Holy Transfiguration Monastery is a contemplative, Eastern Catholic monastery, part of the worldwide Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church under the leadership of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk. Eastern Catholics are Orthodox Catholics who live in full and visible communion with the Holy See of Rome, and we pray for the Pope as our "Holy Ecumenical Hierarch." One does not need to be ethnically Ukrainian to join our monastery or attend Ukrainian church services. The Ukrainian Catholic Church comes from the Ukrainian people but it is open for all peoples…so Welcome!
THE MAKING OF AN ICONOGRAPHER
When Fr. Damian came to the monastery in 1988, he sought to enter into the wonderful rhythm of monastic life he had experienced at Mt. Tabor.
As with any novice or someone being initiated into a new way of life, he came with preconceived notions and expectations. One of these was that a new model of living would replace everything that had taken priority in his life up to this point (i.e., family, religious life, professional work). When in fact he came to the realization that all that had transpired before was a prerequisite for this life.
One area of interest that then-Br. Damian never took the opportunity to pursue was art. His grandmother and uncle painted but with insufficient time to devote to this discipline, he had only dabbled in watercolor...but that would soon change. Afternoons in the monastery (beginning at 2:30PM, which seems to be the low ebb of energy for most of us) always included some sort of class/lecture in history, liturgy, music or art, but no matter the proficiency of the instructor, our Br. Damian began to nod off at this untimely--if not ungodly--hour. To remedy the situation, he dedicated himself to writing notes--furiously--and when this didn't improve his level of consciousness, he graduated--or capitulated to--doodling. Elaborate doo-dads filled his notes...Slavic domes, Byzantine crosses, intricate floral patterns and even some basic sketches of...wait for it...icons!
The Novitiate had a room filled with icons supplies that had been abandoned by previous novices who had left to serve at our Ukrainian Cathedral in Chicago, and so Father's Boniface and Michael determined that Br. Damian, who was now greatly accomplished at drawing nothing, should devote himself to something a bit more salvific. With 4-5 days to spare before heading off to the Mother Teresa's Brothers in Tijuana, Dominic Parrish, a quasi-hermit/idiorythmic monk of the Tenderloin in San Francisco, offered to come teach Br. Damian the iconography discipline he had learned from a Russian Orthodox woman in the City. Brother Parrish had no time for "un-teaching a trained artist but was willing to work with the ignorant," so a great partnership was born as Br. Damian fit this bill perfectly.
Dominic prepared a board and then proceeded to paint 15 small icons of Our Lady of Kazan--each in a different phase--so that rather than telling his pupil about icons and how to paint them, he helped the young monk to SEE...