Axios Father Madai!

It is hard to describe the joy we felt upon learning that His Holiness the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II and His Grace Bishop Saba of the North American Diocese of the Georgian Orthodox Church decided to ordain Hierodeacon Madai (Maamdi) into the priesthood.  This is something we had prayed for.  It is not only a historic day for the Kurds, but for us, because we love him so. 

I believe Father speaks 5 languages and when he first arrived in Oklahoma, English wasn’t one of them!  He knew Greek and George knew Greek, so between the two of them they could have a conversation and George would translate for me.

Father always caused quite a stir when he came to visit us.  One day he was out in our back yard with George and I happened to look out the window.  I saw 5 of our neighbors gathering around him with George trying to field the questions and answers back and forth.  Father just has a way of pulling people in.  It wouldn’t have surprised me if George walked in and causally announced, “They’re all Orthodox now!”

People gravitate to Father Madai because he is serious, joyful, and loving all at the same time.  The Church literally inspires awe in him and you can see it when he serves.

And he’s curious about his surroundings because he’s always looking for ways to help people.  When he is with us, he asks many questions about the Native Americans thinking he might one day try to translate for them.  He carries pictures of icons written in different places at different times in different cultures.  For him, all people are one and in his presence that definitely comes through.

I remember smiling at seeing him play with a rambunctious 5 year-old.  In the thick of things, I couldn’t exactly tell who was the monk and who was the 5 year-old.  They had so much fun playing.  Father has a way of being “all in” with whatever he is doing and whoever he is with!

Once, on Halloween, we were explaining why the doorbell was constantly ringing and why we were carrying a bowl of candy with us to the door.  George told him Hallowe’en was an essentially a harmless “protection racket.”  After the third or fourth gang of ghoulies and ghosties rang the doorbell, Fr Madai asked us if he could hand out the candy.  So he took the bowl of candy to the door.  I could hear one of the kids say, “Wow, I really like your costume!”  To which he replied, “Thanks!  I like yours too!” 

On another occasion, George and Father Madai were sitting outside on the patio and a group of our neighbors started gathering around him.  George made the introductions and explained that he was a monk.   One of them said, “what is a monk?  Is he like a Buddhist one or a Shaolin kung-fu fighter or something?”  Oh, where to begin?!  Father Madai inspires questions which always lead to the Faith. 

When I made my first overnight visit at the monastery Father had prepared the room for me.  He put little things in there like candles and toiletries.  Nothing that was new.  Just little things he could find around the monastery.   I felt so comfortable there I overslept, missing Liturgy and trapeza.  I intended to pick up something quick to eat on our way home, but that’s not what happened.  Father Madai kept asking me if I was hungry, then he said,, “You are hungry.  You need to follow me.”  He had prepared a whole meal for me and it was waiting on the table.   

I even like it when Father scolds me!  It’s hard for me to go to the monastery because of the distance in the car.  I hadn’t been there for several weeks and Father Madai said, “You need to be in Church!  I pray for you,  Galinochka!” 

That alone encourages me.  I imagine God listens to his prayers. 

There is a much more important part of his story that we have withheld hoping there will be a day when he can relay the story himself.  It’s a very personal story and George and I don’t feel we can do it justice.  God willing, he will have that opportunity.

Axios! Father, AXIOS! 

To to read about the ordination: 

P.S.  They say you should never praise a monk but the joy we feel is so overwhelming, we pray that the Lord forgives us this time.  We are particularly struck by the fact that he chose the name Madai, who was one of the grandsons of Noah and the ancestor of the Iranian races (i.e. Medes, Persians and Kurds).  May he be an apostle to these people who are starving for Christ!–GCM


  1. AXIOS

  2. Axios, and may God make US worthy of many good shepherds.