New Skete, Cambridge NY

My five-day visit at New Skete in Upstate New York, just a short drive from the Vermont border, was an immersive highlight of my pilgrimage so far.

The beautiful and deeply peaceful mountain setting fosters a quiet engagement with the rhythm of life at New Skete. Though the monks all have their work, and there is a certain purposefulness in the air, no one seems at all “busy” in the worldly, frenetic sense.

In addition to the daily cycle of services in the beautiful, basilica-style main church, and tasty meals in the refectory, I and my fellow pilgrims were invited to help with modest chores like cleaning and such, and we were introduced to the New Skete German Shepherds (the monks are famous for their breeding and training programs), helping with the new puppies, and even with grooming.

Fr. Alexander Atty of beloved memory (the priest who brought me into the Orthodox Church) purchased (at least) two dogs from New Skete, and my family had three German Shepherds when my sister and I were growing up, so being around so many of these beautiful and intelligent canines was a happy bonus for me, exceeding my expectations.

The Nuns of New Skete (just a quick drive down the road) are known for their baked goods and cheesecakes, and I was greatly impressed by the scale of their operation, imbued with the same sense of peace and purpose.

From the New Skete website:

As Orthodox Christians, it is our passionate desire to live the monastic life and to worship authentically and intensely. New Skete’s entire history has been characterized, in the midst of supporting ourselves, by our efforts to translate the essentials of early Christian monasticism to an American culture capable of transforming us today. This has entailed pursuing the knowledge needed to foster a spirit of healthy simplicity. We achieve this by studying Sacred Scripture, Monastic and Liturgical History and by being open to the difficulties and yearnings of our contemporaries…

Our primary focus is to work continually to transform ourselves in the light of the Gospel. To follow the path that leads us to become the person God wants us to be, we have chosen to live this life together. We strive for a balance in common and private prayer and work that is simply the work of daily living.

Click any image below to enlarge and enter slide show…

New Skete Photo Gallery

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