Chapter 28: New Possibility in Colorado

Arriving in Colorado was quite an experience for the two young men. They went immediately to the Russian church in Denver, and Fr. Gregory was introduced for the first time to Fr. Peter. They immediately wrote to the archbishop of the diocese, Archbishop Seraphim, that Fr. Gregory had arrived in Colorado and wished to start a monastery in the mountains. His vicar bishop at that time was Bishop Alypy, who was formerly from Jordanville and one of their iconographers. He knew Fr. Gregory very well and permission was granted verbally. Seraphim had learned some iconography from Fr. Gregory while he was visiting in Boston years earlier. When he returned to Denver, he received not a few commissions to paint icons for churches in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, but due to his lack of experience, he could not complete them. Now the burden of committing himself to these churches had been transferred to Fr. Gregory, and because of this, Fr. Gregory and Seraphim were able to rent first an apartment, then a house, close to the Russian Church of All Saints in Denver.

The parishioners of All saints received Fr. Gregory with open arms and much love. Immediately the parishioners made suggestions where to look for suitable land that was for sale. However, these leads did not prove to be fruitful. On one weekend, Seraphim‘s family invited the two to come out to Buena Vista (which means “beautiful view”). Seraphim‘s father then suggested that they put an ad in the paper to see if anyone would donate property for a monastery. The idea was intriguing, but there was no money for an ad, so they went to the newspaper office to see if they would be interested in writing a story. Indeed, the editor was overjoyed and actually wrote two articles. In one he stated, “a band of Greek monks” (a little exaggerated since no one was Greek), had arrived in Buena Vista and they marveled at the Castles at Trout Creek Pass, that they were similar to the rock formations of the monastic center of Meteora in Greece. It stated that they would like to build a monastery if someone could donate property. Lo, the miracle! The only person living in the midst of these rock formations read the article and donated any ten acres that Fr. Gregory wished to have. When Fr. Gregory inspected the land, he found total isolalation—no electricity, no phone, no water, no paved roads, no neighbors (the nearest one was over a mile away). This locale provided an idyllic setting for a monastery. Ten acres right up against the St. Elizabeth National Forest were deeded to the monastery's corporation, and this was the beginning of Dormition Skete in Colorado.

The two young men worked hard to gather sufficient funds to start construction. No other substantial donations were given at that time, but the work of their hands proved sufficient to start what would turn out to be a two-year project to construct the main building.

Bishop Alypy came to Colorado for the feast of All Saints and visited the monastery for the first time and was overjoyed. Then, an official petition was made to Archbishop Seraphim for a blessing to start the monastery and eventually have Fr. Gregory ordained. The petition was submitted by Fr. Peter of All Saints Church in Denver. The request was answered in writing by Archbishop Seraphim, and on the approaching feast of the Protection of the Virgin Mary in October, Fr. Gregory was summoned to Chicago to be ordained a deacon. After the ordination, Fr. Gregory served in All Saints Church.

The first year was devoted to building the main structure. Parishioners from Denver and even the donor of the land helped in the construction. The work, however, was too much to be completed in one year. At that point it was uninhabitable.


Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
P.O. Box 3177
Buena Vista, CO 81211-3177
USA
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Last Updated: July 12, 2011