St. Silouan is a young and growing community of families, students, children, and individuals of all backgrounds in the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.
We seek to glorify God through rich fellowship, scriptural worship, selfless service, personal transformation, and humble hospitality.
All are invited to join us in our journey towards the Kingdom.
In the mid-1970s, Greek priests from Houston and Waco began visiting College Station once a month to serve an evening Divine Liturgy at Texas A&M University's All Faiths Chapel.
In September of 2001, His Grace Bp. BASIL gave his blessing to efforts to begin an Antiochian Orthodox Christian Mission in the Bryan-College Station area. The mission church was established under the guidance of priest-in-charge Fr. Matthew MacKay, pastor of the St. Joseph Antiochian Orthodox Church.
This start of our mission was due, at least in part, to the request made by Drs. Richard and Melissa Gibson, who lived in College Station and had been traveling to Houston for services. The mission was intended to serve Orthodox Christians within a 50-mile radius.
One of the earliest members of our community with a cross in her home.
Blurry photo of the earliest services of our community.
A Divine Liturgy at the Brazos Center.
An early iconostasis for our community.
For the first few years, Father traveled to College Station to serve Divine Liturgy at the Brazos Center on (or near) the first Saturday each month.
Within months we had exceeded the maximum number of meetings allowed by Brazos Center policies, so we met several times in the home chapel of Gerasim (Ronald) Grant before renting our first permanent space in the Town & Country Center on 29th Street in Bryan.
The rental space was a large open square; we created a nave by hanging fabric walls and adorning it with decoupaged icons. After several months, the landlord asked us to move to another unit in the same building, larger though not as nice. Fr. Matthew continued to visit monthly to serve Divine Liturgy. In between, we held reader’s Orthros and Typica services.
While the total attendance was never more than twenty or so, it was a diverse and vibrant group.
In July, 2004, we upgraded our iconostasis from a set of folding screens to a wooden structure constructed in the home shop of David Jarret. The icons of Christ and the Theotokos were gifted to us by our mother parish, St. Joseph’s in Houston. Within a month, additional adornments had been crafted and added.
Until November 2004, the mission was known simply as the “Bryan-College Station Orthodox Christian Mission.” On November 14, 2004, we received word from Bp. BASIL that we would be named for St. Silouan the Athonite.
While parishes usually have some input in selecting their name, ours was an unusual circumstance. Sister Magdalen, a monastic at the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, where Bp. BASIL was a monk, asked him to promise that the next time he had the opportunity to name a church, he would name it after St. Silouan.
That same month, parishioner Richard Gibson was ordained Deacon and we began holding Typica services with communion. Fr. Matthew continued to serve monthly Divine Liturgy, encouraging the mission not to grow too comfortable in our temporary locations.
Our 2004 upgraded iconostasis.
A snapshot of our growing community.
Bishop BASIL of Wichita's first visit to our mission parish.
By April, 2005, we had moved into a new space in the United Way building on Southwest Parkway.
While in this new space, we had our first visit from Bp. BASIL on November 7, 2005. We also expanded the life of the church with regular book studies at Dcn. Gregory and his wife Melissa’s home.
In April, 2006, we inherited from St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston the large "Theotokos of the Sign" icon that hangs over the altar. Over the years, we have inherited chairs and other icons from our mother parish.
Fr. Matthew guided us through the process of purchasing a piece of property and constructing a building at our current site on Gloria Allen Drive in 2007. We broke ground July 1, 2007, and moved in January 12, 2008.
Shortly afterwards, we were reclassified from a mission community to a full parish.
Parishioners gifted ornate Gospel and Epistle covers to the community, and the iconostasis was expanded. Charles Fleming constructed a new stand to hold the liturgical fans, cross, and lamps which were donated to us by St. Joseph’s.
An overhead image of our current property.
Preparations for an outdoor service during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July, 2010, Fr. Matthew passed away unexpectedly, and Dcn. Gregory was ordained to the priesthood not long after. Fr. Gregory served as priest from the time of his ordination until his family moved to Colorado in early 2019.
In 2019, we were notified that the Awe & Wonder Foundation awarded us a gift of $125,601.51 for the payoff of the mortgage on the church property.
That same year, we were assigned Father John Ballard, who began his ministry just 9 months before the COVID-19 pandemic, during which he began accommodations such as outdoor services and live-streams for those who were sick.
Throughout and after the pandemic our community continued to flourish, and in May, 2023, Fr. John reported to the parish that the archdiocese had assigned a new priest to St. Silouan who would help the parish grow even stronger, and spearhead a building project to accommodate more parishioners.
Fr. John’s last Sunday was June 11, 2023. The parish presented him with an icon of St. Paisios and other personal gifts.
Our current pastor, Fr. Joseph Thornburg, began his ministry June 15, 2023. A month later, College Station welcomed the first campus missionary of the Orthodox Church in the United States.
In the few months since then, our parish has added several new families, and we are now searching for land on which to build the first full-sized Orthodox Christian temple in Bryan-College Station.
Father Joseph and his family at his ordination a few months before arriving in College Station.
Father Joseph offering a blessing for students, faculty, and staff at the start of the fall 2023 semester.