On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, at 1:30 PM Eastern Time, Mother Christophora of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, Ellwood City, PA, will present a Zoom retreat for widows of clergy titled, “Illness & Aging.” Mother Christophora is the third (and current) abbess of the monastery following Mother Alexandra and Mother Benedicta. She has been guiding the monastery as abbess since 1987.
Mother Christophora (Matychak) was born into an Orthodox family in Pennsylvania and was very active in her parish as a child and young adult. She always had a great love for the Church and a great desire to serve in some way. She attended Penn State University and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and then worked in the addictions field (as a counselor and an administrator) for seven years.
She knew of the monastery since its founding, having read about it in Orthodox newspapers, and she was placed on the mailing list, receiving the publication “Life Transfigured.” Her first visit to the monastery, while in the area on a business trip in 1981, resulted in a life-changing experience…she fell in love! Not in the usual way, but in love with a way of life that spoke to her soul and to her personality.
After two years of frequent visits, Mother Benedicta convinced her it would be good to enter the monastic community while she was still young, and not when she was old and the nuns would have to take care of her! Mother Christophora became a novice in 1983 and took her monastic vows in 1986. After Mother Benedicta retired as abbess in 1987, Mother Christophora was elected abbess and installed by Archbishop Nathaniel on August 6, 1987. She continues as the spiritual mother to the monastic community today.
As the community has grown, Mother Christophora has overseen many building projects during her time as abbess to meet the needs of the sisters and all the pilgrims who visit. She has also been a speaker at many events and retreats over the years.