Journey of Faith
New energy drives West Omaha parishes forward on Journey of Faith
June 5, 2023
A West Omaha family of parishes is one of giants – with large church buildings and thousands of parishioners.
But the size of Family T – also known as the West Omaha Family of Parishes – doesn’t make it lumbering or lazy. To the contrary, three of the pastors said.
On their Journey of Faith path, the family of parishes has been moving: praying, collaborating and forging forward with shared services and new ideas.
There’s an energy in the family, said Father Daniel Kampschneider, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul. “Of course, that’s the Holy Spirit, and it’s really going to continue to spark with good things.”
They’ve been working together as they share speakers and programs, work on communications efforts, marriage preparation, pro-life outreach, young adult ministry and helping the poor.
One joint endeavor is a Corpus Christi procession on June 11, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The parishes hope to make the procession an annual event, said Father Mike Eckley, pastor of St. Wenceslaus. (See details below.)
“A lot of what we did was centered around prayer,” said Father David Belt, pastor of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish.
As they began to meet, the parishes listed areas of strength and areas for continued growth, Father Belt said. That led to the three goals: communication, marriage formation and young adult ministry.
Better communication will help the parishes share opportunities like parish missions and schedule those events at different times so more people can participate, Father Eckley said.
He said he’s excited about the parishes working together to better serve young adults, a broad category that includes college students, young professionals, newly married couples and new parents.
Young adults tend to be mobile, Father Eckley said, not settled on one parish and perhaps not settled in a career or other aspects of life. They are in transition, he said.
The West Omaha parishes invited young adults from throughout the Omaha area to a gathering in April to learn what interests them, “what they’re hungry for,” according to the pastor.
Marriage formation will include more than preparation for engaged couples, but marriage enrichment, too, for all couples, no matter how long they’ve been married, Father Eckley said.
Early on, leaders of the West Omaha Family “felt that the Holy Spirit was present and guiding us through,” Father Belt said. “It was a little overwhelming at first. But as we’ve worked our way through the process, it became pretty clear what our final goals were going to be.”
Those initial meetings brought interest, hope and anticipation, Father Kampschneider said. “I think the challenge for us is to now organize ourselves more as we go forward.”
Parishioners are excited about the possibilities that could come from the collaboration, Father Belt said. “I also get comments that our people realize how blessed we are. We frequently pray for pastors and parishioners in the rural part of our archdiocese.”
“Our conversations aren’t so much about reducing. It’s the other way. Our parishes are growing, and we need to discern together how we can take care of the people in our parish family.”
The challenge for their family of parishes has been “just trying to figure out where to start” with so many possible opportunities, Father Belt said.
“Our experience was a very positive one,” he said. “The people who were involved were just very respectful, and they wanted to do what was best for our family. We got to know each other well. We actually did a lot of laughing, a lot of sharing stories. It was a blessed time for us.”
The west Omaha Corpus Christi procession on June 11 will begin at 2 p.m. at Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Boys Town and proceed about 2½ miles to St. Wenceslaus, where there will be Adoration and Benediction.
Parishioners and those outside the family of parishes are welcome.
Refreshments will be served afterward. Bus rides will be available back to Boys Town for those who parked vehicles there.
Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes. Children who recently received their First Holy Communion are invited to wear their First Communion outfits.
Those unable to walk in the procession are invited to take part in the Adoration and Benediction at St. Wenceslaus.