If you visit St. Stephen Byzantine Catholic Cathedral for Sunday Liturgy you will notice:
- There are icons rather than statues
- The altar traditionally faces the East.
- There is an icon screen separating the sanctuary from the body of the church
- The priest and congregation face the East.
- Before entering the pew or passing in front of the tabernacle parishioners bow from the waist.
- We cross themselves from right to left.
- We do not kneel during Sunday Liturgy – because Sunday Liturgy is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and standing is considered a sign of respect.
- We receive the Eucharist from the priest on a spoon under the species of both bread and wine.
- No musical instruments are used – you will hear vocal music.You may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending Liturgy in any Catholic Church, Western or Eastern.
- Who is interested in seeking the Lord Jesus Christ through His Word and Sacred Mysteries (sacraments);
- Who accepts the teachings of the Catholic Church;
- Who will help form a community based on the Lord’s love;
- Who is willing to grow as a Christian within the legitimate spiritual traditions of the Byzantine Catholic Church within our American context;
- Who acknowledges the legitimate authority of the Pope, Bishop and Pastor;
- Who will attend the Liturgical services on Sundays and great Holydays; and
- Who is willing to support the growth of the Church by sharing of his or her Time, Talent and Treasure (financial support)
If this is the type of spiritual home that you seek, contact Fr. Wes or Sr. Christopher.
Our Church History
Efforts to organize and develop a Byzantine Catholic parish in the Ruthenian tradition began by a small, devoted group of Slavic faithful living in Phoenix, Arizona as early as 1956. These God-loving, self-sacrificing people who migrated west from the east, did not relent in finding people who were willing to work for a parish of their own. In July of 1966, the +Most Reverend Nicholas T. Elko, Bishop of the Eparchy of Pittsburgh, serving the Church of the Byzantine Ruthenian people of the east, was contacted and formally asked for a Phoenix parish to form.
By 1968, with continued perseverance, prayer and courage, (and many celebrations of worship at “borrowed” sites throughout Phoenix), word came of a property for sale as 8141 N. 16th Street, Phoenix. The new administrator of the Eparchy of Pittsburgh, +Most Reverend Stephen Kocisko, D.D., granted permission for this site, the site of the old Antiochene (Orthodox) Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, to be purchased by the community. On Easter Sunday, 1968, the first offering of Divine Liturgy was celebrated there.
Dedicated to God, under the patronage of St. Stephen, the Proto-Martyr, this young parish received its Solemn Blessing by +The Most Reverend Stephen Kocisko, D.D., on June 28, 1968, Reverend Paul Bovankovich was appointed first pastor of the new community of Byzantine faithful, given its home in the Sonoran desert of the American Southwest.
St. Stephen has seen much growth and development throughout almost four decades since it’s inception. The Rectory and Parish Hall were added by 1974. Condominiums were constructed, designed to house retired clergy, religious and lay. Today, these condos house over 31 within our community.
In 1991 a Columbarium was added to the property, where the lives of many are memorialized. The Columbarium translates the ancient practice of burying the faithful in the churchyard to our modern circumstances. The ashes inurned in the walls of these gardens are commended to the glory of God and these souls stands as a reminder to all that we one day will be called to share in the glory of the Resurrection of Christ.
In 1994, the Chancery offices of the Eparchy of Van Nuys moved from California to Phoenix relocated due to the severe devastation inflicted by the Northridge Earthquake. Existing facilities at St. Stephen (renamed the Pro-Cathedral) were redesigned to accommodate Most Reverend George M Kuzma, D.D., Eparchy of Van Nuys and his staff.
Today, over 150 families of varied and diverse ethnicities call St. Stephen their spiritual home. Parish Ministries include the Friends of St. Stephen, GCU Lodge 999, Altar Society, Altar Servers, Cantors, Choir, Ushers, and Byzanteens . Catechetical formation is ongoing within the community and is offered to the faithful of all ages. Classes of Eastern Christian Formation, Pre-School through Grade Eight, are taught weekly on Sundays. The “Sacred” formation series serves the needs of the adult members of the parish.
Each year parishioners from St. Stephen’s honor the Theotokos (Mother of God) by making a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at our sister parish in Olympia, Washington (http://www.olphshrine.com/index.shtml) in August or to Mount Saint Macrina Monastery in Uniontown, Pennsylvania
Present facilities include the newly renovated Church structure dedicated in style to its inherent Byzantine southwest location. The Rectory and newly refurbished Parish Hall, Gift Shop staffed by dedicated parishioners, and Convent that houses the Sisters of St. Basil complete the parish property. The adjacent Chancery offices of the Eparchy of Van Nuys complement the Church.
The parishioners of St. Stephen continue in their efforts with hard work and prayer. “Where there is prayer, no desert is barren.” These wise words echo from the land on which Our Church stands. It is evident that the strong community of believers are devoted to the love of God, and the constant building up of the Body of Christ. His presence to us is “our way, truth and life” (Jn 14:6).