Governor signs bill to permit Metrpolitan Anthony to be Buried at Monastery
- Governor signs bill to permit Metrpolitan Anthony to be Buried at
Cleric's dying wish is granted
Governor approves his burial at monastery.
By Jennifer M. Fitzenberger
Bee Capitol Bureau
(Updated Thursday, February 3, 2005, 5:55 AM)
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Schwarzenegger on Wednesday made possible Metropolitan
Anthony Gergiannakis' dying wish to be buried behind the altar of a Dunlap
The governor signed Senate Bill 28, allowing burial of the Greek Orthodox
leader at the Monastery of the Theotokos, the Life-Giving Spring. The
monastery, near St. Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in the Fresno County
foothills, is not an official cemetery.
Gergiannakis, 69, died Dec. 25 after a quick but fierce battle with cancer,
church leaders did not have time to seek cemetery designation for the
monastery. The process can take 10 months or more.
Under state law, burying a body outside of a cemetery without a special
is a crime punishable by up to a year in jail. SB 28 allows Fresno County to
issue the permit for Gergiannakis' burial without requiring a public hearing
lengthy environmental review.
The signing -- Schwarzenegger's first this legislative session -- comes on
40th day after Gergiannakis' death, which holds special religious
Greek Orthodox Christians believe the dead remain close to the living for 40
days before making their transitions to paradise.
"It's just a nice added bonus," Father Demetrios-Earl Cantos, chaplain of
monastery, said of Schwarzenegger's picking Wednesday to sign the bill by
Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno.
Said Darrel Ng, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger: "Given the strong local
for the bill and his eminence's importance to the Greek community, the
was happy to be able to help fulfill Metropolitan Anthony's dying wish to be
buried at the monastery."
The bill, introduced Jan. 26, was rushed through the Legislature to honor
wishes and life accomplishments of Gergiannakis, who served for more than 25
years as bishop and metropolitan to thousands of church members in seven
Western states, including California.
"We got a bill from beginning to end in less than 30 days. That's amazing,"
Cantos said. "I think that [Gergiannakis] would be very pleased."
The church is making arrangements for Gergiannakis' body to be moved from a
cemetery in San Francisco to the monastery. The burial is scheduled for
2, which would have been his birthday.
During his tenure, Gergiannakis founded more than 20 churches and missions
three monasteries, including St. Nicholas Ranch and its monastery. He set up
endowment fund for children with cancer, and he developed a Greek folk dance
festival that is now believed to be the largest of its kind in the world.
Gergiannakis told several close friends in the weeks before his death that
wanted to be buried at the St. Nicholas Ranch monastery.
"He was very in love with this place," Abbess Markella Galati said. "He
God gave it to him."
The reporter can be reached at jfitzenberger@... or (916)
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