St Vincent of Lerins Orthodox church was founded in 1990 by former members of an Episcopal church in Omaha. They were looking for the sound theology and teachings of the Orthodox church while still being able to express their Western heritage by being Western Rite. They used the Rite of St Gregory and were led by Fr Thomas Brouillard. After originally meeting at St Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, Omaha, a rectory was purchased and the congregation worshipped in a chapel located in its basement.
Fr Thomas left St Vincent’s in 1991 and for a time, the parish was without a permanently assigned priest. Substitute clergy served the church during that time. Fr Nicholas Klodnicki was one of the most common clergy to serve. Edwin Aasen, a founding member of the parish was ordained as a deacon in 1992, and conducted services when no priest was available.
St Vincent’s finally received a permanent priest again in 1993, when Fr Stephen Walinski was assigned to the parish. Fr Stephen came to Orthodoxy from another Episcopal parish in Omaha, and with his arrival, the parish began using the Rite of St Tikhon. With Fr Stephen came Dn. Stephan Swedburg and several members from Fr Stephen’s former Episcopal church. Eventually, Dcn Stephan was transferred to St Mary’s, Omaha.
For a time, the parish had worshiped in the sanctuary of a Baptist church. In 1994, the parish was able to secure a permanent church home and rectory in the Benson area of Omaha. The church building was built as a Mennonite temple in 1928, and had housed several different churches before St Vincent’s acquired the property.
In 2004, Fr Stephen was elevated to the rank of Archpriest and retired as Rector of St Vincent’s. SubDeacon Theodore Eklund from St Marks, Denver was then ordained as Deacon, then Priest in September of 2004. He was assigned to St Vincent’s, taking over as Rector in October of that year.
In the spring of 2005, Dcn Edwin was released to the Orthodox Church in America. In June of that year, SubDeacon Nicholas Tilden was ordained to the Diaconate to serve as St Vincent’s deacon. Fr Theodore and Dcn Nicholas continue to serve St Vincent’s to this day.
While St Vincent’s is the only Antiochian Western Rite Parish in the Northern Plains states, it maintains a diverse cultural community. The ages span grandparents to young children, all held together by their western expression of Orthodox Christianity in Omaha.