When the Monastery was Founded
Founded in April 1987, this small community of men follows the “skete” or semi-eremitic form of monastic life which first arose in the 4th century monastic community founded by St. Macarius the Great in the deserts at Scetis, Egypt. St. Macarius was a disciple of St. Anthony the Great, the founder of Christian monasticism, who lived as a hermit in Egypt from about 270-350 A.D.
Skete Style Monasticism
Typically, the skete style of community in its earliest form had a small chapel surrounded by monastic kellia or cells where the monks lived and did their private rule of prayers or cell rule, and some handiwork. A spiritual father or abbot guided the spiritual endeavors of the monks of this community.
St. Isaac of Syria
St. Isaac, for whom this Skete is named, lived in the 7th century Syrian desert and wrote a number of ascetical homilies or discourses profoundly describing the spiritual ascesis (or struggle) of fallen human nature to become transfigured by Christ “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:13) His works have long been one of the basic resources of Orthodox Christian spiritual life, and are often quoted by the spiritual leaders of each succeeding generation.
St. Isaac of Syria Skete is located in a remote valley 1/2 mile away from the Mission Center. Following the monastic regulation of Optina Skete in Russia, All Saints Skete in Valaam, and Mt. Athos in Greece, no women are allowed on the Skete’s 22 acre tract, and only male visitors who are specifically invited, with the aim of keeping the prayerful constant remembrance of God undistracted. There is a single weekend of two days a year in June which is the exception to this rule, following the old rule of All Saints Skete in Valaam. Presently there are nine monastic cells, a chapel, and a Common Monastic Building in the back secluded valley.
Simplicity & Silence
Life in the Skete is simple– no electricity or telephones, and with running water later to come from a well on the hill above the Common Monastic Building. Wood stoves provide heat when needed. Silence is valued for prayer. At this time there are two monks and a novice living in the Skete. There are plans for terraced gardens, a vineyard, an orchard, and a summer kitchen to be added in the future, as well as a larger icon studio and a beautiful log church later on as funds permit.
Besides their prayers and spiritual life at the Skete, the monks work at the Mission Center with the icon production, hand paint iconography in the traditional manner, do church and mission upkeep, and they also help with visitors and daily chores as well as with pastoral and missionary outreach to the surrounding communities.
The monks are in need of finishing the construction of a Common Monastic Building to provide a kitchen, dining area, laundry facilities, and a library. This building is about 70% completed, just waiting on additional funding to provide the labor and materials to finish it. There are also plans for terraced gardens, a vineyard, an orchard, and a summer kitchen to be added in the future, as well as a larger icon studio and a beautiful log church later on as funds permit. To make a donation to the monastery for any of these present and future needs and plans or for other needed general support, please choose the “Donations” button on the menu bar.