About Our Prior

Father Symeon Najmanje, O.C.S.B.R. was born in Auburn, New York in 1957 on 11th of July —the Commemoration of the St Irenaeus Bp of Lyon & disciple of St Polycarp (who himself was a disciple of St John the Divine) [WO calendar]— to Anglo-Irish & Italian middle class parents. Because his parents were still in their youth Papa Symeon was adopted by cousins. To his knowledge this adoption was a traditionally “closed” adoption among strangers with all its ramifications. He likewise endured much suffering from physical and emotional abuse by his non-blood parent.  Received a Catholic elementary and secondary education. Papa Symeon reports, at age 12, having had an experience of the Divine Presence during one attendance at Mass telling him ‘not to reject the Church but to reject Papism’; being a foreshadowing of his involvement in Western Orthodoxy.  In heart he did so, though it had taken some years after to discover Holy Orthodoxy. As is typical with adults who were adopted as children there occurred much floundering in one’s early adulthood due to issues related to having been adopted. He had a Catholic marriage that proved unsuccessful.  He has today two sons who were both baptized Orthodox.

Papa Symeon had been received into the Orthodox Church in 1979 on the Commemoration of the translations of the relics of St Augustine of Canterbury [WO calendar].  After studying at St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Syracuse University, Onondaga Pastoral Counseling Center APCC-approved Training Institute, MDRI-NY, the Gestalt Institute of Syracuse, and various other educational institutes for mental health, counseling, addiction recovery and conflict resolution; he was further tutored by (GOArch) Father Costas Pavlakos  in Orthodox Pastoral Care. In 1997 he was awarded the degree of Bachelors of Professional Studies [BPS] in the specialty “Orthodox Pastoral Counseling & Care” from State University of New York. While still in the world, he had been a civil servant for 22 years as a psychiatric aide. Once a candidate for the directorship of Onondaga County Dispute Resolution Center; at the New Justice Dispute Resolution Center he was engaged as both a Community & Family Mediator.

He was likewise engaged in Church work: from Roman Catholic years as a Lay Franciscan and Eucharistic Minister. After converting in 1979, he was founding Board Chairman of the OCA’s NYS Deanery Outreach named “All Saints of America Orthodox Mission” its primary ministry of evangelization was conducted by operating an Orthodox Bookstore & Cafe. Therein many Churchmen offered public lectures and enlightening talks while it also functioned as a food pantry for anyone in need. Symeon left this ministry in 1995; sometime around 1997 it was reduced to the parish bookstore at Ss. Peter & Paul Orthodox Parish. Also in 1997, Papa Symeon witnessed the sad effects of phyletism on potential converts to Holy Orthodoxy who turned away from their conversion. He was determined to find a better way for Western converts.  After discovering a myriad of independent “Orthodox” communities worshiping according to their own Western style, Papa Symeon found only one group that had translated the Western Rite from genuine documents prior and bordering the Great Schism of 1054 from Old England. Today they are part of the Church of True Orthodox Christians [TOC] having as their origins the Russian Church and the “Florenite” Orthodox Old Calendar Church of Greece under Archbishop Auxentios of Athens.

Under this TOC jurisdiction, Papa Symeon entered monasticism taking the name of St Simeon of Syracuse on June 1st o.s. 1998 under the Holy Rule of St Benedict of Nursia and progressed rapidly to stavrophore in 1999 then ordained hieromonk in 2000 on the Commemoration of St Kenelm of England.  Being in isolation as are the TOC Churches, problems arose. He left them in 2001. Returned in 2007. Made a final break on December 14, 2014 when he was received into the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion. Due to canonical complications and his many disabilities* affecting mobility it was agreed by Papa Symeon and Metropolitan Hilarion that he be received as a simple monk. He is in rank a Stavrophore as a monastic and acting-Prior of the Hermitage and its Brotherhood as others join him. Papa Symeon is candidate for the Great Schema whenever it suits the Metropolitan’s schedule to return to the Syracuse area.

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*Father Symeon suffers from Fibromyalgia; Degenerative Disc Disease; Neuropathy in left side; ADD/mildly dyslexic; Arthritis in hips, knees and ankles; enlarged aorta with mild hypertension, many more not appropriate in this context.