Short Theological Overview of the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America
By: The Reverend Hieromonk Barbara (Martzall)
If you ever visited a community/parish within the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America, you might wonder exactly who we are theologically. From the visual appearance we look like a mixed bag of many different religious backgrounds. And you know what, you are right. Our bishops, priests, deacons and laity come originally from many different religious backgrounds. But our theology of the Church is Orthodox though our looks may be more western in some cases.
The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America was founded by a French Roman Catholic, Joseph Rene Vilatte, who saw a need to bring the Orthodox theology to America but in a western perspective. Though Joseph Rene Vilatte was consecrated a bishop through the Syrian Orthodox Church (which holds only to the first 3 Ecumenical Councils), our Church actually moved forward immediately striving to keep the faith of all seven Ecumenical Councils. Thus the Church is truly Orthodox in theology. History will call Joseph Rene Vilatte a Jacobite, but the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America has never been Jacobite in theology. Vilatte immediately move the Church to the full faith held within the seven Ecumenical Councils and we continue that heritage today. We hold to and teach the seven Ecumenical Councils teachings.
What separates the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America from the Eastern Orthodox Church is basically that we not only allow for a western presentation of the Orthodox theology in our communities/parishes, but we also allow for women to be ordained to holy orders. We allow our priests and deacons to minister to each of their communities/parishes in a manner that is “comfortable” for the congregation. This means that some of the communities will appear very Eastern Orthodox in the vestments of the clergy and in the church liturgy itself while others will appear more western in vestments and in the church liturgy. But what ties us together is our Orthodox theology.
The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America is a very unique Church that ministers to many different people who have for some reason found themselves outside of their church. Many of the communities/parishes are small and often meet within homes. The oneness of the community/parish is ever present as each member tries to live their lives based on the Orthodox theology.
Within the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America you will find parish priests and deacons and also monastics. You might say that our ministries spring up as there is a need for it in a location and where there is either a priest or deacon (monastic or not). Our communities are often founded by the laity who come upon one of our priests/deacons and asks them to serve the community. In other instances, it is that the clergy is living in area that there is not an Orthodox-Catholic Church of America community/parish already, so they open one.
A mixed bag of communities, yes. A mixed bag of clergy, yes. But both come together spreading the gospel to all who desire to hear. Our theology is what shall always tie us together as a Church. It is our freedom of differences that keep us growing!
As part of our Community’s ministry, we also make available to laity, seminarians and the clergy of the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America courses concerning Orthodox theology. These courses shall be on a one on one basis for each student. The only cost of the course will be the student will purchase their own book(s). If one is interested in taking a course please contact the Reverend Hieromonk Barbara directly (see the “Contact Us” icon/graphic to the left).
COURSES AVAILABLE FOR STUDY
1.) Fundamentals — This Course introduces one to the Orthodox Church as a whole.
2.) Church History — This Course delves into the history of the Christian Church through the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
3.) Liturgical Theology I — This course starts to introduce you to the Scaraments of the Orthodox Church, especially the Divine Liturgy and Eucharist.
4.) Liturgical Theology II — This course continues your introduction to the Sacraments of the Orthodox Church and Monastism.
5.) Patristics — This course will introduce you to the early Christian writers, known as the Church Fathers.
6.) Pastoral Theology I — This course will introduce you to a branch of theology that is concerned with the practical application of theology.
7.) Pastoral Theology II — This course continues the exploration of Pastoral Theology.
8.) Doctrine I — This course starts introducing you to Orthodox Theological Doctrine.
9.) Doctrine II — This course continues the study of Orthodox Theological Doctrine.
10.) Spirituality — This course starts to open the student to the idea of spirituality.
11.) Church History II — This course covers the history of OCCA, constitution and canons of OCCA.
12.) Dogmatic Theology — This course covers the dogmas of the Orthodox Church.
13.) Western Eucharistic Theology — This course challenges you to compare Eastern and Western Eucharistic Theology.
14.) Old Testament Scriptures — In this course you develop an overview of the Old Testament scriptures.
15.) New Testament Scriptures — In the course you develop an overview of the New Testament scriptures.
16.) Christology — In this course you learn the teaching of the Church Fathers concerning Christ and Christology.
17.) Eschatology — In this course you are challenged in your thinking about the End Times and about death.