History

The Old Roman Catholic Church, a non-Papal, Catholic ecclesial body, descends from the Ancient Catholic Church of the Netherlands (The Catholic Old Diocese of Utrecht) and traces its Apostolic Succession from the See of Utrecht. The Low Countries received Christianity in the 7th Century through the endeavors of the English missionary, St. Willibrord and his companions. Because of the labors of these early missionaries and those of St. Boniface, Apostle of Utrecht, Catholicism grew and flourished in the Low Countries.

In the year 1145, at the request of the Holy Roman Emperor, Conrad III, Blessed Pope Eugene III granted the See of Utrecht the right of election of its own bishops. The Fourth Council of the Lateran confirmed this grant in 1215. In 1520, Pope Leo X in the Bull, Debitum Pastoralis, granted to the See of Utrecht and its 57th Bishop, Phillip of Burgundy, the right of adjudication of its own affairs without reference to the tribunals of the Holy See. The Theological Faculties of Paris and the Louvain, in 1717, verified this privilege, known as the Leonine Privilege. Both of these grants have been exercised by the See of Utrecht from the time of their promulgation and were of extreme importance during the period of the Counter Reformation when the ultramontane party questioned the rights of the See of Utrecht. In spite of the attempts of the Counter Reformers during that difficult period to suppress it, the See of Utrecht elected successive prelates who were consecrated by Bishop Dominique Marie Varlet, Bishop of Babylon-in partibus who was then resident in Utrecht. The difficulties resulting from the activities of the Counter Reformers caused the Ancient Catholic Church of the Netherlands to become an autonomous part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

In response to requests from English Catholics for a non-Papal Catholic presence in the United Kingdom, Archbishop Gerardus Gul of Utrecht consecrated the Most Reverend Arnold Harris Mathew, a retired Roman Catholic priest, as Regionary Bishop for England, on April 28, 1908. This was an especially significant development, leading to an Old Roman Catholic presence in North America only six years later. As Bishop for England, the Most Reverend Arnold Harris Mathew, met with mixed results with his charge from the Church of Utrecht and its sister ecclesial bodies of the Utrecht Union of Churches. The English mission remained part of the Utrecht Union until December 1910 when Bishop Mathew declared the autonomy of the English mission due to theological and praxis differences with the continental churches of the Union.

In 1913, Bishop Mathew consecrated HRH Rudolph Francis Edward Hamilton de Lorraine-Brabant, the Prince de Landes Berghes to the episcopacy. The Prince Bishop established the ministry of the Old Roman Catholic Church in the United States in 1914 when he migrated to North America in order to avoid the difficulties of World War I. Bishop de Landes Berghes consecrated to the episcopacy, Fr. Carmel Henry Carfora, an Italian Franciscan Friar in 1916. Bishop Carfora was elected to succeed Bishop de Landes Berghes as Archbishop of the Old Roman Catholic Diocese of America and is responsible for organization of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church.

Archbishop Willibrord
Archbishop Mathew
Prince-Archbishop Rudolph de Landes Berghes
Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora

During Bishop Carfora's tenure, the church expanded greatly across the United States and Canada. His death would set in motion a sequence of events that gave rise to the current state of the Old Roman Catholic Church in North America and four other ecclesial bodies. Shortly after the death of Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora, the North American Old Roman Catholic Church evolved into five autonomous, but cooperating ecclesial bodies, one of which is the Old Roman Catholic Church in North America. As the ecclesiastical descendants of the Catholic Old Diocese of Utrecht, the ecclesial bodies which constitute the Old Roman Catholic Church retain and exercise the papal grants given that See by Pope Eugene III and Pope Leo X.

The Synod of the Midwestern Province of the Old Roman Catholic Church (English Rite) created the Diocese of Michigan and the Central States in 1975 from the territory formerly administered by Archbishop Robert Alfred Burns. The Church was also re-named the Old Roman Catholic Church in North America as contact with the English Church was lost. With the death of Archbishop Burns in November 1974, the Provincial Synod confirmed the succession of The Most Reverend Andrew G. Johnston-Cantrell and elected The Most Reverend Francis P. Facione, Ph.D. as Titular Bishop of Devon and Coadjutor to Johnston-Cantrell who consecrated Bishop Facione on St. Andrew's Day in 1974.

Archbishop Johnston-Cantrell resigned his office on January 5, 1975 whereupon Bishop Facione succeeded as Presiding Bishop. The Provincial Synod, during its meeting on April 19, 1975, confirmed Bishop Facione's succession and elected him Titular Archbishop of Devon as well as first Bishop of Michigan and the Central States. In order to effect more perfect unity within the Old Roman Catholic Church, the Western Regionary Diocese, created by mandate of Archbishop Carfora in 1945 as an autonomous diocese, entered into union with the Old Roman Catholic Church in North America in 1989. The Western Regionary Diocese was under the administration of Archbishop Frederick L. Pyman, S.O.A.R. As a further sign of visible unity, the Synod of the Western Regionary Diocese elected the Right Reverend Donald R. Currie, a priest of the Diocese of Michigan and the Central States, bishop-elect. He was to succeed upon Archbishop Pyman's planned retirement. Tragically, Bishop-elect Currie died June 21, 1990, prior to the date of his consecration. Archbishop Pyman died on January 23, 1993. The Synod of the Western Regionary Diocese elected The Most Reverend Patrick H. King, second Bishop of the Diocese. He was consecrated to the episcopacy and installed on June 5, 1993.

Archbishop Andrew Gordon Johnson-Cantrell
Archbishop Francis Facione
Archbishop Frederick Pyman
Fr. Donald Currie, Bishop Elect

In order to promote further visible unity of the Old Roman Catholic Church, the Diocese of Guadeloupe, French West Indies, affiliated with the Old Roman Catholic Church in North America on January 21, 1998. Created a diocese on September 29, 1994, The Diocese of Guadeloupe was under the administration of The Most Reverend William Francis Luke Amadeo Iezzi who had been appointed Missionary for the West Indies in 1981 by Archbishop Edgar Ramon Verostek and the Good Samaritan Franciscans of New Jersey.

The Old Roman Catholic Church was led by Archbishop Francis Facione until his death on June 14, 2019. He selected Archbishop William Myers, SSM as his successor and his nomination was ratified by the Executive Council on June 29, 2019. Archbishop Myers re-established contact with the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain with whom the church was previously connected until loss of contact.