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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Harvey

Who was Saint Barnabas? What Makes the St. Barnabas Church in Omaha so Unique?


Saint Barnabas was an active Christian from the events testified too in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. In Nebraska we are blessed with a gem known as St. Barnabas Catholic Church. It is a small church, you may have driven passed it and not even realized it, and it is located down the street from the Cathedral of St. Cecilia in Omaha. It is a beautiful church with a beautiful liturgical tradition. What makes it so different? It is fully Catholic but not part of the Archdiocese of Omaha. It is part of a different diocesan structure, the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. Under Pope Benedict XVI, the Church developed a path for Anglicans to maintain their liturgical and cultural tradition but to live it out as full members of the Catholic Church. St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Omaha is a community of persons that entered into the Catholic Church under this structure. 

Saint Barnabas Church | Omaha, Nebraska

Who was the St. Barnabas that this Catholic Christian community takes as their patron? St. Joseph Barnabas, cousin of St. Mark, was from the island of Cyprus and a member of the Israelite tribe of Levi. He was a Hellenist Israelite which means he would have known Greek and understood the world outside of Judeah. St. Barnabus converted to Christianity early on, not too long after Jesus’ death and resurrection. As an early convert, he was an active member in the initial Church community in Jerusalem. He sold all he had to support the local Church.  

There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. -Acts of the Apostles 4:36-37 

St. Barnabas played a part in recognizing the former persecutor St. Paul as having a calling from God to share in Christ’s mission. He became St. Paul’s companion, went on missionary trips, evangelized non-Jews, and was present at the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15. Very little is known with certainty about the later years of his life. In him we see the importance of helping others to live out their calling from God.  

St. Barnabas is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass. His memorial is celebrated on June 11th.  

St. Barnabas, pray for us.  

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