Chicago, USA: The first holy Synod of the canonical Orthodox Old Roman Catholic Communion took place on Thursday, November 9th last week in Chicago uniting two of the historic American incorporations, the See of Chicago  and the Archdiocese of the Old Catholic Church in America  and the Province of Europe. The purpose of the Communion is to bring together the historical, orthodox and canonical jurisdictions continuing the Western expression of the Catholic Faith perpetuated and originally preserved by the See of Utrecht and the polity and efforts of Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew; whose efforts were formally and historically recognised by an agreed declaration of faith with the ancient and Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch  and Alexandria .
The Communion is the fulfilment of the aspiration of the earlier “Walsingham Declaration” signed in 2012 which, whilst establishing a communio in sacris, failed to realise it’s vision, despite its positive affirmation at the joint holy Synod in Brighton of 2014. However, the jurisdictions meeting in Chicago were inspired by and have built upon those earlier efforts and have effectively formed a single church, sharing an agreed hierarchical structure, a common Code of Canon Law and commitment to cooperating in mission and apostolic life. The Synod elected unanimously Archbishop David Persyn as Metropolitan of the Americas and Archbishop Jerome Lloyd as “Primus”* of the Communion (also continuing as Metropolitan of Europe) and Father Nioclás Ó Ceallaigh OSF was elected Vicar Capitular of the vacant See of Chicago.
On Friday 10th November after private Masses celebrated by attendant clergy of the Synod at The Friary of the Missionaries of Christ the King, members of the clergy and visiting prelates took the opportunity to visit the grave of Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora, the common progenitor of the Mathew’s Succession for all Old Roman Catholic bishops today. The See of Chicago under the aegis of Fr Ó Ceallaigh OSF was pivotal in restoring a fitting monument to mark the grave of Archbishop Carfora, such a monument having been otherwise missing for several decades and in the freshly fallen first snow of the season, the Synod pilgrims offered prayers for the repose of the Archbishop’s soul and the continuance of his endeavours for the preservation of the Faith in America.
On Saturday 11th November, St Anne’s parochial mission in Chicago played host to Minor Ordinations for Friars of the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King by the Servant Superior of the Congregation of the Divine Charity, His Grace Metropolitan Jerome of Selsey. Later that evening St Anne’s played host to a public “Q&A” presentation with members of the clergy and religious open to anyone interested to know more about the history, culture and mission of the Old Roman Catholic Church and about vocations to the religious life and Sacred Ministry. Several people had travelled great distances to attend but were able to enjoy a wine reception courtesy of the parish mission and meet the visiting clergy to the Synod and the Minor Ordinations.
On Sunday, November 12th, during Solemn Mass, the Primus, Metropolitan Jerome OSJV ordained to the Subdiaconate Friars James Alaniz and Thomas Gierke OSF. The Mass beautifully crowned the Synod and weekend’s activities, with the polyphony music and chanting expertly directed by the renowned traditional Catholic composer and Schola director, Mr Kevin Allen (much sought after contributor of the Church Music Association of America Sacred Music Colloquium) in collaboration with Mr Charles Sega (principal organist and director of the Church of the Atonement choir, Schola, and St. Cecilia Choir). Another reception followed the Mass and all present including the parents of the newly ordained Subdeacons were able to enjoy true fellowship and hospitality together.
Of your charity please pray for all members of the holy Synod, the hierarchs, the clergy, the laity and for the ordinands. Please also pray for the continuation of the new Communion and it’s desire to foster unity among Old Roman Catholics faithful to the preservation of the Catholic Faith, faithfully transmitted and continued by the primitive expression of the Roman Catholic Church for present and future generations. It of course remains the hope of the Communion to realise Archbishop Mathew’s vision and prayer for a united Church of both East and West and the following has been ordered by the Synod to be recited at the end of all low Masses within the Communion together with the Leonine Prayers.
Almighty and everlasting God,
Whose only begotten Son, Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, has said,
“Other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also I must bring,
and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd”;
let Thy rich and abundant blessing rest upon the Old Roman Catholic Church,
to the end that it may serve Thy purpose by gathering in the lost and straying sheep.
Enlighten, sanctify, and quicken it by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost,
that suspicions and prejudices may be disarmed,
and the other sheep being brought to hear and to know
the voice of their true Shepherd thereby,
all may be brought into full and perfect unity
in the one fold of Thy Holy Catholic Church,
under the wise and loving keeping of Thy Vicar,
through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who with Thee and the Holy Ghost,
liveth and reigneth God,
world without end. Amen.
*Primus: derived from the phrase “primus inter pares” (first among equals) denotes the figurative head of the Communion. The title was deliberately chosen to reflect the honorary nature of the office which has no pretensions to sovereignty nor jurisdiction over the canonical Ordinaries in the Communion’s member jurisdictions.