We are a community of roughly 100 people of all ages and ethnicities. Our family consists of cradle Orthodox (Greek, Middle Eastern, Romanian, Serbian and Russian) and many converts. Whether you are already Orthodox and looking for a spiritual home or simply exploring, you will be welcome. All services are in English with congregational singing.
St. Andrew began in February of 2012 as an outreach ministry of St. Elias in Austin, TX to better minister the spiritual needs of parishioners living in the greater Waco area. We began our journey with 26 people and gathered in various homes. Fr. David Barr from St. Elias began coming to Waco on Sunday evenings to lead us in a Bible Study, followed by Little Compline. In March, Fr. David received a blessing from Bishop Basil to serve us communion from the Reserved Sacrament at St. Elias and we began to search for a more formal setting. Fr. John Wells and his community at Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit very graciously offered to provide a space for us, a relationship that would last for the next two years. Our numbers grew throughout this journey and it became clear to all that there was a large enough core to establish a new parish. On May 6, Fr. Michael Keiser, Director of Missions and Evangelism for the Antiochian Archdiocese came to visit. We received word on May 11 that we were an official Mission station. On June 20, we received word from Bishop BASIL that our community would be under the prayers and protection of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle.
Throughout the year that followed, clergy from St. Elias in Austin continued to serve us and teach us. In this way, we were able to build the beginnings of a stable liturgical schedule with Christian Education.
It was also a year of joyous firsts: our first baptism, enrollment of our first catechumens, and our first chrismation. We celebrated our first patronal feast day with our first Divine Liturgy as a community on the eve of November 30, 2012. March 3, 2013 was an especially blessed evening as His Grace Bishop BASIL joined us for his first pastoral visit to the mission. For our first Holy Week, with Fr. David’s instruction and encouragement, we gathered in various living rooms to sing the Bridegroom Services and Reader services. On Holy Friday, Fr. Dave Lewis come up from Austin to lead us in the remainder of our Paschal services and festivities. Finally, on June 17, we received word of another important first: Metropolitan PHILIP, of blessed memory, appointed Fr. John Ballard as our first pastor, effective July 28th, 2013.
Palm Sunday of 2014 marked a new stage in our parish history, our first service at the Estates Drive location which is now home. During this time, we converted one of the spaces into a beautiful Orthodox chapel.
June 4, 2017 (Pentecost) marked a bitter-sweet transition in the life of our parish, Fr. John’s last Sunday as our Pastor. The Ballard family was relocating to accommodate a change in Kh. Rebecca’s job. At the same time, we also received word that Fr. Patrick Henre, our new pastor, and his family would be joining us the first week of July. Fr. Patrick continues to serve and bless us as our Pastor.
We continue to learn about our faith as a community through education and book studies. We have a robust Sunday School program, a Women’s group, the beginnings of an Outreach program and an active OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) chapter at Baylor University. Together, we have blessed the Brazos River for Theophany, we have celebrated feast days and joyously broke the fast together on Pascha as we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection. As a church family, we have had social gatherings, retreats, family game nights and even a talent show. For our community, Orthodoxy is a way of life.
Fr. Patrick Henre
Fr. Patrick was born in Kansas City, Kansas and raised by devout Orthodox parents Deacon Joseph and Theresa Henre. He is the oldest of three children. Fr. Patrick was baptized at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church (established in 1904, in which his family were among its founding members) by the Protopresbyter Milan Bajich. It was in this parish with the mentorship of Fr. Bajich that Fr. Patrick first knew he wanted to serve God and His Church as a priest at a very young age. He served in the altar and sang in the choir as well as being active in Sunday School and annual Summer Camp.
Upon graduating from high school and after several pilgrimages to Orthodox Monasteries and other holy places, he knew his calling was to become a priest. In 2006 he was accepted to attend St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. During his time at St. Tikhon’s he was a member of the St. Tikhon’s Mission Choir. He also served as president of the student government, and active with the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement (OISM). Graduating in 2010, he moved back home and was tonsured a Reader. Fr. Patrick then decided to return to St. Tikhon’s Monastery as a novice. Living at the monastery with the monks in a daily life of prayer and service to the community was a powerful time of spiritual growth.
After leaving the monastery in 2012, he met his wife Sarah Watt while she was visiting her parents, Fr. Martin and Matushka Candy Watt, at the Seminary. In that same year Fr. Patrick became the youth director and Sunday School director at St. Basil Orthodox Church. Fr. Patrick and Kh. Sarah were married in 2013. During 2015, Fr. Patrick was Ordained to the Deaconate and to the Priesthood by His Grace Bishop Basil.
Fr. Patrick has been blessed to serve both St. John the Theologian Orthodox Church in Rapid City, South Dakota and Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Gillette, Wyoming before his present assignment at St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Waco, Texas, where he currently resides with his family. Fr. Patrick and Kh. Sarah have two children, Sampson (b. 2016) and Esther (b. 2017). In his spare time, when Father Patrick is not serving the parish or chasing after his children outside, he likes building with LEGO, playing video games and spending time cooking for his family.
Our parish grew out of a shared desire for education in the Orthodox Christian Faith, personal spiritual formation, and mission outreach to the greater Waco area.
Due to our growing community, our next major goal is to renovate what will be our main sanctuary which is located on this same property. We want to continue to provide a welcoming home where everyone can spiritually grow.