Nuns living in a secluded Greek Orthodox convent in the Laurentian Mountains, northwest of Montreal, have recently been fined nearly $75,000 for allegedly selling milk without a permit.
They do have their own “Fromagerie” where they produce feta cheese – which is regulated by the state. But this supposed violation has nothing to do with the production of the cheese.
The Greek Orthodox nuns at the Virgin Mary of Consolation monastery deny any wrongdoing and say that they only own two cows, which produce milk for the nuns themselves and their visitors — milk that is not even for sale.
“It’s not something we make a business out of,” the monastery’s administrator, Sister Macrina, was quoted as saying by CBS Canada. “Mistakes happen, we’re human, but you can’t fine me for that.”
The Fédération des Producteurs de Lait du Québec (PLQ), the group representing Quebec dairy producers, sent a letter to the nuns stating that the monastery has produced more than 38,000 liters of milk without a quota, and that the convent had 10 days to pay its fine.
But Sister Macrina said she only saw the letter two days before the August 29 deadline to pay the fine.
The nuns do not keep records of their cows’ milk production because they consume what the animals produce.
“I understand the point of view of the PLQ,” she said. “I understand they’re doing their job to keep control of abuse or misuse of the system, and I totally agree with them. But if you want to do something like that, do it respectfully,” Sister Macrina told CBS.
She said the 26-year-old monastery is already struggling to stay afloat financially, and it doesn’t even have facilities for the nuns to have their own rooms.
“If, God forbid, we have to pay this amount, it’s ruining the monastery,” she said. “It’s destroying everything we’ve been trying to do for 26 years.”
The monastery, founded in 1993, was the first Greek Orthodox monastery in the province of Quebec.