Olivia Kijauskas was received into the monastery as a dokimos on May 12, 2021, during Vespers for the feast of the Ascension. In a short service after the Old Testament readings for the feast, two special readings were added, then Bishop Milan prayed a prayer of blessing over her: “…bless the good intention of this Your handmaiden, Olivia, and grant a good beginning to her time in this monastery….” The bishop then blessed the head covering and cross that she will wear during this period (one to two years). It is tradition that the youngest member of the monastery (in monastic years) helps the new dokimos to put on these items of clothing.
The Ascension is the feast in which we celebrate Jesus being “taken up in glory” (troparion of the feast) and taking our human nature to the right hand of the Father. At first glance, it seems sad that Jesus is leaving His disciples, but He is actually even closer to them after His Ascension, for He ascended to the throne of God which is in their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Bishop Milan’s remarks at the end of Vespers, he exclaimed that what Olivia has done by entering the monastery is “an offense to the world.” In the homily during the Divine Liturgy for the feast the next morning, Fr. Michael O’Loughlin (visiting from the Proto-Cathedral of St. Mary, Sherman Oaks, Ca.) recalled these words of Bishop Milan and said, “Yes, the world is offended, because you’ve said to it, ‘You are not enough for me.’” Just as Jesus said to his disciples, “It’s better for you if I go” (Jn 16:7), Fr. Michael continued, “Olivia, it’s better for the world that you’ve left it. …This is an example to all of us: the world is not enough [to fulfill us].”
During this first stage of monastic formation, Olivia will be close in spirit to those she loves in the world, though her communication with them will be limited for the sake of her deepening relationship with Christ. As she continues to discern her vocation, please pray for her that she will become a witness of the joy of surrendering everything to God. Below, you can learn a little more about Olivia.
College & degree: Cleveland State University (Class of 2020), Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art
A few favorite saints: John the Baptist, John the Beloved, Onuphrius the Great
Some favorite activities & interests: Hiking, looking at gardens, listening to old, quiet jazz, taking in beauty any way I can and creating beauty any way I'm called to