Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Nun took a vow of poverty – but is suing for pay?
A secular court must decide whether she, as a nun, was an employee of the monastery or a volunteer servant to God.
Ivantchenko is suing the Sisters of St. Kosmas Aitolos Greek Orthodox Monastery — including the Mother Superior — as well as the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto for “wrongful constructive dismissal.”
It’s unclear why Ivantchenko even left the monastery, but in her lawsuit she also alleges slander, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of mental suffering. She is seeking damages and back pay.
“This is a unique case. It’s been a terrible ordeal for my client and given that she is a nun, the unpleasantness is very difficult for her,” said Ivantchenko’s lawyer, Norman Epstein, who declined to elaborate on his client’s history at the monastery for legal reasons.
According to the affidavit from Mother Superior Anastasia Voutzali, Ivantchenko came to live at the monastery on Feb. 26, 1996. Three years later, she became a “Rassaphore,” the second stage of her development as a nun. She left the monastery in May 2010 and began her civil suit that August.
“The obligation of a nun in this type of monastery is to strive to keep, for the love of Christ and for spiritual progress, the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,” reads the Mother Superior’s affidavit.
“Monastic work is for God and not for people. It is not a career.”
But for Ivantchenko, it appears it was.
She said she performed tasks that would be seen in the secular world as “work,” including sewing religious vestments and doing embroidery, for which the monastery received compensation.
The Mother Superior asserts that these tasks — including daily chores, tending to elderly or sick sisters, hospitality and crafts — fall within the ordinary responsibilities of a nun. She said the sisters in the monastery sign no contract, receive no salary or pay, and don’t take vacations.
“At no time was it stated, or implied, that she was working, in any way for pay,” she said.
But Ivantchenko’s lawyer argued that these activities show Ivantchenko is an employee for civil law purposes and is entitled to sue for wrongful dismissal.
For complete story, see the source at The Toronto Star
at 7:42 AM