By Elise Franco
The Regional Chamber supports the work a group of monks is doing in Canfield.
Monks from the Syro-Russian Orthodox Catholic Church have a vision for the Monastery Inn.
Bishop Timothy and Father Anthony, who live at and run the Monastery Inn, and Mark Kholos, of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, gathered Thursday outside the inn for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, celebrating and welcoming the monastery to the community.
Kholos said he hopes to see the monastery achieve its goals.
“For this, you have to go back to what it was before to put what they’re doing here into perspective,” he said. “Now we have an outside organization investing in the property to utilize the space for the purpose of helping the community.”
Just four months ago, the motel, 7815 Akron-Canfield Road, was known as the Canfield Colonial Motel. Former owner Arthur Klein, 67, was arrested in April 2009 after Canfield police uncovered a prostitution ring at the Colonial and his other motel, The El Patio, 485 W. Main St.
Klein pleaded guilty in January to promoting prostitution. He will be sentenced March 3 by Judge Lou A. D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
The church’s monastery moved from the west side of Cleveland and bought the property in October 2009 through a land-contract agreement.
Bishop Timothy said they’ve since been working to put the place’s bad name to rest. He said they’re now running the facility as a motel with low-cost housing and an outreach program.
“Right now we also have an outreach program to homeless men who work for a place to stay,” Bishop Timothy said. “We’re using that money to supplement our income until our renovation in the spring.”
The rooms inside the motel have been cleaned, and the monks are hopeful that with a little work they can be completely redone. The first step in changing the aura of the facility was creating a religious book and gift shop right off the main office, Bishop Timothy said.
He said the shop is one of the monastery’s sources of income and has many religious books and collectibles as well as nonreligious items.
In the small room, visitors will find an entire wall of crucifixes for sale. A table in the middle of the room features Christmas ornaments, and another table is filled with small, novelty stuffed animals.
Bishop Timothy said the ultimate goal is to transform the four acres into a religious retreat that includes new offices, an on-site chapel and a walking path.
“People can choose how they want to experience the retreat. They can delve into spirituality as far as they want to go,” he said. “We’d also like to landscape the back of the motel as a nature walk where people can go to have a true spiritual experience.”
Because the plans are still in the preliminary stages, Bishop Timothy said he doesn’t know how much money they will need for the renovation.
Bishop Timothy said the biggest challenge right now is the monastery’s lack of funding because their only sources of income are from those who rent rooms at the inn as well as the religious bookstore attached to the front office.
“Currently, we don’t have the facilities or means but, eventually, we want to be able to contact other [outreach organizations] to let other men know about us,” he said.
Father Anthony said the monastery hopes spreading the word about its mission will prompt community members, business and organizations to help.
“We are open for donations,” he said. “We rely on help from the community because our outreach is much larger that just us three monks can handle.”