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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kabala is the Place to Be!

James sings this song:

"Kabala is the place to be
Village livin' is the life for me
Land spreadin' out so far and wide
Keep Freetown, just gimme that countryside"

It is interesting to me that at the time Nazareth House Apostolate was moving out of the city of Louisville and into the countryside of Taylorsville, Kentucky;  Nazareth House Apostolate in Sierra Leone was beginning the move out of the hectic city of Freetown and into the peaceful town of Kabala.   Now both of the Nazareth House Headquarters (St. Simeon Skete in the States and The NHA Compound in Sierra Leone) are settled into their new surroundings and loving the beauty and quiet in which they live.

James and his family are flourishing out of the chaos of city life.

Trees line the walk into town for supplies

Everyone knows each other and everyone is there to help each other -

And If you are new to Nazareth House Apostolate you may not have heard about the "Woodchopper" aka Abu.

Here is a youtube video of Abu when James interviewed him many years ago.

From time to time, Abu checks in with us and James tends to any needs he may have.

Click here to see the blog post from the past:
July 2009 James meets up with Abu

Now, just recently Abu makes an appearance again - making his way out of the forests and down the streets of Kabala.

He  has aged a bit, but is still sporting the same clothes, his shoes seem to have been "added" to but he has no worries, his feet are dry.

Once in the city center of Kabala

more and more familiar faces appear...

Someday, I would love to see this Post Office repaired and in operation.  Maybe there is something we can do to help that out.  Who knows? 

Back at the Compound, James and Roo

tend to the newly planted landscaping plants around the NHA Compound.

Roo seems a little sleepy, I think James may be doing more of the pruning than Roo! 

There is no rush to find a store with high priced foods lined up on its shelves,  here the food 
comes to your door 


Fresh baked bread daily to your door - oh Amazon, I don't see you doing this one!  ...yet....

Roo prepares to help Kadijah with the laundry by bringing her the buckets of water

Laundry day begins.  

The NHA Students like to hang out at the NHA Compound and Lucy 

has plenty of bracelets to hand out

as the children come around.

After a day of chores and fun times with his friends, Roo is excited to have his favorite meal


And what about little Miss Vicki?  Well...

She'd like for us to know that she has a few teeth now...

 and is quite happy to be in Kabala and growing up in the NHA Family.

Thank you all for your support.   

Donations can be made through Paypal Donation link on our website

or mailed to 

Nazareth House Apostolate
185 Captains Cove Drive
Taylorsville, KY 40071

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Email from:
James Bombolia Mansaray to Vicki A. Hicks 

4:22 AM (2 hours ago)

Subject: Important and urgent school needs.

Sorry I am a bit late to send this but I only got this from Pa Foday last night.  The school is in need of more furniture as the sitting accommodation is getting more difficult as we start the new academic year come second week in September.

He has been checking each class with the carpenter and he came up with this for the benches, desk, tables and cupboards to store books etc.

Also the school office need some make up as more and more people especially from the ministry of education kept popping up to see how we are doing. With the kids doing well with their academic work, we expect them to investigate us more critically so we want to fix up well. I guess you understand.

1.      173 boards needed for benches and desk.
         Le. 17,000 each equals to Le. 2,941,000
         -Nails, polish etc equals to Le. 200,000
2.      11 boards needed for tables and chairs
         Le. 17,000 each equals to Le. 187,000
         Nails, shine paper, lockers, handles, polish and   
         workmanship equals to Le.990,000

This will bring us to a total of Le. 4, 477,000. To equipped the classrooms for the years to come.


1.      15 Boards needed for chairs, big office desk, 2  
          cupboards at etc.  Le. 17,000 each equals to   
-       Lockers, handles, hardboards, sponge, pieces, wood 
        glue, polish, nail, inches etc and workman-ship equals 
        Le. 773,000

A Leone is the currency of Sierra Leone (SLL).  When you add up James figures of this request (Le 4,477,000 for classroom benches, desk, etc  plus Le 238,000- Office chairs, desk & cupboard, and Le 773,000 for lockers,etc.) that he has presented me with on this 2nd week of August  (which we need by the second week of September!) the sum comes to Le 5,273,800.  

Yes, that's Le 5 Million, two hundred seventy three thousand, eight hundred Leones!  Such a large number is very overwhelming.  

But lets break it down in US Dollars ...

though a large amount of money to come up with in one month, it seems a bit more obtainable: 

Le 17,000 equals $3.90.  Therefore each board costs $3.90.   

The total of Le 5,273,800 is for the material: boards, varnish (polish), nails, sandpaper (shine paper), glue, etc and the workmanship (labor). 

We place the need before you.  

Please help NHA raise the $1,223 to make the improvements at the school to accommodate the increased amount of students and satisfy the government regulations. 

We need to act fast to give Pa Foday and the workers time to make the items before school reopens the second week of September.   

Thank you for your prayers, concern and donations. 

Contributions for this project can be sent to:

Nazareth House Apostolate
NHA School Improvements
185 Captains Cove Drive
Taylorsville, KY 40071 

or made through the website via the Donation button on the right. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Health Benefits of a Staple Oil in Sierra Leone

The people of the world know about Sierra Leone because of the recent War - a war filled with atrocities.  A war brought on by greed.  This is because a product (diamonds) of a country, not its people, was the main concern of rebels as well as  political and economic powers.   

Yet, there is a  less known specialty product of Sierra Leone; it is Red Palm Oil.  Considering its health qualities, in my opinion, its more valuable than diamonds.  (Health over Flash) ...But that's just me.  Having witnessed the atrocities in Sierra Leone, diamonds are not this girl's "best friend".

The Red Palm Oil is derived from the fruits of the palm tree; more specifically, it is extracted from the pulp of its fruit. It is called red palm oil because of its natural reddish hue, due to the high amount of carotenes it possesses. Do not confuse palm oil with the oil that comes from the kernel, or seed (called palm kernel oil). 

My favorite dish is Ground Nut Soup or Cassava Leaf - both dishes served over rice are made with this wonderful oil.  At St. Simeon Skete we serve this meal quite often.  Linda has become a pro at preparing it and it is now one of her favorite dishes as well.  

Unlike those in Sierra Leone who must pick the nut and cook out the oil, I am able to purchase Red Palm Oil from West Africa online from -  (Click on Amazon link to purchase) delivered right to our door.

NHA is working with Pa Foday to develop a Red Palm Tree Grove & Farm, hoping to export to support our school and outlying villages.   Right now, most of the exported Red Palm Oil is coming from Ghana. 

The unique distinctive flavor of this oil is one thing, the ability to fry things nicely at high temperatures is another - however, the best reason for using this oil is its health benefits.

All of the essential fatty acids that red palm oil contains are necessary for the proper growth and development of the human body. 
The oil also supplies quite the selection of vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that are also important for good health. To sum it up, here is a list of all the health benefits that red palm oil provides.
  • The red color appears because of the combination of the alpha-carotenes, beta-carotenes, and lycopene.
  • Other nutrients that red palm oil contains include: vitamin K, CoQ10, squalene, phytosterols, flavonoids, glycolipids, and phenolic acids.
  • Both alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are vitamin A precursors, also known as provitamin A; this means that once the body has these carotenes, it is able to make vitamin A. Red palm oil is one of the richest dietary sources of this essential vitamin. In fact, it contains more than carrots and tomatoes combined. Those who are lacking vitamin A or provitamin A in their diet suffer from blindness or other vision problems, weakened bones, and weakened immune system.
  • Red palm oil has plentiful amounts (in fact, the most abundant of any natural dietary source) of vitamin E, which is in the form of tocopherols and tocotrienols.
  • The antioxidants (tocopherols, tocotrienols, and carotenes) that red palm oil contains are very potent and help fight off free radicals that can damage cells in the body. The benefits of antioxidants include providing protection against cancer and heart disease, and slowing the aging process.
  • Some of the other health benefits that have been researched are:
    • Improved blood circulation.
    • Improved blood sugar control.
    • Improved nutrient absorption by the body.
    • Stronger bones and teeth.
  • Red palm oil, when consumed during pregnancy, can improve both the mother’s and the baby’s vitamin A status.
  • It is being looked at for the treatment and prevention of malnutrition because it is abundant in many different nutrients.
  • More recently, it is being encapsulated and sold as a dietary supplement.
  • Many processed foods have palm oil as an ingredient. Just read your food labels and you will start to see how widely it is used.

Red palm oil has been an international cooking favorite for centuries. In Sierra Leone, red palm oil is a staple in both the household and in cooking. It is good to use for cooking because it is more heat stable than other cooking oils, meaning it can withstand higher temperatures and still retain its form and nutritious properties; it is useful in both baked goods and cooking.

In addition to getting palm oil in through dietary sources, it has other conventional uses that may interest you.
  • Because it is packed with certain fatty acids (myristic and lauric), it is useful in the manufacturing of soaps, washing powders, and personal care products. Lauric acid is very important in soap making because it allows for a quick lathering when the product is being used.
  • It is used for biodiesel fuel purposes.
So when many are looking to Sierra Leone for diamonds and gold - that do nothing for your health, I suggest you check out some Red Palm Oil for your health.   

My only warning about Red Palm Oil is that it stains....and it really stains!   Precautions (dark colored aprons) as you prepare meals with this oil can prevent any catastrophe.   If you do get it on your clothing, simply treat immediately with prewash and scrub brush.  Its worth the inconvenience.  

Health statistics for red palm oil were researched through 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Every time we pack up a package destined for Sierra Leone, I wonder if and when it will arrive.  For the most part, we have been very successful getting supplies to James.  This year (2012) items have made it there with slower results but they are arriving.  We still have some ten boxes not delivered but I was pleased to receive notice that James received 6 boxes just this week.   ...And in the nick of time, our supplies at the NHA Compound were quite low.  The day those 6 boxes were mailed from Taylorsville, Kentucky, we also mailed a 7th box.  It has not showed up yet! 

Each box we ship goes through a series of processing.  First, its the obtaining of the supplies.  

At this time we are accepting these items ONLY (if other items are sent to us we cannot guarantee they will be shipped to Africa):   
  1. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen (pain reliever) -  generic/store brands are adequate
  2. Anti-diarrehial (Big Lots has a generic brand that is inexpensive & works well)
  3. Painrub (for sore muscles)
  4. Cold/Flu medication (adult & children)
  5. Children's multiple vitamin daily supplement
  6. Adult daily vitamin supplement
  7. Infant polyvisol w iron vitamin
  8. Children/Infant pain reliever & fever reducer
  9. triple antibiotic ointment (for wound care)

If you'd like to collect any of these items for us to send to Sierra Leone you may send them to us at 
NHA -St. Simeon Skete
185 Captains Cove Drive
Taylorsville, KY 40071

Please remember that it costs us $60 per box shipped; each box is allowed up to 20 pounds of supplies. 

Bug Spray to repel malaria mosquitoes from Kathy Webb of Sacramento, CA

If you could also collect donations to defray the shipping costs, it would allow us to use our regular monthly donations towards providing education, food, shelter and healthcare to sustain life in the various villages in which we have developed a relationship.  

Once we obtain the supplies, we cram them into the USPS Priority Boxes.  

Its not always easy to close the boxes without any bulges 

but we've learned that sitting on the box works well in this effort. 

We will be visiting Supplies Over Seas next week to obtain medical supplies.  We are accepting donations for us to purchase items from them and would appreciate any help you could give us toward this need. 

Since its founding in 1993 by the Greater Louisville Medical Society Foundation, Supplies Over Seas has distributed over 645 tons of medical surplus to 90 countries. Donated supplies and equipment come from hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, manufacturers and individuals. Volunteers sort and pack the supplies in our warehouse, and the supplies and equipment available to medical facilities and relief groups worldwide.  SOS requests a donation of $50 for the first 50 pounds of supplies and equipment. A donation of $2 per pound is requested for any additional equipment or supplies beyond the first 50 pounds.  

Once items are shipped, we wait to hear the word from James that they have indeed arrived in Sierra Leone.  It is always such a joy to hear the news. 

The news from this particular shipment is good - all of the boxes except one are in James hands safely at the NHA Compound in Kabala!  

We pray the 7th box arrives this week. 

Its fun to see the items being packed here in America 

From our table in Taylorsville, KY to NHA Compound Sofa in Kabala

and then to see them arrive in Africa.   

I always try to send a little something for Roo in the boxes and since Spiderman is his hero, we sent a hat!  

As you can see by the smile, he loves it!  

Little Miss Vicki got some things of her own as well. 

I've been asked what are the most important needs for the work in Sierra Leone.  As always, it is the the maintenance  of programs already in progress there and additional funding for new projects.  

Monthly maintenance of programs established include:

  • feeding many families by providing rice, 
  • providing for the NHA School and the school children, 
  • fees paid for higher education to selected applicants, 
  • medical treatment including hospital fees for the very ill, 
  • shelter 
  • and more.  

New projects include purchase of:

  1. NHA Vehicle - this is of vital importance that we get this project lined up and accomplished quickly.  Please share the word.  Taxi transportation is dangerous with inferior risk-taking drivers and inferior unsafe vehicles.  Much of our work depends on getting to those in need, we simply MUST have our own means of transportation.  ($10,000)
  2. New School uniforms.   Our students are wearing uniforms that have become tattered.   Each child is provided 2 uniforms at the start of school.  These uniforms are worn everyday, switching out with the second set.  Uniforms are washed out in streams beaten over rocks and then dried in the hot African sun.  This takes a toll on the cloth.  We have 300 students.  It costs $25 per student to provide them with 2 handmade complete uniforms.  If you would like to provide one or more students with a new uniform please donate for this project as soon as possible so we can have the uniforms ready in time for the return to school in September. ($7,500)
  3. The NHA Compound is without electricity.  There is no access to electricity in Kabala except by generator.   Our generator which we used at the previous NHA Compounds (St. Laurence House) has sparked its last bit of energy.  James has nursed it, and coaxed it, repair after repair but it has now seen its last day.  To keep in communication (cell phone & internet), battery charging, refrigeration of medications, etc, it is imperative that we have electricity as much as possible.  New generator to properly serve NHA Compound, etc.: $4,500 
There are other areas in which we need to add, improve or repair but for the moment, the three listed are the most needed.  Please consider working with your parish, your school, your co-workers to come up with ways to generate the funding to help NHA raise the funding to provide these necessary items in addition to the monthly maintenance we provide for those in need. Please give to NHA today.  

Thank you. 

School Supplies from Loretta Burwell of Louisville, KY 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The 15th Annual Rosary Novena for Peace

Abraham 12th century Illumination:  Muslims, Christians, and Jews sitting in the lap of Abraham

*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.

*The above prayer card was composed for and prayed during a Rosary of Masses celebrated in Sierra Leone, West Africa, Summer 2005, Nazareth House Apostolate.  It is the prayer said daily by The Nazareth House Apostolate School in Kabala, Sierra Leone.  

The NHA Fifteenth Annual Rosary Novena For Peace
(Using the Jesus Life Rosary)

(6th August to 15th August)

"All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus" -Acts 1: 14


Nazareth where Mary gave us her peace plan
Hiroshima where it was ignored.

Nazareth is where our Lord spent his hidden life, where “nothing” was coming forth but tables and chairs, where He lived as we must live, where the Son of God was simply the son of Mary and Joseph.    The hiddeness and ordinariness of Nazareth is an icon to something beyond self.  It is the accepting that people may say of us what others said of Him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn.1:46), i.e. can anything good come out of this life of “ordinariness” and “hiddeness”, strategically placed in areas of need, making a difference by entering into the moment? Praying this Rosary Novena for Peace is our answer “for he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14); it is our answer because He said “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn.14:27); it is our answer because we’re sent forth with peace, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (Jn. 20:21).

The Peace Plan for the World is Jesus, who gave us The Commandment (Mk. 12:28-31) to have a right relationship with God and Man.  We can realize the Commandment when we follow Mary’s instruction relative to her Son, “Do whatever he says” (Jn.2:5).  When we take up the Rosary, we are praying the life of Christ with a determination to do what he says in the Nazareth of our lives, Jesus.

The atomic bomb named "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 bomber at 8:15 in the morning of August 6, 1945. Immediately after the atomic bomb was dropped 70,000 Japanese were instantly killed.

As we experience this Rosary Novena for peace remember not only the destruction of that morning in 1945 but also the bombs that continue to drop. Bombs such as intolerance, hatred, pride, unforgiveness, greed and selfishness. These destructions are being dropped by the planes of commerce, enforcement, body politics and religion where there is no longer any room for He who said, "What you've done unto the least of these my brethren you've done unto me." Mt. 25:40

May this Rosary Novena for Peace do what theology cannot: put a human face on suffering and redemption. May we find sacred space in two “conflicting” yet complementary Biblical quotations:

"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Mt. 5:4) and

"The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1 :21)

Both thoughts can serve as a response to the two cities: those who mourn will be comforted, and all has happened as part of God’s perfect will and permissive will.

May you take up the Rosary once more, as I have asked many times in the past, and pray it in an Incarnational manner for the "little ones" and for peace in our world.

May priests and religious chart programs of infiltrating areas of greatest need, "broadcasting" and bearing the Mysteries to the ends of the earth (Acts 1 :8). May they introduce and re-introduce this praying of the Rosary into all areas of life: families, cities, neighborhoods, offices, riding buses, walking streets ...

May we be aided in all our efforts with the grace and strength of the Lord whose life we contemplate in the Rosary, and may we be accompanied by Our Lady of the Nazareth as we continue work for an entering into all of life with the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6).


1. Relative to the orientation message and the deaths of Hiroshima, instead of asking why, try to focus on the kind of theology needed to explain these events.

2. Meditate on the following Scriptures: Mt. 25:31-46; Heb. 13:3; John 1:14

3. Vicki Hicks on a trip to Africa organized a team to bear witness of the slaughter of 280 young people who were caught after curfew. She went with her Rosary and prayed on the sight of the tragedy with what she called instead of "air drops", "prayer drops." Find a place of great need, go,  take your Rosary, and pray. Such places could be among the rich poor, ie. banking, insurance, judicial, law offices, etc.

4. If you cannot come to the church to pray your Novena before the Shrine for Peace, you have been provided with a picture so you can be in solidarity with those who can be present at the 5:00  PM Vespers and Rosary. Create a sacred space, enthrone your picture, kneel, say your Rosary. This can be done at home or places as suggested above.

5. Be sure to keep track of your daily chaplets with the "Beads or Bombs" folder. This has been designed to fit into your Rosary case.

Remember dear ones, sacrifice, penance and prayer. Don't miss the great adventure and wonderment of it all.

My love-
Being absorbed Into His Mercy,
   - Seraphim+

“Do penance for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" Mt 4:17

The Shrine

The Rosary Novena for Peace Shrine has a dual focus; one representing Nazareth in the statue of Mary, Messenger of Peace that we might realize what we have and who we are is enough as we pray and live our Lord’s Way, Life and Name in union with Mary, Messenger of Peace.

The second focus, to the right of Mary, Messenger of Peace, is an urn which contains Trinitite, representing Hiroshima. Trinitite is the surface of the earth that was instantaneously melted by the heat of the first atomic bomb test blast.

Shortly before dawn on July 16, 1945, at 5:29:45 AM Mountain War Time, the atomic age was born. After years of experimentation and preparation, the plutonium bomb, nicknamed "the Gadget," was placed on top of a one-hundred foot tower at a site termed "Trinity" by the scientists of the "Manhattan Project." Inside, about twelve pounds of plutonium was imploded to start the fusion reaction which resulted in a blast equal to twenty thousand tons of TNT. The fireball was almost as bright as twenty suns.  It is this melted earth from the first atomic bomb blast that is housed in the urn of the shrine.

  “Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for giving us Mary, Messenger of Peace, to be our Mother.  Great warmth fills our hearts as we take refuge in the tenderness of your Mother’s gaze;  Grant that we might receive her message of peace by realizing what we have and who we are is enough, as we pray and live Your Way, Life and Name in union with Mary, Messenger of Peace.”  Amen.

Litany of Non-Violence

God, aware of my own brokenness,
 I ask the gift of courage to identify how and where I am
 in need of conversation in order to live
 in solidarity with all people.

Deliver me from the violence of superiority and disdain.
Grant me the desire, and the humility,
to listen with special care to those whose experiences
and attitudes are different from my own.

Deliver me from the violence of greed and privilege.
Grant me the desire, and the will, to live simply
so others may have their just share of Earth’s resources.

Deliver me from the silence that gives
consent to abuse, war and evil.
Grant me the desire, and the courage, to risk
speaking and acting for the common good.

Deliver me from the violence of irreverence,
exploitation and control.
Grant me the desire, and the strength, to act
responsibly within the cycle of creation. 

God of love, mercy and justice,
 acknowledging my complicity in those attitudes,
action and words which perpetuate violence,
I beg the grace of a non-violent heart.   Amen.