At St. Paul, we serve the Roman Rite in English, which is one of several rites within the Western Rite. One of the more prominent names associated with the Roman Rite is St. Gregory the Great through his Mass and Gregorian Chant. Thus the way we worship is just like those saints of the first millennium: Sts Patrick, Leo, Columba, Bridget, and so on. If St. Patrick were to appear at St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church this Sunday, other than language barriers, he would recognize the service and be able to serve. That’s how old and venerable the Mass is. The Western Rite of the Orthodox Church proclaims the same eternal and unchanging faith and beliefs as that of our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters but without the cultural barriers often found in Eastern Rite churches.
Lutherans, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, and Methodists will certainly recognize the liturgy while Baptists and Presbyterians are familiar with many of our hymns.
In the Nineteenth Century, Westerners seeking the apostolic purity of the ancient, unchanging Orthodox Faith and Liturgy approached the Church. They sought to restore their own familiar and theologically Orthodox liturgical forms and hymnody, which had been used before the Great Schism.
In 1958, the Patriarch of Antioch established the Western Rite Vicariate for North America after consultation with the other patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The purpose of the Western Rite is to provide a home in the Orthodox Church for western people of non-Byzantine cultural and religious backgrounds and to be a witness to the Catholicity of the Orthodox Church.
Although relatively new and few in numbers, Western Rite Orthodoxy now exists throughout the world, in Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. It is an excellent missionary outreach to those coming to the Eastern Orthodox Faith from a western ethos. It stands as a beacon to the unchanging and eternal truth of Jesus Christ.