Welcome to the Old Catholic Church

A journey into Spirituality

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Oratory of the Common Life

affliated with

The OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH - de Landis Berghes succession

is a branch of the Old Catholic community in the United States of America with an active presence in Alabama, Florida, Minnesota, and New York.   We also have relations with several other communities throughout Central, North and South America as well as the Carribean basin.   This part of the Catholic Church encourages formal and informal relations with other branches of the Church as well as with other religious bodies.   Ecumenical outreach is one of the mission goals.   The Oratory centers most of its activity upon caring for the disenfranchised, forgotten and rejected in society without regard to religious affiliation or non-affiliation as the case may be.

Our community is a direct descendent of the European (Utrecht Union) Old Catholic community through bishop Arnold H. Mathew and bishop Rudolph de Landis Berghes (Apostle to the Americas); however, we are not members of the Utrecht Union of Churches.   We strive to gain "reconciliation" among Old Catholics throughout the world and in particular with the Utrecht Union as well as with the Anglican Communion. .  The Apostolic lines of succession in addition to origination from the Archdiocese of Utrecht (Old Catholic / Utrecht Union) also derive from Anglican, Orthodox and Roman sources.   These have been reviewed by Catholic scholars (Yves Marie Joseph Cardinal Congar among others) and pronounced a "valid succession of orders" and a "valid transfer of powers".   The Oratory of the Common Life is affirming, inclusive and welcoming.

"Old Catholic" is a way of being "catholic" and practicing the "catholic faith".  Whereas, the Utrecht Union (Old Catholic) and its partner, the Anglican Communion (Anglican), are ways of governing the affairs of particular "catholic" communities.  There are other ways of governing besides these two.   The "Old Catholic Church", therefore, is composed of communities that embrace, in matters of faith: 1) christian scriptures; 2) the teachings of the early church fathers and mothers; 3) the guidance of the seven (7) ecumenical councils; and 4) the canons of the Council of Trent in so far as these do not contradict the preceeding three.

The "Common Life" communities of the Late Middle Age period in the Netherlands were most assuredly centered on the "House Church" and were the predessor of the modern "House Church" movement.   At that time the concept was called "Devotio Moderna", Latin for "Modern Devotion".  This development in Western christianity happened coincidental to the Reformation Era and in fact many of the Reforming Churches developed from this "Common Life" idea.  The Old Catholic experience has its roots among the "House Churches" that formed in the Netherlands during the Reformation period of Western Europe when the reformers forbade any High Church (liturgical) expression.   The Catholics of the Netherlands were forced to retreat into "House Churches" in order to hide their religious practices.  For a more detailed outline of the Old Catholics see:  A Brief Background and History Statement.

The Oratory of the Common Life patterns itself along the lines of the Common Life Communities that developed in the Low Countries.  While each Oratory has at its core the Imitation of Christ and daily readings (breviary), it also has its own particular charism derived from the talents and characteristics of the members and the challenges of the locality.  Membership is open to all who come in peace regardless of church affiliation.   There are no vows as are found among the traditional religious communities.   Members must only obey the rule of the community:  in all things be moderate; differentiation is to be unique; communion is to be related; autopoiesis is to be a center of activity.  Due to this absense of vows in the traditional sense, the Oratory of the Common Life is not a mendicant order.  Members work for their daily bread.

While there are no classes of membership in the Oratory of the Common Life, we embrace the need for Holy Orders (Apostolic Succession) to be a sacramental community.  Whether already ordained or seeking ordination, we require that a candidate complete our formation program which you can access here:  Formation Program.  After reading our formation outline, those who are interested in exploring the formation program further are encouraged to contact the formations director:  Formations

To make further inquiry about the Old Catholics or the Oratory of the Common Life, please click here:  OCL Information

Mass (Holy Eucharist) schedules vary from area to area.   Sacramental services (weddings, committment ceremonies, baptisms, etc.) are arranged by appointment.

To contact the Oratory in Mobile, Alabama, click here:  Old Catholic Oratory of the Common Life - Alabama.

To contact the Oratory in Florida, click here:  Old Catholic Oratory of the Common Life - Florida

To contact the Oratory in Minnesota, click here:   Old Catholic Oratory of the Common Life - Minnesota.

To contact the Oratory in the New York Metropolitan area, click here:  Old Catholic Oratory of the Common Life - New York

If you are in the area of any of our Oratory please do contact us; we really would like to talk with you.  If you do not see an Oratory listed for your area and would like to start one please contact us through the formation director (noted above) or through the web page of any of our existing Oratory.  It is not necessary to be ordained to organize an Oratory.   Talk to us about your idea; we might be able to help.

Below are links to academic works that pertain both to the Old Catholics and the Oratory of the Common Life.  These readings are part of our formation program.

 We hope you find the references useful in your journey.

Reading Materials

On the World Wide Web:

Note: these are links to other documents on the web.
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Old Catholic and general church reference material

A Brief Background and History Statement, by Jimenez, Allen

The Daily Office Online English and Spanish

The Church in the Netherlands, by Ditchfield, P.H., a limited preview

The History of Nations: Holland and Belgium, by Lodge, Henry Cabot

HIDDEN SAINTS: A Study of the Brothers of the Common Life, by Gem, Samuel Harvey

The Imitation of Christ, also called The Ecclesiastical Music, by a Kempis, Thomas

The Chronicle of the Canons Regular of Mount St. Agnes, by a Kempis, Thomas; trans Arthur, J.P.

A History of the So-called Jansenist Church of Holland: A Sketch of its Earlier Annals and some account of the Brothers of the Common Life, by Neal, John Mason

THE OLD CATHOLIC MOVEMENT: its origins and history, by C.B. Moss, a limited preview

The Story of the Old Catholic and Kindred Movements, by Scarth, Alice Mary Elizabeth

Domestic Correspondence of Dominique Marie Varlet, edited by Basil Guy; a limited preview

Declaration of the Catholic Congress at Munich

The Fourteen Theses of the Old Catholic Conference - Bonn

Declaration of Utrecht (a definition of Old Catholicism)

Old Catholic Altarbook (English translation)

Old Catholic Theology, Bern, Switzerland

Old Catholic Theology, Bonn, Germany

St. Pachomius Library

The Ecole Library

Index of Patron Saints

Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Early Church Fathers

Medieval Sourcebook, edited by Halsall, Paul

Environmental Theology reference material

We Are Still Betraying the Mandate God Has Given Us: A Declaration on the Environment
Global Climate Change and the Church in the Modern World: A Sign of the Times
An Orthodox Statement on the Environmental Crisis
Christian Faith Statement on the Ecology
Words of the Forest from the Maronite Tradition
National Ecology Commission
A Partnership for the Earth: Churches and the Environmental Movement
Environmental Crisis: A Challenge to the Churches
Ecology, Cosmology and Theology: a Trialogue
Choosing Our Roots
The Religious Community Looks Toward the 1992 Earth Summit
The Bible and the Environment
Christianity and The Survival of Creation
Humble Dominion
What Is Creation? Rereading Genesis 1 and 2
The Bible and Ecological Spirituality
Ecological Sin
Ecobible: The Bible and Ecojustice
National Council of Churches of Christ, Eco-Justice Programs

In Hard Copy:

Simple Living: the Path to Joy and Freedom; Hobday, Sister Jose; 1999.

The Mathew Affair: failure to establish an Old Catholic Church in England; Schuler, Christopher, 1997.

The Old Catholic Church: a history and chronology; Pruter, Karl Rev.; 1996.

The Brotherhood of the Common Life and Its Influence; Fuller, Ross; 1995.

A Hospital Visitation Manual; Biddle, Perry H., Jr.; 1994.

A Marriage Manual; Biddle, Perry H., Jr.; 1994.

A Funeral Manual; Biddle, Perry H., Jr.; 1994.

Sanctuaries; Kelly, Jack and Marcia; 1991.

Devotio Moderna; van Engen, John; 1988.

A History of Christian Theology: an introduction; Placher, William C.; 1983.

A History of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church; Trela, Jonathan; 1979.

Old Catholic Church of America: Old Catholicism in the New World; Holman, John E.; 1977.

Bishops at Large; Anson, Peter Fredrick, 1965.

The Old Catholic Church and Reunion; Moss, C. B.; 1927.

Copyright 1998

Links and Addenda

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This organization also reserves the names: the Old Catholic Church, the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht, the Old Catholic Diocese of Lousiana, the Old Catholic Diocese of Mississippi, the Old Catholic Diocese of Alabama, the Old Catholic Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Old Catholic Diocese of Delaware, the Old Catholic Diocese of New Jersey, the Old Catholic Diocese of Texas, the Old Catholic Diocese of Missouri, the Old Catholic Diocese of Maryland, the Old Catholic Diocese of Minnesota, the Old Catholic Diocese of Wisconsin, the Old Catholic Diocese of Florida and the Old Catholic Diocese of North Carolina. Use of these names without permission is a copyright infringement.

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