Scripture tells of the tiny mustard seed yielding one of the mightiest of shrubs. Like that mustard seed, Saint Gabriel Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, has mushroomed from four to about one-hundred families since its founding.
Father Alexander Nanko, pastor of Saint Stephen Church in Phoenix, Arizona, was approached during the Greek Catholic Union convention in July, 1976 about establishing a Ruthenian-Byzantine church in Las Vegas. The first Liturgy was celebrated by Father Nanko in a private home on January 21st, 1977 with twenty-one participants. Encouraged by the turnout, Father Nanko promised to return monthly.
With the growth of the mission parish in mind, a local Roman Rite church soon became home to the monthly Liturgy.
By June 1978, the first parish business meeting was conducted for the election of officers and submission of three church names to Bishop Emil Mihalik of Parma. Within a few weeks, Bishop Emil made his choice and Saint Gabriel the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Mission was officially named.
In July 1980, property was purchased at 2250 East Maule Avenue, an area south of the Las Vegas airport. A growing area, the one and one-half acre lot contained a house and a large garage. A short time later, an adjoining one and one-fourth acres were added.
Again, the mother parish of Saint Stephen's stepped in and helped convert a three-car garage on the Maule Avenue property into a church seating one hundred. During construction in 1981 and 1982, the house became the temporary chapel. Liturgy was still scheduled monthly, but, with Las Vegas being a prime vacation spot, visiting priests provided more frequent liturgies.
1981 brought a retired Ukrainian priest to Las Vegas for health reasons. He offered his services in exchange for the use of the rectory. Weekly Divine Liturgy became a reality, as well as Eastern Christian Formation classes for the children.
On May 30, 1982, Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church was dedicated by Bishop Thomas Dolinay, Bishop of the newly formed Eparchy of Van Nuys, and the first permanent priest was assigned as administrator. Within a short time, the newly established parish had grown to the point of adding a Saturday evening Liturgy in addition to the one on Sunday morning.
Las Vegas has been and remains one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and the parish followed in a similar path under Father Stephen Washko. A covered patio area was added in 1992 for social gatherings and Sunday fellowship socials were started. An off-site rectory was purchased in 1994 and the on-site rectory was converted to classrooms, office space, and a social center. In 1996, adult enrichment classes were started and an expansion project was completed to accommodate an additional fifty worshipers in the church.
In 1997, Father Robert Pipta became administrator and continued to shepherd the parish through its spiritual and physical growth.
In the Jubilee Year 2000, the parish began to pray on a regular basis the Divine Praises of Vespers and Matins. In the spring of 2001, the parish dedicated its brand new one-hundred car parking lot marking the completion of a five-year property development, landscaping, and off-site improvement project. This project is Phase I of the Master Plan.
In 2002, Saint Gabriel Church celebrated its 25th Anniversary Silver Jubilee Year. In January, remembering the very first Divine Liturgy served by the community twenty-five years ago, the parish began its year of celebration with the burning of the rectory mortgage. The parish celebrated a Silver Jubilee Octave during Pentecost Week in May. Now parishioners are beginning to prepare for Phase II of the Parish Master Plan which will wee the building of a brand new church building sometime in the future.
In February 2004, Father Robert Pipta was transferred to Holy Angels Church in San Diego, CA, and Father Bob Daigle became our new pastor. Father Bob is well known to most parishioners, having filled in many times when Father Robert Pipta was traveling. Father Bob is a retired U.S. Navy Chaplain and has also served Byzantine Catholic Churches in Spokane, WA and San Diego, CA.
In June of 2005, Father Bob Daigle again went into retirement and Saint Gabriel sped through the summer months shepherded by Father Michael O'Loughlin and Father Kurt Burnette. In September 2005, Father Nils Francis Thompson, O.F.M. was assigned to be our pastor. We continued to thrive under his kind guidance.
Saint Gabriel is grateful to have been served by Deacon Marcus Gomori for five months. We were honored to host his ordination to holy priesthood on December 16, 2006.
Effective late in October of 2007, Fr. Marcus Gomori was appointed Pastor of St. Gabriel's Byzantine Catholic Church, in light of Fr. Nils, Francis Thompson's O.F.M. retirement. The parish family of St. Gabriel's will move ahead to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Saint Gabriel parish is also the mother church to Our Lady of Wisdom Byzantine Catholic Church. This Italo-Greek parish, organized in 1993, now has its own church building and pastor and is located approximately 15 miles northwest of Saint Gabriel's.
Located just a short distance from the Las Vegas Strip and immediately south of the airport, frequent visitors and those who have relocated to the city find they are always welcome at Saint Gabriel Byzantine Catholic Church, a tiny seed that blossomed in the desert.
Parish Mission Statement
We the Parish Family of St. Gabriel's have been anointed in Baptism and sent forth with compassion to witness to God's loving and liberating presence.
We celebrate with joy the Gospel of life and the sacraments which nourish and empower us with the Spirit of Christ. The history of our Catholic Tradition, the experience of our families, and the diversity of our cultures, languages, and gifts strengthen and unite us as the Body of Christ.
We seek to follow the example of our Patron the Archangel Gabriel, who brought Good news to all the world and reminds us of our mission to be messengers of love and hope.
We are especially committed to and challenged by our worship, our desire to educate and from leaders among the children, youth, and adults of our community and our service to the poor and vulnerable.
The courageous examples of all those who have come before us in faith and all who have witnessed to the Gospel before us, inspire and guide us. Let us be called to build God's Reign of harmony and peace within our families, community, and world.
Dear People of St. Gabriel's,
I once heard a Jewish Rabbi explain that religion involves three things: belonging, believing, and becoming. I would like to see St. Gabriel's as a parish family where belonging, believing, and becoming are our top priorities.
Belonging in the sense that goes beyond "warm fuzzies." Belonging in the sense that you know you are welcome here and you will do what you can to make others know they are welcome. Most importantly, belonging in the sense of your personal ownership, responsibility, and commitment to the well-being of all the people in this parish family.
Believing in the sense that from your experience of belonging to St. Gabriel's parish family and the faith example we offer each other, you will come to deepen your personal relationship with God—Father, Son, and Spirit. Believing in a sense that you will appreciate the words of scripture; what really matters is "faith that expresses itself in love" (Gal 5:6). Believing in the sense that from your deepened personal relationship with God, your faith will be "expressed" as you accept your place in the community of the Church and the Community of the People of God.
Becoming in the sense that from our positive attitude and preaching of the Gospel and the celebration of vital liturgies, your involvement in the ministries of the parish and your participation in the adult programs that will be offered here, you may grow to full maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:15) and take ownership and responsibility for the adult decisions you make in living your life as a Christian person.
My personal prayer is that we live this Liturgy outside these walls, in the lives we live, the work we do, the prayers we pray, and the service we give.
Pastor of St. Gabriel's
The Byzantine Catholic Church of St. Gabriel's is centered on the Risen Christ as revealed through the Scriptures, Mass/Liturgy, and Holy Tradition. We celebrate the truth that there is more than one way to be Catholic. We are in union with and under the Pope of Rome. The parish community is open to anyone who: is interested in seeking the Lord through his Sacred Word and Sacraments, accepts the teaching of and is willing to grow in the tradition of the Byzantine Catholic Church, will work towards forming a community based on the love of Jesus Christ, acknowledges the appropriate authorities of the Byzantine Catholic Church, and who is willing to support the growth of the church by sharing his/her talent, time, and treasure.