HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
A Western Rite parish of
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
7545 Main Street
Ralston, NE 68127
December 10/23, 2014
Dear friends in Christ,
I hope that you are having a spiritually profitable Advent season and that you will have a holy and merry Christmas.
By the grace of God, the year 2014 has been a very good year at Holy Cross Orthodox Church, and we have been blessed in so many ways. Holy Cross is a faithful, friendly and active parish with a mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him and the fullness of the Apostolic Faith to those who do, to build up the Body of Christ, and to care for the most vulnerable in society — the poor, the sick, the pre-born, and the aged.
So far this year we have contributed 5,237 pounds of much needed food to the Open Door Mission, an increase of 240 pounds over 2013, and every ounce was donated from within the parish. I am hoping that we will be able to make yet another delivery of donated food to the Open Door Mission before the end of the civil year.
Every Friday and one Saturday of every month parishioners pick up donated gourmet bread donations from a local sandwich shop and make deliveries to the Francis and Siena House Shelters. Each delivery totals around 150 pounds of gourmet bread.
We are also actively involved in ministry to long-term residents at Douglas County Hospital. Services are conducted in the hospital chapel every month for all who care to attend, and a number of catechumens there are being prepared for reception into the Church.
This Advent we organized a parish Mitten Tree in our church hall and parishioners donated new mittens, gloves, scarves, underwear and socks for men, women and children in need. A large amount was donated and delivered to the Open Door Mission.
After the Liturgy on Sunday, December 21st we put up our Christmas tree in the church and decorated our church and parish hall for the upcoming Christmas season. The church looks beautiful and smells wonderful. We will be putting up our Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve.
At Holy Cross parish we celebrate the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist three days each week, and our Sunday Eucharistic Liturgies include Gregorian chant for all the Propers. Confessions are scheduled to be heard two days of each week and by appointment.
Our parish Sisterhood, the Sisters of Holy Cross, is very active and involved in the ministry of Holy Cross Orthodox Church. Most recently our Sisterhood purchased a large flat screen television and DVD player for the parish so we will no longer have to project movies and teaching DVDs on a wall.
In May we had an episcopal visit to Holy Cross parish. Bishop George of Mayfield, who is also abbot of Holy Cross Monastery in West Virginia, visited our church at the request of Metropolitan Hilarion. During his visit he tonsured a Reader for us.
In June we welcomed two priests who have become good friends of our parish to Omaha for an extended stay. They instructed Fr. Michael and I in the Eastern Rite so we could become bi-liturgical priests. While they were here Fr. Michael and I each celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom four times. We have a lot to learn, but we are learning!
In July I was blessed to have an opportunity to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom with his Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and a number of Orthodox clergy. Metropolitan Jonah is himself a former Anglican and a great friend of traditional Anglicans.
I am assisted at Holy Cross parish by a retired priest Fr. Michael Smith, an ordained Reader, a Music Director, a traditional Vested Choir, a parish Sisterhood, the Guild of St. Joseph - a parish organization made up of woodworkers and craftsmen who beautify and maintain our temple, and by some very capable Sunday School teachers. Our adult Christian Education class is taught at the college level.
Fr. Michael, a late vocation, celebrated ten years in Christian ministry this year, and our newly ordained Reader has decades of experience as a Lay Reader in the Episcopal and Anglican Churches. Our Music Director is an accomplished singer and choir director who uses her gifts and talents to the glory of God.
In 2014, Matushka Cheri and I celebrated thirty-two years of marriage and thirty years in Christian ministry together. During those thirty years we have lived in four states and visited many more. On September 28th, we celebrated my thirtieth anniversary in Christian ministry with a Solemn Mass, followed by a catered luncheon in our parish hall. It was a wonderful day that we will never forget, and Matushka and I are looking forward to our next thirty years together in parish ministry.
As formerly traditional Anglicans we had always believed that Anglicans were Western Orthodox Christians separated from the Orthodox Church by the accidents of history. We always looked forward in hope to reunion with the Orthodox Church, but the Anglican branch theory led us to believe that we were already in the West what the Orthodox Church was in the East. By the grace of God we came to see the error of this theory, and that Anglicanism at its best could only lead us to the door of the Church, but no further. To be Orthodox Christians we had to be members of the Orthodox Church.
In the summer of 2012, we began working with the Vicar-bishop and Pastoral-vicar for the Western Rite of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. A year later, after much preparation, we were received into the Russian Orthodox Church in June of 2013.
As a canonical Western Rite parish we are thoroughly Orthodox in Faith while preserving all that is best in our Celtic and English patrimony. For more information on the life and ministry of Holy Cross Orthodox Church I invite you to visit our parish website: www.holycrossomaha.net. You will find our website packed with helpful information. To get a feel for our Sunday worship I invite you to visit the Photo Gallery on our Website and to view the slideshow under “Worship at Holy Cross Orthodox Church.” There you will see photos of our Eucharistic Liturgy, Vespers, the visit of Bishop George and the tonsure of our Reader.
The Christian life is the good life at Holy Cross Orthodox Church. We enjoy fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall every Sunday after the Liturgy, and a potluck luncheon on the last Sunday of every month. In 2014, we enjoyed a parish outing to see the Omaha Storm Chasers baseball team play on Faith and Family Night at Werner Park; we had our annual Summer Church Picnic at Halleck Park in Papillion; our annual Fall Hayrack Ride, Bonfire and Potluck at Santa’s Woods; and just this month we had a parish outing to the Omaha Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas Spectacular at the Holland Performing Arts Center.
Yes, by the grace of God 2014 has been a very good year at Holy Cross Orthodox Church, and we are looking forward to another year of service to God, his people and the community at large in 2015. If you have not worshipped with us recently or have never visited Holy Cross parish before I hope that you will soon. The “Thinking About Visiting?” page of our website will give you more information about us and what to expect when you visit. Please feel free to call or e-mail me any time. I am always here for you. You will find that we are a faithful and friendly church, and that everyone is always welcome.
May God grant you every grace and blessing,
Father Victor Novak+