Tuesday, April 24, 2018

WESTERN RITE REPORT — Six Ordinations Last Week, Three New Congregations Received and a New Deanery Erected!

Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), First Hierarch (Primate) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) and Ordinary of the Western Rite Communities ordained six candidates last week for service in the ROCOR Western Rite Communities. The men ordained are:

Fr. (Priestmonk) Serafim (Furemalm), Holy Protection — Stockholm, Sweden.

Fr. (Priestmonk) Lazarus (Wilhelmsson), Saints Halvard and Nikolaus — Gothenburg, Sweden.

Fr. Deacon Michael Petrus Catenacci, Holy Protection — Stockholm, Sweden.

Fr. Deacon Andreas Eraybar, Saints Halvard and Nikolaus — Gothenburg, Sweden.

Fr. John (Ron) Longero, St Andrew’s, Reno Nevada.

Fr. Seraphim Byrd, St Thomas’ — Mountain Home, Arkansas.

The three new parishes were received. They are:

Holy Protection of the Mother of God Orthodox Church — Stockholm, Sweden.

Saints Halvard and Nikolaus Orthodox Church — Gothenburg, Sweden.

St. Andrew’s Orthodox Church — Reno, Nevada.

More clergy and congregations in Scandinavia will be received later, with these four ordinations being just the beginning. A Scandinavian Deanery has been erected by Metropolitan Hilarion with Fr. Serafim as Dean. The Scandinavia Deanery includes Norway, Sweden and Denmark. This is historic. The events of last week have restored Western Rite Orthodoxy in Scandinavia after many centuries. 

Fr. Serafim, Dean of the Scandinavian Deanery, had served as a priest in the Church of Sweden for fifteen years. In recent years Catholic-minded clergy in Sweden and Norway left their State Churches and reorganized themselves as the Nordic Catholic Church. Fr. Serafim and other Scandinavian clergymen were re-ordained by Prime Bishop Anthony Mikowsky of the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC), who travelled to Sweden for the ordinations. The Nordic Catholic Church became an affiliate of the PNCC in the Union of Scranton, and Fr. Serafim was made the bishop’s Vicar for Sweden. 

For many clergy and laity within the Nordic Catholic Church becoming Old Catholics in the PNCC was only a step on their path to Orthodoxy. Having formally embraced the Faith of the Undivided Church they soon wanted to continue their journey to fullness and enter into visible unity with the Orthodox Church. There are other Scandinavian clergy and congregations forthcoming. For logistic reasons the ordinations began with the initial four clergy, so as to lay a solid foundation in both Stockholm and Gothenburg, the two largest cities in Sweden. 

St Andrew’s Orthodox Church in Reno, Nevada and its rector, Fr. John (Ron) Longero were received into the ROCOR Western Rite Communities from the Diocese of San Joaquin, of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). An Anglican priest for more than 27 years and a graduate of Nashota House, Fr. John had been the Vocations Director for the Diocese of San Joaquin. 

With the reception of St. Andrew’s there are now two Western Rite Orthodox parishes and a Western Rite church-plant in the State of Nevada. Fr. William Bauer, a popular teacher on Western Rite Radio, is the rector of the other parish — St. Columba in Fernley, Nevada. Fr. William and I go way back as confreres. We served together under both Bishop Donald Davies, first bishop of Fort Worth, and Bishop Patrick Murphy, 1973 winner of the Keble Award from the old American Church Union. Fr. William and the parish of St. Columba were received into the Orthodox Church from the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC), a continuing Anglican jurisdiction that had its origin as a missionary diocese of the old Episcopal Synod of America (ESA), the precursor of Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA).

Fr. Seraphim Byrd is a former Baptist pastor and missionary. Having studied himself into Orthodox Christianity he left the 1,200 family Baptist church that he was pastoring to  enter the Orthodox Church as a layman. A member of St. Thomas Orthodox Church, a Western Rite parish in Mountain Home, Arkansas, pastored by former ACNA bishop Fr. Samuel Seamans, he continued his theological education and worked his way up through minor orders and the diaconate, and was ordained to the presbyterate last week. He has been assigned to assist Fr. Samuel Seamans at St. Thomas.

On Friday, April 20, the newly ordained Fr. Serafim and Fr. Deacon Michael celebrated Holy Mass at St Joseph's Orthodox Church in Sarasota, Florida in the presence of Metropolitan Hilarion.  They served primarily in Swedish, with some English. The Vicar General, Fr. Mark Rowe writes, “It was a beautiful service, and Fr. Serafim mentioned it was a great honor as he had never served with a Metropolitan on the throne.”

Orthodox clergy who were present for the ordinations include, Vicar General Fr. Mark Rowe, Hieromonk Ezekiel and Fathers John Cook, George Fuchs, Andrew Gomez and Brendan Dougherty. Fathers Mark Rowe, John Cook, George Fuchs, Andrew Gomez and Brendan Dougherty are all former Anglican priests. Fr. Mark Rowe is a former Anglican Archdeacon, and Fr. John Cook was a priest of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, ACNA.

This is the third series of Western Rite ordinations so far this year, and it is only April.  Among those ordained to the priesthood earlier this year are three men that I have gotten to know well:

Fr. Germain Hoernschemeyer, St. Genevieve of Paris — St. Louis, Missouri.

Fr. Thomas Janikowski, St. Athanasius — Davenport, Iowa.

Fr. Mark Grant, St. Tikhon — Richmond, Virginia.

Fr. Germain Hoernschemeyer comes to the ROCOR Western Rite Communities from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a traditional Roman Catholic priestly society that uses the traditional Latin Mass exclusively. Fr. Thomas Janikowski is a Nashota House graduate and had been a Dean in the Diocese of Quincy, ACNA, and the director of Quad Cities Anglican Radio before his reception into the Orthodox Church. Fr. Mark Grant is also a Nashota House alumni and was a priest at the largest diocesan cathedral in the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) before being received into Orthodoxy in February.

The ROCOR Western Rite Communities are growing rapidly in numbers of clergy, congregations and faithful, both in America and Abroad. What began as a trickle is becoming a flood. In addition to the ordinations so far this year, we have also seen the development of Western Rite Radio, and are preparing for our first annual Western Rite Orthodox youth camp this summer. Western Rite Radio can be heard on-line here: https://wroradio.blogspot.com; and the St. Gabriel Youth Camp will be held from July 23 through 27 in Resaca, Georgia. More information on the Orthodox Western Rite Communities can be found here: https://www.rocor-wr.org

The Western Rite has been restored, the Western Church is being rebuilt and the post-Christian West is being re-evangelized. Whether Eastern Rite or Western Rite, we are all united in the 330 million-member Orthodox Church, are brethren, and are coworkers in the Lord’s harvest field. The Orthodox Church is the oldest Church in the world, with a continuous and unbroken history going back some 2,000 years to Jerusalem — to our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles; and the Orthodox Church remains firmly rooted in Jerusalem and the Middle East to this day. Unchanged and unchanging in Faith and Morals after 2,000 years, the Orthodox Church continues to firmly hold the Orthodox Catholic Faith that has been believed “everywhere, always and by all” (Canon of St. Vincent of Lerins). 

With the fall of Soviet communism and the Iron Curtain, a New Springtime has begun for the Orthodox Church, a New Pentecost. As Tertullian said, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. The Work of the Great Commission is advancing world-wide and the restoration of the Western Rite and the rebuilding of the Western Church has begun. These are exciting times for Orthodox Christians. The Church is on the move and Church history is being written. 

Every Western Christian, whether Roman Catholic, Anglican or Protestant, has ancestors who were Orthodox Christians. Becoming Orthodox is nothing more than coming home to your family Church. You can come home again, and you are wanted. You will be welcomed with love and open arms. I know, because at Holy Cross parish we were. This month we celebrated our sixth Pascha (Easter) as a Western Rite Orthodox parish, and we have never been happier. We love being Orthodox and you will too. We can help. Let us hear from you!

Monday, April 16, 2018

HOLY SHROUD PRESENTATION — Sunday, April 22 at Noon

"If Christ is risen - then nothing else matters” — Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006)

Have you ever heard of the Holy Shroud, commonly called the Shroud of Turin?

This coming Sunday, April 22nd, Mr. James Bertrand, a certified Shroud Presenter will be at our church to make a detailed power point Presentation on the Holy Shroud. 

The Holy Shroud — the burial Shroud of our Lord — was taken to Antioch from Jerusalem in the first century because of the persecution in the Holy City. When the Persian army threatened Antioch, the Holy Shroud was taken by Patriarch Ephraemius of Antioch to Constantinople in AD 540, where it remained for more than six and a half centuries. In 1201, Nicholas Mesarites, the overseer of the Imperial Relic Collection, published an inventory of the relics kept in the chapel of the palace in Constantinople. The Holy Shroud was included in the inventory. 

Just days before the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, by the Crusaders who were supposed to be peacefully passing through on their way to the Holy Land, Robert de Cari, a French knight, writes in his memoirs that he had seen the Holy Shroud as it was displayed every Friday in St. Mary’s Church “so that the features of Our Lord could be plainly seen there.” With the sacking of Constantinople, the Holy Shroud was looted, taken to France and then eventually on to Turin, Italy where it remains. 

The Holy Shroud was a relic in the possession of the Orthodox Church for some twelve centuries before it was looted during the sack of Constantinople. If indeed authentic, the Shroud of Turin is a very important relic for all Orthodox Christians, and is perhaps the most important relic there is.

The Shroud of Turin is the most studied artifact in history. And as more information about the Shroud has been gathered, the wealth of scientific observations show an increasingly coherent story, which is consistent with the Gospels and authenticity. Each person can consider the information that will be presented and come to his or her own reasonable judgment regarding the Shroud.

James Bertrand has been teaching science for 37 years and has given over 130 Shroud presentations as a Certified Presenter for The American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud.  Mr. Bertrand is an affiliate of the Turin Shroud Center in Colorado Springs, headed by the world’s foremost authority on the Shroud, Dr. John Jackson. Dr. Jackson's more than four decades of research have been summarized into a publication called The Critical Summary. Mr. Bertrand will present an overview of that document with high-resolution photos as part of a 60 minute power point Presentation to be given in our parish hall on Sunday, April 22 at Noon. This Presentation is open to the public and there is no charge to attend. A free will offering will be taken. A replica of the Holy Shroud will be on display. The Critical Summary containing his presentation and much, much more will be available for purchase after the presentation.

Sunday Matins is at 9:15 AM, with the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM,  followed by the Presentation on the Holy Shroud at Noon, immediately after the Liturgy. Refreshments will be served during the Presentation. The public is invited and everyone is welcome to attend. Invite your family and friends. Join us for Worship and remain for the Presentation on the Holy Shroud, or just come for the Presentation, but come! The Presentation will be informative, edifying and may just change your life.  

We hope to see you there!

7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558

Saturday, April 7, 2018



The Great Vigil of Pascha (Easter), followed by the Solemn Paschal Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist will begin at 11:00 PM tonight. The Great Vigil includes the Lighting of the New Fire and the Paschal Candle, the Prophecies, the Reception of Catechumens, the Litany, and the Solemn Paschal Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist. After the Liturgy there will be fellowship and refreshments in our parish hall in celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. There are no Services scheduled for later on Sunday morning.


The Holy Fire has descended in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, as seen on the live stream on the Facebook page of the Jerusalem Patriarchate and on RIA-Novosti. You will want to view the video and photos on these sites.

The Holy Light descended at about 2:20 PM (7:20 AM Eastern Standard Time). The Holy Fire appeared in the edicule (the small chapel built over the burial place of Christ) just a few minutes after the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, entered there to pray and wait.

The descent of the Holy Fire was preceded by a complex ceremony: the doors of the Sepulchre were sealed with a large wax seal as a sign that its inspection had finished, and in it was found nothing that would allow the Patriarch of Jerusalem to ignite a fire by any ordinary means.

By this time the church was, as always, filled to overflowing with thousands of believers—both local Arab Orthodox and Orthodox pilgrims from all around the world. When the Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived his person was carefully searched to ensure that nothing capable of igniting a fire was brought in the Sepulcher of Christ.

The Holy Fire descends from heaven and into the Sepulchre of Christ which is located within the ancient Church of the Holy Sepluchre and ignites candles brought in by the Patriarch. Often candles held by the faithful and lampadas hanging in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre also spontaneously ignite, and sometimes the spontaneous ignitions also occur in neighboring Orthodox churches.

The Miracle of the Holy Fire has occurred in Jerusalem on the Vigil of Orthodox Pascha (Easter) since the first century. When the Roman Catholic Crusaders conquered Jerusalem and seized the Holy Places from the Orthodox, the Miracle of the Holy Fire ceased. After the Crusaders withdrew from Jerusalem and the Holy Places returned to the Orthodox Church, the annual Miracle of the Holy Fire resumed. The Miracle of the Holy Fire which occurs year after year and century after century is a yearly reminder that Christ remains with His Church as its Head.

At the ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was present a delegation of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation, which, closer to midnight, will deliver the fire to the patriarchal Paschal Service in the Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia. Delegations from other Local Orthodox Churches, such as the Romanian, Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian, etc. also took part in the ceremony and received the Holy Fire to take back to their own Churches. Last year the Holy Fire was brought to the United States for the first time and we were privileged to receive it at Holy Cross parish.

You can find more information on the descent of the Holy Fire in 2018 here:

The Evangelical Protestant magazine, Christianity Today had a good article on the Holy Fire titled, 


Here is a two hour video of today's events in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,



Holy Pascha is the Feast of Feasts and the holiest day of the Christian Year. Everyone in warmly invited to join us at church tonight, Saturday, April 7, at 11:00 PM for the Great Vigil of Pascha. 

In the Orthodox Church the Paschal Liturgy (Easter Mass) is always celebrated at Midnight. Bring the children — Pascha is a day to make memories that will last a lifetime. Invite everyone you know to attend — family, friends, neighbors, everyone. Hearts will be touched and lives changed.

Everyone is invited to attend and visitors are always welcome. Come and share the ancient Paschal Greeting, “Christ is Risen!” With the response, “He is Risen Indeed!” Come and share the Paschal Joy! It will be a joyous and glorious night. We are a faithful, friendly, vibrant and growing parish, and we have a place for you!

We will be looking forward to seeing you at 11:00 PM tonight!

7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127
(402) 573-6558