American Orthodox Catholic Church – Western Rite Mission, Diocese of New York

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American Orthodox Catholic Church, Western Rite (previously known as – Western Rite Mission, Diocese of New York)
Region New York, Florida, Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Nevada
Founder The Most Rev. Joseph J. Raffaele
Origin December, 1976
Suffolk County, New York
Separated from Mount Athos Synod

The American Orthodox Catholic Church is a religious group which claims to be part of "the Universal Catholic Church". It is an independent denomination that originated from the Old Catholic Ultrajectine tradition.

The American Orthodox Catholic Church claims to be "Orthodox, but not Eastern in teaching the Faith, Catholic but not Papal in liturgy and government." This means, essentially, that they incorporate parts of both Orthodox and Catholic aesthetics while denying the dogma of both.

Ordination history[edit]

Its first Bishop, Archbishop Timetheos (Joseph R. Vilatte) was consecrated for the Americas on May 29, 1892 by Archbishop Alvarez, acting under mandate of the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, assisted by two bishops of the Church of Malabar (India). Since this consecration, there has been an unbroken succession of Bishops. In addition to its Syrian Roots, the American Orthodox Catholic Church enjoys episcopal (meaning bishop) lineage from Greco-Russian-Ukrainian legacy of Archbishop Propheta. As late as July 21, 1952, Cardinal Mercati of the Vatican Library declared, “All consecrations of the Syrian Jocobite Church are valid.”

Female ordinations[edit]

In the 1999, the AOCCW ordained Theresa Margaret Wilson, a nun and founder of the Benedictine Order of St. Michael the Archangel, to the diaconate. Wilson, the first female ordained in the denomination would then go on to be ordained as a priest and finally, in 2005, became bishop of the Diocese of Colorado. Because of this, the Roman Catholic Church fails to recognize the validity of ordinations conferred by Wilson.

In 2004, a mass ordination ceremony was conducted in Red Oak, Texas, in which John Nunez was also elevated as bishop at that time. He was later excommunicated in 2005 when he was found guilty of performing an illegal ordination and then trying to pursue schism. In 2006, Monsignor Antonio Garribay was elevated as bishop and Texas then became a diocese within the denomination.

Denominational facts[edit]

Many of the clergy in these churches are part of the Worker-Priest system; this is, they work for a living [secularly], rather than depend on the congregation for support – thus giving their share of support to the church also.

The American Orthodox Catholic Church allows re-marriage and admits those who are divorced to receive communion.

Priests are permitted to be married or shall freely embrace celibacy as they choose. The AOCC also welcomes women to all roles of ordination (deacon, priest and bishop). Ordination is not limited on the basis of denominational background, gender, gender identity, affectional orientation, marital status. There are certain age limitations. Because of this most of their ordinations are considered invalid by the Catholic Church.

On December 18, 1966, clergy of the American Orthodox Catholic Church in New York City, under the leadership of Archbishop Propheta, were present at an ecumenical service in St. Raymond's Church, Bronx, NY. Also invited were the Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican clergy. Bishop Terrence Cooke, then Vicar General to Cardinal Spellman of the Roman Church was present. There was extreme annoyance at that service because Abp. Propheta had a photographer constantly snapping photos thereby intruding in the service. All of the AOCC Clergy present were vested in Eastern Vestments. I am a witness to this as I was the one who organized and coordinated these ecumenical Advent Services.

This was, of course, before the AOCC began to ordain women.

The Diocese celebrates the Mass via the Tridentine Rite in Latin, and in the Vernacular which has always been the case since the latter half of the 19th Century when the first bishop, Archbishop Timetheos began his missionary endeavors in mid-America. In 1986, the Rite instituted a new Mass called “Worthy is the Lamb: The American Mass.”

External links[edit]


  • Thomas Squiers, former clergy/AOCCW
  • American Orthodox Catholic Church website
  • The Pueblo Chieftain

Coordinates: 40°49′23″N 72°59′43″W / 40.82306°N 72.99528°W / 40.82306; -72.99528