Great Lent 2021 Newsletter and Donation Appeal Update

Icon of the Crucifixion – F149
Icon of the Crucifixion – F149

With Gratefulness

Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     Bless!  The Lord!

At the beginning of Great Lent we can look back across the last year, and in spite of the many intense and unexpected difficulties in our whole society and the whole world, and the particular troubles and trials here at the Skete, we can still be thankful to God for all of the blessings that He has bestowed on us all if we care to look for them instead of just concentrating on our troubles.  The other day when looking back over all those things that had been planned and hoped to be accomplished here at the Skete which did not come to pass yet with regret, it was much better to think about all of the unexpected things that were accomplished that would not have happened if we were too busy just doing what we thought was best.  Maybe that is a meme that we can all relate to if we care to see all things with grateful eyes in God’s Providence.

We are also grateful for you and all those who care and pray for us here at St. Isaac’s Skete, and ask God to help us by your prayers and other support.  This means a lot to us, and we pray for you in return every day.  This is the normal and healthy relationship of mutual support and prayer and love that the monastics and laity keep for each other throughout the history of the Church, and so you are dear to us, and how you are doing in both your sufferings and your joys.  May we all be blessed to learn love and greater dependence on the Living God Who loves us intensely each moment of our lives, and may we always pray that His mercy reaches each person as they will let the Light of His Countenance fall sweetly upon them.

Our Challenges

The Covid crisis has affected us all.  We are thankful that it did not strike here the monks or many that were closest to us, and so none most dear were taken away from our midst.  Still, our icon business was closed for over two months as a non-essential business here in Wisconsin until the end of May, and we were closed again when our entire computer system was hacked in mid-September, with even some parts of our work not fully available even until today, though most of our daily operations are again back after a two month hiatus.  We took up the many suggestions for safely opening back up our manufacturing facility using some state approved guidelines that both we and the hired staff could feel most comfortable about meeting our own needs, and they are all in place.  There has been no contagion here because of those precautions.

The back valley’s Common Monastic building is still not up and functioning correctly and the road to the back this winter was often impassible so that that the contractors including for the well could not even go back to asses or fix he damages.  The deep cell solar batteries are still on order from the manufacturer, and they have to be in place and be able to be delivered to the building so the old batteries can be given back when our solar contractor is there to both disconnect and reconnect them properly.  There were also leaks most recently in some of the water lines from the boiler connection to either the intake coming in with the heated water or the lines to the radiators in the greenhouse.

All work on this and on the well needs the batteries in place, and we are hoping that they will come in the next few weeks so we can put them in place to let us assess all of the other damage and get that fixed.  It is a most beautiful all-green monastic building that sadly sustained such extensive damage this year, and we want to get this all back together as soon as possible.

Because of such a perfect storm this last year of being shut down twice between the state mandates and the computer hacking (together shut down for four months), we are seriously behind in our business and because of this also behind in every other aspect of past due bills and reduced time that employees were able to work to keep everything moving smoothly forward.  Many buildings had their water freeze, and drains freeze too over the winter which have just recently thawed.  There was also roof leakage from the ice dams during the coldest weather.  Even this program that lets us write our newsletter and donation appeals was lost during the restoration from the hacking, and there is now an elaborate work around to even get this one done and out to you as it has been delayed over a month.

Outside the Common Monastic Building in the Snow
Common Monastic Building in Winter

St. Nicholas Church in the Front Valley in the Winter
St. Nicholas Church in Winter

Monastic Cell in Skete Back Valley
Monastic Cell in Skete Back Valley

Icon of the Resurrection (Detail) – F138
Icon of the Resurrection (Detail) – F138

Critical Help is Needed Just Now

We are very greatly stretched, and although trying hard to be thankful (which we are most of the time), we are turning to our donors and dear friends for practical help as well as their earnest prayers for the monks here to help get us up back on our feet and be able to meet our financial obligations that are so stretched in this perfect storm.  We had to use some available funds to buy extra propane heaters and containers of propane to just heat minimally the back valley’s Common Monastic Building all winter long to avoid even more damage than what has occurred.  Our time to do more advertising and donation appeals on time were also put back because of each challenge that we ae still facing.

We are just a few monks, but still willing to try to do what we can to provide our beautiful icons to the Faithful, and keep our prayers up, and our buildings functional and intact.  We really need now most of all just over $10,000 in general funding to manage to move forward.  We want to continue to serve you and each part of our larger spiritual community, so please see in prayer whatever you can do to help.  Every dollar will count and is a blessing, even the widow’s two mites!  Thank you for help, and may mercy come to you from Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Keep us in your prayers and your love, We are praying for you.

Your Brothers in Christ,

The Monks of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and the community at St. Nicholas Church

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