On Saturday, August 6—the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord—the monastics of New Skete celebrated their 50th Anniversary in conjunction with their annual pilgrimage.
The day opened with the celebration of the festal Matins and the Divine Liturgy, at which Metropolitan Tikhon was present and delivered the homily. [An audio of his homily is available on-line.] A full day of activities that included tours, a talk on monastic life, a photo exhibit and guided hikes followed. Pilgrims also enjoyed a variety of ethnic foods. The pilgrimage ended with the celebration of Vespers and a Healing Service.
In the afternoon, Archpriest Michael Oleksa of the Diocese of Alaska offered a presentation titled “The History of Monastic Missionary Activity in Russian Alaska.”
A monastic community of the Orthodox Church in America since 1979, New Skete was established in 1966 by a small group of Byzantine Rite Franciscan monks. The monks are renowned for their breeding of German Shepherd dogs and their training of all breeds. In 1969, seven Poor Clare nuns from Indiana, inspired by the vision of contemporary monastic life, settled near the monks and joined New Skete. The nuns of New Skete have been baking their world-famous cheesecakes for decades. In 1983, a third community was established when eight dedicated parish members expressed their desire to live in accordance with the monastic way of life and formed the Companions of New Skete.
An interview with New Skete’s Mother Cecelia, who painted the icon of the Transfiguration commemorating the communities’ 50th Anniversary, is available on-line.