Chris requested that I write a bit about the Reformed Catholic Church (RCC) since he felt that a blog entry may provide more information and insight than the standard website information. I have been thinking of putting my thoughts on the RCC into words for sometime, and I am glad he invited me to do this to push me into action.
Like may independent and Old Catholics, I was born as a "cradle catholic" in the Roman Catholic Church. Throughout my life I began to fall in love with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and the wonderful church and sacraments that I grew to believe he instituted for us here on earth. I drew great strength from the mass and from adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
As the years passed, however, I began to have some difficulties reconciling matters of my conscience with the teaching of the Vatican. Like many people, this progressively became more and more of a problem for me. While I greatly missed the sacraments and liturgical life of the church, I felt that my participation was a mark of hypocrisy.
Through a friend, I began to learn about Independent Catholicism. I was amazed at the prospect of valid sacraments outside of the Vatican's authority. I spent several years lurking on the sidelines, thinking and praying for direction as I studied various independent catholic churches. Eventually, I came across the RCC's website where I watched a trailer for the documentary Veritas: Gay in God's Army which featured the RCC's presiding archbishop, Phillip Zimmerman, RSJ. I began an e-mail dialogue with the archbishop and began to understand more about the RCC – a church with authentic Catholic spirituality that is at the same time open to all of God's children. I was amazed that I seemed to stumble upon a church that fit so well with my own beliefs and faith experience!
Making the decision to leave my Roman Catholic roots and embrace a new life in faith with the Reformed Catholic Church was both exciting and terrifying. It's never easy to leave that which we know best for a new experience and journey. But as time has passed, I have known in my heart that I am following the path that God wants me to.
I recently remarked to the Archbishop that I feel like someone who is swimming to the beach, and turns around to see a wave full of people on their way as well. The RCC has seen such a response as of late with growth. There is such an energy in the church and I am excited to be a part of it. There are Roman Catholic deacons, nuns, priests and brothers who are all feeling the Spirit call them to our community of faith. We have welcomed former Roman provincials and vocations directors and seminary rectors. We have an orphanage in Africa and a new national cathedral in Columbus, Ohio.
With all of this growth, it has been intimidating to start a new ministry in New Haven. I hope and pray that the Spirit blesses us with the energy and enthusiasm that has marked the RCC internationally, so that we too may provide a home to those who feel spiritually homeless.
That will do it for my initial reflection on this journey. I will certainly answer any questions and may reflect further in the future on another post.