On the evening of April 12/25, Palm Sunday, two sisters were tonsured at the Ascension Monastery on the Mount of Olives.
After Matins in a dark church lit only by candlelight, nuns Marina (Tchertkova) and Mastridia (Abu Lel) lying face down under the mantles of their elder sisters, during the singing the sedalen of the Sunday of the Prodigal Son “Into the Embrace the Father”, crawled to the holy altar where the head of the Russian Ecclesiasticall Mission, Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), was waiting in order to hear their monastic vows and tonsure them into the lesser schema.
During the tonsure, Sister Marina received the name Alexandra, in honor of the New Martyr Tsarina, and Sister Mastridia was called Joanna (Ioanna), in honor of St. John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco.
In his parting words, Fr. Roman alluded to the matins just served during which was heard the troparion of Great Monday – “Behold the bridegroom comes at midnight and blessed is the servant whom He will find vigilant!” The Head of the Mission reminded the sisters that, like the virgins of the parable, they had just lighted their lamps and like the wise virgins they need to be vigilant every moment to make sure that your candles are not extinguished, so that they may always be prepared for the coming of their Bridegroom and Savior – Jesus Christ.
Then Fr. Roman handed the newly tonsured nuns to the abbess of the monastery, Mother Varvara (Novikova) and the sisters came up and congratulated the new sisters asking their new names, to which they answered “sinful nun Alexandra – Joanna”. Let us wish the sisters find salvation in the “angelic rank”.
Nun Alexandra bears her obedience in the monastery library, and Mother Joanna, the former cell attendant and recently reposed abbess of the convent, Mother Moisseia, is the leader of the monastery choir.