Holy Cross Monastery (Castro Valley, California)

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Holy Cross Monastery from the east.
Holy Cross Orthodox Monastery is a monastic institution of the Orthodox Church in America, located in Castro Valley, California.

The clergy of the monastery previously served under the omophorion of Archbishop Kyrill, who shepherded the OCA's Diocese of Toledo, Ohio. Since the repose of Archbishop Kyrill during the summer of 2007, they now serve under the omophorion of Metropolitan Jonah, who serves as locum tenens of their diocese until a new hierarch is elected and installed. On July 5, 2009 Metropolitan Jonah celebrated a primatial Divine Liturgy at the monastery, at which time he ordained its Archdeacon Stephen to the holy priesthood and its Subdeacon Peter to the holy diaconate.

About the monastery

Holy Cross Monastery serves Orthodox Christians of all ethnic backgrounds and all cultural traditions. Services are predominantly celebrated in English, but are often also heard in Romanian, Slavonic (also known as Old Bulgarian), and Greek. Many Orthodox Christians with roots in Romania and Bulgaria regularly attend services at the monastery. Orthodox faithful of all backgrounds come here for weddings, baptisms, and other sacramental blessings. Elegant dining space and a covered portico are available for receptions. Spiritual day retreats have been held here by OCA churches, neighboring Greek Orthodox parishes, and by many other Orthodox groups.

Holy Cross Monastery thrives by the grace of God and through the hard work and professional employment of its monks. Although friends and supporters have given and continue to give donations to help further the fathers' holy work, the monastery is self-supporting. The monks have never sent out appeals for donations and have never even passed a collection plate in their monastery chapel. Whatever friends, supporters, and visitors have ever given of their own free will has been gratefully and humbly accepted and used for the greater glory of God by the monks.

The fathers do their utmost to make every visitor feel that their monastic dwelling is a spiritual home to anyone who comes to them for spiritual nourishment. Holy Cross Monastery exists as a haven of spiritual tranquility, tolerance, and kindness, not only for the local owls, wild turkeys, deer, foxes, and raccoons, but for all who come to partake of the monastery's peace and befriend the Fathers. The beauty and harmony of the monastery and its environs speak for themselves and speak to the soul and heart of anyone who loves God, humankind, and nature.


Facing east toward the Cross Shrine of Holy Cross Monastery with redwood trees planted by the fathers in the background.

Holy Cross Monastery began with its abbot, Archimandrite Theodor. He always dreamed of founding a monastery one day for the greater glory of God. In 1965, while he was very young and after he had been ordained as a priest for just one year, his devout mother suddenly and unexpectedly fell asleep in the Lord. He was the only son of his parents, and his mother left her inheritance to him since she knew of his holy intention to build a monastery one day.

This legacy from his mother was the seed from which Holy Cross Monastery would one day take root, but it was not enough to acquire property suitable for a monastery. So he labored in the Lord's vineyard as a parish priest until he met his first disciple in 1970.

When he heard this young man talk about his interest in pursuing the monastic life, Archim. Theodor asked him if he would be interested in helping him build a monastery. "The days when emperors, tsars, or kings will build monasteries for us are past," he said. "If we want a monastery, we shall have to build one ourselves." It was then, in 1970, that they made their holy vow that one day, by the grace of God, they would build a monastery together dedicated to the Holy Cross.

It took the monks nine additional years to save enough money to buy property suitable for a monastery, and then, in 1979, with the blessing of their diocesan bishop, they purchased a rural estate that would eventually be consecrated as Holy Cross Monastery. The monks themselves have performed most of the labor that has transfigured this rustic property into a frontier of Paradise. They have also stacked every stone in their retaining walls and planted the trees in the cloister precincts. The majestic redwood trees that tower behind their cross shrine were planted by the fathers themselves from one-gallon cans in 1980, during the first summer following their acquisition of the monastery property.

In 2002, the fathers acquired an adjacent parcel of land and effectively doubled the size of the monastery.


Services at Holy Cross Monastery are usually conducted in the languages best understood by those worshiping with the fathers, who can conduct services in Romanian, Slavonic ("Old Bulgarian"), Greek, or English as the need arises.

  • Saturday Evening
    • 6:00 PM Great Vespers (The time for Great Vespers is subject to change, so please call beforehand.)
  • Services which are open to the general public are listed above.

Please respect the sacred solitude and quietude of the cloister and contact the Fathers before visiting at times other than Sunday mornings.

The monastery is located close to the San Francisco Bay Area; so it does not currently encourage overnight visitors, except for those pursuing a vocation in the monastic life.

External links