Thursday, 27 May 2010

With the help of the angels, the internet, perseverance and a pinch of luck!

Here is a photograph I found on the net of my third cousin, Father Joachim (Ross), Hieromonk of St. John the Baptist Skete monastery, Kentlyn, New South Wales.

Well, whether it was time, fate, destiny or angel help .... or a combination of all four ... we have found David Ross, our family monk and in the doing filled in some of the missing pieces in regard to the descendants of Charlie and Mary Ross's youngest child, Spiros Andrew Ross.

In that odd way of things, my brother Ken did a search over the weekend of Greek Orthodox monks and found the name (Ross) connected with a Russian Orthodox monk. I had also searched in the same way, but, not thinking outside the square, had ignored the Russian orthodox because my family records had David Ross down as Greek Orthodox. It is yet another reminder that family records are often incorrect or only partly correct. And I should have taken the time to search the Russian names given that the Russian Orthodox Church came out of the Greek Orthodox and of course they have a great deal in common.

Something to ponder, said Ken and it certainly was. You have probably been down this path before, he added, and yes, I had, but not quite in the same way.

‘I was searching for Greek Orthodox monks with the surname Ross and turned up a Russian Orthodox Monk ,’ wrote Ken. ‘He is actually the Abbot I suspect the abbreviation 'Hmk' means 'Head monk' - do Monks change names and take on those of Saints? I know that Nuns do - perhaps 'David' changed to Russian Orthodoxy and became Joachim', added Ken. Even more interestingly the record shows that services are in English.

So, following up Ken’s lead to the monastery where Father Joachim (Ross) was based and doing a search on the name Father Joachim (Ross) I found an email address .... actually I found two ... and sent off a message. One email bounced immediately, but I had a reply to the other within an hour.

Bingo! It was so exciting. I had been fascinated to think that given our Greek connection we had a Greek Orthodox monk in the family and while I do not yet know if he began that way and changed to the Russian church, it is still interesting. Even more so should we find that the original name was Rossolimo...which has both Ithacan and Russian connections.

I wrote: I am trying to trace a relative who become an Orthodox Monk. His name was David Ross. I am researching our great-great grandfather who was born Ithaca, Greece and who settled in Australia in the 1880's.

I see that your surname is Ross. Could there be any connection?

And in reply Father Joachim wrote:

Dear Roslyn

...... yes, I am a priestmonk with the Russian Orthodox Church, known now in monasticism as Father Joachim.

I would be interested to know the results of your searching our origins from Grandpa Ross (Spero Andrew) about which we know nothing - my father Kevin was never forthcoming about his family history, though I always suspected the Greek connection with Grandpa's first name being Spero - looks as if it was Anglicised a bit as it is usually spelt Spiro by the Greeks, a short form of Spiridon/Spyridon, a famous Greek Orthodox saint, and of course Andrew is a common Greek name (Andreas) as he is the patron saint of Greece. I would be interested how the name Ross came about as a surname.

What I found even more fascinating is that my cousin David Ross had chosen life as an orthodox monk with no real knowledge of his family’s Greek connections. There are so many assumptions in this sort of research and most of them are wrong. I had been thinking he was interested in the Greek ancestry and perhaps had even learned Greek (and of course he may have) and that is what had attracted him to the Orthodox church but it seems there is another story altogether.

How amazing to make contact so quickly. What would we do without the wonders of the internet? Even more interesting was that I could do a search of images and find a photograph of Father Joachim, my third cousin ... putting a face to the name! Pulling together the pieces of the family puzzle.

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