Friday, December 9, 2011

We're on a Mission from God

What's wrong with this picture? As Blessed Pope John Paul II said, "The Church must breath with two lungs." Here the West is represented by dancers as they might have looked when Saint Juan Diego received the visions of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531. The East is represented by Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra (in today's Turkey) and an important father of the Church who was at the Council of Nicea in 325. 

Some 'quick takes' on how building a small Byzantine Catholic mission community into a viable parish is not easy in today's world.

We are blessed to be able to celebrate Divine Liturgy for the 'small' mission at a large Roman-rite chapel on Saturday evenings. They also allow us to have fellowship afterwards in their small hall. They even allow us to store our portable icons for the icon screen. But last Easter vigil, we couldn't use the space because the main community wanted a vigil. Imagine if you went to church every week except Easter! (we had the Liturgy in a different place, but most members simply went to the local Roman-rite Mass) Not a good way to build a community.

We were going to celebrate the Liturgy as usual last Saturday evening and we planned an early St Nicholas celebration. But a few days before, we were informed that it would be a Spanish language, Roman-rite Mass to begin the novena for Our Lady of Guadalupe and my husband would be the only priest celebrant (he has bi-ritual faculties for this archdiocese) along with two Roman-rite married deacons.

So, Byzantine St Nicholas still visited and we served old country poppy seed and nut rolls along with the Mexican sweet bread and horchata, but the majority of our tiny group didn't attend because they don't speak Spanish. Myself, I was a little disappointed that the Roman-rite Mass wasn't in English because I wanted to hear the corrected translation! The Spanish was correct all along. 

Our eparchy (diocese) is small enough to be a mission itself and the old country does not sponsor Byzantine Catholic endeavors as they do for the state religion of Orthodoxy- so we are on our own. This is one reason why it has been so amazing to have the help of places to celebrate the Liturgy even when we have to make changes because it isn't our own 'house.'

We borrow the space late Sunday mornings for our 'large' mission from a Byzantine church with a different jurisdiction. It is a blessing, but does using a rented space limit our outreach and growth? Perhaps- but that's reality.

Yes, the title of this blog is "fear not little flock"- we'll stay little. We have no choice.This is the way of the world. I just hope and pray we will exist enough to remain at least "little" and not gone completely.

Yes, with God all things are possible. His will be done. 


  1. Is there a way that a person can help your eparchy ? Such as donating some $$ ? Of course prayers will continue for your husband's endeavors. God bless you and keep the Faith.


    a Roman rite person

  2. Anonymous Roman-rite person ;)

    Our diocese receives some money from the special collection that we all do for missions- our missions do not.

    I guess in general, if one lives 'close' (meaning an hour or so) from an Eastern Catholic parish it would be cool if the larger Roman parish would adopt the Eastern- because even the relatively large Ukrainian Catholic parishes on the East coast are tiny compared to the Roman rite ones.

    By allowing us to meet at their chapel, they are already doing a lot to help us- but for example, we haven't been able to take a collection in 2 years at the small mission because we need to hire a lawyer to make us legal in our state to have a bank account. We are able to take a collection at the 'large' mission because it is much older. So, anything we do (like copying bulletins, etc) is out of our own pocket- we consider this a way of tithing, but it limits our activities and growth. And I think people like not being pressured about money- but how can it be a 'real' church with no collection? We are in the 'big book' of all the different Catholic churches in the states, but this is not enough for our state.

  3. Goodness! You really do have a lot of obstacles. Yes; going to a Mass in Spanish.....that wouldn't be my first choice.

  4. Priest's Wife,

    I am sure the large Roman Catholic Parish that you operate out of has at least one lawyer who could donate the time to help you guys become legit and get a bank account.

  5. Priest's Wife,
    May I gently ask whether it is really necessary that your family bear the financial burden of the little mission? If my pastor were to finance our parish, it would deprive me of the chance to be generous and encourage me to be miserly toward the Church. Perhaps you could ask your parishioners to sign up for bulletin copying duty so that they have a chance to contribute to their church without the legal problems.

    Also, have you contacted the Latin diocese, the American Catholic Lawyers Association, Ave Maria Law School, the St. Thomas More Society, or even that local parish of 15,000 families for help? Surely there is ONE lawyer who would be willing to help you file your paperwork.

  6. Alice- Thanks for your kind words- we obviously need to find someone to help us out with the legality for our state.

    Parishioners and 'chronic visitors' do help- remember it is 'time, talent and treasure' - a parishioner's mom wrote our beautiful life size icons, a priest donated a beautiful chalice set and 'gold' Gospel, for the 'small' mission, it is usually someone other than me that cooks food for fellowship afterward--- but we do pay for a lot of things...time to get organized- problem is- we are so busy at church, it is hard to do the practical stuff!

  7. God bless your family for your work in the mission parishes of our Eparchy. I can't help out with the legal issues, but if you need help in creating/maintaining a website, I can offer up parking of a website on the account I use for our byzantine parish.


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