SISS St. Isaac of Syria Skete (Boscobel WI)

St. Isaac of Syria Skete (SISS) in Boscobel, Wisconsin, was founded in 1987 as a satellite of Christ of the Hills (COTH) Monastery. At that time the Blanco, Texas, group was affiliated with the Archdiocese of Vasiloupolis.

Shortly after the founding of the Boscobel skete, on February 15, 1988, COTH and its dependencies withdrew from Vasiloupolis. They operated independently of any jurisdiction, under the leadership of Bishop (later Father) Benedict Greene, until they were received into the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) in 1991.

In 1999, two monks from COTH, Greene and Fr. Jeremiah Hitt, were criminally charged with the sexual abuse of a minor boy. After the monastery foiled the attempt of ROCOR to independently investigate certain matters at COTH, the monastery 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.) SISS subsequently returned their antimens to ROCOR.

The Boscobel skete again operated independently, under the leadership of their abbot, Archimandrite Simeon Gitlis, until they were 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 was 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.

In addition to the men’s skete, the Boscobel complex includes a women’s monastery, the Convent of St. Silouan, a church, St. Nicholas Orthodox Mission Church, and a school, St. Isaac Orthodox School.

SISS also has an icon factory, and sells an extensive assortment of icon prints laminated onto wood.