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.

See our website at

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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


In Sierra Leone, James and family are making their way back to Kabala after spending a week in Freetown, 

braving the busyness of the city to seek medical attention for Roo, 

receive packages from the post and stock up on supplies.  They are excited to return to the peacefulness of Kabala, especially as they prepare their hearts during this penitential season of Advent. 

As I type this post, the rain is falling hard and Seraphim is outside rebuilding and repairing the newly developed ditches in the gravel road at the skete.  He is drenched. 

In order to prepare for the cold Winter, we are filling the gas tanks for the buildings in use at the Skete. 

Preventative measures and preparedness are imperative to maintain our buildings, our properties and daily life.  Advent calls to attention the fact that as we give attention to the physical preparations - things that are temporary, it is even more important that we prepare our hearts and souls which are eternal.  

Nazareth House Apostolate began the Advent Season as we begin everything - in prayer.  

As the first Advent candle was lit in The Chapel of the Presentation, the Liturgy began.  It is the custom of NHA at St. Simeon Skete to place the Nativity Scene in the chapel on the first Sunday of Advent, highlighting the empty creche - signifying the Season’s reason for preparation and expectation -  the coming of Christ.  

The Wisemen are placed far to the East in the Chapel ... journeying closer each Sunday of Advent, finally making their way to the site of our Lord’s Nativity after Christmas.  

After the Liturgy on this first Sunday in Advent, 

we had a wonderful time of fellowship 

at Anna House, 

a sharing and celebration as we begin the fasting and penitential observations the next day.  

The materialistic “Santa Season” serves to distract us from having a meaningful, preparatory Advent.   Consumerism, Self indulgence, Keeping up with the ‘Jones’ (people haven’t realized that the “Jones”  aren’t happy, but they still want to be like them), mammon illness - all these things take away from having a real Christmas.   There are many traditions and customs that help us to ignore these distractions and put them in proper perspective.  

One tradition, the Advent Wreath, serves to keep us focused on The Important. Each night at the dinner table one candle for each week of Advent is lit, ending with all four candles lit by the week leading into Christmas.  Usually the youngest child of the family lights the first candle.   There are many prayers that can be found on the internet search engines to be said at the lighting of the candle, but it can be more personal and meaningful (especially to the children) to incorporate your own prayers. 

The first candle is the candle of Hope (expectation). This points attention to the anticipation of the coming of Christ.  As God’s people were exploited by power hungry kings, led astray by self-centered prophets, and assuaged into apathy by half-hearted religious leaders, people began to crave a new king who would teach them how to be people of God and not of the world. They longed for the return of God in their midst. 
So, God revealed to some of the prophets that He would not leave His flock without a true Shepherd. While they expected a new earthly king, their expectations fell far short of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ. The world continues to be lead by dominative powers.  We remain in expectation, with hope, for the coming of Christ.  Our hope starts with the birthing of Christ in our own hearts.  
The sequence of lighting the candles for the remaining Sundays of Advent are that of Love, Joy, and Peace.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our Supporters

Nazareth House Apostolate is blessed to have friends that support the work all over the world.  We remain small in number but HUGE in heart and spirit. 

As this post is being published, there are many outlets of Nazareth House busily working together to pray and provide beyond themselves.   We are most grateful.   The needs increase daily and we are thankful for the continued support.  You are all named daily in the prayers at St. Simeon Skete .

Today we feature our chapter housed in the C.S. Lewis Student Center & St. Theodore's Chapel located on campus of University of South Carolina in Columbia. 
Seraphim and I recently made a trip to visit the C S Lewis Center and we are amazed by their care and support for the work and the love they show for NHA and the people of Sierra Leone and us.   
Tonight they will be doing a FAST to raise awareness and funding for the work of Nazareth House Apostolate.   If you are able, join them in the fast and/or donate to NHA for the cause. 

Their flyer reads: 

What: Fast for Africa 
When: 6:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, to 6:00 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19 
Where: C. S. Lewis Student Center and on your own 
1730 College StColumbia, SC 29201

Why: To raise funds and awareness for Nazareth House Apostolate, Sierra Leone, and to pray for their ministry
GRACE is inviting you to be involved in the ministry of Nazareth House Apostolate in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Many of you met Fr. Seraphim and Vicki Hicks, founders of Nazareth House, last month during their visit to Columbia. This Fast for Africa will allow you to participate in the ministry you heard them speak of.

Nazareth House Apostolate is especially called to pray in areas that have been abandoned and forgotten by the rest of the world. During the horrific ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone, Nazareth House went there to pray and and share God’s love. Today, Nazareth House operates a free school in Kabala, Sierra Leone (along with one meal a day to students) as well as providing medical help to those who fall between the cracks. All of this started simply with prayer! Read more at www.NazarethHouseAP .org.

Attached is a sheet for supporters to pledge a certain amount for each hour you fast. At the bottom of this page is a handy table to compute several different levels of giving, but any amount helps, and donors are free to choose their own. Ordinarily, you should collect the gifts after you have finished the fast (no fair accepting funds, and then not following through on the fast). Check off the right column when you collect the donation. If you have medical issues that preclude you from a total fasting from solid food, just do as much as you can, but be upfront with your donors. The normal fast would mean only consuming water during the 24-hour period, but if you need to adjust it to your own situation, then do as much as you can. It really only means missing two meals (breakfast and lunch on Saturday, assuming you eat just prior to the 6:00 p.m. start on Friday), and very few people have ever had to be rushed to the hospital for missing two meals! You may also choose to fast from something besides food, but it should be a real sacrifice of something you ordinarily partake of (tv, computer, etc.).
As with any fast, use the hunger pains as an opportunity to remind yourself that your hunger for God is more important than any physical hunger you may experience. When your stomach grumbles, turn it into a prayer. You may want to use the following prayer, which is recited by the students daily at the Nazareth House School:

“Merciful God, receive the prayers we offer for our anxious and troubled world. Send thy light into our darkness and guide the nations as one family into the ways of peace. We, together on the earth, belong to you. May we see one another as you see us. Help us to love one another, teach us to understand each other, just as you understand us. Make us as fresh as the morning, make our hearts free of fear. May we forgive each other and forget the past. Strengthen in us, day by day, the desire for you. Amen.”

You will be able to participate in the fast completely on your own, but we will have group activities at the beginning and end of the fast, if you would like to participate. Friday, we will start with Evening Prayer at 6:00, praying especially for Nazarath House, and our efforts in this fast. We will follow that by a screening at 6:45 of Blood Diamond, the 2006 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, which tells the story of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war (Location TBA).

Saturday, we will end the fast with Evening Prayer at 5:30, followed by an African supper at 6:00.

(Help us support Nazareth House Apostolate in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Please download this sheet for more information:

*********************************************************************************During our visit,  The C.S. Lewis Center offered a Taste of Africa dinner to raise awareness and support.  
Groundnut Soup with Rice as well as the cucumber and smoked fish dish were big hits with everyone - the students at USC

 and at the subsequentTaste of Africa dinner at the Cathedral of the Epiphany Church in Columbia, SC.   
What a welcome we received!  
The fellowship was wonderful.  
The "Freetown Fridge" remains (drinks are offered for a donation to NHA) in place at the C.S. Lewis Center. 

It has been raising awareness and funding for Nazareth House for many years now. 

One of my favorite events of the visit was the High Tea 

on the porch of the Center.  

We enjoyed great togetherness and mutual support.  
We were quite pleased at the brilliance of the students 
and their eagerness to help those in need.   
If you find yourself in the Columbia area, look the C.S. Lewis Center  and/or the Cathedral of Epiphany up - you are sure to find a gracious welcome. 

Join in the love of Nazareth House Apostolate...

Follow us on our Facebook Page

See us in action on our Youtube Channel;

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

 We received a lab report on Roo and it showed he was severely anemic.  Everything else seemed okay and no malaria showed in the blood.
 From these photos we can see he is thin and doesn't feel well.   We are starting him on iron vitamins as we do not trust the blood supply for transfusions.
Thank you for your prayers for Roo and the work in Sierra Leone by Nazareth House Apostolate.  Its not easy, but we don't give up.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven. Eleven. Eleven. Updates: bits & pieces

In the spirit of Eleven, we give thanksgiving for the Eleven Patronal Saints of St. Simeon Skete and NHA. 

  1. Holy Prophet, Elijah, who heard God in the stillness
  2. Holy Simeon, the God Receiver & Confessor, who found God to be enough
  3. John the Baptist, Forerunner & Baptizer of Jesus in the Jordan River where Heaven opened
  4. Saint Mary of Bethany, who chose the better part
  5. Saint John the Beloved who with Mary Magdalene & Mary, the mother of our Lord, bore witness at the foot of the cross
  6. Saint Paul,  the Apostle, who showed us the Way of the Name
  7. Saint Pachomius of the Rule who gave us the Angel's holy Rule of Prayer
  8. Saint Arsenius, who fled, found solitude and prayed always
  9. Saint Mary of Egypt, for whom repentance was enough
  10. Saint Isaac the Syrian, who showed us the beyond to be in our midst
  11. Saint Gregory of Sinai, who stayed with the prayer
"Lord, Jesus Christ our God,  by the prayers of your saints, have mercy upon us and save us."

Today's blog post will be a bit of a "catch up" on recent events.  

At this writing James and Kadijah are tending to Roo who is experiencing a very high fever of 104.  Please keep him in your prayers. 

The NHA Matching Fund campaign has ended and was a success.  We have now received the matching funds to match all the donations.   Thank you so very much for all the support.  You'll be hearing more about this very soon.

Nazareth House Apostolate has purchased 100 worm pills ($319) and they are on their way to Sierra Leone along with medications received from the Anglican Church Women of St. Augustine Church in Chico, California.

We want to send our love and congratulations to Mohammad Sanu and his family.  

His wife gave birth (successfully) to their youngest child. 

 Last year they lost a child at birth - it was too premature.  

Sanu has joined the NHA team and works with James to provide and do the work of Nazareth House in Kabala.  

James reports after Sanu's wife's surgery - c-section (thanks to NHA's provision) that he met up with an adorable little dog sporting only three legs.   

"Old school is this dog's name. Some say he suffered the amputation during the war, some say he was hit by a car but no matter what his history is, he is the sweetiest dog I have ever met in my life. Whilst trying to help Sanu out as he struggle to get his wife out of the hospital after her operation, we met Old School. I was so worn out but was so moved to play with him and  there he comes wagging his tale as if I was his owner. He did make my day and every one told me so much good stories of him. Old School, as he is called, living his life as a Freetonian and had no choice but to keep his three legs going and making life happen as it is. No complain at all.......  To me he represents a lot of my people, they have nothing, many times not even their limbs, but they smile, they are genuinely happy and they make life go on as if they were richest of the world" -James Mansaray

After prayerful consideration and much research, we have decided to transfer Lucy to a Boarding School in Freetown.   

Lucy, (James daughter) plans on being a doctor and with the scarcity of that vocation in Kabala we felt it was our duty to see that she gets the adequate education and training without delay.   Our NHA School in Kabala provides very qualified education however, we are just now growing into the high school level that Lucy has already obtained, therefore we didn't want to hold her back. We tried the excellent homeschooling but since the internet in Sierra Leone is so intermittent these days, her learning was not consistent.  The boarding school tuition, room and board (including food) is right at $3,000 a year.  We have provided $500 of that as a downpayment and this has allowed her to begin school.  The school has asked that we pay $1100 this month and the rest within the next month.   We are taking donations for this cause.  If you wish to give please indicate "Lucy" on your contribution. 

Nazareth House again paid the yearly rent for Marianna Barrie, the wife of the late sufi saint, Pa Barrie.  

We promised Pa Barrie that  we would take care of his widow and we have kept our promise.   

Thanks be to God. 

Back at St. Simeon Skete, we are preparing for Winter.   The skies have been as colorful as the changing leaves.  Finally, the grass mowing is over until Spring.

   There is over 17 acres of grass to cut on the property and Seraphim has been keeping up with it.

   When time came for Louisville Tractor to come and take away the lawn mower for Winterizing,

 Seraphim was like a boy having his toy taken away.  

He explained to me that the Cheetah (Scags Zero Turn) was the best working tool he's had in a long time.  "Its a fine machine"  He is very thankful for it, especially with this much grass to cut. 

And as they drove off with it, Seraphim watched it to the very end of the road.   Men and their tools.

We cannot stress enough that Nazareth House Apostolate relies totally on God as he expresses Himself through our supporters’ prayers, compassion and generosity.  Through this assistance we are able to reach hundreds (families and individuals, doctors and hospitals,  teachers and students).   Join us, today.

donations should be made through the Paypal button on our website 


mailed to

185 Captains Cove Drive
Taylorsville,  KY 40071

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Wailing Wall at St. Simeon Skete

As Autumn settles in at St. Simeon Skete, 

we’ve now completed a full year in Taylorsville, Kentucky.  

Much has been accomplished in establishing this space of prayer, yet; there is still much yet to do.
Upon purchasing the property, there was (and still is) many physical projects necessary to aesthetically conform the grounds to the atmosphere necessary for a skete.  That is ... an atmosphere of prayer.  

We are working on these projects one at a time as funding, labor and weather permits.   

It cannot be said too often, or stressed enough that St. Simeon Skete is about prayer, everything we do stems, circulates and grows from that prayer.

 It is the heart of Nazareth House Apostolate which enables the blood to circulate through the body.  

Without the work at the Skete, the mission work in Sierra Leone could not continue.  

That work, the ongoing prayer, has been going on way before we relocated to Taylorsville, there has been no change in that, only the location is different.  It is at this new setting that we hope to expand that prayer with vocations.  Those who will give up all of the world to come and live this life of prayer at the Skete.  

There was a time when people believed that prayer at this level was necessary and vocations were plentiful.  As the world became more materialistic, vocations began to drop.  

At Nazareth House Apostolate we believe that it is the lack of places such as St. Simeon Skete, that the world is in such decline.  

People need to know that there is somewhere in the world where people are praying.  

When they are stuck in traffic, already late for work and suddenly their car overheats 

- people need to know that in the midst of their struggle there are those who are praying for them at the skete. 

On Sunday, November 6th, we officially opened the Wailing Wall of St. Simeon Skete.  

The Wall, containing a shrine with pieces of mortar from the original Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, lies hidden beyond the fencing 

overlooking Taylorsville Lake.  

Yesterday, it  was blessed and the first prayers were inserted into the cracks.  

The Notice on the Wailing Wall at St. Simeon Skete reads: 

“This wall is inspired by another wall, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. 

Here generations have cried and prayed out their needs before God.  

Indeed to this day little pieces of paper with prayers and petitions are rolled up and inserted in the broken mortar between the bricks of the wall.

This wall serves the same purpose. 

It is here in order that needs, prayers and petitions may be stuck in the crevices that as they’re seen they will be prayed for.  

Also, you may take a petition from the wall, keep it for a week and pray for the unknown writer whose heart may be broken.  

Then you might initial and date it and put it back again so that the person who put it there originally may know that he or she is not alone; that someone gave comfort, sympathy and concern.
In any case, the Wailing Wall stands here as a shrine, a special place at St. Simeon Skete 

where we stand with deep devotion with you as we raise our hearts and minds to God with longing, tears and confidence. 
Feel free to stick your needs in the cracks and look over other’s needs.  

Most of all, stand, kneel or prostrate here with reverence, faith and quiet that deep sympathy and mercy always demands of us.  

Jesus Mercy dear friend.

Now it is time to go into the marketplace, do so with this commission: “...go ye and learn...I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” -St. Matthew 9:13”