SISS Convent of St. Silouan (Boscobel WI)

The Convent of St. Silouan in Boscobel, Wisconsin is affiliated with St. Isaac of Syria Skete (SISS), also in Boscobel. SISS was a satellite of Christ of the Hills Monastery (COTH) in Blanco, Texas.

The convent was founded in August, 1991. SISS and COTH were at that time in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

In 1999, two monks from COTH, Fr. Benedict Greene and Fr. Jeremiah Hitt, were criminally charged with the sexual abuse of a minor boy. After COTH foiled the attempt of ROCOR to independently investigate, it was ordered to disband. The monks refused, and ROCOR took back their antimens. (Since the property was owned by an independent nonprofit corporation, ROCOR could do nothing else.)

A nun from the convent, Mother Anastasia Stanfield, traveled to Blanco, Texas, in October of 1999 to observe Hitt’s trial. She expressed her scepticism regarding the charges against both Greene and Hitt to the media. Hitt was convicted at his trial and Greene later pleaded guilty to the charges.

SISS (including the convent) returned their antimens to ROCOR on November 5, 1999.

SISS operated independently, under the leadership of Archimandrite Simeon Gitlis, until it was received into the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia in 2001.

On April 7, 2009, Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarians confirmed in a letter (linked below) that Gitlis had been defrocked for sexual misconduct and removed as abbot of the skete. However, the property of SISS is owned by an independent nonprofit group, not by the Bulgarian Diocese.

Although the Bulgarian website no longer listed SISS among its communities after Gitlis’ defrocking, for a time the webpage for the skete continued to indicate that it was under the spiritual protection of Metropolitan Joseph. Some time later in 2009 SISS removed all references to the Bulgarians, but did not indicate any connection to any other Orthodox jurisdiction.