Update on St Peter’s Monastery in Montana

Outstanding article on this compelling new monastic initiative, being founded by dedicated lay benefactors, and shepherded by monastics from Monastery of St John in Manton, California.

See also my special page on the founding of St Peter’s Monastery.

Photos provided by Pravoslavie.


Pravoslavie, September 12, 2016

missoulian-1Eastern Orthodox believers are patiently moving forward with plans to build a monastery in Montana.

Though the timetable will depend on issues such as funding, members of St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church in Bozeman already have donated land near the base of Montana’s Tobacco Root Mountains especially for the monastery. The property is near Harrison on Harrison Lake, also known as Willow Creek Reservoir.

“It’s already in a conservation easement which stipulates that nothing can be built on the land other than an Eastern Orthodox monastery,” said David Hicks, a member of St. Anthony the Great Orthodox Church in Bozeman. “The property is a 1,000-acre tract on the north shore of the lake.”

West of the Moon

David Hicks and his wife, Betsy, gave the parcel from what they called their West of the Moon ranch for the purpose of building St. Peter’s Monastery, as it is called. The “West of the Moon” name of the ranch comes from an old jazz standard “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon),” written by Princeton undergraduate Brooks Bowman and published in 1934, Hicks explained.

The monastery was formally established in 2014 and the St. Peter’s Monastery Foundation, which is guiding the effort to build it, is recognized by the state of Montana as a tax-exempt 501(c)3 foundation.

“We have been so blessed to live at West of the Moon and in our beautiful state,” Hicks told the Missoulian in an email. “No one ‘owns’ anything anyway. That’s just a fiction to appease the ego. It’s all on temporary loan. We are just the stewards in the parables told by Jesus, someday to give an account to the owner.”

Hicks, who is secretary of the foundation, noted that in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the new monastery may start out as a “skete” – essentially a little monastery associated with a larger one.

A website at stpetersmonastery.com discusses details.

Alone with God in the wilderness

Father Hieromonk Innocent, the superior of St. John Monastery in Manton, California, has led three delegations of monks to Harrison in recent years to get work started on the actual building of the monastery. Innocent said Montana is in line with what monasteries have traditionally been in Orthodox tradition.

“In the history of monasteries, the monks were actually trying to flee from the cities in order to be alone with God in the wilderness,” he said.

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