of official representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate came to New York to investigate, including Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanelia, President, Archimandrite Petros Abbot of the Monastery of St. Dionysios of Mt. Athos and Archimandrite Kyrillos of the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner (Podromos) of Essex England.

The Exarchy has assumed the entire operation of the Monastery and has given directives to Chief secretary John Kotsaridis to not issue checks or make payments without clearance from the Exarchy team, who also met with police, who are holding the cash given them by Sister Christonymphi. The Exarchy has also retained a Legal counsel from New York to assist them while the Ecumenical Patriarchate has reportedly requested the Greek-Orthodox Archdiocese of America retain lawyers who specialize in the fields of sexual misconduct and pederasty.

The National Herald spoke with Metropolitan Paisios in Athens, but he refused to talk about Sister Christonymphi’s testimony, apart from saying the money she gave them “is for the third floor we wanted to build.” He also stated that the approximate amount of money in the briefcase “should be around $285,000 or something like that.”

When asked why the funds were being held in cash, Metropolitan Paisios said, “Because we did not want them to be used.” He said he knew nothing about what she may have told the police.

THE CASE UNFOLDS

Sister Christonymphi, born Catherine Fitzpatrick, joined the St. Irene Chrysovalanto Monastery at age 14 and was tonsured a nun two years later by Metropolitan Paisios, when she was renamed Christonymhpi. She is the second of 12 children born to Rev. Iakovos Fitzpatrick. Bishop Vikentios, the Deputy Abbot of the monastery, who was also in Athens, also refused to comment after saying, “The issue relates to the abbot.”

The Queens County District Attorney’s office declined to comment on the investigation, explaining that, “It is unlawful to give out information prior to the issuance of an arrest warrant,” and that “information can be given only after charges are brought before a defendant in court.”

The Queens DA’s office also noted that the case would be handled by the U.S. Attorney’s office because the FBI and other Federal Agencies are involved in the investigations.

Rev. Iakovos Fitzpatrick went to the Police station in Astoria upon learning that his daughter was giving a testimony to the authorities and waited for her until 2 a.m., to offer her his support. Fr. Fitzpatrick did not return phone calls, nor did he liturgize at St. Irene’s the morning his daughter was talking to police. TNH called the church and spoke with the Vice-President of the Parish Council Demetrios Demetriou who said that, “Metropolitan Paisios and Bishop Vikentios are in Greece, but because we do not get involved in the administrative affairs of the church we do not have their telephone numbers there.”

TNH asked to speak to Rev. Elefterios Stavrakaridis, who has been serving at the Monastery the last few months, on loan from his official position at the Archdiocese of Athens, but Demetriou said only that, “Father Elefterios is doing the Service at this moment.” A message was left for Father Elefterios, which he did not return. Demetriou also said that, “Sister Christonymphi is not here at this time,” and he added: “I do not know where she is.”

Sister Christonymphi holds a Master’s Degree in Education and was the director of the St. Irene Chrysovalantou Kindergarten program. According to TNH’s sources, she spent several days at the home of friends in New Jersey, until she decided to go to the police.

TNH has learned that she confided part of what was going on at the Monastery to Rev. Stavrakaridis, who had also reportedly gone to the Police Station with her, but it is still unclear if he also has given testimony or if he was present when the nun was talking to police.

TNH is in apposition to know that Fr. Elefterios was also present at the police station when the nun finished her testimony at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, Nov. 7. Fr. Elefterios had informed Kotsaridis about the developments with the nun. She will reportedly talk wit the Patriarchal Delegation as well.

The Exarchy has begun already examining written and signed allegations made by members of the congregation. Also many are expected to testify in person to the Exarchy. On Nov. 8, Metropolitan Nikitas officiated at the Great Vespers at St. Nectarios church in Brooklyn, which is a Dependency of the Chrysovalantou Monastery on the occasion of the feast day of its patron Saint. The next day he officiated at the Divine Liturgy.