St. Paisius Serbian Orthodox Monastery (Safford, Arizona)
St. Paisius Orthodox Monastery is a women’s coenobitic community which follows the traditional rule of monastic life. The monastery The monastery was founded in 1993 and is dedicated to St. Paisius Velichkovsky, who dedicated his life to collecting and translating the texts of the Philokalia as a means of preserving the teachings of the Holy Fathers on the hesychastic way of life. St. Paisius Monastery falls under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, Western American Diocese.
St. Paisius Monastery began as a sisterhood in Northern California. However, the location there was not one that was permanent, and as the number of sisters increased, it became necessary to find a permanent home. That home was found in Safford, Arizona, and in 2000, the community was received by Bishop Jovan and Bishop (now Patriarch) Irenej (Gavrilović) of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The first chapel consecrated on the grounds of St. Paisius Monastery is a chapel dedicated to St. Anastasija of Serbia, wife of Stefan Nemanja and mother to St. Sava of Serbia and St. Stefan (Simon in monasticism) the “First Crowned” king of Serbia. Additional "side chapels" have been built, one dedicated to St. Paisius, and another dedicated to the Holy Hierarchs, St. John Maximovitch and St. Nikolai Velimirovic. A cemetery chapel, dedicated to the Archangel Michael is being constructed.
To support themselves, the sisters publish spiritual texts, make prayer ropes, and offer to over 1000 guests who visit the monastery each year a fully stocked bookstore. They also labor in cultivating the earth and tending the monastery’s flock of purebred milk goats and other animals in order to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Since 1995, the sisterhood has welcomed teenaged girls who wish to live and study at the monastery. The monastery home school is dedicated to the Protection of the Theotokos. The sisters tutor the girls in their studies and offer supplementary classes. Some of the students have chosen to remain as nuns in the monastery, while others have married and started their own families.
Situated in the High Sonoran Desert at the base of Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona, the monastery is in the process of building to meet the growing needs of the monastic community and the faithful who visit. This includes plans to build a church, a trapeza (or dining hall) and kitchen, and then continue with a full monastery enclosure. An Orthodox cemetery was established in 2004 for the faithful.