The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States, is a nascent American denomination with deep historical roots. Several independent Catholic jurisdictions across the United States, yearning for greater community and to model a different way of being Catholic, came together in a series of discussion. In September 2010, these jurisdictions formally became The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States (TOCCUSA).
Our historical roots are not only embedded in the teachings of Jesus the Christ and the ancient church, but also in the Old Catholic Churches in Europe, which began as a reform movement after the First Vatican Council in 1870. In 1889 the break from Rome was formalized with the formation of the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches. Claiming the name “Old Catholic”, the Utrecht Union reclaimed the ancient, undivided, and apostolic church before rancorous divisions and legalistic dogma severed the continuity of the Christian tradition and inhibited the movement and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The ecclesiology of TOCCUSA is modeled after the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches. That means we are episcopal and synodal in structure. The local church gathers around its bishop whose authority flows from election by the diocesan synod, which is composed of clergy and laity. Clergy and laity have equal voice and vote on all matters of local and national church life. As Catholics, we celebrate the seven sacraments. Recognizing that the sacraments are a means to God’s mysterious, inclusive, and abundant grace and that God withholds that grace from no one, so we bar no one from any sacrament: all baptized Christians are welcome at Eucharist, same-gender couples are welcome to celebrate the sacrament of matrimony, LGBT persons and women are welcome and encouraged to the holy orders of deacon, priest, and bishop.
Fully embracing Jesus’ declaration in John 10.10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”, the Old Catholic Church takes seriously its task to proclaim the gospel of freedom and life. These are indeed the cornerstones of Old Catholic identity and mission. In serving the world in the 21st Century, we ask ourselves, how do we teach and proclaim life and freedom in a world that equates a free life with hedonism. As we struggle to live into this question through mission and ministry, we do so committed to celebrating diversity: the diversity found among humanity and the diversity of gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit. The movement called the Old Catholic Church in general, and The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States, in particular, remains steadfast in building unity in diversity within our own church and in the world through a commitment to ecumenism. It is in embracing our diversity that we find our strength and heal our world.
We are The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States:
Welcoming & Inclusive Church
Serving the Modern World
+Robert T. Fuentes Moderator, TOCCUSA
Bishop, Old Catholic Diocese of Napa
Chairperson for the House of Delegates
National Assembly 2013
This year, the Diocese of New England hosted the National Assembly.
September 19-22, 2013
Both the House of Bishops and the House of Delegates, having met jointly during National Assembly, September 19-22, 2013, are pleased to announce the following:
Acknowledging our work toward becoming an authentically Old Catholic church, such acknowledgment based upon our ecclesiological structure, our efforts to educate our clergy and laity through the creation of the Institute of Old Catholic Studies, and our purposeful growth in establishing strong parishes and ministries, the Archbishop of Utrecht, Joris Vercammen, on July 15, 2013, asked the leadership of The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States, to submit a formal report to him on the progress of the Church’s work; and to our great astonishment and pleasure, on July 19, 2013, agreed that the Rev. Dr. Gunter Esser, Director of the Old Catholic Seminary at the University of Bonn, Germany, and Instructor of the Institute of Old Catholic Studies, will act as liaison between The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States and the Office of the Archbishop of Utrecht.
The Baptism of the Lord
Most of us, if not all, are familiar with the story of the Baptism of Jesus.
we know John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan River.
We know The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus in the form of a dove.
We know God's voice is heard saying, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased."
Do you know why Jesus was baptized?
We know John was baptizing people to cleanse them of their sins. Jesus was not a sinner. Jesus was the Christ, the one born without sin. John knew this and did not want to baptize Jesus and Jesus told John we will do this to fulfill all righteousness.
It was customary for a person to be cleansed before starting out on their ministry. Jesus was a Jew and knew the traditions very well. Jesus at 30 years of age was about to start out on a three year journey that would dynamically change the way people saw and understood the nature of God. The God of Abraham the father of the chosen people Israel as being a loving God.
Wait, there is more: Jesus tells all the people listening to him during his three year mission, that the God of Abraham is the loving God of all people.
In our second reading from Acts, Peter states, "I begin to see how true it is that God shows no partiality. Rather, that any person of any nationality who fears God and does what is acceptable to God; this is the message God has sent to the people of Israel, the good news of peace proclaimed through Jesus Christ who is savior of all."
I had an epiphany from our first reading from Isaiah: "You do not cry out or shout aloud, or make your voice heard in the street. You do not break a bruised reed or quench the wavering flame."
Our God does not want us to be afraid, like being afraid of a drunken parent who beats you with words or fists because of your mistakes. God wants us to have a "holy fear" - to be in "awe" - to want to come to God and be held in the arms of God.
God does not have to shout at us - God whispers to our hearts. Remember when Ezekiel was told to go and wait for God on the mountain? A strong wind came and tore things down, God was not in the wind. An earthquake shook the mountains, God was not in the earthquake, a fire came and consumed all around it, God was not in the fire. Then stillness came and Ezekiel went out and God spoke to him as in a whisper. God does not have to shout at us.
God does not break a bruised reed - when we are bruised, God nourishes us back to health- healing the spiritual brokenness inside of us. Remember after Peter denied knowing Jesus three times? Jesus asked Peter Three times as they sat and ate fish on the beach, Peter do you love me more than these and Peter said yes lord I love you. Jesus said feed my lambs. The second time Jesus asked Simon son of John do you love me? Peter answered yes again and Jesus said, tend my sheep. The third time Jesus asked him he was hurting inside and answered Lord you know everything, you know I love you and Jesus said, feed my sheep and then Jesus said follow me. God does not break a bruised reed.
God does not quench a wavering flame - We are not snuffed out because our flame is too little or weak. God encourages us and lets us know that whatever flame we have burning within our hearts can grow brighter and cut through any darkness. Remember the women who was to be stoned? Jesus did not allow them to snuff her out. Jesus used this moment as a teachable moment. Let the one among you without sin cast the first stone. Not one of them threw a stone at her and left the scene and when Jesus asked her where did your accusers go, is there no one left to condemn you? Jesus said to her, neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more. God does not quench a wavering flame.
This was Jesus message, God loves us, God believes in us. We are God's people and we are endowed with God's Spirit so we may continue to bring justice to the nations. God takes our hand and encourages us to be the light to all who are in need; by opening the eyes of those unable to see clearly and leading them out of the dark. God continues to say to us today; These are my beloved children with whom I am well pleased.