I’ve read the history of our local OCA parish here and it is interesting how they came to be. They started as members of the local Russian Orthodox Church but because they wanted services in English, they asked the bishop if they can establish their own parish for english services. The bishop agreed and at the beginning they did reader services for lack of clergy. Eventually they got a wonderful priest and they built a church under the OCA.
I’m wondering if something similar can be done with an Eastern Catholic Church, or has been done.
Many of the original set of Byzantine Catholic temples in the USA (I am not sure about Canada) were set up without permission. They began as something like mutual aid societies for immigrants, as the older members started dying off, and with the stillborn children, etc. the members began to consider they needed a priest of their own rite. Usually (due to church policy) the Latin bishops refused. In a few instances then, the groups built their own temples and sent for priests from Europe.
The priests would be sent, but instructed to introduce themselves to the local bishop and receive his permission. It was at this point that the accusation of disobedience would come to the fore. First, the congregation forming and building a temple without permission (and holding the title to the property), then an unexpected and unacceptable priest showing up, expecting or at least hoping to be incardinated.
Now according to the canons, one bishop does not have a right to send a priest into another bishop’s territory. This is technically what was happening, because the Latin local ordinary was not asking for these priests, they were showing up at the door uninvited. It was regarded as something of an affront to their authority.
The Eastern Catholic parishes were eventually separated from the control of the Latin bishops by an act of the Pope. The Latin bishops in general were upset by this.
Now there is a new hierarchy, established by the Pope, specifically for the Eastern Catholics. The UGCC exists in north America because the Pope allows it. These bishops have responsibility for establishing new congregations where needed, and would not appreciate an affront to their own authority.
I would suggest setting up as prayer and reading group first. Once that has been going with some stability a petition can be crafted, then the reader’s services can be started with permission.
It must be recognized that the bishop might not allow it, or require that the prayer group join a parish already in place. His motivation might be to infuse new life into an old collapsing parish. It can be a recipe for disaster because the old timers might resent the newcomers severely, if they come in wanting to change things.
Perhaps a way around it would be to appeal to another jurisdiction, like the Slovak Catholic church. That bishop might like the idea of starting a mission in your area and may be agreeable to your hopes.
Yes, but he does not have to agree and that is not a foregone conclusion. Sometimes they have to be in a position where they have no choice but to agree.
Interestingly, there are two Rumanian Catholic parishes in Aurora, IL USA.
These are four blocks apart. One could go hundreds of miles and not see a Romanian Catholic parish, then suddenly here are two.
It was a result of some kind of internal conflict and the parish split. The old-timer I spoke to said it was a ‘schism’ in the parish. Perhaps one group threatened to become Orthodox, I don’t know, but eventually the bishop agreed. The second parish had to worship in a basement for years, but eventually they finished the building.
Similarly, among the Ukrainians in Chicago, Ss Volodymyr and Olha parish separated from the cathedral. I do not know what prompted the split, but they are on different calendars.
Well, in my reading of the Fathers it’s pretty darn important for all the baptized Christians in a given place to worship together.
I think the Roman Communion is actually far too tolerant of things that break apart the unity of local communities.
It starts to look a lot like Protestant denominationalism (the contemporary reality among mainliners and moderate evangelicals, not the sectarian version of denominationalism which was once more common, still exists in conservative circles, and is mistakenly believed by Catholics to be still the norm).
Everyone says in theory “we belong to the same Church” while everyone goes off and worships with a little niche group of like-minded people.
That’s not the unity of the Church in the sense the Fathers spoke of it.
Surely there are ways to preserve “minority” liturgical traditions without creating local schisms.
Why not, for instance, just make all the Latin-Rite Catholics within a certain parish worship the Eastern way?
Just declare that there’s a “preferential option” for the Latin Mass and the Eastern Rites:p
Moving from prescription to description, what you describe has recently happened in my area (Fort Wayne). There’s a fairly new Byzantine Catholic community–I believe they still don’t have a priest but a professor at a local Catholic university serves as deacon.
On a more serious note, I do wonder how St. Elias came to be. They are obviously not a reflection of what UGCC parishes are in Canada. Though they should be the gold standard of what an Eastern Catholic parish should be.
After all that calendar frackus in the late 1960s and early 70s the UGCC bishops in the US let each parish decide, as trying to mandate the new calendar not only didn’t work, but spawned parishes that sometimes turned out to be larger than those from which they originated. The Orthodox also had some issues with the calendar in some places.
To answer your question, yes, it is possible to start a new mission parish. Fr. Roman Galadza did just that with St. Elias, as it was not an established parish until he established it. Our UGCC mission here was only started in 2007 and St. Elias is definitely the inspiration for our mission. Several others have started as well in recent history in the UGCC in the US. We gathered some interested people, started having services together (even services like Vespers, Akathists, Matins, etc.) without a priest, and eventually found a place for our services and activities. We found a Latin parochial school that was closed and the classroom we have the chapel set up in doesn’t have any pews.
I would recommend that you put out some feelers to see if there are interested people, and then make a proposal to the Bishop. I think Bishop +Kenneth will give a blessing to try something if there is demonstrated interest.
Another thing the bishop might suggest is having an additional English liturgy at the local parish and see what kind of interest that stirs up before granting permission for an entirely new apostolate or mission.
This is very helpful and inspirational. Thank you. I do plan to bring my concerns to the Bishop at some point probably after the Synod and we’ll go from there. I just don’t know how much of a “stable group” I can come up with given that our regular group is already on the edge of being unsustainable. But I can take inspiration from our local OCA parish which was a small group and priestless about 25 years ago, and today they have a packed church (albeit tiny) and they have 2 other mission parishes that came out of the original one.
It may be none of my business, and please feel free to say so, but would you care to explain that? I have not kept up with your situation, so I am at a loss to understand how forming a new parish is going to keep you Catholic. The only thing I can speculate is that your current parish situation is lacking and not feeding you spiritually and it is bleeding into your faith in general. Of course, I could easily be way off.
To summarize it, if I blindfold Patriarch Bartholomew I and took him inside the parish and I took off his blindfold, he’d ask to be vested and would enter the iconostasis and celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Until he notices in the books the line that says, “and for our universal pontiff…”
Heheheh, sorry. This comment is a bit of a joke given my current public drama. Yes, there is something that is not feeding me spirituality, but also the ethnic nature of our parishes have weighed heavily on me. Yes, I do desire a parish that is non-ethnic and I do desire a parish that delivers on the promised traditions I learned about coming into an Eastern Catholic parish.
Nothing to be sorry about. So, if I am understanding you correctly, you would like to find a non-ethnic Eastern Catholic parish which is authentically Eastern? Are you having issues with “Latinizations” which have crept into your parish?