Dioceses of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church

The North American Old Roman Catholic Church currently consists of two geographical dioceses and a separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction known as the Patrimony of the Primatial See.

 

In its early days the North American Old Roman Catholic Church functioned as a single diocese under Archbishop Carfora. As the years went on, a number of diocesan structures were established, but rather than structuring them as geographical dioceses, they were established along ethnic lines, in order to minister appropriately to the spiritual needs of each ethnic group within the Church. This practice was followed in a similar but smaller vein in the Roman Catholic Church by the establishment of "national" parishes which co-existed alongside the regular territorial parishes. The "national" parishes enrolled any Catholic of that particular ethnic background, regardless of where within the diocese the person lived. Thus in our jurisdiction we had "national" or ethnic dioceses whereas in the Roman Catholic Church they had "national" or ethnic parishes. In our jurisdiction there was a Polish diocese, a Lithuanian diocese, a Ukrainian diocese, an Italian diocese, a Portuguese diocese, a Mexican-Spanish diocese (Texas), and others, as well as a basic American English speaking diocese for those who were not part of an ethnic grouping in need of special linguistic ministerial services by the clergy. All of these dioceses functioned simultaneously and were often overlapping in the geographical sense while maintaining their own diocesan structure and while also maintaining loyalty to their own bishop and to the Primate of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church. 

 

The ethnic dioceses were not a long-term tenable solution to meeting the ecclesiastical needs of the Church. They were needed at the time, but could not remain the permanent structure of diocesan administration within the Church. As the rapid assimilation of the ethnic peoples into the general populace of the country continued  to increase, the numerical strength of the ethnic dioceses and their overlapping boundaries soon created more problems of their own, thus needing a new solution and structure.

 

In later years as more and more of the various ethnic peoples assimilated into the mainstream of American society, the necessity of providing ethnic dioceses ceased and territorial or geographical diocese were established to replace the former ethnic dioceses. Currently we have two geographical dioceses: The Diocese of New Enlgand in the northeast, and the Diocese of the Southeast in the southeastern states of the country.

 

We also have a separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction known as the Patrimony of the Primatial See. This jurisdiction consists of any missions, parishes or ecclesiastical work of our Church which is outside of the geographical territory of a current diocese. The Primate of the Church serves as the ecclesiastical ordinary for the Patrimonial missions or parishes together with their clergy. As soon as a sufficient number of missions, parishes or local works exist within a particular geographical area, the Church will establish a formal diocesan structure for them and will provide them with an Ordinary, thus transferring them from the Patrimony of the Primatial See to their own new Diocese. 

The Diocese of New England

 

The present Diocese of New England was established in 1979. It comprises the six New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The present Ordinary of the Diocese is His Eminence, The Most Reverend Edward James Ford, T.O.R. , of Springvale, Maine, who is also the Primate of the Church.

 

There have been several other times in the history of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church when diocesan structures have been established in New England. The first was in the 1920's under Bishop Roman Slocinski of Manchester, New Hampshire, and a very short term on paper in the early 1970's under Bishop Edward C Payne, but never really functioned within this church as Bishop Payne separated himself from the jurisdiction of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church within 45 days of his episcopal consecration.

The Missionary Diocese of the Southeast

 

The Missionary Diocese of the Southeast was established in 2011. It comprises the five southeastern states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Flordia. The present Ordinary of the Diocese is The Most Reverend Irvin Nicholas Plant of Max Meadows, Virginia.

 

The establishment of the Missionary Diocese of the Southeast is the fulfillment of a mission in this part of the United States that was first planned back in 1819-1820 nearly one hundred years before the North American Old Roman Catholic Church was formally was established. Irish Catholics in Norfolk, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina, unable to relate to or to approach Archbishop Marechal of Baltimore due his aristocratic heritage, imperious nature, unsympathetic prejudice and apparent antipathy for them, together with his overbearing French manner and preferences in all things ,to the total disregard for the needs and desires of his non-French flock, had alienated them from his jurisdiction, and they thus petitioned the Holy See for redress of their grievances, and obtained the support of Cardinal Litta in Roma who took up their cause. The case dragged on at Rome for quite some time, and in frustration and despair, they finally approached the Old Roman Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht from whom The North American Old Roman Catholic Church is descended, asking him to assist them by caring for their spiritual needs and by appointing a Bishop for them and to also establish a true and proper a diocese of our Church at Norfolk. Before such an action could take place however, once the Vatican learned of these plans, the Holy See hastily established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond to prevent the Old Roman Catholic Church from establishing a missionay diocese in the United States. However, the Vatican's plans for a functioning diocese in Virginia would have to wait, for the first bishop of the Riocese of Richmond, resigned his See after a mere eighteen months, returned to Ireland, and the Diocese of Richmond was without a Bishop for the next nineteen years until the appointment the second bishop of the Richmond Diocese.

 

The establishment of our Missionary Diocese of the Southeast is therefore the ultimate completion of a project nearly one hundred years in the planning.

Patrimony of the Primatial See

The Patrimony of the Primatial See was officially established as a canonical ecclesiastical jurisdiction within The North American Old Roman Catholic Church with the promulgation of the new Constitution and Codex of Canon Law in 2011. Since the original foundation of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church under Archbishop Berghes, any parochial work or individual clergy or religious were placed under the immediate ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Primate. After the establishment of the first dioceses of the church during the adminstration of Archbishop Carfora, those parishes, missions, clergy and religious who lived too far from an established diocese were placed under the Primate's direct ecclesiastical authority and jurisiction. It is only since the promulgation of the new Constitution and Codex of Canon Law, that those parochial works, clergy, religious and laity were given a specific ecclesiastical identity, with a visible presence and participation at Synod, as a recognized and integral  and canonical unit of Church administration and government. 

 

The Patrimony of the Primatial See includes all of those parishes, missions, and faith communities, as well as individual clergy and religious who live in areas well outside of the confines of an established diocese of this Church, and who lacking a bishop of their own, are placed under the direct spiritual and jurisdictional authority of the Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, who thus serves as their ecclesiastical superior and Ordinary until such time as a diocesan structure can be established to more regularly serve their spiritual needs. They are represented at Synods of the Church by virtue of delegates from the Patrimony, who are appointed by the Primate, to canonically represent the members of the parochial works together the clergy, religious and laity therein, who constitute the Patrimony of the Primatial See.

 

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