Archimandrite Simeon Gitlis

  • Alan Gitlis
Archimandrite Simeon Gitlis
Archimandrite Simeon Gitlis

Archimandrite Simeon Gitlis was defrocked by the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia (BOD) in 2009. Gitlas was suspended from the priesthood and sent to spiritual court after a written complaint of sexual misconduct. The complaint was made by a woman who had lived at St. Isaac of Syria Skete (SISS). The woman resided in “The Women’s Guest Trailer” of the “Mission Center” from May, 1995, through February, 1999. During this time she was 18-22 years of age. A copy of the letter from Metropolitan Joseph notifying the woman of Gitlis’ defrocking is linked above.

Gitlis is the founder of SISS, which is located in Boscobel, Wisconsin. He was also the priest serving the Convent of St. Silouan, the rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, and the administrator of St. Isaac Orthodox School. All three are also located in Boscobel.

SISS was founded in 1987 as a satellite of Christ of the Hills (COTH) Monastery in Blanco, Texas. At that time, both groups were affiliated with the Archdiocese of Vasiloupolis.

Prior to founding SISS, Gitlis was a monastic at COTH. He was at COTH when their icon of the Mother of God reportedly began weeping on May 7, 1985.

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. SISS subsequently returned their antimens to ROCOR.

The Boscobel skete operated independently, under the leadership of Gitlis, until they were received into the BOD.

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.