They Came from the Surrounding Hills and Valley
The first monks came to this quiet wooded valley just north of Boscobel in southwestern Wisconsin in June of 1986, and a small chapel was set up which was extremely poor outwardly, but inexplicably rich in God’s blessings. After all, Christ was born in a poor and simple cave. Within a few months a whole group of people started to come to church. They came from the valleys and the hills around here as they were hungry for a real and meaningful life, a spiritual life, something not patterned after just this world. And it is no wonder that they came, because man was made for something holy, man was made for something great, man was made after a pattern, an image, a likeness...not just of flesh and blood, not of sticks and stones, but in His image—the icon, the Image and Likeness of God.
St. Nicholas and This Mission Foundation
Founded in April 1987, this Mission church is dedicated to St. Nicholas, one of the most beloved Saints of the Church. St. Nicholas lived in Myra in Lycia in Asia Minor in the 4th century and his relics were later transferred to Bari, Italy in the 11th century. He is very beloved in both East and West. Known for his mercy and philanthropy, St. Nicholas was a staunch defender of the Faith, and is the patron of children and travelers. The Mission outreach is guided and helped by St. Nicholas' kind intercessions and frequent interventions in answer to prayers.
Entering the Life
Those who come to the Mission to work, study, or worship, enter in some way into the life of the monastery which, according to the Fathers of the Church, is the perfect icon of the Christian life. The rhythm of the monastic services and Church Holy Days set the pattern by which all aspects of the life at the Mission and Skete revolve. Thus the Church's reckoning of time is the center of both the mission and the monastic life.
The many different aspects of the Holy Orthodox Mission are set to work together to try to water the deep wells of our spirit. The mission outreach helps, supports, and encourages the people that live in this area, and others across the country, with the ideal of a perfect God-centered life. Whether we are a monastic or a lay person, each of us must struggle to turn away from our selfishness and have a Godly life, true and lasting, and have this life abundantly.
The Jesus Prayer
The first thing the monks did when they arrived in this valley was to begin to teach people the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" or "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." They encouraged them to follow St. Paul's commandment to pray unceasingly, for St. Gregory Palamas instructed others to teach this prayer to every man, woman, and child. Through this prayer our lives are changed, our faith is enlivened, and we come to know the Lord who came to us through His Holy Incarnation, and through the holy icons, to bring us great hope and a true and fuller life.
Present Church Construction and Plans
Construction on the new Mission Church to St. Nicholas has progressed much since this new church was designed in October 2004 and was consecrated in September 2007. Much has been completed with a few projects still to be finished. Three domes are planned as is outward lighting and landscaping and a small West entry way to really finish the outward stucture so that this beacon of Orthodoxy will completely shine most beautifully on its lampstand.
Inside there is still some work to be done, including purchase and installation of the wood-fired boiler and also the ground water air-conditioning system, and completion of all of the iconography.
Future Hopes and Donations
All of these plans still require greater funding and continued donations from our many dear donors and friends, for without your help this church would have remained just a wonderful dream. We are hoping, if at all possible, to finish the domes, west entry way, and lights and landscaping by next Summer. We are asking for help to make this happen by your generosity, and by the help of all of us here at the Skete and Mission.
Besides the Mission Church we have future hopes for better Guest Facilities, an Orthodox Retreat Center, and an Orthodox Cemetery which all must await later proper funding and good available sites. If you would like to contribute to any of these efforts to better serve the Faithful and our guests here at the Mission, please make a gift by choosing the "Donations" button on the left menu bar, and specify which project that you would like to support. God loves a generous giver, and gives in return the most precious gift: a more loving and generous heart.