Our Heritage and Mission

Our Heritage

A cross, a wooden deck and the call to teach

by   F A T H E R    P A U L    Z U N I G A


nspired by the life and example of Father Kosmas

Aitolos, who urged the Orthodox Christians of his time to build schools so that their children could learn about the Faith and be well-grounded in the life of the Church, our goal is to support Orthodox Christian learning at every stage, whether in early childhood, middle school or high school, and beyond, by delivering not just courses for curious minds but also He Who is Living Water to thirsty souls.

In the aftermath of four centuries of Turkish oppression, Saint Kosmas was tasked in 1759 with traveling wherever needed, for however long, with complete independence, to breathe life back into Christianity. He traveled for 25 years throughout all the regions of northern Greece, the Ionian Islands, but especially in Albania, for the Christian people there were in great ignorance because of the oppression.  He found over 200 schools, as well as charities and rural churches in that time.  He traveled by foot, by donkey and by ship. When he came to a village he would ask the villagers to plant a large wooden cross in the village square. Then he would mount a bench next to the cross and preach to the villagers about the love of God and the Orthodox faith.He advised the people of the town of Parga: “Take care to establish without fail a school in which your children will learn all that you are ignorant of.”  Father Kosmas believed that our faith wasn’t established by ignorant saints, but by wise and educated saints who interpreted the Holy Scriptures accurately and who enlightened us sufficiently by inspired teachings.”

Father Kosmas’ primary interest in education, however, was religious. He saw in education an indispensable tool for the understanding of Orthodoxy. “Schools enlighten people. They open the eyes of the pious and Orthodox Christians to learn the Sacraments.”

In another Teaching he said: “Schools may open the way to the church. We learn what God is, what the Holy Trinity is, what an angel is, what virtues, demons, and hell are.”    Elsewhere he noted: “Blessed Christians, a large number of churches neither preserve nor strengthen our faith as much as they should if those who believe in God aren’t enlightened by both the Old and New Testaments.”

“So, my children, to safeguard your faith and the freedom of your homeland, take care to establish without fail a school.”

In the eighteenth century the Orthodox Church was faced with a growing number of defections among the poor and illiterate Orthodox to Islam, especially in the areas of Albania and western Greece. There the Orthodox were under especially severe social, economic, and religious pressures by the dominant Moslems.   It was Father Kosmas’ belief that the establishment of schools where the Orthodox faith would be taught would be able to stem the tide.

Father Kosmas was persuasive enough so that in over two hundred towns and villages he was instrumental in establishing schools where none existed before.

His moral authority was such that he was able not only to raise the money needed to establish the schools and to maintain them, but with the consent of the inhabitants to appoint teachers and overseers for those schools, as illustrated from his letters.Father Kosmas reposed in August 1779 in Albania.  The people whom Father Kosmas loved and served did not wait for any official proclamation of his sainthood (this took place almost two hundred years later on 20 April 1961) to honor him as one of God’s special servants.

The memory of the holy, glorious and right-victorious New Hieromartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Kosmas Aitolos is celebrated on August 24.



ur Orthodox Christian school sits on 14 acres just south of

Reno, Nevada.   At the center of our campus, stands this cross under which we gather to listen.  On the desert breeze, the “still, small voice” of Father Kosmas proclaims the resurrected Christ as Church.  In the deep stillness of the wilderness, stands a wooden deck such as Kosmas might have once stood upon.  Here, around this cross poised high atop Steamboat Hills, at the mouth of Pleasant Valley and overlooking the Virginia Foothills eastward, as if planted by Saint Kosmas Aitolos himself so many centuries ago, the kerygma of life is carried out.  From this platform, the voice of Saint Kosmas who erected crosses and platforms everywhere he traveled, catechizing and baptizing as he went, echoes in the high desert, calling all to Life.

The Mission

  • Increase access to high-quality, Orthodox Christian education for everyone, everywhere
  • Enhance teaching and learning at the local parish and online
  • Advance teaching and learning through bilingual education
  • Creating unique learning experiences aimed at achieving communication with understanding in cross cultural environments, by utilizing effective global partnerships, inclusiveness, self-awareness, and innovative materials and services.

About Us

St Nicholas Orthodox Christian Academy (SNOA) seeks to offer online resources and a community to meet the educational needs of all Orthodox Christians as sketched out in the vision for Total Parish Education of the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC).

Our APXEION platform for education and learning is one tool for transforming traditional education, removing the barriers of cost, location and access. Fulfilling the demand for people to learn on their own terms, we are reimagining the possibilities of Orthodox Christian education, providing the highest-quality, stackable learning experiences.

Inspired by the life and example of Saint Kosmas Aitolos who urged the Orthodox Christians to build schools so that their children could learn about the Faith and be well-grounded in the life of the Church, it is our aim to support Orthodox Christian learning at every stage, whether in early childhood, middle school or high school, and beyond, by delivering courses for curious minds.

Father Kosmas is one of the most popular saints among Greek and Albanian Christians, a popularity which has increased as time has gone by.  The impact Father Kosmas had on the people –Christian laity and clergy, as well as Muslims– was such that he was considered a saint many years before he was cruelly put to death for Christ.  The secret of his great success was due, above all, to the fact that he not only preached the Gospel but lived it in such a way that many who heard him then — and those of us who listen for his voice today– are moved to follow in his footsteps.

St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy’s Mission Statement

To offer an Orthodox Christian alternative to public, charter, homeschool, and other Christian-based educational ministries for the next generation of Orthodox believers.

Our Motto

Uniquely Nurturing the Next Generation of Orthodox Christians.

Our School Colors

Navy, Burgundy, and Gold.

Our Vision

To create and become the “gold standard” in Orthodox Christian faith-based education.

Our Values

Through our values, St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy demonstrates to our students, faculty, staff, partners, and larger community that we are a unique educational institution, aimed at making a positive difference for all those who interact with us.  Our values are based on Scripture and the Church Fathers, with their emphasis on the uniqueness and worth of each individual.  We place a high value on treating each person with respect and dignity, as each person is a unique creation of God.  We strive to emulate Christ and our patron saint in all that we do, especially in that we educate regardless of ability to pay.

Photos from the Academy