Introibo Ad Altare Dei
Welcome to the Official Web Site of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church. We hope that you will find the information contained on these pages to be informative and inspiring. To read more about a specific topic on our website, you can click on any link at the bottom of the page, or at the bottom of the column, and it will take you to another page with more information and often more links to further information or related topics. We invite you to come back periodically and perhaps even regularly to see our updates and to discover more about the history, mission and ministry of our Church.
We live a full Catholic life in the Sacred Scripture, traditions, practices and sacraments of our Faith. We seek to share these with all who desire to come to a knowledge of Our Lord and His Church.
While living a traditional expression of the Catholic Faith, we are cognizant of the fact that we live in the 21st century and must not allow our faith or ourselves to become antiquated, or relics of a bygone era, or simply museum pieces. Thus we make our appeal to men, women and children of today.
The Old Roman Catholic Church is called by God to proclaim the Gospel and Teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ to all the world.
We are called to live this commitment to the Gospel by professing the full and authentic Catholic Faith in the doctrinal, sacramental and liturgical tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, while possessing an indisputable line of Apostolic Succession of Holy Orders, together with its accompanying canonical authority, via the Archiepiscopal See of Utrecht from whom we are descended.
Pastoral Letter on the Persecution of Christians and People of Faith.
We as Christians, can no longer turn a blind eye nor a deaf ear to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters throughout the world who suffer persecution for their faith in Christ Jesus, without all of us needing to turn our hearts in prayer to Almighty God, beseeching Him to hear their cries and our prayers, and beseeching Him to send them aid and strength in their trals. As Christians we are united as one, and are inseparably bound to each other through our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. What happens to one, happens to us all.
Like the Jews in Nazi Germany, who were marked with the Star of David to single them out for persecution and torture, now too our fellow Christians in the lands occupied by the Isalmic State are marked with the Arabic letter Nun to mark them as followers of The Nazarene, our Lord Jesus Christ.
This week our Primate has released a Pastoral Letter to address this issue and has designated certain practices of prayer be used within all churches, parishes, missions, religious houses and other places of worship under the jurisdiction of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church and as a personal obligation incumbent upon all clergy of the jurisdiction.
Most parishes of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church are small faith communities of approximately five to fifty parishioners each, who are committed to living and practicing their Catholic Faith according to the traditional forms of worship and devotion common throughout the Catholic world before the early 1960's e.g. the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated according to the Tridentine Rite; the traditional form of all seven Sacraments; the use of a traditional form of the catechism for religious instruction; the Rosary; Novenas; Stations of the Cross; Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament; the daily praying of the Divine Office (Breviary); fasting and abstinence; a traditional Church Calendar with all of the traditional Holy Days and Feast Days as well as the inclusion of the more recently added Saints and several special Feast Days of our own jurisdiction; the observance of the Religious Life for Priests, Brothers and Sisters.
Each parish or mission is owned locally by the members of the parish, managed by an elected Vestry or Parish Council who maintain and control the financial and temporal fabric of the parish, while the spiritual, liturgical and apostolic work and ministry of the parish is conducted by the pastor and his associates under the spiritual and canonical authority of the Bishop of the Diocese to which the parish belongs.
Elected representatives of the parish also serve as delegates to the Diocesan Synod and serve on various diocesan committees.
Elected clergy and lay members of our varous dioceses and provinces serve as delegates to the General and Provincial Synods of the Church and serve on the different committees of those bodies as well.
We believe that the laity of the church are full collaborators and cooperators with the clergy in the mission and work of the church, and are thus expected to take an active role in their capacity as such. We vehemently reject the idea that the sole role of the laity is to "pay, pray and obey".
The clergy of the Old Roman Catholic Church are validly and canonically ordained Catholic Deacons, Priests and Bishops who stand in a line of unbroken Apostolic Succession stretching from the first Twelve Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ right down to the present day. This line of Apostolic Succession was obtained via the Archiepiscopal See of Utrecht in the Netherlands, a diocese established in the year 695 by Saint Willibrord, known as the Apostle to the Frisians.
The local parish or mission is usually placed under the spiritual direction and care of a priest or deacon, and he is often assisted by other priests or deacons in the work and ministry of the parish or mission.
Groups of missions and parishes are organized into the various dioceses of the church and are under the canonical authority and supervision of the local bishop who is known as the Ordinary of the Diocese. The Ordinary may be assisted by an Auxiliary Bishop if needed.
Dioceses are then grouped together to form an ecclesiastical Province of the Church which is administered by an Archbishop known also as the Metropolitan. He has a limited canonical oversight and authority over the various bishops and dioceses of his Province, but is prohibited under most circumstances, except for specific situations outlined in the Codex of Canon Law, from interfering in the regular administration of the several dioceses of his Province.
The various Provinces are then organized as the general church and operate together under the canonical authority and supervision of one of the archbishops who has been elected by the College of Bishops and confirmed in office by the clergy and lay members of the General Synod, who is known as the Metropolitan-Primate. The first and thus the Primatial See of the Old Roman Catholic Church in the western hemisphere was originally known as: The Metropolitan See of the United States and Canada. In 2006 the title of this Primatial See was amended to: The Primatial See of Nova Terra, signifying the entire western hemisphere with the Latin title originally designating that area as the "new world". Therefore our Metropolitan-Primate is styled or known as The Metropolitan-Primate of the Primatial See of Nova Terra.
From the Primate
The Most Reverend
Edward J. Ford, T.O.R., S.T.D.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
How often have you asked, or have been asked, the question: Who are you? It is a question so commonly posed, that we almost take it for granted that either we or someone else will ask it and we rarely consider what our answer will be.
For Old Roman Catholics, that question is not only posed to us frequently, and has been since the first Old Roman Catholics appeared in Holland in 1724, but is one which we should carefully answer making certain that it fully answers the question. For far too many years, the Old Roman Catholic response to this question has been inadequate and incomplete. We stressed our retention of a valid line of Apostolic Succession; we defined our identity in terms of comparisons with other church entities, both in similar and contrasting teachings; but rarely on our own terms or with a full appreciation for our own history, theology, and ministry. We too often defined ourselves by how much we resembled another church body and with emphatic statements that we were not yet another church body... by what we resembled, and by what we were not! All too often we allowed others to define us, and to inform people of who we are, most often based on their own biased views, in an attempt to discredit us and our church, according to their own church or religious affiliation and beliefs.
In recent years a bishop of a sister jurisdiction in our Ultrajectine tradition has taken pen to paper and begun to shed light on our history, doctrinal beliefs, liturgical practices, catechetical teachings, ministry and customs in a positive, clear, accurate and readable form. Bishop Andre Queen in the introduction to his book, Old Catholic: History, Ministry, Faith & Mission, addresses this vital question in the following words:
Who Do You Say That I Am?
Ten people will probably give you fifteen answers to this question if asked in regards to Old [Roman] Catholics. Particularly in the Americas, where, as a denomination, it is not as well known as its European cousins in the Utrecht Union. But the theology of the American Old [Roman] Catholic Churches is markedly different than that of the Utrecht Union Churches.
Throughout the decades, historians, theologians, and the curious all have written their own observations and opinions about what they felt Old [Roman] Catholics were all about. Many of these literary works had a particular discriminatory flavor in favor of the writer's own religious affiliation, to the detriment of the Old [Roman] Catholics written about. Some of the books written were tools used to further discredit individuals within the Old [Roman] Catholic movement, or to highlight their foibles in living color.
To be sure, the founders [i.e. organizers] of Old [Roman] Catholicism here were not perfect people; they made mistakes and at times suffered lapses in judgment. However, they strove to establish autocephalous [i.e. independent] Catholic parishes in the Americas against overwhelming odds, verbal and sometimes physical attack, and the monolithic wealth, influence and power of officials in the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the US, and the Old Catholic Churches of the Utrecht Union, which eventually turned on their own.
Old [Roman] Catholics in America today exist due to the efforts of these men, and those in the generations immediately afterwards, who continued the struggle. Splintered, and oftentimes isolated, Old [Roman] Catholic parishes exist as an oasis to those who have been hurt and seek healing. Whereas it had been said that no one is born an Old [Roman] Catholic, that is no longer true, and as the movement solidifies and parishes find one another, the Old [Roman] Catholic movement in the Americas moves closer to realizing its full potential.
To understand what Old [Roman] Catholics in the Americas are, it is important to understand what they are not. Old [Roman] Catholics are not “sedevacantists”; they do not claim that the See of Peter is vacant. Old [Roman] Catholics are not the product of rejection of Vatican II, nor are they part of the “liberal reform” movement within the Roman Catholic Church. Likewise, Old [Roman] Catholics are not gnostocs or theosophists. Inversely, that means that individuals who are part of any of these groups are not Old [Roman] Catholics, regardless of superfluous claims. Old [Roman] Catholics have a Faith and identity all their own, that is based on Catholic theology, sans innovation, exclusion or outside influence.
In these words Bishop Queen dismisses the ofttimes critical analysis of others about the Old Roman Catholic Church based upon the mistakes, foibles and lapses of judgment of our early organizers, while attempting to impute grave concerns for the legitimacy of Old Roman Catholicism due to these genuinely human characteristics of our predecessors, as if the faults of one man are the faults of an entire jurisdiction. All the while they fail of course to acknowledge that the same failings can be found throughout history, even in their own jurisdictions and denominations, and that such failings do not impute heresy, schism, apostacy or any of the other charges which they customarily level against Old Roman Catholicism, any more than those same failings level those same charges against their own jurisdictions.
Bishop Queen then goes on to present a positive and convincing picture of the Old Roman Catholic movement with pride and truth. While not all of his book applies entirely to the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, it is a worthy endeavor to offer a proper apologetic to the world for the Old Roman Catholic Church, and we are much indebted to Bishop Queen for his labor of love.
It is my sincere hope that you will find a similar presentation on the pages of our website, and that you will also find a vast array of information on the history, doctrine, discipline, worship, polity, ministry and mission of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church herein, as well as many additional informative pages of Catholic resources, material, Christian music, videos, documents and devotional practices.
Please bear with us as our various web pages are being updated since the recent change in our web-hosting provider. We will re-construct and update our site as quickly as possible so as to provide you with the quality information and resources you have been accustomed to finding on our previous site. Thank you for your interest and we ask that you keep us in your prayers, as we assure you of ours.
In the Name of our Risen Savior,
Archbishop Edward J. Ford, T.O.R.
THE MOST REVEREND
BELDON E. GANNON, D.D.
September 15, 1934 - June 6, 2017