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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

UofL Students feed entire village in Kabala

Times have changed, the world is not the same and it seems to be changing faster and faster.  We are dealing with diseases like Ebola that spread from border to border by ever increasing global travel.  The stop gaps of the past to contain within an area are diminished.

Technology has taken a huge place in our lives - from young to old.  Conversations at the dinner table have gave way to individual attention to text messaging conversations on a phone screen.  The person to person contact is limited and distorted.

Some from traditional ways, the old school, tend to be concerned as to what the future holds -- especially for the young people of today.  The baby boomers wonder -will future generations maintain the values of yesteryear?  Will they withdraw into self-centeredness?  Will they completely discard the hopes and dreams of the past generations?  

Haven't we all heard these words "The youth of today, they just don't care"?   I remember hearing my parents say it and I bet you remember hearing it as well.    And there are individual indications and cases in which that statement can ring true.

 Yet, much louder and much clearer are the actions of the students from University of Louisville that quash such an opinion.   These students are the epitome of the younger generation caring and putting that compassion into deed!

In January 2015, Nazareth House Apostolate received a check from a fundraiser by the Students of University of Louisville for aid to Sierra Leone in wake of the Ebola Outbreak.

At that time, the villagers in Kabala were suffering extreme hunger as food supplies and needs were diminishing greatly due to the ongoing Ebola Outbreak.

More people in the villages near Kabala were suffering starvation and other consequences of Ebola than of Ebola itself.

Naked and hungry children.  Sierra Leone. 
The UofL Students raised over $600.
MeNore Lake, Ryan Eid and Dr. Harris of UofL at fundraiser to benefit NHA in Sierra Leone
That amount, together with a special donation from Dr. Muriel Harris and Dr. and Mrs. Baumann, allowed us to give rice out to every family in the entire village.

Not only that, we were also able to ship much needed supplies to our staff in Sierra Leone along with the Annual Candy Cane treats we normally give out each Christmas.  We were late this year because it was difficult to ship to Sierra Leone during the ebola situation, but now we are getting things in.

Children of 1st World Countries are used to tons of expensive gifts under the Christmas tree.  The children in Kabala are not!  However, they are delighted with their simple Christmas gift of a few candy canes.  They wait all year for this special treat.  And its always received with no complaints - it is always the right size and color!

Our hats are off to the Students of University of Louisville and Dr. Harris along with Dr. and Mrs. Baumann ...


They have shown to us all that being there for our brothers and sisters in need is important.

...and that it doesn't take billions of dollars and lots of resources - it only takes a few with giant hearts to make it happen.  Thank you students of UofL for this great act of compassion.  You give us hope!

"So what did you do yesterday?"   UofL Student: "I fed an entire village not just for the day but for a few weeks."   How many people can say that?

NHA looks forward to a continuing relationship with these students in hopes of partnering them with our students at the Nazareth House Apostolate School in Kabala.  Their energy and compassion together with the work of NHA can go far in the little town of Kabala.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The NHA Way of the Cross (Sierra Leone)

The following is the Nazareth House Apostolate “Way of the Cross” as seen in the toil of the people of Sierra Leone.  Every Lenten Season, NHA is asked to repeat this for those practicing their Lenten Discipline.   

Nazareth House Apostolate
St. Simeon Skete
Taylorsville, Kentucky
The Stations of the Cross

Reflections of the Suffering Christ present 
in the people of Sierra Leone.
  1. The young boy above displays the scourging on his face. He received these beatings for asking to go to school instead of selling coal to help provide for the family.
  2. The Stations of the Cross are actual photos taken by NHA photographers of the people we serve in Sierra Leone through Nazareth House Apostolate.
  3. These Stations are designed for you to ponder and develop your own personal meditations.

The First Station: 
A disease rarely seen and easily cured in the West, Sheku carries a belly full of internal parasites—worms. There is no medication available for him. He is without hope and condemned to die. The very next day after this picture was taken he passed on. To give our lives to the making of more money and acquiring more possessions when there are people to be saved is to worship a lesser god.
“He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off”— Isaiah 53:7-8 (The Message)

The Second Station: 


The wood is heavy, the day is hot. He has no proper clothing to ward off the blistering sun beating down on his back. Yet, this small boy continues on, focused on completing his task. He will sell the wood as firewood to provide food for his family. He understands that the heavy burden he carries is his loved ones’ salvation –the means by which they will continue to stay alive. Jesus carrying the cross is the call of God for us to continue on carrying the crosses of life when all is surely lost.
“But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, .” Isaiah 53:4 (The Message)

The Third Station


Weak and hungry, this young boy collapses on the steps of a village home. He is unable to continue on, there is no energy left. He hasn’t eaten in several days. We all wish that some things in life would “go away”. But when they don’t, when we see no way out of them, then we must understand that God’s will is better for us than our own.
“But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (The Message)

The Fourth Station


Jesus said to his mother, “Women, here is your son”, then he said to his disciple: “Here is your mother”. John 19:26, 27 Whatever the cost, Mary trusted that God’s will was more to be followed than her own. Mary took the step for us that can give us the guts to take the step for others.
“Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother, This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, A figure misunderstood and contradicted— the pain of a sword-thrust through you— But the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are.” Luke 2:33-35 (The Message)

The Fifth Station: 


The thinner man (on the left) is struggling to push the over-weight rice cart to the vendor. Weak, sick and starving, he labors on. The employer, who hired him to transport the rice, pays the man very little wages. His family is hungry but he doesn’t have enough money to purchase even one of the bags of rice that he hauls. A young, strong man sees the man’s toil and steps in to help him push the load.
There are so few choices for the poor. They have to endure backbreaking labor simply to provide a meal a day for their families. May we recognize there is beauty in a burden shared.
“I’ll meet you there. I’ll come down and speak with you. I’ll take some of the Spirit that is on you and place it on them; they’ll then be able to take some of the load of this people—you won’t have to carry the whole thing alone.” Numbers 11:17 (The Message)

The Sixth Station


At Grafton Displacement Camp, the children are ill. All of them are sick at some degree, suffering fevers with frequent hacking coughs. Most have worms . There was not one child in that camp that didn’t have a thick runny nose. In the name of compassion we must be willing to risk all.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25:34-36 (The Message)

The Seventh Station


This young girl has been sent out to fetch water for her family. She is extremely thirsty, weak and tired. She lays on the side of a curb to rest. Later she scoops the water from the drainage ditch into her bucket and returns home. The effects of war, disease and extreme poverty have taken their toll on many in Sierra Leone after the 11 year war in which thousands died and many more maimed. The people struggle to get back up and rebuild their country.Over and over we fall into the lure of the world, we must follow Christ by getting up and continuing on in His path.
“When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions. John 16: 21-23 (The Message)

The Eighth Station


A man contributes alms to the ill, the famished, and the maimed women who have gathered to beg at the street corner. May we recognize Jesus in others, no matter how lowly or poor, rich or greedy—may we see Him in everyone.
“A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming when they’ll say, ‘Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!’ Then they’ll start calling to the mountains, ‘Fall down on us!’ calling to the hills, ‘Cover us up!’ If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they’ll do with deadwood?” Luke 23:28-31 (The Message)

The Ninth Station


Malaria has brought this child to a listless state. She hasn’t the strength to raise her head. Pain we bring upon ourselves is one thing to bear, but pain brought about unnecessarily is greater to bear. The burden can break the spirit. This poor little girl is suffering simply because she was born in Africa. Around the world malaria is being prevented and cured, but in Sierra Leone it is the number one killer of children under the age of 5. Every individual has a place in God’s heart and therefore should have that same place in our own hearts.
“You’re my cave to hide in, my cliff to climb. Be my safe leader, be my true mountain guide. Free me from hidden traps; I want to hide in you. I’ve put my life in your hands. You won’t drop me, you’ll never let me down.” Psalm 31:3-5 (The Message)

The Tenth Station


A young man’s torn, raggedy clothing barely cover him. He is lucky to have found this to wear. Yet, dignity is here, even here. The stripping away of resources brings you to a total reliance on God.
“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” Philippians 2:5-8 (The Message)

The Eleventh Station


Isha was burned over 80% of her body. Her parents had no available means to treat her burns or the subsequent infection. Every time those, with the means to prevent it, ignore those who are suffering Jesus is nailed to the Cross.
“Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors—Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep. Isaiah 53:11.12 (The Message)

The Twelfth Station: 


Her burns oozing and infected, Isha’s body is no longer able to keep going and she dies. Her parents, unable to do anything to stop it, watch in pain as she draws in her last breath.
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12 (The Message)

The Thirteenth Station

Salu carries the body of his newly born child to the grave. He has no money for a proper coffin, he uses a cardboard box. Because the family had no money for a c-section, the medical facility allowed the baby to die in the womb and did nothing to assist the child in birth. Another child dies on the cross of poverty.
“There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used.” Luke 23:50-53 (The Message)

The Fourteenth Station

Alimamy, a good man, trained by Doctors without Borders, did much to save the lives of many in his country. Always putting others first, Alimamy treated a patient with a very contagious disease. He used the last available methods of treatment. When Alimamy caught the disease, there was nothing left to use to treat himself and he died.
There is always that silence at the graveside, repeated in hospital rooms, in war-torn villages, in deep famines – that speechless group huddled together in loss. A silence replaced only by the victory being won by Christ as He rises from the dead and our sin being transformed into forgiveness.
“The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded”. Luke 23:55-56 (The Message)
© Way of the Cross,  NHA Media 2009, all rights reserved. Stations written by Vicki Hicks