Introduction for Catholics
Dear Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ,
Welcome to our website! We hope that you will take some time to look through our resources here, and consider a visit to our community.

As Orthodox Christians, we have long had a special relationship with the Western Christian Church. Our historic ties to the Patriarchate of Rome, who today is known simply as "The Pope" by most of the world, extends back to the very beginnings of the church. Though many divisions have occurred since then, and significant theological, administrative and cultural differences do exist between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, we share a common bond that, though tested, has not yet broken.

Here in the United States, the Orthodox faith and the Catholic faith have their origins as an immigrant church, one that was met by intense hostility from Protestants, who viewed our people and our faith as un-American and subversive. Our practices and sacraments, our veneration of the saints and the Virgin Mary (Theotokos), and the culture of those who came from the Old World marked us as "different". But these newcomers to the new world found a deeper meaning and love of their faith, and rather than abandoning it, built their communities around the parish.

Today, the American Orthodox Church, like the Catholic Church, has moved from being a mission establishment for immigrants to serving the needs of individuals from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. At a local level, our parish has enjoyed good relations with the Catholic Church, and our communities practice of venerating saints who are recognized by both the East and West – including St. Cloud – gives us some sense of connection.

Catholic visitors to our community will find many differences in our liturgical practices than a Catholic Church. Traditional beeswax candles, icons instead of statuary, a lack of any musical instruments during the Liturgy (Mass) are some of the major examples. We also note that it is not possible for Catholics to receive communion if they visit on Sunday, as our churches are no longer in full recognition of one another. Please do not take this as an insult, and understand that we do wish that you feel a welcome guest. We ask if you have any questions or concerns in this matter that you speak to Fr. Nathan, our parish priest, who will be able to explain our complex relationship with the Catholic Church, the Eastern/Byzantine/Uniate Church, and the Orthodox Church as best as possible. We recommend that any practicing Catholic who wishes to attend a service chose a Saturday vespers service, where the sacrament of Holy Communion is not given, so as not to disrupt your own practices.

We look forward to your visit, and hope to see you soon.
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