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Church of St. Raphael Archangel
The Liberal Catholic Church

The Liberal Catholic Church neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant but is an Independent Church.  The Orders of its Clergy were derived from The Old Catholic Church of Holland which became separate from Rome over two centuries ago.  It is a Ceremonial Church which combines the Ancient Form of Sacramental Worship with the utmost Liberality of Thought.  It leaves its members Free in Matters of Belief.  The Seven Historic Sacraments  are administered.

Origins and Evolution of the Liberal Catholic Church
The Catholic Church in Holland

The ancient Dutch Catholic Church in Holland traces its history back to the seventh century when two British missionaries, St. Willibroad and St. Boniface, evangelized Holland, Belgium and Germany, and founded the Archbishopric of Utrecht, which remained in communion with Rome until its Archbishop Peter Codde was deposed in 1704. Eventually the See of Utrecht received a new Archbishop, Peter John Meindaarts, who was consecrated in 1739 by Dominicus Marie Varlet, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Babylon. From that time onward the ancient Dutch Catholic Church has been independent of Rome and been known as the Old Catholic Church because it maintained that
the Roman Catholic Church had departed from the faith of the Old Church by adopting new doctrines.

The Vatican Council of 1870 promulgated the controversial doctrine of Papal Infallibility. The Old Catholics refuse to accept this innovation in church teaching.

True Catholicism is not dependent upon Rome, but upon maintaining the historic organic link to the apostolic tradition. This tradition embodies the fullness of the magisterium of Jesus Christ, "The Deposit of Faith," which Jesus gave to the 12 apostles equally (in collegium). This magisterium embodies teaching, Holy Scripture, reason, and sacred tradition (sacraments).

The Liberal Catholic Church

In 1902 in England a request was made to the Archbishop of Utrecht to establish in England a branch of the Old Catholic Church. Accordingly after due consideration and the selection of a leader, Bishop Arnold Harris Matthew was consecrated on April 28, 1908, in the Cathedral Church of St. Gertrude, Utrecht. Archbishop Gerardus Gul was the consecrator, assisted by the Bishops of Haarlem, Deventer, and Germany. Bishop Arnold Harris Matthew was then named Regionary Bishop (with jurisdiction) of the Old Catholic Church of Great Britain.

In 1914 Bishop Frederick Samuel Willoughby was consecrated to succeed Bishop Matthew, who then retired from active ministry.
February 16, 1916, Bishop James Ingall Wedgwood was consecrated to succeed Bishop Willoughby. July 22, 1916, Bishop Charles Webster Leadbeater was consecrated to assist Bishop Wedgwood. Both Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater were prominent British
Theosophists. With their theosophical insights and spiritual vision, Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater set about to reorganize the British section of the Old Catholic Church as a non-authoritarian, non-dogmatic, Catholic spiritual home for all those who because of their peculiar beliefs or lifestyles felt alienated and unwelcome in the traditional churches.

Thus after extensive revision and reorganization, in 1916, the Old Catholic Church in Great Britain was renamed the Liberal Catholic Church. Since that time the Liberal Catholic Church has maintained a distinct identity of it own, no longer affiliated with the Old Catholics.

Since its inception in 1916, the Liberal Catholic Church has spread all over the world and now exists in more than 40 countries, yet remains a tiny movement. It is estimated that there are approximately 45,000 members of the Liberal Catholic Church worldwide.

As it grew and became a worldwide movement differences of administration and policy arose within the Church so that today there are 7 distinct autonomous jurisdictions within the Liberal Catholic Movement.

1. The Liberal Catholic Church, London. England (Mother Jurisdiction)
2. The Liberal Catholic Church International (San Diego, California)
3. The Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophia Synod, (Orlando, Florida)
4. The Liberal Catholic Church, New Synod
5. The Universal Catholic Church (San Diego, California)
6. The Young Rite
7. The Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church, (United Kingdom)

There are also numerous small independent parishes that call themselves "Liberal Catholic" and are not affiliated with a larger church body.

Church Organization

The spiritual leadership of the church is vested in a General Episcopal Synod composed of all Bishops in the church.

The synod elects one of their members to serve as the titular leader of the church, a Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop is not an autocrat or pope. He serves at the discretion and will of the synod, and is accountable to it.

The practical organizational, business, and administrative duties of the church are vested in a lay assembly. The Bishops have no hand in the business aspects of the church.

Each country composes a province for the church. The spiritual leader of the province is called the Regionary Bishop, (Bishop with jurisdiction). The Regionary Bishop may have any number of Auxiliary Bishops to assist him. The business affairs of the province are vested in a triennial provincial assembly composed of lay members.

Each province has provision in its canons for the creation of local dioceses {we are yet too small a movement to have many established dioceses}.The Bishop with jurisdiction within a diocese would be known as the "Ordinary."  He would be subject to the nominal oversight of the Regionary Bishop, and be a full member of the General Episcopal Synod.

Parishes and missions of the church are established and chartered by the Regionary Bishop, who may appoint a "priest-in-charge." The Regionary Bishop does not assign pastors, nor does he rotate them to various parishes. It is the duty of the parish vestry to "call" and hire their own rector (pastor). The Regionary Bishop can only either confirm the call or deny it. If the cleric is confirmed, the Regionary Bishop will then officially install him. The business affairs of the parish are the responsibility of the parish vestry. Each parish within the province elects two representatives to the provincial assembly.

We do not use the clerical titles of "cardinal", "archbishop," "monsignor" or "archpriest" in the Liberal Catholic rite.

The Liberal Catholic Church Theosophia Synod

Right Reverend Ernest W. Jackson had been the Regionary Bishop of The Liberal Catholic Church Province of Canada, (London, England). Without consultation with or agreement, the General Episcopal Synod attempted to depose him and dissolve the Province of Canada. Certain members of the synod subjected him to harsh and un-Christian political maneuvers and attacks.

Bishop Jackson was a devout, humble, and dedicated man, and wanted no part of these political machinations. It saddened him to see this, and other evidences of creeping authoritarianism happening within our church.

It saddened him to see that the synod had lost the original vision and purpose of the church as intended by our founding Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater.

Motivated to restore and maintain the "Original Vision and Purpose" of Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater, Bishop Jackson organized the Liberal Catholic Church Theosophia Synod on Advent, 1982.

Bishop Jackson consecrated Bishop John Schwarz to succeed him. Bishop Schwarz consecrated Bishops Judson Saas and James Lippert. Bishop Schwarz retired from leadership of the Church in 2005. Bishop Judson Saas served as interim Episcopal Vicar General from 2005 to June 2009, and retired due to health and advanced age.

Sunday July 5, 2009, at the Pro-Cathedral of St.Raphael Archangel, Tulsa, Oklahoma, on behalf of the General Theosophia Synod, The Most Reverend John R. Schwarz, Presiding Bishop Emeritus, read the Protocol of Election and Mandate of Consecration for Bishop-elect William McCabe Delahunt, and proceeded to Consecrate Bishop Delahunt during a Solemn Pontifical Eucharist according to the Rite of The Liberal Catholic Church.

On behalf of the General Theosophia Synod Bishop Delahunt was appointed Presiding Bishop of The Liberal Catholic Church-Theosophia Synod by Bishop Schwarz.

Saturday August 29, 2009, at Orlando, Florida, during a Solemn Pontifical Eucharist William McCabe Delahunt was Consecrated ( In Locum Tenens) to the Episcopacy according to the Rite of The Liberal Catholic Church by Most Reverend William Howard Fite, Auxiliary Bishop, and Most Reverend Willard Earl Schultz, Past Presiding Bishop of The Catholic Apostolic Church In North America (CACINA) (Carlos Duarte-Costa Line).

A Festive Reception hosted by the Vestry of St.Raphael Archangel, Orlando was held at the Parish hall to accommodate the many friends & well wishers of our new Bishop.

Bishop Delahunt, 60, a native of St.Louis, Missouri, entered minor orders in the Liberal Catholic Church in 1971. He was ordained a Deacon in 1975 at St.Franics LCC in Chicago, Illinois, by Bishop Newton Dahl. Bishop Delahunt assisted Father Charles Duffy at Our Lady & All Angels LCC in St.Louis, Mo. for several years. In 1986 Bishop Delahunt moved to Orlando,Florida, He served as Deacon-in-Charge of St.Raphael Archangel LCC in Orlando and in December of 1987 was ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Joseph LeSage Tisch. Bishop Tisch appointed Bishop Delahunt as Rector of St.Raphael Archangel LCC Orlando, a position he has held these many years.

In 2002 the Vestry voted to dis-afiliate with the LCC Province of the U.S.A. over unresolved administrative and policy issues. The Vestry applied and was recieved as a constituant Parish of The LCC-Theosophia Synod.

Bishop Delahunt attended St.Fidelis Capuchin Franciscan Seminary, Hermann, Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Maryville College of The Sacred Heart, St. Louis, Missouri. He has done extensive post-graduate work in Liberal Catholic Theology, Theosophy, and Interfaith Studies. He is active in The Interfaith Community in Central Florida, and a noted advocate for Interfaith Dialogue, Prison reform, and advocacy for the Homeless.

With the enthronement of Bishop Delahunt as Presiding Bishop, the Liberal Catholic Church-Theosophia Synod combines the Catholic line of Apostolic Sucession from the Old Catholic Church through Bishops Wedgwood,Leadbeater, Jackson, and Schwarz with the Roman Catholic from Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa through Bishops Fite and Schultz.

Bishop Delahunt, an ardent Theosophist, is dedicated to maintaining the Original Vision & Purpose of The Liberal Catholic Church as envisioned by Bishops Wedgwood & Leadbeater and restored by Bishop Jackson.

The Original Vision of Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater
Restored by Bishop Ernest Jackson

The Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophia Synod, within the context of Catholic faith and sacramental tradition stands firmly and proudly for

We offer the help of the sacraments in their integrity and plentitude to all sincere people. We do not have rigid canonical barriers that prevent sincere people from full participation in the sacraments. We welcome all, including the divorced, remarried, those of no faith, those of other faiths, and those who thought that participation in the sacramental life of the church could no longer be theirs. Reverence and sincerity are our only requirements.

"To Come To The Living Waters Of Christ, You Need No Merit, All You Need Is Thirst."
---Blessed Guerre of Igny, 15th century Trappist monk.

Valid Holy Orders

The Holy Orders and Apostolic Succession of the Old Catholic Church, Archiepiscopal See of Utrecht, have always been and still are recognized by Rome as "valid." There is no question as to their validity. The Holy Orders of the Liberal Catholic Church are derived directly from this source and carry the very same validity. We have carefully maintained and documented our Apostolic Succession.

Parish in Orlando, Florida

The Parish Church of St. Raphael Archangel has been ministering to Liberal Catholics and those seeking spiritual help since its founding in Central Florida in 1975.  Bishop William Delahunt has served as Pastor since 1987.  Bishop Delahunt has been associated with the Church since 1971 and has a deep grasp and broad understanding of its purpose and practice, and sensitivity to the pastoral needs of persons either hurt by or not attracted to mainline churches and religiosity.

More Information

We are happy to supply more information, much more than the website presents, including historical and research documents.  We are always open to discuss your questions and concerns.  Contact the Parish Office.