The Most Reverend
CARMEL HENRY CARFORA
Churches claiming to be descended from the late Archbishop Carfora.
Click on the name of any jurisdiction listed below to see the facts of that jurisdiction's history and its connection with the late Archbishop Carfora and the North American Old Roman Catholic Church .
Origins of the Various
Old Roman Catholic Jurisdictions
Descending From Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora
We here unfold the facts concerning the Old Roman Catholic jurisdictions that are most commonly listed as being one of the "successor jurisdictions" of the original North American Old Roman Catholic Church, together with the accompanying claim to be the true successor to the Primacy of the late Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora. Our own jurisdictional history will be found below, as it is the direct and uninterrupted continuation of the original North American Old Roman Catholic Church founded by Archbishop de Landas Berghes and Archbishop Carfora in the years 1914-1916. To find the historical facts regarding the other Old Roman Catholic jurisdictions, please click on the name of the particular jurisdiction from the list beneath the picture of the late Archbishop Carfora located in the left hand column of this page. You will be taken to the entry of each to learn the historical facts of that particular jurisdiction, and their relationship to the North American Old Roman Catholic Church and the late Archbishop Carfora.
THE NORTH AMERICAN OLD ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Primatial See of Nova Terra
The North American Old Roman Catholic Church is the original, historic and canonical Old Roman Catholic jurisdiction in the Western hemisphere. It came to the United States on November 7, 1914 when the Prince-Bishop Rudolph de Landas Berghes arrived here from Great Britain.
Bishop Berghes had been consecrated by the Old Roman Catholic Archbishop, Arnold Harris Mathew in London on June 29, 1912. He emigrated to the United States due to the political climate in Europe during the early years of the First World War. He settled first in New York City, later in Waukegan, Illinois, later still in Chicago, Illinois and finally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he died in 1920.
Bishop Berghes straightway began a mission of the Old Roman Catholic Church here in the USA and on October 4, 1916 consecrated as a Bishop, The Most Reverend Carmel Henry Carfora, a former Roman Catholic Franciscan Friar, to serve as his associate and colleague. Together they laid the firm foundation in the Catholic Faith, with an indisputably valid lineage of Apostolic Succession of Holy Orders, descended from Rome and which is currently held in common with the greater part of the Roman Catholic hierarchy throughout the world, and on which The North American Old Roman Catholic Church firmly rests today. Bishop Berghes was elected as the First Archbishop and Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church in 1916 at which time the Metropolitan See of the United States and Canada was also canonically established. Archbishop Berghes exercised the office of Metropolitan-Primate until December 22, 1919 when he returned to the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church, entering the Augustinian Friars in Villanova, Pennsylvania, where he died on November 17, 1920.
The Most Reverend Carmel Henry Carfora succeeded Archbishop Berghes, serving as the Second Metropolitan-Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church from October 12, 1919 until his death on January 11, 1958, having held the Office of Primate for 38 years and 3 months. Archbishop Carfora presided over the Church during its greatest missionary expansion and activity, guiding the Church's apostolic labors and growth in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, South America and even into parts of Africa and Asia. Archbishop Carfora fell asleep in the Lord on January 11, 1958 in Chicago at the age of 78, after a long and valiant battle against multiple illnesses and finally succumbing to the ravages of pancreatic cancer.
The Third Metropolitan-Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church was Archbishop Hubert Augustus Rogers, a native of St Eustathius in the Dutch West Indies. Archbishop Rogers had served for many years as Archbishop Carfora's Coadjutor. Disagreements between Archbishops Rogers and Carfora over the role of the new Code of Canon Law of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, which had been approved by the General Synod in May 1950, led to an estrangement between the two men, and led to Archbishop Carfora replacing Archbishop Rogers as his Coadjutor, with Archbishop Cyrus Starkey. Church authorities knowing the seriousness of Archbishop Carfora's medical condition, decided not to address the uncanonical appointment at that time in deference and love for their Primate and with concern for his frail health and condition, knowing that in his right state of mind and health, Archbishop Carfora would never have appointed to such an office a cleric who had sought consecration outside of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church and who had shown such disloyalty to his ecclesiastical superiors in so doing. General Synod also knew that in the event of the Primate's death, it was only the General Synod itself that was empowered under the Canons to elect a successor, notwithstanding any previous appointment, let alone an uncanonical one such as the appointment of Archbishop Starkey as Coadjutor to the Primate. In the short span of less then four months, Archbishop Carfora had passed into the arms of his Lord, the Lord he had served so well and so faithfully for those many years of priestly and pontifical service.
The actions of General Synod set aside the uncanonical appointment of Archbishop Starkey and confirmed the election of Archbishop Hubert Augustus Rogers to the Primacy of the Church in May of 1958. Archbishop Starkey accepted the decision of the General Synod and submitted to the authority of Archbishop Rogers as Primate of the Church and made his oath of obedience and submission to the new Primate and to the General Synod. Archbishop Starkey remained a bishop of and in good canonical standing within the North American Old Roman Catholic Church until the year 1961, when prompted and cajoled by a former bishop of this church, Richard Arthur Marchenna, who himself had been deposed and excommunicatd by the late Archbishop Carfora in 1952, he withdrew from the North American Old Roman Catholic Church taking a couple of clergy and parishes with him and set up a new and rival jurisdiction in Chicago and uncanonically claimed to be the only true and legitimate successor to Archbishop Carfora, based upon his previous uncanonical appointment. He even continued to claim the title of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church. And thus began the myth that upon the death of Archbishop Carfora, the North American Old Roman Catholic Church split up into multiple independent and rival jurisdictions with multiple claimants to the office of Primate and successor to the late Archbishop Carfora.
Archbishop Rogers led the North American Old Roman Catholic Church through the turbulent decades of the 1950's and 1960's. Society was being rocked by the Civil Rights Movement at this time, and Archbishop Rogers courageously led The North American Old Roman Catholic Church despite the many racial attacks which were made upon his character and person. The Church proudly elected a black man to the Office of Primate during these difficult times, and supported him throughout. While a number of parishes entered the Russian Orthodox Church during these years, Archbishop Rogers led the remaining parishes with great wisdom, preserving the integrity, faith, mission and apostolate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Hubert Rogers announced in early April of 1972, his intention to resign from the Office of Primate of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church. He formally resigned from the Primacy of the Church on April 30, 1972 and returned to his childhood home in the Dutch West Indies, where he was well received by all of the denominations represented in the islands, and where he finally returned into the arms of his Lord when he died on August 25, 1976.
The Most Reverend James Hubert Rogers, son of Archbishop Hubert Augustus Rogers was elected on May 20, 1972 to succeed his father as the Fourth Metropolitan-Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church. and was enthroned at St Augustine's Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY on June 12, 1972. For most of his Primacy, Archbishop James Rogers was faced with a problem that has plagued every denomintion since the late 1960's...the growing sense of irreligion which has come to pervade American society. American society of the 1970's was charcterized by the "God is dead" slogan and the prevailing notion that the Church had become irrelevant in such an "enlightened world and generation". Despite these powerful influences, Archbishop James Rogers held firm to the Catholic Faith and the historic position of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, and worked diligently to hold the church together and to initiate a number of new missions and projects. Having reached the age of 70, and after 18 years as Primate, Archbishop James Rogers handed over the Office of the Primacy to his successor.
Bishop Herve Lionel Quessy of Montreal was elected to serve as the Fifth Metropolitan-Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church on September 1, 1990. Archbishop Quessy served a mere 8 months in the Primacy when he was required according to the Canons to step down for reasons of health and incapacity to fulfill the responsibilities of the office of Primate. Archbishop Quessy had been suffering from heart ailments for a number of years, and as his physical health began to fail him, so too his psychological condition suffered a severe blow which induced a series of actions which placed the general welfare of the church in garve danger. After numerous attempts to rectify the situation without success, it was with great sadness that the College of Bishops, meeting in formal session, together with the unanimous concurrence of all of the clergy of the church, and in full accordance with the prescriptions of the Canons, officially declared the office vacant and ordered the convening of a Special Synod to elect a successor to Archbisop Quessy.
At the Special Synod held in Carolina, Rhode Island on September 1, 1991 Archbishop Edward J Ford of Boston, Massachusetts was elected to succeed Archbishop Quessy as Metropolitan-Primate of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Ford served as the Sixth Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church from 1991. He was enthroned as Primate on Sexagesima Sunday, February 23, 1992 at St Joseph's Church in Monroe, New York, and served as Metropolitan-Primate until he resigned from that office for health and pastoral reasons on March 10, 2002. During the years of his Primacy, Archbishop Ford presided over a Church which had undergone a great crisis beginning with the death of Archbishop James Rogers in January 1991, together with the ensuing difficulties which occured during the short Primacy of Archbishop Quessy and the subsequent schismatic actions of several of the clergy of New York and French Canada. During these eleven years Archbishop Ford saw the slow but steady growth of the Church, the resurrection of The Augustinian as the Official Organ of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church, the re-establishment of the Franciscan Order within the Church and the revitaliztion of Religious Life in general. Many new missions were inaugurated during his Primacy and there was a short period of growth in the Church.
On March 10, 2002 Archbishop Edmund F Leeman of Forked River, New Jersey assumed the leadership of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church as the Seventh Metropolitan-Primate in succession from Archbishop de Landas Berghes. Archbishop Leeman led the Church through a very necessary and badly needed period of self-reflection and regrouping. He held the office officially for 4 years until June 27, 2006 when he stepped down for health reasons and Archbishop Ford was requested and designated to resume the Primacy of the Church. It was in the year 2006 that the official name of the Metropolitan See of the United States and Canada was canonically changed to the Primatial See of Nova Terra, in order to reflect the fact that the Metropolitan See encompassed churches outside the territorial boundaries of the United States and Canada, and to ensure a clear and distinct Primatial Title for the Metropolitan-Primate of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Leeman actually remained at his post until June 16, 2007 when Archbishop Ford was enthroned and installed in the Primatial Throne at St Michael's Church in Boston, Massachusetts. Archbishop Leeman, after battling with several health issues, finally passed into the arms of his Lord on May 18, 2011 while fighting pancreatic cancer.
Archbishop Edward J Ford now serves as the Eighth Metropolitan-Primate of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church. In the short time since Archbishop Ford has resumed the Primacy, Saint Francis of Assisi Theological Seminary has been reorganized and restored to its vital role in the life of the Church; new methods of communication have been inaugurated (eg websites, blogs, chat rooms, online newsletter,the Diocesan Bookstore, etc). The Franciscan Third Order Regular has been firmly established within the Church; new missions have been started and new clergy have joined the Church and are now laboring for the expansion of the ministry of The North American Old Roman Catholic Church; new publications have been printed and distributed; and a calendar has been prepared. The spiritual life of the church and the clergy has been a prime focus of Archbishop Ford's ministry as Primate, with the re-establishment of the Ember Saturday Clergy Days of Recollection which were originally established by the late Archbishop James H Rogers, and the establishment of new Feast Days and Holy Days to be observed within The North American Old Roman Catholic Church.