Frequently Asked Questions

What are Indepdendent and Old Catholics?

Independent and Old Catholics are small and growing communities. However, many new communication methods, including the internet, have bought new energy to the movement, and new ways of letting people know we exist. Most Independent Catholic groups have their own web sites. We are growing and we welcome you to worship with us.

Many people visiting our websites think the use of the word "old" means Mass in Latin. The Latin Mass is a historical issue, not one of tradition.

The term "Old Catholic" was coined in 1870 when a group of European Bishops broke with the Roman Catholic Church. The rift came about because Rome declared new dogma - including the infallibility of the pope. The group of Catholics who broke with Rome over the infallibility of the pope and other new articles of faith, declared themselves loyal to "old" Catholicism rather than the "new" Catholicism that Rome was attempting to define. Most Independent Catholic jurisdictions, like the UCC, are derived from the Old Catholic jurisdiction by means of apostolic succession through our validity consecrated Bishops.

I have not seen anything like this before! Your telling me that there is more than one Catholic church?

No - there is only one Catholic Church. However, there are a fair number of Catholic denominations, of which the Roman Catholic Church is just one and, overwhemingly, the largest. The UCC, which, while genuinely Catholic, is not under the authority of the Vatican. As a group, these smaller denominationsare referred to as the "Independent Catholic Movement," derived from the "Old CAtholic" movement, within greater Catholicism.

I thought a denomination was a seperate religion?

A denomination is an organization - that is, a group of fallible human beings - who gather in worship, pool funds, operate ministries, and construct church buildings. They file for non-profit ststus and do all the other things people associate with the word "Church." Catholic denominations beleive the same tenets of faith, which were laid down in complete form prior to the year 1000. However, each denomination is seperately organized and managed. So there is a unity in faith, but diversity in practice and governance. It is important not to confuse matters of faith with matters of Church practice and governance.

Who "runs" these churches?

Independent Catholic churchs are "run" by the people of God who are members of the community who worship with and take part in the life of the community. There is usually a pastor or parish administrator assigned by the Bishop, or "called" by members of the parish.

The word bishop is from the Greek for "Overseer." For structural reasons in the larger church, the bishop oversees each denomination. There are variations among Catholic denominations, but each generally has a governing council of bishops, and that council elects a prime bishop (archbishop; presiding bishop) from among its own members to act as its spiritual guide and a kind of CEO for the denomination.

In the UCC, our presiding bishop is elected by all the people of the Church, and we are governed by a Steering Committee with representatives elected from each parish. This committee also includes two ordained members, as well as the Bishop. All members have equal voting rights and responsibilities.

Where can I find more information on Independent and Old Catholics?

Do a search on "Old Catholic" or on "Independent Catholic" on the internet and you will be surprised at what you will find. Obviously, every person who seeks Christ through the Old and Independent Catholic Movement helps the movement achieve its goals - which centers on removing all unnecessary barriers between God and the creatures God loves so much.

So find and join an Old or Independent Catholic community near you. But more than that talk about "Catholicism." Be ready to explain the difference between faith, religion and denomination; between a divinely revealed truthand an artifact of Church governance. Go to Mass regularly, receive the Sacraments and pray. Tell your friends. Be an active Catholic. We will do what we can to hel you.

Do I have to be Catholic?

Everyone is welcome to come and worship with us - you dont have to be Catholic. Our liturgies reflect Catholic traditions and rituals, and if you arent familiar with them we will be happy to help you along. It is our belief that all Christians should be welcome to pray, worship, and share the sacraments together, regardless of denomination, and we practice that. The UCC has as part of its mission to work toward unity among Christian denominations. This dosent mean making them all the same, but opening our doors to each other, worshipping together, and finding common ground where we can come together and work together in our common ministry.

What if I/m divorced and have remarried?

The church should be a community of care and hope for those who divorce. Regrettably, some marriages end in divorce. However, continuing some marriages may be destructive and abusive to those involved. Remarriage can be an opportunity to use wisdom gained from the past to create a new relationship of loving commitment and joy. Those who are divorced and have remarried are welcome to share in the full sacramental life of our church.

If I/m gay and have a partner will we both be welcome?

Everyone, without exception, is welcome. We are each a unique creation of God's love and design, created equal in goodness and love. We recognize this and understand that it is our responsibility as Christians to acknowledge that we are all children of the same God. So. the answer to this question is yes ! As with all Christians, gays and lesbians, single and partnered, are welcome to participate fully in our sacramental life.

I havent been to church in years, Can I just walk in?

You sure can ! If you feel nervous about it, just let us know when you arrive that you havent been to church for awhile. You can pretty much bet that just about everyone here hadnt been to church for awhile either, and we know what your going through.

I have always felt called to service in the church. How can I follow that calling?

We will be happy to talk with you about your vocation. In the UCC both women and men are ordained to all orders: deacon, priest, and bishop. Saint Paul wrote, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." We welcome women, men, single, married, or in same gender unions to explore the possibilities of ordained ministry.

How does the church support itself?

You wont hear us ask for money. Each parish is independent and works towards being self-sufficient. We depend on the generosity of those who join with us or who share our vision to contribute as they are able. We're trying to make it as easy as possible to allow individuals and groups to contribute using the latest technology - such as direct deposits, but at the moment we still depend on the old fashioned checks or cash. We are a non-profit corporation, so donations are tax deductible.

In the UCC all the ordained members work in regular jobs. The benefit of this is two-fold--it keeps them "real," living and working like everyone else, and it provides an income so that the parish does not have the financial burden of supporting a pastor and family, which allows contributions to be used for ministries and church upkeep.

I am gluten intolerant, will I be able to receive communion?

We will be more than happy to ensure you are able to receive Communion with the community. If you let us know ahead of time we can make sure to have gluten-free bread available. However, if advance notice cannot be provided, please dont let that stop you from participating. We believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the concecrated bread and wine, and as a matter of practice we receive communion under both forms. Those who wish may receive communion by receiving only one- bread or wine- and still fully participate in the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Where can I go if I have more questions or want more information?

Take a look around our parish website http://www.holyfam.webs.com/ and also visit the UCC website http://united-catholic-church.org/. You may find answers to your questions you didnt know you had ! If you still want more information, drop an email or call us