St. Simeon Skete, Taylorsville Kentucky USA

With St. Simeon, the God receiver, as our patron, the skete seeks to practice the ideals found in our Rule, The Thousand Day Nazareth. In simplicity and poverty, the skete embraces the struggle of inner life through the practice of the Prayer Rope.

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Donations should be addressed to: Nazareth House Apostolate, 185 Captains Cove Drive, Taylorsville, Kentucky 40071.

Important Notice: All writings, posts, graphics & photographs in this blog are the copyrighted property of (unless otherwise indicated) Nazareth House Media, a division of Nazareth House Apostolate and cannot be copied, printed or used without written permission from NHA Media, Taylorsville, KY.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Please keep Nazareth House, its staff, its work in your prayers as we journey through this difficult time. Not only did we lose a child yesterday, last night Pa Barrie dropped the body.

Most of you know the story of Pa Barrie, yet, others may not. Therefore I want to share it with you.

For those of you who know Fr. Seraphim, you know that PRAYER is his vocation, his life, his means of sustenance. He observes specific daily prayer times, wherever he may be at the called time. If he is in the airport, he will find a quiet, out of the way area and get on his knees and say his prayers, complete with prostrations. This is unusual scene for many around him, and it does tend to be a "lonely" life for Fr. Seraphim having not too many others around him in the same mode as he. Fr. Seraphim has always been "different" and always searched for that "like mind, like heart". It was such a day in Freetown, a few years ago. As Fr. Seraphim sat on the porch of St. Laurence House, fingering each bead of his Jesus Beads, he prayed for each person as they passed by. He spied this little elderly man with prayer beads walking down the hill to Congo Cross. His heart told him immediately that this man was very holy.

The next day, Fr. Seraphim watched intently for the man to come again. And, sure enough the little man passed by down Congo Cross and into a taxi he went away.

The next day, Fr. Seraphim went down to meet him, but Pa Barrie being a Fula, spoke a mix of Krio and Fula and they were unable to communicate yet acknowledged each other well. The next day Fr. Seraphim enlisted James to come and translate.

In Freetown, when Fr. Seraphim is on the streets, especially if he is standing or waiting in an area, he draws a crowd. People come and ask questions about his beads, his prayer life and such. Wanting to be able to speak to this little man without a crowd, Fr. Seraphim and James walked up the road a bit and waited outside of a gated compound for the little man to come down the hill. To their surprise, the door of the gate opens and out walks Pa Barrie. They had been waiting at the very gate that Pa Barrie worked as a night watchman.

With James translating, Fr. Seraphim and Pa Barrie talk. Finally, Fr. Seraphim has met someone who is doing what he is doing. God has given Fr. Seraphim someone of like heart and it turns out that he is a Muslim. Don't you just love how God works?

They bring Pa Barrie back to St. Laurence house and I equip him with medication and needs . Fr. Seraphim and Pa Barrie continue to communicate through James translating. But the two men are so in sync that their hearts communicated without words and this was evident as I watched them from a distance. Beads of prayer clicking one after another from both men. This was the begining of a strong bond of love and friendship for both Pa Barrie and Fr. Seraphim ...and to James, and all of Nazareth House Apostolate.

Whenever we are in Freetown, we find Pa Barrie, bring him rice, and visit and pray together.

When we are absent from Freetown, James keeps in touch with Pa Barrie and his wife.

Last Winter, Pa Barrie became ill. His extended family decided it was time for him to go back to Guinea, to leave his wife and children and return to his homeland to die. To the Fula, this is the honorable thing, it is what is done. This sounds so wrong to us, but it is a cultural tradition where you are returned to your village. And so, Pa Barrie returned to Guinea. While there, he continued to become more ill.

James teases Fr. Seraphim that he will send him off to the village as Fr. Seraphim grows older.

When we arrived in Freetown a few weeks ago, we went to find out where this village was and if it was possible for us to clear visas and get there. We found Pa Barrie's wife, delighted to see us and telling us that in phone conversations with her husband he always asks about his paddy (Krio for friend), Fr. Seraphim. She doesn't tell us that her rent is due and she doesn't have the money. She doesn't care about money, she is only happy to see us. On our own, we find out that she must pay $100 for a year of rent in the place she now lives. We try to give her the money but she instead asks us to take it to her landlord. Such dignity, such honorable people. We also find out that Pa Barrie's daughter, Jaria, is unable to go to school because she can't afford fees. We pay the fees and also provide for her to have some decent clothing. We promise to come back after we go to Kabala to open the school.

Upon our return from Kabala, we are told that Pa Barrie came knocking at the door of St. Laurence House at 6AM the morning of the Evening we returned. He came all the way from Guinea and didn't take time to stop at his home, he went straight to St. Laurence House. We are shocked! This sick, elderly man made this trip only to see Fr. Seraphim. The roads are worse than you can imagine, it is a horrible journey. It would be difficult if you were young and healthy but to be old and sick it is incomprehensible that this little man made it to Freetown, but he did.

The reunion of these two is beautiful ---as you can see in the photos on the blog and on the photo web album. As we sat in his home, both men's beads clicking prayer after prayer, it was most wonderful sight and your heart could feel their prayers of mercy, unity and peace. As I look around the room, I see Pa Barrie's travel bag. It is like Fr. Seraphim's. Inside, there is all his writings on books made out of paper sacks, just like Fr. Seraphim. I am amazed at the similarities. It was incredible to be in that room. Pa Barrie prayed for us and for the world. It is one of those moments that will never be forgotten.

Pa Barrie transcended last night, he will forever be in our hearts.