Friday, November 13, 2015

HOLY CROSS UPDATE - November 13, 2015

Dear friends in Christ,

The weather is turning colder. That means that many people will have to choose between paying for heat and buying food. The needs of the Open Door Mission greatly increase with the coming of winter. Let's do all that we can to help them to feed those most in need. If you have ever been cold and hungry or very short on money you know what it feels like. Please bring a donation of food with you on Sunday for our parish food bins. Let's fill them up so this much needed food can be taken to the Open Door Mission. Thank you!

In the Gospels, our Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly teaches the importance of feeding the hungry and visiting the prisoner. At Holy Cross parish we have long supported three area homeless shelters: the Open Door Mission, and the Francis and Siena House shelters, but we are now also in the process of launching a ministry to the incarcerated. We are working in conjunction with the national Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM). I am very excited about this new parish ministry. Please keep it in your prayers.

We often decry what is going on in our society, and rightly so as post-Christian America has embraced what has been aptly described as the culture of death. But cursing the darkness will not change anything. We must take the light of Christ to our society. How? America will only be changed when men's hearts change, and hearts can only be changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will not change our culture, our society, our country, by going to church. We will only change them by being the Church and doing the Work of the Church. Christ calls each of us to be pullers at the oars, not mere riders in the boat. Let us each roll up our sleeves and invest our time, talent and treasure in advancing the Great Commission that Christ has given His Church.

Next week we will celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist on Monday, November 16th and on Wednesday, November 18th. 

The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 12:10 PM, on Monday, November 16th, for ALL SOULS DAY. Holy Mass will begin at 12:10 PM and will conclude about 12:50 PM. Please plan to attend this Liturgy if at all possible. On ALL SOULS DAY we remember family and friends who have entered eternity, express our faith that they are alive and our love for them, and pray for the repose of their souls. It is an act of faith, hope and charity to pray for the dead.

The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 12:10 PM, on Wednesday as usual. 

Everyone has the opportunity participate in the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist and to receive the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion three times this coming week (Sunday, Monday and Wednesday). The Holy Eucharist is the centre and summit of our spirituality as Orthodox Catholics. As St. Augustine of Hippo said, "God in His omnipotence could not give more, in His wisdom He knew not how to give more, in His riches He had not more to give, than the Holy Eucharist." Jesus says to us, "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will refresh you." Let us go unto the altar of God. "O Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps. 34:8).

Mark your calendars for Thursday evening, December 24th, the Thursday after the Second Sunday in Advent. At 7:00 PM we will have a beautiful Advent Service of Lessons and Carols. This will be the first time that we have kept this wonderful English Advent tradition. The Service consists of nine Scripture lessons and nine carols. Our Schola Cantorum will lead us in the caroling, but the entire congregation will join in the singing. There will be refreshments and fellowship after the Service. Please be sure to invite family and friends. Everyone will enjoy and be blessed by this beautiful English tradition, and will hear the Good News that Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

Sunday Christian Education is at 8:45 AM, followed by Matins at 9:15 AM, with the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Fellowship and refreshments will follow the Liturgy. The adult Christian Education class is studying the Gospel according to St. John the Divine. 

We are an unchanging Church with an unchanging and unchangeable message to an ever changing world. Jesus Christ is the Truth Revealed and Orthodox Christianity is the Truth Lived. Holy Cross parish a faithful and friendly congregation, and we have a place for you. The Orthodox Church welcomes you. I hope to see you on Sunday!



V. Rev. Victor Novak
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

FALL HAYRACK RIDE, BONFIRE AND POTLUCK - Saturday, October 24, at 6:00 PM

Our annual Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck will be held on Saturday, October 24th at 6:00 PM, at Santa’s Woods, 3764 State Highway 133, Blair, Nebraska 68008.  Santa’s Woods is located between Omaha and Blair, on Blair High Road (State Highway 133), and they have a large sign by the Highway so you cannot miss it.

This event is not a parish fundraiser.  We are simply charging what Santa’s Woods charges the church.  Adults are $9.00 and children 5 to 12 are $6.00, with children under 5 free.  Participants are asked to bring a main dish, or a side dish and a drink or dessert for the potluck.  

Please arrive no later than 5:45 PM as the hayrack ride begins at 6:00 PM sharp.  Santa’s Woods is a working farm and the Hayrack Ride will take us through recently harvested fields. When we return to our private site we will find a roaring fire. There will picnic tables for our use, with electrical outlets for coffee pots and crock pots. 

The public is invited to attend, and please sure to invite your family and friends. We have been enjoying this annual event for years and everyone always has a great time. For more information email me at: or call the church at: (402) 573-6558. The Christian life is the good life at Holy Cross Orthodox Church. Everyone is always welcome!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


My wife and I attended the 2015 Western Rite Clergy Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) last week. The Conference opened on Monday, September 28, and concluded on Thursday, October 1, at the Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappinger Falls, New York. It was the largest Western Rite Clergy Conference held thus far. There was tremendous enthusiasm and energy, as well as complete unity as everyone there agreed in Faith and morals, and on the mission of the Church.

In addition to ROCOR Western Rite clergy, we had some Antiochian Western Rite clergy in attendance, as well as visiting clergy — mostly Anglican - who have an interest in Western Orthodoxy. I was surprised by how many Benedictine monks there were in attendance from various Western Rite Orthodox monastic communities, including the abbot of one monastery and the prior of another. I was excited to learn that one of the monasteries consists of 600 acres in the mountains of rural Colorado.

Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch (primate) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and Ruling Bishop of the Western Rite Communities was with us for the entire Conference. Metropolitan Jonah, who is well known to Anglicans for his talks at the 2009 and 2012 provincial synods of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) was scheduled to be with us, but had to cancel at the last minute because of a family medical situation.

The Conference opened on Monday afternoon with welcoming addresses from Metropolitan Hilarion and from the Dean of the Western Rite Communities, Fr. Mark Rowe. Fr. Mark is a former Anglican Canon and has served the Western Rite tirelessly as Dean. He seems to be almost constantly on the road visiting clergy and churches, and attending Western Rite ordinations — of which there are many. He is learned, personable, pastoral, committed to the growth of the Western Rite and the restoration of the Western Church, and has proven to be an effective organizer, consensus builder and leader.

After the opening addresses we gathered in the chapel for Vespers. After Vespers we had dinner together in the refectory. Dinner was followed by Compline (the Night Office). After Compline, confessions were heard. Four priests were assigned to hear confessions and were stationed in the four corners of the chapel. Having been shriven, we were ready for the Conference to really begin on Tuesday morning. After Compline there was a social hour in the refectory with wine and various cheeses. It was all very English, with port wine and gourmet cheese and crackers. The social hour — really hours as it went on as long as people wished to remain — was so popular that one was held on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings as well.

Having always experienced non-Orthodox synods and conferences held in hotels with plush rooms, soft beds, and the intrusion of the world through television, clock radios and wifi, this Conference was refreshing. The rooms — really cells — were small and quite Spartan: two twin beds, hard, thin mattresses, and no television, radio or wifi. Each room did have a private bathroom though, and that was appreciated.

Morning began very early with Matins scheduled to be prayed in our rooms, followed by Holy Mass in the chapel at 6:15 AM. On Tuesday morning all of the Orthodox clergy concelebrated a Solemn Votive Mass of the Holy Ghost in red vestments. The Mass was sung and the Propers chanted according to the ancient Gregorian chant tones.

After Mass we had breakfast in the refectory and then got to work. This was not at all like a convention. The emphasis was on the spiritual, and on learning. Beginning Tuesday morning, daily Matins was scheduled to be prayed in our rooms, followed by Holy Mass in the chapel at 6:15 AM. Sext was prayed in the chapel at noon, with Vespers at 4:15 PM, and Compline at 7:00 PM. All of the Offices were chanted, and all of the Masses were solemn celebrations in the presence of a greater prelate at the throne.

Over the course of the four days we had many helpful presentations. At 9:00 AM on Tuesday morning, Fr. David Straut, an Eastern Rite priest spoke to us about jail ministry in a presentation called, Orthodox Ministry to the Incarcerated. After a break, Fr. Christophe Lepourte spoke to us about his counseling ministry. With an education in counseling and decades of experience in individual, marriage and family counseling, Fr. Christophe is a resource that priests can use when it is time to refer people to a professional counselor. Although he is based in Virginia, Fr. Christophe’s ministry can help people nationwide through Skype.

The next presentation was by Fr. Ephraim Willmarth, an administrator at Holy Trinity Seminary. Holy Trinity Seminary is a residential seminary, but it also offers distance learning programs in Liturgical Music, and Theological Studies. These distance learning programs are excellent for late vocations, for those already involved in ministry and for active laypeople who want to deepen their understanding of the Faith and become more effective in advancing the Work of the Church. The Certificate in Theological Studies consists of sixteen classes taken over a period of two years. There is online access through Populi, and costs are very modest at around $150.00 per class.

The presentation by Holy Trinity Seminary was followed by one from a student at St. Tikhon Seminary. He is a former Anglican layman who was involved in six Anglican (ACNA) church-plants before entering the Orthodox Church and enrolling at St. Tikhon’s. He heads up an important ministry called Elijah’s Mantle that passes on used vestments and church supplies — both Eastern and Western Rite - free of charge to needy clergy, new church-plants and struggling missions. We also learned that there is growing interest in the Western Rite at St. Tikhon Seminary, and that six to eight students have requested monthly Western Rite services at the seminary. Arrangements have been made for a nearby ROCOR Western Rite priest to celebrate Vespers and then Holy Mass the next morning according to the Western Rite on a monthly basis.

On Tuesday afternoon a private ROCOR Western Rite Clergy meeting was held with Metropolitan Hilarion and Dean Mark Rowe. There was no voting. Everything was done by consensus, and consensus was easy to achieve because we all believed the same thing and were on the same page. It was decided that in odd years we will have a national Western Rite Clergy Conference at Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappinger Falls, New York, with the next national Conference scheduled for 2017. The Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate holds their national meeting every two years in even years. By alternating the ROCOR and Antiochian national Clergy Conferences more Antiochian Western Rite clergy will be able to attend ROCOR Conferences and more ROCOR Western Rite clergy will be able to attend Antiochian Conferences.

In even years, beginning next year in 2016, there will be four regional ROCOR Western Rite Clergy Conferences: East, South, Midwest and West. We were asked by Metropolitan Hilarion through his Dean, Fr. Mark Rowe, to host the 2016 Midwest Regional Clergy Conference at Holy Cross parish in Omaha, and I immediately and enthusiastically agreed. Metropolitan Hilarion told me that, God willing, he will be there, so we will be blessed to have his Eminence at Holy Cross parish again in 2016. 

During the private ROCOR Western Rite Clergy meeting, non-Orthodox clergymen and other attenders participated in an Open Meeting with Seekers of Western Rite Orthodoxy.

After the Western Rite clergy meeting I delivered my presentation titled, Step By Step Church Planting. Everyone attending received a copy of the book, A Guide to Western Rite Orthodox Church Planting, a copy of our Liturgy booklet, four of our self-published tracts, and a brochure on Website design and development.

On Wednesday we had Holy Mass at 6:15 AM as usual, along with Sext, Vespers and Compline at their appropriate times. The first presentation began at 9:00 AM. It was on Iconography and focused on ancient Western Iconography in the Celtic and Romanesque traditions. The speaker was Fr. Silouan, a skilled Iconographer and a Hieromonk at Holy Cross Monastery Setauket, New York. The presentation was both enlightening and helpful. We have a wonderful Western Iconographic tradition that was lost with the coming of the Renaissance and needs to be recovered and restored.

The next presentation was by Fr. Benedict Simpson, and was called Engaging Today’s Youth With an Ancient Faith. Fr. Benedict is an engaging and informative speaker. After lunch Deacon Nicholas Griswold spoke on The Historic Diaconate. This excellent presentation was on what is sometimes called the permanent diaconate and covered the life and ministry of deacons.

On Thursday morning at 6:15 AM, Dom James, Abbot of Christminister Benedictine Monastery, celebrated a Requiem Mass for the deceased Western Rite clergy. It was such a blessing to be at the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist for three consecutive days and to receive Holy Communion daily!

There were two more presentations on Thursday. Hieromonk Ezekiel, a Western Rite Orthodox priest-monk — that is what Hieromonk means — gave a very helpful and moving talk titled, An Orthodox Approach to Death and Dying. This presentation was invaluable.

The final presentation, called Planning For Successful Mission Growth, was delivered by Fr. Anthony Bryant, a Western rite priest and the rector of St. Katherine’s Orthodox Church in South Carolina.  

Holy Trinity Seminary Bookstore had a large book table set up and I came home with sixteen books. Thankfully, for every two purchased the buyer received one free. At our  rectory books are like friends, and Matushka and I have already begun visiting with them.

One of the highlights of the Conference was the time we had to socialize with one another. I saw old friends, met people that I have corresponded with or talked to by telephone, met many co-laborers in our Lord’s vineyard, and made new friends. 

We were able to spend a lot of time with Fr. Joseph Gleason, rector of Christ the King parish in Omaha, Illinois. Fr. Joseph was the founder, editor and publisher of the only orthodox Anglican theological journal in North America: The North American Anglican, and I was a writer for it. His parish entered the Western Rite of the Antiochian Orthodox Church about a year before Holy Cross was received into Orthodoxy. It was great to be able to spend time with him. Another priest that I really enjoined spending time with was Fr. Kentigern of Hanceville, Alabama. Fr. Kentigern is a tentmaker and supports his family by farming just as Matushka and I used to. 

Fr. Joseph Mai and I had become friends over the telephone, and it was wonderful to finally meet him in person. Fr. Joseph is Vietnamese and he pastors a large Vietnamese parish in San Diego that came into the Orthodox Church from the Anglican Church in America (ACA). Fr. Joseph gave me a copy of their Liturgy booklet. It has the Liturgy of St. Tikhon in Vietnamese on one side and English on the other. His parish, Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, conducts its Services in Vietnamese. The Orthodox Church is Catholic (Universal), and although we belong to the Russian Orthodox Church we have both Eastern and Western Rites, the Roman, English and French (Gallican) Uses of the Western Rite, and Services are held in North America in English, French, Spanish, Vietnamese and Church Slavonic.  

A high point of the Conference for me was to meet up with an old Anglican confrere that I had not seen in at least fifteen years. He and his assistant pastor and their congregation are all being received into the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church. We were also able to spend time with another Anglican priest and his wife who are beginning the process of being received. Father and I had corresponded by email, but it was great to meet him in person, and it was a blessing to hear him announce that they had taken the first step at the Conference.

The Clergy wives also had two outings together. Cheri enjoyed her time with the ladies very much. During their time together they made plans to stay in close touch between Conferences through the Internet.

It is sometimes charged by skeptics that the Western Rite is only there to transition Western converts to the Eastern Rite, but there is no basis for such a charge. In fact, there was one parish represented at the Conference that actually made the change from being Eastern Rite to Western Rite.

The Western Rite Clergy Conference was a time of spiritual refreshment and renewal, and Cheri and I were really sad to see it end. We are looking forward to the Midwest Regional Western Rite Clergy Conference at Holy Cross parish in the summer of 2016. The Conference will be open to ROCOR and Antiochian Orthodox Western Rite clergy and their wives, as well as to other clergy who are interested in Western Orthodoxy and who would like to come and experience it.

The Orthodox Church is growing rapidly in numbers in America and throughout the world with some 300 million members worldwide. The percentage of growth of Orthodox Christianity in America was higher than any other major classification of Christianity mentioned by the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1995. According to a formal study by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central America in 2010, membership in the Orthodox Church in the United States grew in the 75 years between 1936 and 2010 by 131%. For a shorter window of time, during the decade of 2000 to 2010, the total number of Orthodox communities in the United States grew by 15%. The 2008 US Religious Landscape Survey showed that 23% of all Orthodox Christians in America today are converts. 

In recent years Anglicans made up the second largest group of converts to Orthodoxy, and today they are the largest group. About one out of four Orthodox Christians in America are converts, along with 30% of all clergy and 41% of all seminarians. In the city where I pastor there are nine Orthodox priests and six parishes. Of the nine priests, six are converts, and five of the six are former Anglicans. Of the six parishes, two are Western Rite and both have full time rectors. 

The Orthodox Church is experiencing explosive growth all around the world. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church has opened more than 26,000 churches; that is more than three churches a day, each and every day, for a quarter of a century, and there is no slowdown in sight. In addition, since 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church has established more than 800 new monastic communities. 

The Russian Orthodox Church has gone from a marginalized and persecuted body of believers with only around 7,000 open churches in 1988, when it celebrated the Millennium of the Baptism of Russia, to a resurgent Church with more than 160,000,000 members world-wide in 2007, of whom 55,000,000 are outside of Russia. All this in about a quarter of a century. This is a miracle, and can only be the work of God.

This spiritual revival and resurgence of the Orthodox Church is not limited to the Church in Russia either. It is a world-wide movement of the Holy Spirit. There is good news to report from every continent on earth, including the frozen Antarctic where the first Orthodox church was opened in 2004.

The Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt has jurisdiction over the continent of Africa, and marvelous things are happening there. In the last eighty years the membership of the Patriarchate of Alexandria has grown ten-fold. The Orthodox Church is also growing rapidly in Asia and in South and Central America.

There are now around 2,000 Orthodox parishes in the United States, plus hundreds more in Canada. Monasticism has always been considered a good way to gauge the health of the Church, and monasticism is thriving and growing in North America. There now are around eighty monastic communities in the United States with others in Canada.

As Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities we have preserved the fulness of our Western cultural, liturgical and spiritual heritage and patrimony in full sacramental communion and visible unity with the 300 million-member Orthodox Church. This is the fulfillment of the Vision Glorious of the Oxford Movement and an answer to our Lord’s High Priestly Prayer for unity among His disciples. For more information about Holy Cross parish or Western Rite Orthodoxy please email me at: or call the church office at: (402) 573-6558. The Orthodox Church welcomes you!


Fr. Victor+

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Cheri and I returned home safely from the ROCOR Western Rite Conference last night. I wish you could have been there. It was wonderful. The Holy Spirit is at work and the Western Church is being rebuilt at a rapid rate. There was so much enthusiasm and energy. Everything was positive throughout the entire week. This was bigger and better than any clergy conference or diocesan synod I have ever attended, and Metropolitan Hilarion was there for the entire time. I have much to report tomorrow at the Liturgy. The future is bright indeed.

I also have some exciting news for Holy Cross parish. God is good! 

I hope that you will plan to be at church tomorrow, October 4, so you can hear all about it.  Cheri and I are looking forward to being at church, and to seeing you there.

Christian Education is at 8:45 AM, followed by Matins at 9:15 AM, and the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Fellowship and refreshments will follow the Liturgy. We are a faithful and friendly parish, and we have a place for you! See you soon.



Fr. Victor Novak
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

Thursday, September 17, 2015

SUMMER CHURCH PICNIC - Sunday, September 20

This Sunday, September 20, is our annual Summer Church Picnic at Halleck Park in Papillion. The picnic follows the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at church. The park is only a short drive from the church.

Halleck Park is a beautiful 70 acre park that offers many opportunities for fun, including a stocked fishing lake. We have reserved the large covered pavilion at the park that we use every year. You can’t miss it!

Here is a link to the Halleck Park Website that will give you more information on the park as well as directions:

We have reserved the covered pavilion from Sunday morning until 2:00 PM, but you can remain at the park as long as you like. This Sunday only we are moving up Services by half an hour because of the picnic. Matins will begin at 9:00 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 9:30 AM.

The forecast for Sunday is for beautiful weather: partly sunny and pleasant with a high of 75 degrees. We will be grilling hotdogs and hamburgers. Members of our Holy Cross church-family are asked to bring two side dishes, or a side dish and a desert. Visitors are our guests and do not have to bring a thing. The event is free, so please be sure to invite family and friends.

Matins is at 9:00 AM, followed by the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 9:30 AM, with our annual Summer Church Picnic at Halleck Park immediately after the Liturgy. The Picnic is free, and there will be plenty of good food and fun for everyone, so be sure to invite family and friends. We are a faithful and friendly congregation, and we have a place for you. For more information email me at or call (402) 573-6558. See you on Sunday!

7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127

Thursday, August 27, 2015


"I want to thank you once again for your kind hospitality and for the opportunity to serve and pray with you and your community. It was a wonderful and unforgettable experience for me" - Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral)

Metropolitan Hilarion's visit to Holy Cross parish this past weekend was a joyous and grace filled event. On Sunday, August 23rd, the church was full, with an overflow into the parish hall. After arriving back in New York on Monday afternoon, His Eminence wrote to me saying, "I want to thank you once again for your kind hospitality and for the opportunity to serve and pray with you and your community. It was a wonderful and unforgettable experience for me." It was a wonderful and unforgettable experience for us as well.

Metropolitan Hilarion was scheduled to arrive in Omaha at 10:00 PM on Friday, August 21st, but his takeoff in New York was delayed for 53 minutes. He had eaten on the plane so we checked him into his hotel around midnight. 

I picked Metropolitan Hilarion up at his hotel on Saturday morning, took him to the church and showed him around. We had ladies from our parish sisterhood there who were decorating the parish hall for the Reception that evening and the catered Luncheon on Sunday. They were putting white cloth tablecloths on the tables with candles and other decorations. The parish hall looked very elegant.

After a late lunch, I took his Eminence back to his hotel room for some rest before Vespers, but he didn’t rest. Instead, he studied our Western Rite Pontifical. Metropolitan Hilarion has a real gift for liturgy. He wanted to fulfill all of what a Greater Prelate says and does when assisting pontifically at the throne, and he did it at Vespers, Matins and Holy Mass flawlessly. He seemed to really love the Liturgy of St. Tikhon. After the Solemn Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist he came to me and said how beautiful he thought it was. 

By the time I picked His Eminence up for Vespers late on Saturday afternoon the sky was filled with dark clouds and it was beginning to rain. I had been receiving worried phone calls from parishioners who told me that Omaha was under a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch. I shared with Metropolitan Hilarion my concern that the weather might affect attendance, but he simply reminded me that where two or three gather together Jesus is in their midst. Despite the weather we had thirty-two for Vespers. Fr. Stephen Walinski joined us for Vespers and remained for the Reception, and was seated at the Metropolitan’s table. Some of the faithful left immediately after Vespers because of the weather, but most remained for the Reception. Saturday was a commemoration of St. Herman of Alaska (the translation of his relics), and since we have relics of St. Herman in our church Metropolitan Hilarion preached at Vespers on the life and work of St. Herman.

Early Sunday morning Fathers Lev and Maximos from St. John the Wonderworker parish in Des Moines, Iowa, and two ordinands joined us. By 9:30 AM the church was nearly full, and soon after it was completely full with an overflow into the parish hall. Metropolitan Hilarion was greeted at the door with bread and salt. He then kissed a crucifix, aspersed himself with holy water and then aspersed the clergy and the faithful according to the ancient Rite of Receiving a Bishop at the Door. We then processed to the sanctuary for Solemn Matins. At both Vespers on Saturday evening and Matins on Sunday morning the Ordinary and the Psalms and Canticles were all chanted according to Gregorian chant tones. During Matins one man from Holy Cross and one from St. John the Wonderworker were clothed in the cassock, tonsured and ordained Reader.

After Matins we vested for the Solemn Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. The long procession of our Schola Cantorum, two visiting priests, three ordinands, the ministers serving at the altar, the Celebrant, and the Metropolitan wound through the church while the Processional Hymn, St. Patrick’s Breastplate (I Bind Unto Myself Today) was sung. It was a missa coram episcopo, and Metropolitan Hilarion served beautifully. You would have thought he was a Western Rite bishop!

As usual, all of the minor propers of the Mass: the Introit, Gradual and Alleluia, Offertory verse and Communion verse were chanted to Gregorian chant tones. The music for the Ordinary was Merbecke. After the Collect of the day one Reader from Holy Cross and two from St. John of San Francisco were ordained to the Subdiaconate.

The Homilist at the Mass was Metropolitan Hilarion who spoke on the Gospel reading for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity - The Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee.

At Communion-time Metropolitan Hilarion administered the Body of Christ to the faithful  while I assisted with the chalice. In the Western Rite Holy Communion is received kneeling at the altar rail, with the Body of Christ received on the tongue, and the Blood of Christ from the chalice. Non-communicants may kneel at the altar rail with their arms crossed (X) as a sign that they would like a blessing. 

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion gave the Pontifical Blessing, and the long procession returned to the sacristy to the singing of the Recessional Hymn, Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones. Following the prayers after Communion chanted by our Cantor, everyone went to the parish hall for a catered Luncheon in honor of Metropolitan Hilarion and the newly ordained Readers and Subdeacons.

The parish hall was filled with people. I met visitors from Omaha and Blair, Nebraska, Sioux City, Iowa, and as far away as Kansas City, Missouri. Matt Willkom, the News Director of KVSS Radio (the regional Roman Catholic radio station), and a good friend of our parish was there with his family as well. Everyone had a wonderful time.

Both Metropolitan Hilarion and I made after dinner addresses. I was the preliminary speaker and he was the featured speaker. I spoke about the amazing growth of the Orthodox Church in the United States today where 23% of all Orthodox Christians are converts, as are 30% of the clergy and 41% of the seminarians. This is the fruit of a move of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Cross Orthodox Church is a former Anglican parish. In recent years Anglicans made up the second largest group of converts to the Orthodox Church, but today they are the largest group. The restoration of the Western Rite is another sign of this movement of the Holy Spirit. Today there are Western Rite congregations and monasteries in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and on the Continent of Europe. Western Rite Orthodoxy is thriving and growing, and the Orthodox Church as a whole is experiencing explosive growth all around the world.

Metropolitan Hilarion spoke about his commitment to the Western Rite and its growth. He said that as a youth in Canada he used to listen to the Anglican liturgy on the radio and always found it very dignified. He also said that among the first Orthodox periodicals that he began reading as a youth was Msgr. Alexander Turner’s magazine Orthodoxy. Alexander Turner’s Society of St. Basil had been made up of Orthodox-minded Old Catholic congregations who wanted to be received into the Orthodox Church while continuing to use the Western Rite. The Society was eventually received into the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and formed the nucleus of their Western Rite Vicariate, with Archpriest Alexander Turner as the first Vicar General. Metropolitan Hilarion had once told me that he has been a supporter of the concept of Western Rite Orthodoxy since he was a youth in Canada. 

After his address, Metropolitan Hilarion presented Holy Cross parish with a hand-written (hand painted) icon of St. John the Baptist for use in our church. Holy Cross Orthodox Church then presented the Metropolitan with a gift.

It was a wonderful and grace-filled weekend and I was sorry to see it end. The Metropolitan’s visit was undoubtedly the most important event in the life of our parish thus far, and I am sure it will have lasting good effects. Metropolitan Hilarion wrote, “It was a wonderful and unforgettable experience for me." We feel the same way. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015



is pleased to announce that 

First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
and Ruling Bishop of the Western Rite Communities,

will Visit

7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127




6:00 PM,  Solemn Vespers in the Presence of a Greater Prelate, followed by a reception for His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion.


9:30 AM, Rite of Receiving a Bishop at the Door, followed by Solemn Matins in the Presence of a Greater Prelate and the Tonsure of Readers. 

10:00 AM, Solemn Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion assisting pontifically (Missa coram episcopo), and the ordination of Subdeacons, with Metropolitan Hilarion preaching.

A catered Luncheon will follow the Liturgy in honor of Metropolitan Hilarion and the newly ordained, and will include an address by His Eminence. 

There will be visiting clergy and laity, and five ordinations from area churches. The public is invited to attend all of the events. 

For more information call the church at: (402) 573-6558 or e-mail Father Victor at:

Holy Cross Orthodox Church Welcomes You!