In October, five monks, members of the Eastern rite Catholic Church, arrived at their new monastery in St. Nazianz, about 50 miles south of Green Bay. The three-story structure, originally a convent, offers enough space for the community to grow and to welcome guests from around the Midwest for retreats and worship.
“We are a new foundation of a very ancient tradition in the Eastern Catholic Church,” said Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis, leader of the monastic community. “We began about 17 years ago and we had a home in Newberry Springs,” located in the western Mojave Desert in California.
Last year, one of the monks, Fr. Moses Wright, came across Maria Haus — formerly St. Mary Convent in St. Nazianz — while doing an online search for church property. “So we came and looked at it and we liked it,” said Abbot Nicholas.
“Bishop Ricken extended his invitation for us to come and made us feel very welcome,” said Abbot Nicholas. “He’s very enthusiastic about our presence and ministry here, so his support is important.”
With boxes yet to unpack, Abbot Nicholas said the monks are eager to settle into their new home. It’s especially significant to land in a community named after a father of the Eastern Catholic Church, St. Gregory Nazianzen.
Abbot Nicholas said the monastery wants to offer retreats and days of reflection to the community. “We hope to have Saturdays as days of pilgrimage and reflection,” he said. “Most Saturdays we hope to have groups of anywhere between 10 and 50 people who will come for the day to celebrate liturgy with us; Mass in the morning and lunch. We can show them around and explain to them about our tradition. Then they can stay for vespers.”