SISS St. Nicholas Orthodox Mission Church

St. Nicholas Orthodox Mission Church in Boscobel, Wisconsin, was founded in 1987 in conjunction with St. Isaac of Syria Skete (SISS). SISS was a satellite of Christ of the Hills (COTH) Monastery. At that time the three groups all belonged to the Archdiocese of Vasiloupolis.

Shortly after the founding of the mission, 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 COTH foiled the attempt of ROCOR to independently investigate, 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 (including the mission) returned their antimens to ROCOR on November 5, 1999. Hitt was convicted of the charges against him in 1999, and Greene later pleaded guilty.

The mission 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 (including the mission) 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.