Chicago prepares…

October 2018 will be a momentous month for the Old Roman Catholic diocese of Chicago, the oldest Old Roman Catholic diocese in the United States. After a two year interregnum since the retirement of Archbishop Theodore J Rematt in 2016 (and subsequent passing, memory eternal), the vacant see will receive a new bishop, Monsignor Nioclas Kelly OSF elected by the diocesan chapter three months ago and ratified by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Old Roman Catholic Communion, who will be consecrated by the Primus and Metropolitans on Sunday, October 14th and become the sixth Bishop Ordinary of the diocese in its 101st year.

The (North American) Old Roman Catholic diocese of Chicago was founded on October 17th, 1917 and incorporated that year in Illinois by Bishop Rudolph Francis Edward Hamilton de Lorraine-Brabant, the Prince de Landes Berghes. The Prince had originally been consecrated in England as the Regionary Bishop of Scotland for the Old Roman Catholic Western Orthodox Church by Archbishop A H Mathew in 1913, but due to his Germanic ancestry and the outbreak of the First World War, he was required to expedite himself from the United Kingdom arriving in the United States in 1914 (it was at this time that the ruling Royal House in England took the name Windsor, distancing themselves from their Germanic ancestry). In 1916 the Prince consecrated Bishop Carmel Henry Carfora as his coadjutor, who succeeded the Prince as Ordinary of the Diocese of Chicago in 1919.

It was under the leadership of Archbishop Carfora that the diocese and the church nationally began to grow, largely through the establishment of ethnic parishes, each serving primarily first generation immigrants of a particular national origin. During his primacy, Msgr Carfora consecrated at least thirty bishops to serve Polish, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Mexican, and most successfully, West Indian populations in various parts of the United States where they were to be found in particular concentrations. At one time the city of Chicago had a Cathedral, special needs school and convent was and across the country churches and cathedrals similarly accommodated an estimated 50’000 faithful. Now, sadly only St Lucy’s Cathedral in New York survives of that material legacy, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Chicago being lost to posterity in the early 2000’s in the declining years of Archbishop Rematt.

Thus the sixth Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of Chicago will be consecrated on Sunday, October 14th at the historic Church of the Atonement by kind permission of the Rector and Wardens, but nonetheless it will be a wonderful occasion of hope for the future of the diocese. On the Sunday prior, 7th October, two new priests will be ordained for the Missionary Franciscans of Christ the King to serve in the diocese and their youthful zeal and enthusiasm together with the new bishop is sure to stir a revival in the city. Metropolitan Jerome of Selsey, the Primus, will be travelling from England to ordain the priests and to consecrate Bishop-elect Kelly together with Metropolitan David of Louisiana and Metropolitan Charles of Wisconsin and other clergy and faithful from across the Province will be attending to support the new bishop and the diocese.

The First Masses and solemn ceremonies celebrated according to the Traditional Latin Rite found in the Pontificale Romanum will be gloriously accompanied by the combined wonderful musical talents of Mr Charles Sega on the organ and a professional schola under the expert direction of Mr Kevin Allen. Mr. Sega was Organ Scholar at Southwell Minster, England after organ studies in high school and at Wheaton College (B.M.) and the University of Minnesota (M.M. Organ performance). Mr. Allen’s compositions, sacred and secular, have been performed in churches and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe. Based in Chicago, he is the founding director of the Collins Consort, American Composer’s Project, and Schola Immaculata. Mr. Allen is also the choirmaster of the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Chicago. Some of his original work will be premiered during the episcopal consecration.

Bishop-elect Kelly will be consecrated Titular bishop of Movilla hearkening to his childhood and formative years in Northern Ireland and where St Finnian, a pupil of the great St Colmán of Dromore established his monastery for mission in 540AD and where he taught among others, the famous St Columba of Iona, apostle to the Scots.  This admiration for both ancestral and ecclesiastical roots is reflected in the design of Bishop-elect Kelly’s coat of arms featuring St Colman’s famous oak-leaf. His Excellency has taken for his motto “In Trinitatis spea mea fixa” – “in the Trinity my hope is fixed” from a hymn to St Michael by St Colmán mac Duagh, another pupil of St Finnian.

Please continue to pray for Bishop-elect Kelly and Brothers Tom and Jamie OSF as they all prepare for these momentous and inspiring occasions breathing new life into the Diocese of Chicago.

October 3rd Wednesday: The Transitus of St Francis
Offices & Mass at The Friary
October 4th Thursday: The Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi
Offices & Mass at The Friary
October 7th Sunday: Feast of Our Lady of Victory
3pm Solemn Pontifical Mass & Ordinations, Church of the Atonement
First Blessings and Reception afterward
October 8th Monday: First Masses
9am Missa Cantata  offered by Friar James Alaniz OSF, Church of the Atonement
11am Missa Cantata offered by Friar Thomas Gierke OSF, Church of the Atonement
First Blessings and Reception afterward
October 14th Sunday: Feast of St Callixtus, Pope & Martyr
3pm Solemn Pontifical Mass of Episcopal Consecration, Church of the Atonement
Obeisance and Reception afterward


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