CASTRO VALLEY -- A monk who died Tuesday will be buried at his Orthodox Christian monastery because of special legislation passed by the Legislature this spring.

Abbot Archimandrite Theodor Micka and his longtime friend, the Rev. Stephen Scott, founded the Holy Cross Orthodox Monastery on Palomares Road decades ago.

"He just loved it; he loved the beauty of it," Scott said. "He didn't want to be taken from it, even after his death."

Scott was at the 76-year-old Micka's side when he died of cancer.

"He didn't suffer; he didn't have any pain," Scott said. "When he died, it was very peaceful."

The two met 44 years ago when Micka was a priest at the Antiochian Orthodox Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos Hills. Scott told the priest he was considering becoming a priest and pursuing a monastic life.

"That surprised him, since I was a Protestant," Scott said. He asked Micka if there were any monasteries in the Bay Area where he could live while attending college. The priest replied there were no monasteries west of the Mississippi River.

"He told me if there's going to be a monastery, we have to build our own," Scott said.

With an inheritance from Micka's mother and money saved for nine years, the two in 1979 bought the site in the rural hills just under Pleasanton Ridge and opened what is still the Bay Area's only Orthodox Christian monastery.

The monks asked state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, to help allow Micka's burial at the monastery rather than in a cemetery. The legislation passed unanimously in both houses and Gov. Jerry Brown quickly signed it into law in March, Scott said.

Funeral services will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the monastery, 34580 Palomares Road, followed by burial next to the chapel.

Holy Cross holds weekly services, baptisms, weddings and memorial services for Orthodox Christians.

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.