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What is the Old Catholic Church?




The Old Catholic Church is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as founded by Jesus Christ. The Old Catholic Church broke-off from the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican I in the 1870’s. The major reason for the break-off was the Pope at that time centralized all Church authority to himself (dogma of Papal Infallibility -”Causa Finita Est.”) instead of the time honoured tradition of Bishops-in-Council having authority over the Church.


The Old Catholic Church holds and keeps Catholic Tradition as established by the Apostles in the First Century. We are truly ‘Apostolic’ and therefore truly ‘Old’ Catholic. We reject man-made political agendas and regulations. We do not come under the direct authority of the Pope in Rome, but under the authority of the Presiding Bishop of our jurisdiction, who ‘holds and keeps’ Apostolic Succession through both the Holy See of Rome (Roman Catholic Church) and the Holy See of Antioch (Eastern Catholic Church).


Both of these Holy Sees were founded by the Apostle Saint Peter (“upon this rock I will build My Church” – Matthew 16:18). So, we as Old Catholic Priests trace our lineage and our ecclesiastical authority to Saint Peter.


The term “Old Catholic” is simply an adherence to the beliefs and practices of the post-Apostolic era Church tracing their Apostolic Succession through the Apostles to the Roman Catholic Church, participate in the full sacramental ministry of the Church.


A question often asked.


Does the Roman Catholic Church recognize the Sacraments of the Old Catholic Church?


Yes. (Can. 845 §1) The Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church states: “The sacraments of baptism, confirmation and orders cannot be repeated since they imprint a character.” {#845} The Sacrament of Marriage is also recognized, as it is of all other faith traditions.


Ancient Recognitions:


+Utrecht receives Rights of Autonomy from Blessed Pope Eugene III in 1145.


+This Right is confirmed by Pope Leo in 1215 and becomes known universally as the “Leonine Privileged.”


+Privilege subsequently reconfirmed in two Church Councils in 1520 and 1717.


Roman Catholics as well as others will often ask, what is your relationship with the Roman Catholic Church now?

Recent Recognitions:


+ “Dominus Iesus”issued by the Roman Catholic Magisterium in 2000, signed by Pope John Paul II on June 16, and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on August 6, states:
“The churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the (Roman) Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by Apostolic Succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular churches.”


The Catholic Almanac:


“The Roman Church recognizes the validity of Old Catholic Orders and other Sacraments.” Felican A. Roy, OFM, 1974; p. 368.


Separated Brethren:


“We have no reason to doubt that the Old Catholic Orders are valid. The Apostolic Succession does not depend on the obedience to the See of Peter, but rather on the objective line of succession from Apostolic sources, the proper manner and form, and the proper intention, likewise Old Catholic bishops are bishops in Apostolic Succession."

The Old Catholics, like the Orthodox,possess a valid priesthood.” William J. Whalens, pp. 204, 248.

The Old Catholic Church administers the Sacraments as one may be very familiar with. We are perhaps 90% the same as one may be used to.

The exceptions that we offer are:

“Open Communion” - Communion is offered to, and encouraged to be received by, all Believing Christians.

“General Absolution” - During the Penitential Rite of Mass, a moment is taken to confess sins silently and personally to God, then the Priest grants General Absolution, or one may confess to a Priest in person.

“Sacraments” - May be administered outside the confines of a Church.

“Holy Orders” - Are open to Married and Single Clergy. Another question often asked is, how can a priest be married? In 305 A.D. the Council of Elvira in Spain, while not forbidding marriage, passed the first decree on celibacy for all bishops, priests and those who served at the altar. The Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 decreed that a priest could not marry after ordination. Pope Siricius in 385, commanded celibacy for bishops, priests and deacons.
In 1123, the First Lateran Council forbade clergy to marry and decreed that those who had must dissolve their unions.
None of these edicts were decisions by an ecumenical council of all the Christian Churches in Apostolic Succession. We reject same sex marriage.
We oppose abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage and practising homosexuals in the priesthood without question.


“We are an Independent Catholic Family of Faith”


We in the Old Catholic Church understand that there are many who do not belong to a specific church or denomination, or who feel alienated from a former church that they have belonged, yet are in need of a Priest to perform a Catholic Service, such as a Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Marriage, Anointing, Funeral Service, or Home Blessing.

We also understand that not all may be very “religious” and that their needs and requests may differ from the “traditional” Catholic Service. We know that trying to plan for any Service is hard enough without a Priest adding additional requirements or demands.
We are flexible and are willing to work with the faithful and to accommodate their individual needs and desires; within the context of Christian worship.

hould the occasion arise when you or a family member are in need of a Priest to perform a Catholic Service, please call us and we will be glad to serve those in need.We are available to serve you by offering Services at your home, a banquet facility, parks or beaches, funeral homes, cemeteries, or other place of your choosing.


1. The Church Charged to Continue Christ’s Ongoing Mission


One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic are the four characteristics that identify the Church established by Jesus Christ and commissioned by him to continue in the world the mission that the Father had entrusted to him.

This is the unanimous witness that the Holy Scriptures give us and that, over the length of centuries, impelled first the work of the Apostles and then of those who have received from the Apostles the mission that Jesus had entrusted to them. The Gospel of John expresses clearly the continuity that exists from the mission of Jesus to the mission of the apostles. Jesus, shortly before being glorified, prayed to the Father, “I am not going to continue in the world, but they are still in the world, while I go to be with you. I have given them your word, but the world hates them because they are not of the world, as I also am not of the world. As you sent me to be among those who are in the world, I also send them. and for their sake I now consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated by the truth.” John 17:11, 14, 18-19.

And so that there may be no doubt of the fact that this mission is not limited to the twelve apostles but was a charge that they should pass on, the prayer continues: “I do not pray only for them, but also for those who believe in me on hearing their message. I ask you that all of them be one; that as you, Father, are in me and I in you so they also may be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the same glory that you gave me so that they may be a single thing, as you and I are one.” John 17:20-22.
After the resurrection, Jesus confirms the mission and grants them the Spirit in order to consecrate them, to give them the glory and to train them to exercise the ministry: “Then Jesus said to them again: - Peace to you! As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. And he breathed on them and said to them: - Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive any man’s sins, they stand forgiven; if you pronounce them unforgiven, unforgiven they remain.”John 20:21-23.


2. The Apostolicity of the Church


In order to carry out this mission, under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the apostles and their successors continue to preach the Gospel, celebrate the sacraments, and organize the Church. The result was the formation of what we can call the “Apostolic Tradition.” To live it and preserve it in its integrity constitutes the fourth distinguishing mark of the Church.
sed in this sense, the word “Tradition” has nothing to do with the traditions that our communities frequently reject, considering them to be contrary to the Gospel and the voice of the Spirit. The popular sense in which tradition is spoken of is synonymous with “custom,” and indeed there are many customs in popular religion that are reprehensible because they give rise to evil, superficiality, legalism, authoritarianism and lack of commitment and keep us from discovering the true meaning of the faith.

The sense in which we are using the word “Tradition” here is different from the popular usage. Etymologically “tradition” means “to hand over” or “to reveal,” and that is what it means for us. It refers to the living faith of the Apostles and of the Church of all times which is “handed over” to us by Holy Scripture, by the creeds of faith and by the liturgical and sacramental life, and which, by the work of the Holy Spirit, “reveals” to us the living presence of Jesus Christ in our midst and permits us to experience that we are in communion and continuity with the same faith and the same mission of the Apostles and the Church of all times.


3. The Catholicity of the Church


A consequence of living the “Apostolic Tradition” is the experience of catholicity. It constitutes the third characteristic of the Church. By the witness and the work of the Holy Spirit, we are capable of recognizing the presence of Jesus Christ and the new life within us. This enables us begin to experience communion, on a personal as well as communitarian level, with those who have believed in Him in all times and in all places. Further, it impels us to live in communion with all human beings and with the whole creation and to make an effort for our communities to have space and respect for everyone and everything. Then catholicity ceases to be a mere theological concept and becomes living reality.


4. The Holiness of the Church the hallmark of Christian Discipleship.


To live the Apostolicity and the catholicity makes us recognize that the agent who allows us to experience this communion is the Holy Spirit. For it is He is who breaks the barriers of selfishness, of time and of space and transforms us so that it is not we who live but Christ who lives in us. Cf. Gal. 2:20. This makes us aware of the second characteristic of the Church, which is holiness. When we discern the living presence of the Spirit, the holiness ceases to be a distant ideal, professed in the Creed of Faith or the Confession, and is identified as the experience of God living within each of us in the midst of the community. For that reason Paul calls believers “saints” or a “holy people.”Cf. Col. 1:2. (Cf. Col. 1:2) For the holiness of the Church does not come from living according to a strict moral code but from the living presence of the Spirit who transforms and illumines and is manifest in his people.

Paul expresses this reality in the letter to the Ephesians in the following way: “By the grace of God you have received salvation by means of faith. This is not anything that you yourselves have achieved, but it is the gift of God. It is not the result of your own works, lest anyone boast of anything.”Eph. 2:8-9.


5. The Unity of the Church


The experience of holiness as a free gift, as liberation from all the bondage and hindrances as well as from selfishness, leads to the first characteristic of the Church: its unity. This finds its basis and guarantee in the gift of the same Holy Spirit. Cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-13. The Church is born on the day of Pentecost by the pouring out of the Spirit. Cf. Acts 2:1ff. It is the Spirit then who maintains and assures her unity. Paul reminds the Ephesians and exhorts them, “Be sure to maintain the unity that comes from the Holy Spirit. There is one body and one Spirit, as God has called us to one hope.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; there is one God and Father of us all.” Cf. Eph. 4:3-5. For that reason we can say that the Church, in her fundamental reality is one and indivisible; for by the Spirit we enter in to form part of the Body of Christ, which is one and indivisible. Cf. Eph. 4:12; Col. 1:18; 2:19; Eph. 2:21; 5:25-27.
In spite of the existence of this indestructible unity, as result of human fragility and ambitions, institutionally and historically, divisions have been created among the various ecclesiastical bodies, and these divisions mar the manifestation of and the witness to that spiritual indivisibility. From that fact comes the necessity of committing ourselves to the work of ecumenism so that visibly and historically we can radiate the unity that the Spirit creates and guarantees in the whole Body of Christ.


6. Experience of the Characteristics of the Church


For our church and for each one of the communities that form it, the unity, the holiness, the catholicity and the Apostolicity are not abstract theological concepts. Nor are they established and learned doctrines that over time have been settled on. Rather they form part of our life and our daily path.

That experience is what gives us unity and has enabled us to confront with peace and perseverance the adversities of rejection and marginalization. As individuals and as a community we have experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit by means of meditation on the Word of God and the liturgical life celebrated in prayer and sacrament, and this experience has created the certainty of being united in Christ to our brothers and sisters to all humanity; we have tasted holiness in recognizing that we are incessantly made righteous, freed from sin and gifted with many gifts and ministries.
We have received the sensitivity and the capacity to be inclusive and to open ourselves to communion and dialogue with all human beings, and to accept the plurality of forms of spiritual expression, thus attaining the enjoyment of catholicity in its deepest and most genuine sense; at last we have been able to get to the heart of and take on the full Apostolic Tradition.


7. Roots and Context of Our Ecclesiastic Experience.


The Apostolic Tradition and the Gospel.
We call this testimony of the first disciples the Apostolic Tradition. The word “tradition” means that which is passed on from one generation to another. The first disciples. whom we call apostles. proclaimed and taught the message of Jesus which is called the Gospel. which means Good News. Those who believed in the Good News were baptized and brought into a new community that was formed by the apostles. This community was called the Church. Within this community the Christians, as they came to be called, worshipped together, worked together and took care of one another.
They made every effort to follow the command of Jesus to love one another. The apostles gave to this community their testimony, the Apostolic tradition, to be passed on to succeeding generations.

It was their desire that the newly formed Church would not forget this tradition. As Saint Paul writes, “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by written letters of the apostles, which were collected into what we now call the New Testament.
The Apostolic Tradition was also passed on by “word of mouth.” This “oral tradition” is to be found in the continuing life of the Christian community. The Liturgy, that is the Mass, and the sacraments embody both the written and oral traditions of the apostles.


8. The Holy Spirit


Within the Christian community, people experience the very presence of God Himself. This presence of God is known as the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that empowered the Apostles so that they could continue the work of Jesus Christ in healing the sick and forgiving sins. Without the holy Spirit, there could not be an authentic Christian community. |


Our Sacraments


This parish is available to administer both of these sacraments and does so freely without the difficulties often seen in our neighbouring Roman Catholic parishes. Since our priests are ordained by a bishop in direct line with Roman Catholic bishops, the sacraments celebrated are viewed as authentic and valid sacraments by the Roman Catholic Church, although celebrated (that is to say, without the permission of the local Roman Catholic bishop).

Infant Baptism is celebrated at a time which is convenient to the family involved. We do offer baptism to infants of single parent families, and of those families in which parents are not presently married. We do not require classes before the celebration of the sacrament. The god parents are of your own choosing. Baptisms are celebrated individually and are personalized.

Adult Baptism occurs at this parish following a time of inquiry, worship with the community and demonstration of a basic knowledge of what it means to be a Christian within the Catholic tradition. This can be accomplished quickly and slowly, depending upon the individual. You will need god parents who will act as your sponsors for the sacrament who are themselves baptized and setting a good example of their lives.
Adult baptisms are individualized. Confirmation occurs at adult baptisms so that the recipient would have celebrated two of the three sacraments of initiation, and would be welcomed to receive Communion at the next Mass they attended.

Confirmation (that is to say, for older children and adults who have not been confirmed or who were confirmed within other non-Catholic faith traditions) is celebrated once a year on Pentecost Sunday. It is necessary that you have a sponsor for this sacrament who would have themselves already been confirmed within a Catholic church.

Celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation should never be within a vacuum. You are joining a new soul to Christ in a unique way and becoming part of a community of believers. The first step towards these sacraments is for you to attend Mass with us as a visitor and if you are comfortable with the community, then approach for the sacraments.




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