Events & Photos

Upcoming public events at the monastery will be posted here as well as photos from various monastery events.

Liturgy and burial service for His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius

posted Oct 20, 2020, 1:11 PM by Mother Seraphima   [ updated Oct 22, 2020, 4:52 PM ]

The Liturgy and burial service for His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, will be served in the OUTDOOR church at the monastery beginning at 10:00 Friday, September 23. Viewing will be from 9:30-10:00. 

Important Notice: The Liturgy and burial service for Metropolitan Theodosius will be professionally streamed via the OCA. 
Please see

Attendees will be asked to sign in, wear masks and socially distance.

A mercy meal served in the outdoor gazebo will follow the committal service, 
with hierarchs and clergy dining in the monastery refectory.

Reservations are not required but would be helpful for planning purposes.
Please call 724-758-4002

Metropolitan Tikhon Visits Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration

posted Aug 30, 2020, 6:55 PM by Mother Seraphima



From Saturday, August 8-Sunday, August 9, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon visited the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration in Ellwood City, PA, in order to celebrate the feast of Saint Herman of Alaska, and ordain Subdeacon John Thetford to the holy diaconate. On Saturday evening, His Beatitude presided at the celebration of the festal vigil. At the conclusion of vigil, he presented the Very Reverend Abbess Christophora a primatial gramota honoring and thanking her and the Sisterhood for their internet ministry work. His words appear below.

ellwood city

We celebrate today, with festive cheer and glorious hymns, a simple monk. We honor today, with loving veneration and songs of praise, a humble, quiet man.

This simple monk, this humble, quiet man is known, to those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to discern, as the Venerable Herman of Alaska. How remarkable that such a person, little recognized by the world and lacking in external distinctions, is being celebrated 226 years after the
beginning of his missionary activity on this continent, 184 years after his death, and particularly today, on the 50th anniversary of his glorification as a saint by the Orthodox Church.

He was clearly an intelligent man with some degree of education, as one can tell from his letters. He was physically strong and enjoyed good health, as we hear in the stories of his labors. He had the opportunity to travel to far off cities and further his education. He could have chosen any of a variety of careers, and become successful.

But rather than settling for such opportunities, the humble Herman laid aside the love of self, put all of his trust in God, and devoted himself to the search for the one thing needful. He made a conscious choice, not dictated by necessity or passionate desire, to struggle in order to acquire the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven, not as promises to be fulfilled in the distant future but as realities to be experienced in this very life.

ellwood city

Anyone who has made this choice, such as the monastics here at the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, understands both the difficulty of the struggle and the joy of the experience. They understand it because the way we draw closer to a saintly person is the opposite of
the way we draw near to a worldly person.

It is, in many ways, much easier to draw near to a saint than to draw near to a prominent worldly person. To approach, to imitate, or even to speak with a famous or successful worldly person, one often has to rise to their exalted state of fame, fortune, or expertise: a small effort at any of those things often seems futile.

But to approach a saint, one does not rise, but rather goes down to try to plumb the depths of their humility. And even the smallest step or effort in this direction, that is to descend towards the profound humility of the saints, connects us to them and unites us to the One who is the source of that humility, our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is what monastics try to do. Forsaking worldly goals, they have decided to come here and live the monastic life, seeking communion with our Lord Jesus Christ, striving for his humility through obedience and receiving his love through their life in community and their ministry of hospitality.

Indeed, monastics love the people who live in the world so much that they die to “this world”, in imitation of God’s Only Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was given up for the salvation of the world.


Following the example of Saint Herman, the nuns of this monastery have always reached out to the community and world surrounding them with love and understanding.

Since its inception in 1968, this monastery has used the local language, made connections with the local community, and been a model community of Orthodox unity in America.

In more recent years, this monastery became one of the first Orthodox communities to engage Orthodox Christians nationally and internally via consistent live streaming of the Divine Services.

When the Coronavirus pandemic suddenly fell upon our country in March, many of our churches had no capability to stream, and many of our faithful were unable to participate in the services.

This is why thousands of Orthodox Christians around the country flocked to this monastery’s live stream, and found solace in joining their prayers alongside those of the nuns.


Indeed it seemed that the monastery church quickly became the largest live gathering, albeit a remote gathering, of Orthodox Christians anywhere in the country.

This unique ministry does seem to be a fitting imitation of Saint Herman of Alaska, for Saint Herman constantly connected with those far and wide through his unceasing holy prayers.

And so, it is fitting that on this feast today of St. Herman’s glorification, I present to Mother Abbess Christophora and the Sisterhood of this Holy Monastery a Primatial gramota in honor of their dedicated live streaming of the services, particularly in these last few months and as an encouragement to continue to offer, not only this liturgical service but to faithfully persevere in their life of prayer which sustains all of us.

May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through the prayers of our Holy Father Herman of Alaska, always protect and preserve this Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration!

On Sunday morning, His Beatitude presided at the celebration of the festal Divine Liturgy. During the liturgy, he ordained Subdeacon John Thetford. Concelebrating with His Beatitude were Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, and Priest John Ketchum, Proistamenos of Kimissis tis Theotokou Parish, Racine, Wisconson, and Dn. John’s father-in-law, and Protodeacon John Oleynik.


Following the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude met with His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Archpriest William Evansky, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania, and discussed matters facing the Orthodox Church in America and the diocese. Additionally, he was able to meet with Dn. Peter Ilchuk, All-American Council Manager, and receive an status update on the All-American Council, scheduled for July 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. His Beatitude also met with Archpriest Thomas Soroka, Program Manager for the Departments of the Orthodox Church in America, and discussed the work of the OCA Departments. In the evening, His Beatitude had dinner with Mother Christophora and the Sisterhood of the Monastery.

More Photos from the monastery can be found here.

Photos from Holy Week, Pascha and Pentecost

posted Aug 30, 2020, 6:45 PM by Mother Seraphima

Feast of St. Herman (Dec. 13, 2019)

posted Dec 19, 2019, 9:46 AM by Mother Seraphima
click on photo to see album

The Feast of St. Herman brought several clergy from the OCA’s Southwest Deanery of the Archdiocese of Western PA together to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy. Their Dean, Fr. Andrew P. Nelko (St. Nicholas Church, Weirton, WV), was joined by Fr. John Parker (St. Nicholas Church, Donora, PA), Fr. Stephan Gresh (Holy Resurrection Church, Belle Vernon, PA), Fr. John Kotalik (St. John the Baptist Church, Canonsburg, PA), and Dn. David Rostcheck (Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church, Monongahela, PA).  Fr. Andrew and the two Fr. Johns, are recent graduates of St. Tikhon’s seminary. Mother Christophora asked each of them to share something about their parish and their journey to the priesthood at the end of the Liturgy. They joined in for a joyful singing of our St. Herman’s hymn during the veneration of St. Herman’s relic and icon.

Ordination of Fr. Michael Sochka

posted Sep 12, 2019, 6:34 PM by Mother Seraphima

Protodeacon Michael Sochka was ordained to the priesthood at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, Elwood City, PA by His Eminence, Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and the Archdiocese Western Pennsylvania on Saturday, August 17. Fr. Michael attended St. Vladimir’s Seminary and served as a deacon for 22 years, most of those years at Holy Transfiguration Chapel at Princeton University, until he relocated to Pittsburgh. His wife, Matushka Leslie, also attended SVS. Father Michael is the son of the late Archpriest John Sochka and Matushka Marie, who was tonsured Nun Xenia at the Ellwood City monastery. Over 100 guests and numerous clergy were in attendance for the joyous and blessed event. Father Michael served his first Divine Liturgy at the monastery the following morning along with a 40-day memorial for Archimandrite Pitirim.

(click on photo to see album)

Archimandrite Pitirim, Memory Eternal!

posted Jul 13, 2019, 8:32 AM by Mother Seraphima

Father Pitirim (Peter) Stehnach, age 90, fell asleep in the Lord on the evening of July 10. Having served the Orthodox Church in America faithfully for over 50 years as a parish priest at St. Gregory, Wappingers Falls, NY; St. Andrew, Lyndora, PA; Holy Transfiguration, Steubenville, OH; Holy Resurrection, Forest Hills, PA; St. John the Baptist, Black Lick, PA, from where he retired on his 85th birthday. Father also served as a personal aide and driver for the late Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania for over 20 years.

Born in Conemaugh, PA to the late Michael and Mary (Glova) Stehnach, Father was the sixth of nine children. He served seven years in the US Navy and Marines, after which he attended St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in New York City. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1963 and later took monastic vows. He was raised to the rank of Archimandrite on his 25th anniversary of 

Father retired to Ellwood City, PA attending divine services at Transfiguration Monastery and St. Elias Parish as long as his health permitted. 

He is survived by brothers Paul and Steven Stehnach and several nieces and nephews, as well as numerous spiritual children. He was greatly appreciated for his practical and loving spiritual guidance.

The funeral for a monastic will be be conducted at Transfiguration Monastery Sunday evening, July 14, at 6:00 pm, preceded by viewing beginning at 4:00. Divine Liturgy and burial will be held at the monastery Monday, July 15, beginning at 10:00. 

Blessing of Ellwood City area fire trucks

posted May 29, 2019, 9:36 AM by Mother Seraphima

On Tuesday, May 21, local area Fire Departments came to the monastery to familiarize the firefighters with our property and to hold and training session. At the conclusion of the training, prayers were read for the firefighters and each local company was blessed along with their firetrucks. An article in our local paper can be found here:

Our photos can be found here:

Holy Week and Pascha 2019

posted Apr 30, 2019, 12:16 PM by Mother Seraphima
Click on the Photo above to view photos from Holy Week and Pascha 2019.

Feast of the Three Hierarchs

posted Feb 7, 2019, 7:49 AM by Mother Seraphima   [ updated Feb 7, 2019, 7:50 AM ]

From the OCA website:

The sisterhood of the Monastery of the Transfiguration hosted area clergy on Clergy Appreciation Day, which coincided with the celebration of the Feast of the Three Hierarchs on January 30, 2019.

“Due to the severe cold, weather and health issues, a number of clergy had to cancel their participation,” said Mother Christophora, Abbess.  “But those who attended experienced a gathering of prayer and fellowship for our beloved clergy and the opportunity for them to serve together and discuss common areas of interest, as well as the needs and challenges for churches in our area.”

The day opened with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, at which Archpriest Andrew D. Nelko, Campbell, OH, who was celebrating the 31st anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, presided.  Concelebrating were Archpriests Gregory Kevin Long, New Castle, PA and Paisius McGrath, Lyndora, PA, and Priests John Schmidt, Ellwood City, PA; Seraphim Moslener, Beaver Falls, PA, who delivered the homily; and Andrew P. Nelko, Weirton, WV.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, a Memorial Service was celebrated for Matushka Juliana Schmemann on the second anniversary of her repose.  She was remembered, along with her husband, Protopresbyter Alexander, on the anniversary of their wedding.

A luncheon prepared by the sisterhood was enjoyed after the Liturgy.  The clergy also received gifts from the sisters in appreciation for their ministries and assistance to the monastery.

“Following the luncheon, a profitable and interesting discussion took place among the clergy and the sisters as we looked at ways to better serve our area population—ways to minister both to those who attend our churches and to those who are yet unfamiliar with Orthodoxy,” said Mother Christophora.  “We also discussed involving youth in parish service and shared ways to widen the social and spiritual horizons of our local parish communities.  We observe and experience a general sense of defeat in our geographical area, and we discussed how this effects our parishes as well.”

The clergy deeply appreciated the gathering and the hospitality of the sisterhood and look forward to their next opportunity to be together at the monastery.

Nativity 2018 - Theophany 2019

posted Jan 29, 2019, 12:48 PM by Mother Seraphima

Click on the photo below to see photos from the Nativity, New Year's, and Theophany feasts at the monastery.

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