Elder Ephraim of Katounakia / Arizona


Elder Archimandrite Ephraim (Moraitis) (born Ioannis Moraitis) (June 24, 1927 - December 7th, 2019) was an archimandrite and former abbot of Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos, spiritual guide of several monasteries on Mount Athos and Greece, and the founder of several monasteries in the United States. He labored in Arizona at St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery.

Elder Ephraim was a hieromonk for 71 years and an elder for more than 50 years. He was a disciple of Saint Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos and lived in monastic obedience to him for 12 years until the saint's repose in 1959. Elder Ephraim wrote many books on his experiences and homilies of Saint Joseph.

Elder Ephraim was born in 1927 in Volos, Greece, in the day of Nativity of St. John the Baptist, and was given a baptismal name of John (Ioannis). He grew up in poverty and helped his father at work, but always tried to emulate the pious life of his mother Victoria (whom he later tonsured a nun with the name of Theophano). He began to desire the monastic life around 14 years of age, but he did not get a blessing from his spiritual father to leave and become a monk until he was 19.

Once, just a month before he left the world, his friends decided to visit elder Joseph the Hesychast. Ioannis did not have any valuable gift to send with them, so he sent a small pouch of vermicelli and wrote a note. When unpacking gifts, elder Joseph said: "This child will become a monk here". When the friends of Ioannis returned and told him these words, he just forgot it - he had no idea about his future monastic life and had no blessing from the spiritual father.

When Ioannis was a little baby, his mother had a vision and understood that he will become a monk at Mt. Athos. So she was preparing him all his life, having this vision in her mind, and when he was 19, she finally decided to send him to elder Joseph. And now the spiritual father did not object as well.