Welcome to The Old Catholic Fellowship Church International (OCFCI). Our roots are taken from the Old Catholics of Europe. The Old Catholic Church of Europe was first called the Ancient Catholic Church, tracing its roots from the early Christian Church mission to the “low lands” of Europe (now the Netherlands) by St. Williboro the 700’s. In this period of the Church, Cathedral Chapters were given the right to elect their bishops. The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 re-enforced the right of all Cathedral Chapters to elect their bishops which promoted independence from Rome. Centuries later, the Roman Pontiff began to install his own bishops during the Counter Reformation. This began the tension between the church in Rome and who we refer to as the Old Catholics today. Our bishops possess apostolic succession traced back through various lines (Old Catholic, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church) to the See of Peter.
Even though we share very similar beliefs, we remain an independent catholic jurisdiction like the majority of Old Catholic jurisdictions in the United States. Some jurisdictions are multi-state with a presiding bishop and several diocesan bishops while others are smaller and less formalized.
By comparison to our communion, in Europe, Old Catholics are “unionized” where several national Catholic Churches ( France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and other countries) have banded together under a presiding Bishop with a governing body comprised of clergy and laity. Each country has a bit different model of governance but is unified on matters of faith and polity. Since 1871, The Old Catholic Church has not recognized the Bishop of Rome as its head. Rather, the Old Catholic Church sees the Bishop of Rome as the symbol of unity for all Christians.
Old Catholics hold to the model of the early church where all bishops are equal and no bishop is higher than another. We observe the seven sacraments of the Catholic Faith. We use the Nicene Creed as our statement of faith. We affirm the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and our communion is “open” to all baptized Christians. Even if you are not a baptized Christian, we welcome you to come to the altar during communion for a blessing. The individual's primacy of conscience in ethical matters is stressed.
The Old Catholic Church welcomes full participation in the life and sacraments of the church by all. We are a church of inclusion not exclusion. People of all walks of life’s journey are welcome. No exceptions. Jesus stated: “I came that they may have life and life to the fullest”. The witness of Jesus was that of presence to the rich and poor, the common citizen and the outcast-should we do less? No! Therefore, you are welcome to come as you are.
People just like you who long for the sacramental life of the Church without divisive politics and dogmas that exclude people from seeking God’s love are welcome. You will find a traditional Rite that is faithful to the traditions of the Universal Church. You will find every honest attempt by the clergy to do their very best to teach God’s fundamental lessons of loving kindness, redemption, and peace.
Bless you and welcome
Rt. Rev. Theodore Wooldridge
Saint Bartholomew Cathedral