Diocese of the Epiphany
Who are we?
We are an autocephalous (”self governing”) diocese in the Old Catholic tradition serving the Chicagoland area. We are members of an independent jurisdiction known as the Old Catholic Churches International (https://www.myocci.org). Our mission is to bring the sacraments, faith, and ministry of the Catholic tradition to those who are unserved, excluded, or brushed aside by the large, law-driven, institutional churches. Our faith is rooted in Scripture and Tradition; we worship and celebrate life through the Seven Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Orders, and Marriage). The sacraments and our ministry are open to all who express a thoughtful desire to participate regardless of race, sexual orientation, economic status, or age. With a life rooted in prayer, sacrament, and service to others, we look to the example of Jesus Christ who sought out the lost and walked among us to bring faith to the discouraged and comfort to the disheartened.
Who are Old Catholics?
Old Catholics are part of the larger faith tradition known as Catholic. Most people think of Catholics only as Roman Catholics, but the Catholic tradition is much larger than the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic tradition includes other specific faith communities such as the Byzantine or Eastern Rite peoples (with many church traditions in this group), the Orthodox, the Anglican Communion, certain national churches, and the Old Catholic Church. We all share a common faith and belief in Sacred Scripture, the role of Tradition, the traditional Early Church Creeds, the Seven Sacraments, the pronouncements of the First Seven Ecumenical Church Councils, and Apostolic Succession. Where Old Catholics differ from Roman Catholics is that we do not recognize the Pope as infallible, nor as the only or highest teaching authority in the Church.
As all Catholics, we revere, respect, and pray for the Pope (as we do for all church leaders). However, we see the truth of the Gospels and the Tradition of the Church as much wider and more encompassing than Roman Canon Law and the restrictive pronouncements from Rome. We are shepherded by our duly consecrated bishops who encourage us to form responsible consciences and to follow the ever freeing inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Old Catholics are known as “Old Catholics,” because when the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), at the behest of the Pope, declared the Pope to be infallible, Old Catholics disagreed and declared themselves to be of an older belief – a belief that only the bishops together in ecumenical council can teach infallibly in matters of faith and morals. They took as their motto the saying of the Church Father St. Vincent of Lerin: “We must hold fast to that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all the Faithful.”
Because the term “Old Catholic” can mistakenly conjure up ideas of people who are narrow-minded and judgmental, some Old Catholics prefer the term Free Catholics, others use terms such as Reformed, Independent, New, or the like. Whatever the name, the idea is that we are a group of open-minded, nonjudgmental Catholics who want to be as inclusive, merciful, and just as the Christ we encounter in the Gospels, in the Sacraments, and in the people we meet in everyday life.
Mission Statement of the Old Catholic Churches International
The mission of our church is to offer an affirming, evangelical, and sacramental presence in the world. It is our calling to carry the gospel, sacraments, and God’s love to all. This includes the unchurched, the alienated, and the disenfranchised. We welcome all to the altar of the Lord and exclude no one from taking part in the life of the church. As an ecumenical body, we strive to work with all churches. By doing so we are fulfilling the prayer of Christ “that all may be one.”