The extraordinary weight and effort of Holy Week and Pascha is a challenge for any Orthodox Christian community. And this is especially the case in fledgling communities such as Saint Nektarios Mission, Waxahachie, TX.
“We are constantly trying to translate the grandeur of the tradition into something manageable for a small group,” said Priest David Bozeman on Bright Monday. “Sometimes, things can get lost in translation. But for the most part, the message of Holy Week and Pascha shine through, even in humble settings.”
As a growing mission that continues to benefit from the Orthodox Church in America’s Planting Grant Program, Saint Nektarios Mission strives to observe a full liturgical schedule.
“For a priest, this is one advantage of being on the Grant,” Father David explained. “It is the services that give life to the mission. They form us and our thinking and give us the opportunity to learn how to love the beauty of God’s house. Holy Week especially breathes with life and enlivens the mission. The challenge, of course, is that you have to do more with less!”
Recounting his experience during the past week, Father David was quick to add that many services were sung by two or three people, that he served some services without servers, and that he cleaned the church building 15 times in seven days!
“Many parishioners live quite a distance from the church and so they are making the effort to drive back and forth daily,” Father David said. “But the end result is that the mission really learns how to celebrate this great Feast of feasts. We are investing in the mission now so that as it is more firmly established, its growth will reveal its healthy beginning.”
During the course of Great Lent, Father David and his flock celebrated the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts regularly and held special classes on Sundays.
“These weekly classes were a kind of ‘check-up’ on how people were handling the Fast,” Father David explained. “In a smaller setting, it is easier to discuss the season’s challenges and to encourage people to keep struggling. We also had opportunities to attend Pan-Orthodox Vespers around the Dallas-Fort Worth area and a lenten retreat at the Nativity of Our Lord Monastery. This kind of saturation during Great Lent really quiets the mind and helps focus people on the things that are needful. And in a small mission, we really need to see that others are in this work as well. It is a great encouragement to stand with other Orthodox Christians that you may not know and pray together.”
In their third and final year of the Planting Grant Program, Saint Nektarios’ faithful feel well equipped to face the significant yet exciting challenges they face as they “graduate” from the program.
“Like most graduates, we are uncertain of the future,” Father David added. “Our numeric growth has been modest, like many missions in smaller towns. My hope continues to be that we will see great things! I am amazed at the faithfulness of the people of our mission, and I am certain that all of our work, which has already been so rewarding, will continue to be meaningful and significant for all of our faithful and for the town of Waxahachie.”
The OCA Church Planting Grant Program is made possible in part due to the generous support of the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America. See what you can make possible by becoming a Steward today!