In the Orthodox monastic tradition there are three types of ascetic life. The first is a large community consisting of many monks. This type of establishment is generally called a monastery and, if large enough, may be called a lavra. The second type is called a skete. A skete is a small monastic community, which consists of a few monks, and they usually live in more isolated areas and have a more austere life. They live outside the bustle of the world, in the wilderness, and are under the shepherding eye of the abbot. The third is the retirement of a hermit who lives in solitude, seeking the Lord with the greatest of zeal.
Dormition Skete was founded in 1979 by then-Monk Gregory, with the blessing of Archbishop Seraphim of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Bishop Gregory came from the east coast to Colorado in 1978, with his eyes set upon the mountains to start skete life in America. He had on his person only $20. Through the mercy of God after one month, 10 acres were donated to him in the mountains of Colorado to start a small monastery, dedicated to prayer and solitude and the painting of Orthodox icons, as the main occupation for the monks to sustain themselves. The Monastery is self-supporting and does not solicit donations for its existence.
Following the concelebration of Metropolitan Vitaly with the ecumenist heretic Cyprian of Fili in December of 1995, Dormition Skete and Holy Apostles Convent broke communion with the ROCA, which had fallen under its own anathema of 1983 and has since slid further and further into the universalist and sergianist bosom of the apostate churches. Ignorant at the time of the existence of any confessing Orthodox bishops in the Russian episcopate, then-Archimandrite Gregory and synodia joined the GOC under Chrysostom II Kiousis. Later, finding the President of the Synod to be an ordainer of ecumenists, a persecutor of his bishops and his flock, and a violater of the Church’s canons, the Skete and Convent left Kiousis’ Synod and, in Febuary of 1999, joined the GOC under Metr. Kallinikos of Lamia, presently under the leadership of Archbishop Makarios of Athens and all Greece.
In 2001, when it became known that there were confessing bishops in Russia who were ordained by the ROCA before the union with Cyprian and did not accept this breach of the canons, the monastic communities were released to join the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. Archimandrite Gregory was ordained to the episcopacy by these confessing bishops in the same year. In 2004, Bishop Gregory was elevated to the rank of Archbishop because of his missionary labors. Not long thereafter, the First Hierarch of the ROAC redirected the course of the Church in an ecumenical direction. Due to this unacceptable sequence of events, Archbishop Gregory and his churches throughout America and Bulgaria now find themselves temporarily independent.
Dormition Skete is located in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, now on 27 acres of beautiful mountain property, at 9,000 feet, in the St. Elizabeth National Forest. The Skete is heated by solar energy, is designed specifically for icon painting, and can house 6 monks. There are three churches: the Kyriakon named in honor of the Holy Dormition of the Mother of God, and two chapels, one in honor of the Exaltation of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross, and the other dedicated to Saint George, the Great-Martyr. The Kyriakon is designed according to the traditional Athonite architecture established by Saint Athanasios of Mt. Athos, and is a little larger than the Katholicon of the monastery of Stavronikita on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Most of the work of construction was done by the monks of the Skete. Visitors may come with permission for one or two hours.
In 2003, with God’s help, the fathers constructed a new building which provides much more space for living quarters, offices, a reception room, etc. Most of the monastics now live and work in this building. All of the icon painting continues to be done in the original skete building, as it was designed to be well-suited to the art of iconography.