Who We Are
Saint Jonah is a parish family just as diverse as Alpine itself. We are long-time Alpine residents, as well as those new to the area. We are small business owners, full-time moms, laborers, health care professionals, restaurant workers, retirees, government employees, ranchers, and veterans of the armed forces. We are life-long Orthodox Christians, as well as those new to the Faith. We are female and male, Hispanic and White. Children make up a full 30% of our family, and are just as important to our parish as everyone else!
What joins us together as one is our participation in the Body of Christ, His Church, "for as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:12-13).
Before there was an Orthodox Christian Church in Alpine, there were Orthodox Christians. But since there was no church here, the faithful had to travel to Saint George Orthodox Church in El Paso to worship - a 200 mile trip each way! In June 2007, three of those families got together and contacted Archbishop Dmitri, of blessed memory, to ask his blessing for a priest to come to Alpine.
In November, Archbishop Dmitri came to Alpine to investigate the possibility of establishing an Orthodox church, accompanied by Archpriest Joseph Fester, Chancellor of the Diocese of the South, and Milos Konjevich, Treasurer of the Diocese. His Eminence met with the families and, to their joy, told them that it looked like Alpine could support a mission. In December, 14 local Orthodox Christians signed a petition requesting His Eminence's blessing to establish a mission outpost, which he granted.
For several months after receiving the Archbishop's blessing, the group met on Sundays for Typika services in the homes of parishioners. Fr Joseph Fester returned in March 2008 to serve the first Divine Liturgy in Alpine, and in September 2008, Archpriest John Filipovich, who was already serving missions in Austin, TX and Clovis, NM, added Alpine to the rotation every third week. That November, +Dmitri assigned us a patron saint, putting the mission under the heavenly protection and guidance of Saint Jonah the Wonderworker and Metropolitan of Moscow.
In April 2009, the mission moved into a rented house next to Sul Ross State University, celebrating the very first Paschal services in Alpine, and finally in a dedicated worship space. The joy of the occasion was made that much greater by the participation of the faithful from Fr John's mission in Clovis, who made the five-hour drive to take part in Christian fellowship and worshipping the Resurrection of Christ.
October 2010 saw the mission move to its current location on Gallego when a building was finally purchased and renovated. The following year, Fr John was assigned to Saint Jonah as a full-time priest, ending his circuit riding days. Fr John faithfully served the mission for five years until September 2013, when he moved back to Oklahoma following his father's repose.
For the next 18 months, the members of the mission steadfastly kept the Faith alive in Alpine, holding regular reader services and engaging in Christian fellowship with one another. During this time, Archpriest Basil Zebrun, Dean of the Southwest Deanery in the Diocese, regularly visited and served the mission, until October 2014, when Priest Nicholas Roth began to visit. In February 2015, Fr Nicholas was assigned as the second full-time priest of Saint Jonah.
In these past years, Saint Jonah has witnessed the full cycle of emotions and services in the Church. We welcomed people in through baptism and chrismation, shared their joy in marriage and childbirth, endured pain in seeing members move away for family and employment, and supported each other through the grief of death. And through it all, our parish family has clung firmly to the Rock of our salvation, Christ Himself, Who is at the center of everything we do.
Our mission is not to be the biggest church in Alpine, nor is it to be the most popular church in Alpine. Our mission is to become the healthiest and strongest church we can be, no matter what the size, so that we can shine the light of Christ throughout our community.