** Please be advised that the website will be unavailable between 4:30pm to 7:00pm on Thursday Feb 22, 2018. **
28 July 2016
The Rev. Daniel Lenz leads a prayer for the newly inaugurated Omaha Byzantine Catholic Community in Omaha, Nebraska on 26 June. Father Lenz is biritual, meaning he was ordained for the Latin rite but is permitted to celebrate Byzantine liturgies as well.
(photo: CNS/courtesy Omaha Byzantine Catholic Community)
The Omaha Byzantine Catholic Community in Nebraska seems off to a good start with two baptisms since its official inauguration as an outreach of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma this past spring.
The new Eastern Catholic community is the result of a grass-roots effort begun about 18 months ago by Catholic layman Matthew Willkom.
Within this short time, the Omaha community went from having monthly prayer services on a weeknight to finding a biritual priest who currently celebrates Sunday Divine Liturgy with them once monthly. About 60 people are associated with the community, though about 20 people attend regularly.
The 36-year-old radio producer moved to Omaha with his wife and three children four years ago from Minneapolis, where he first encountered the Byzantine Catholic Church. Though a Latin Catholic, Willkom became a regular at the Byzantine parish there and, after living in Omaha for more than two years without a Byzantine liturgy, decided to start a Byzantine community.
“I was missing (the Byzantine liturgy) so much, I felt like something should be done,” he told Horizons, the eparchy’s newspaper.
For a year, the community prayed on a weeknight at a Ukrainian parish on Omaha’s east side. The pastor agreed they could pray in English with Ruthenian chant. Now-retired Bishop John M. Kudrick of Parma had lent the fledgling group support in the form of liturgical books, as well as guidance from Father Bryan Eyman, the eparchy’s director of missions and outreach.
However, in January, the community found a new location — the monastery of the Poor Clare sisters on Omaha’s west side — where biritual Benedictine Father Daniel Lenz currently celebrates Divine Liturgy one Sunday per month. “Biritual” means he was ordained for the Latin rite but is permitted to celebrate Byzantine liturgies as well.
People come from all over Omaha and from the Lincoln, Nebraska, area, which is about 40 miles away, said Willkom.
Father Eyman visited the Omaha community 24 April. After celebrating Divine Liturgy for about 60 people and inaugurating the outreach, he spoke to them about the steps in becoming a canonical mission.
The most important steps are developing commitment and stability in numbers and attendance, and getting finances in order, he said.
Eventually, members hope to establish a mission on Omaha’s west side, which is currently experiencing significant demographic growth, with young families moving into the middle- to upper-class suburb from the inner city, said Willkom.
“But we’re not there yet,” he said. The “next step is incorporating locally so we can start to collect donations and provide for the liturgical needs of the community.”
He said there are currently no canonical Ruthenians residing in Omaha, but the recent news that a Byzantine Catholic couple from St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Parish in Munster, Indiana, intends to join the outreach once they move to Omaha this summer is encouraging, he added.
Their presence “will provide some stability and connection with the larger liturgical and spiritual life of the eparchy,” Willkom said.
The outreach also is working to establish weekly Byzantine services by the fall. Omaha’s Latin-rite Catholic archbishop gave one of his deacons permission to receive the necessary formation to lead the outreach in a Typika service — known as a Communion service in the Latin Church — on the Sundays when the priest is not available.
Willkom said the whole process has been “a journey of discovery.”
“We’re all very new to this,” he said. “The bottom line is that we’re looking for encouragement from the eparchy, and Father Bryan’s visit certainly symbolizes that.
“We’re also looking to focus on evangelization, on showing the mercy of God to each other, that same mercy we repeatedly proclaim and beg for ourselves in the Divine Liturgy,” he said.
The outreach is open to serving all Byzantines, he said. To date, they have reached out to Melkite Catholic refugees from war-torn Syria and Iraq, who continue to make their way to the Omaha-Lincoln area.
27 July 2016
Bishop John S. Pazak, center, is the new head of the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix. He was enthroned 20 July during a Divine Liturgy at St. Helen Roman Catholic Church in Glendale, Arizona. (photo: CNS/courtesy Kathleen Slonka, Eparchy of Phoenix)
The American West welcomed a new bishop from the East last week. From CNS:
In a liturgy packed with rich symbolism and ancient tradition, the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy of Phoenix celebrated the enthronement of Bishop John S. Pazak as its fifth bishop.
Archbishop William C. Skurla of the Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, and a former bishop of the Phoenix-based eparchy, prayed the words of enthronement over the new bishop during a Divine Liturgy that took place at St. Helen Catholic Church in Glendale 20 July.
The Byzantine Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with Rome.
Bishop Pazak, who spent the past 15 years as the bishop of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Eparchy in Toronto, processed to the front of the church followed by Archbishop Skurla and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Bishops and clergy from across the country — including Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who head, respectively, the Latin-rite dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson — also attended along with Catholics from throughout the eparchy.
“I am truly pleased to be with you today,” Archbishop Pierre said after reading the 7 May proclamation appointing Bishop Pazak. “I know that you join with me in offering to him not only our heartfelt congratulations, but also the assurance of our prayerful support as he takes on the very important responsibilities of chief shepherd of this community of faith.”
“Receive this pastoral staff with which you are to watch over Christ’s flock that has been entrusted to your care,” Archbishop Skurla prayed at the enthronement.
The congregation responded with cries of “Axios! Axios!” — Greek words meaning “he is worthy.” Throughout the liturgy, almost entirely chanted, there were echoing refrains of “Lord have mercy” and “God grant him many years.” Archbishop Skurla then escorted Bishop Pazak to the throne, officially taking the reins of the eparchy.
In his homily, the new bishop conveyed a message of mercy:
Society must learn to respect “every single human being who is made in the image and likeness of God” and Christians must act with mercy, he said. “Our world needs the witness of Christ’s unconditional mercy that we proclaim so often in our liturgy. Divine mercy must illuminate our minds, and more importantly, our hearts and our life’s journey.”
[Phoenix] Bishop Olmsted said he was touched by the Byzantine liturgy. “They have different traditions, different prayers, but it’s the same Eucharist, the same sacred Scriptures, the same love for Christ.”
The Scriptures and liturgy come alive for Latin-rite Catholics who attend a Byzantine liturgy, he said, and “I trust they do the same when they come to our sacred liturgies. We help one another grow in an even deeper love for Christ.”
In the Winter 2015 edition of ONE, writer Joyce Coronel and photographer Nancy Wiechec offered a fascinating glimpse into another Church of the East flourishing in the American southwest, the Chaldean Church. Check it out.
26 July 2016
Asmeret, a young mother from the Horn of Africa, helps care for children at Our Lady Woman of Valor Pastoral Center in Israel. She’s one of many immigrants seeking a new life in Israel. Learn how she and others are Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE. (photo: CNEWA)
25 July 2016
Cardinal Timothy Dolan comforts a woman during his visit to a camp for displaced Iraqis in Ain Kawa, Erbil, last spring. (photo: Courtesy of Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil)
The Summer 2016 edition of ONE contains a powerful glimpse at Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s recent visit to Iraqi Kurdistan:
“I was raised with a high value on visiting people, especially when there was adversity,” wrote Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, upon his return from Iraqi Kurdistan in April. “A neighbor a block over had a fire; the next day we visited to see how they were doing and if they needed anything. Uncle Ed had eye surgery; we visited to make sure he was recovering. After my grandpa’s death, we visited my grandma a lot.”
The cardinal visited Iraqi Kurdistan “because,” he continued, “the Christian community there is family, a family in a lot of trouble, with much adversity, and to visit them is a very good thing.”
From 8 to 12 April, the cardinal, who chairs Catholic Near East Welfare Association, led a pastoral visit to Iraqi Kurdistan to be with the families displaced from their homes in northern Iraq’s Nineveh Plain since August 2014.
Just miles from the demarcation line separating these families from the forces of hate that have engulfed the region in a whirlwind of bloodshed, the cardinal and his delegation — which included CNEWA board member Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre and CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar — demonstrated CNEWA’s solidarity with the displaced and those committed to their care.
Read more and see a gallery of images in the Summer edition of the magazine.
22 July 2016
CNEWA’s president Msgr. John E. Kozar visits the students at St. Gabriel School in Saesa, Ethiopia. He made a memorable visit to the Horn of Africa several weeks ago, and shared his impressions — and some beautiful pictures — in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE.
21 July 2016
Sister Hakinta helps with homework at the Our Lady of Armenia center in Tashir. Many men have left the country to work abroad, leaving women to raise children on their own. Learn what the Church is doing to lend support in Armenia’s Children, Left Behind in the Summer 2016 edition
of ONE. (photo: Nazik Armenakyan)
20 July 2016
Filipinos attend a Saturday Mass celebrated in Tagalog at a pastoral center in Tel Aviv. To learn more about migrants making a new home in Israel, read Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land in the Summer edition of ONE. (photo: CNEWA)
19 July 2016
CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John Kozar, leads benediction at the Al Bishara School in the Ain Kawa area of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan. He visited the region in April. Follow his journey and see more dramatic photographs in United in Faith, Prayer and Love in the Summer 2016 edition of ONE.
18 July 2016
Women prepare coffee and snacks at a clinic operated by the Daughters of St. Anne in Ethiopia. To learn more about our recent visit to the Horn of Africa, check out this photo essay in the Summer edition of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)
15 July 2016
St. Vladimir embraced Christianity in the tenth century, and is considered the founder of the Eastern churches in the Belorussian, Carpatho-Rusyn, Russian and Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox traditions. (photo: OCA.org)
Today, 15 July, marks the feast of St. Vladimir:
“The Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal of the Apostles.” Few names in the annals of history can compare in significance with the name of St. Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus.
Born in 956, Vladimir was raised a pagan, but converted to Christianity — the first ruler of the Rus’ to embrace the faith. The people of his country soon followed his example:
Then followed an unforgettable and quite singular event … the morning of the Baptism of the Kievans in the waters of the River Dneipr. On the evening before, St Vladimir declared throughout the city: “If anyone does not go into the river tomorrow, be they rich or poor, beggar or slave, that one shall be my enemy.” The sacred wish of the holy Prince was fulfilled without a murmur: “all our land glorified Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit at the same time.”
“Everywhere throughout Holy Rus, from the ancient cities to the far outposts, St. Vladimir gave orders to destroy the pagan sanctuaries, to flog the idols, and in their place to clear land in the hilly woods for churches, in which altars would be consecrated for the Bloodless Sacrifice. Churches of God grew up along the face of the earth, at high elevated places, and at the bends of the rivers, along the ancient trail “from the Variangians to the Greeks” figuratively as road signs and lamps of national holiness. Concerning the famed church-building activity of St Vladimir, the Metropolitan of Kiev St Hilarion (author of the “Word on Law and Grace”) exclaimed: “They demolished the pagan temples, and built up churches, they destroyed the idols and produced holy icons, the demons have fled, and the Cross has sanctified the cities.”
The man known as the “Baptizer of the Rus’ ” died on 15 July 1015, 28 years after his own baptism. He’s buried in a crypt in Kiev, now the capital of an independent Ukraine.
A beautiful troparion in the Orthodox tradition celebrates him as “another Paul”:
Holy Prince Vladimir
you were like a merchant in search of fine pearls.
By sending servants to Constantinople for the Orthodox Faith, you found Christ, the priceless pearl.
He appointed you to be another Paul,
washing away in baptism your physical and spiritual blindness.
We celebrate your memory,
asking you to pray for all Orthodox Christians and for us, your spiritual children.
Read more about his life here.
Tags: Russia Saints