Brief History of Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center
In 1979, His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony, then the newly elected bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of San Francisco, shared his vision for the creation of a retreat and conference center that could be used to provide spiritual programs for the faithful of the diocese, especially the youth! A young priest, Fr. John Bakas, hearing Bishop Anthony’s words, thought of a friend who had a large parcel of land nestled in a beautiful valley in the Sierra Nevada foothills, just outside of Sequoia National Park.
The property, owned by the Nick Kossaras family, had once been part of the huge Sally K horse ranch, which in the early 20th century had provided work horses that pulled wagons of ice to homes and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley. The Kossaras family enthusiastically embraced the Bishop’s dream and donated the entire 180 acres to the Diocese.
In the early days, the old ranch buildings were utilized, the centerpiece being a two story horse barn built in the 1890’s in which a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas was built. At this point Fr. Jon Bakas held youth retreats where everyone
would stay in the barn!
In 1982, the cafeteria, lodges and swimming pool were built which led to the first year of summer camp. Eventually the was 300 acres large as additional parcels were purchased.
Metropolitan Anthony’s vision was made complete with the opening of the Monastery of the Holy Theotokos the Life Giving Spring, built on a hill overlooking the Ranch, offering a spiritual oasis of Orthodox Christian worship and spirituality.
Today, His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos is continuing the work begun by Metropolitan Anthony by instituting many new initiatives for St. Nicholas Ranch and by keeping the Ranch in a very special place in his heart!