We are an Apostolic, Ecumenical, Inclusive, and Independent Catholic Community. At Saint Michael’s, there are no paid clergy. As with most Independent and Old Catholic jurisdictions, all the ordained members work in regular jobs.
The word “Catholic” means “universal”. We are a part of the universal Church of Jesus Christ, sharing in the teachings and liturgical heritage of the Church, and celebrating a characteristically Catholic faith tradition that is not sectarian. Specifically, we affirm:
- Invitation to the sacramental life. We recognize the baptism and faith of all our Christian sisters and brothers. Therefore, all are welcome to share in the Eucharist in faith.
- Invitation to ministry. All persons, male and female, married and single, gay and straight, have the right to respond to a genuine vocation and fully participate in the ministerial priesthood.
- Invitation to intimate commitment. While always traumatic, sometimes divorce is the best and most faithful response to permanently broken relationships. Yet many whose marriages have ended still have the vocation of marriage, the co-joining in intimate love with another created in God’s image and likeness. These new unions can best be nourished in the sacramental life of the Church.
- Invitation to follow conscience. Whether the issue is the freedom to vote according to personal convictions, the use of contraception and artificial birth control, or some other matter, we affirm the freedom to follow one’s conscience as a part of a healthy life of faith.
By these commitments, we affirm the dignity, worth, and essential liberty of all human persons regardless of race, national origin, religious affiliation, gender, or sexual orientation. We follow the ancient wisdom of the Church as expressed in the words of St. Augustine: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
What to Expect
You will be met at the door and welcomed. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Guest cards are available if you wish to provide contact information. This will be used to notify you of upcoming events or changes in schedule. All contact information is kept confidential.
Worship Guides are available as you enter the church- these will provide the prayers, readings, and will help guide you through the Liturgy. Feel free to sit anywhere. Our Liturgy follows Catholic tradition and ritual. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about it. The Worship Guides will walk you through the prayers and responses. We frequently stand during portions of the Liturgy. If you are unable to stand with ease, please feel comfortable in remaining seated. We do not pass an offering plate or take up a collection. There is an offering box located at the back of the church if you wish to contribute.
Holy Communion (Eucharist) is open to everyone who wishes to partake in faith. Visitors who may feel uncomfortable participating – or whose beliefs may prohibit participation – should not feel pressured, and may simply remain seated. Both consecrated bread and consecrated wine and grape juice are received at Communion, however, if you do not wish to receive from the cup, you can receive the consecrated bread only. The consecrated bread, broken from the common loaf, is placed into the cupped hands of each person who wishes to receive. The bread is offered with the words “The body of Christ “. As the bread is received, the appropriate response is “Amen”. The cup is then offered with the words “The blood of Christ”. Again the response is “Amen”. After Communion is received, you may return to your seat for prayer and reflection. We are happy to provide gluten-free bread as well, just let one of the clergy know before Mass.
Following our Liturgy we hope you will stay awhile and chat with some of the members of our community.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Independent and Old Catholics?
Independent and Old Catholics are still small and growing communities. However, many new communication methods, including the Internet, have brought new energy to the movement, and new ways of letting people know that we exist.
Most Independent Catholic groups have their own web sites. As yet, it hasn’t received a lot of national publicity, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t here!
Many people visiting our websites think that the use of the word “old” means Mass in Latin. The Latin Mass is a historical issue, not one of tradition. Latin Masses are not celebrated at Saint Michael’s Community
The term “Old Catholic” was coined in 1870 when a group of European Bishops broke with the Roman Catholic Church. The rift came about because Rome declared new dogma — including the infallibility of the pope. The group of Catholics who broke with Rome over the infallibility of the pope and other new articles of Faith, declared themselves loyal to “old” Catholicism rather than the “new” Catholicism that Rome was attempting to define. Most Independent Catholic jurisdictions are derived from the Old Catholic jurisdiction by means of apostolic succession through our validly consecrated Bishops.
If I’m LGBTQ will my partner and I be welcome?
Everyone, without exception, is welcome! We are each a unique creation of God’s love and design, created equal in goodness and love. We recognize this and understand it is our responsibility as Christians to acknowledge that we are all children of the same God. So, the answer to this question is yes! As with all Christians, gays and lesbians, single and partnered, are welcome to participate fully in our Sacramental life.
Who “runs” these churches?
Independent catholic churches are “run” by the people of God who are members of the community who worship with and take part in the life of the community. There is usually a pastor or parish administrator assigned by the Bishop, or “called” by members of the parish.
The word bishop is from the Greek for “Overseer.” For structural reasons in the larger church, the bishop oversees each denomination. There are variations among Catholic denominations, but each generally has a governing council of bishops, and that council elects a prime bishop (archbishop; presiding bishop) from among its own members to act as its spiritual guide and a kind of CEO for the denomination.
Our bishop is elected by all the people of the Church.
Is there more than one Catholic church?
No- there is only one Catholic church. However, there are a fair number of Catholic denominations, of which the Roman Catholic Church is just one and, overwhelmingly, the largest. As a group, these smaller denominations are referred to as the “Independent Catholic Movement,” derived from the “Old Catholic” movement, within greater Catholicism. Our parish, we are not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.
Do I have to be Catholic?
Everyone is welcome to come and worship with us- you don’t have to be Catholic. Our liturgies reflect Catholic tradition and rituals, and if you aren’t familiar with them we will be happy to help you along. It is our belief that all Christians should be welcome to pray, worship, and share the Sacraments together, regardless of denomination, and we practice that. Part of our mission is to work toward unity among Christians. This doesn’t mean making them all the same, but opening our doors to each other, worshiping together, and finding common ground where we can come together and work together in our common ministry.
How does the church support itself?
You won’t hear us ask for money. We depend on the generosity of those who join with us or who share our vision to contribute as they are able. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible to allow individuals and groups to contribute using the latest technology- such as direct deposits, but at the moment we still depend on the old fashioned checks or cash. We are a non-profit corporation, so donations are tax deductible.
At Saint Michael’s, as with most Independent and Old Catholic jurisdictions, all the ordained members work in regular jobs. The benefit of this is two-fold–it keeps them “real”, living and working like everyone else, and it provides an income so that the parish does not have the financial responsibility of supporting a pastor and family, which allows contributions to be used for ministries and church upkeep.
I haven’t been to church for years, can I just walk in?
You sure can! If you feel nervous about it, just let us know when you arrive that you haven’t been to church for awhile. You can pretty much bet that a few of us here hadn’t been to church for awhile either, and we know what you are going through.
What if I’m divorced and have remarried?
The church should be a community of care and hope for those who divorce. Regrettably, some marriages end in divorce. However, continuing some marriages may be destructive and abusive to those involved. Remarriage can be an opportunity to use wisdom gained from the past to create a new relationship of loving commitment and joy. Those who are divorced and have remarried are welcome to share in the full Sacramental life of our church.
Where can I find more information on Independent and Old Catholics?
Do a search on “Old Catholic” or on “Independent Catholic” on the internet and you will be surprised at what you will find. Obviously, every person who seeks Christ through the Old and Independent Catholic Movement helps the movement achieve its goals – which centers on removing all unnecessary barriers between God and the creatures God loves so much.
So find and join an Old or Independent Catholic community near you. But more than that, talk about “Catholicism.” Be ready to explain the difference between faith, religion and denomination; between a divinely revealed truth and an artifact of Church governance. Go to Mass regularly, receive the Sacraments and pray! Tell your friends! Be an active Catholic! We will do what we can to help you.
I am gluten intolerant, will I be able to receive Communion?
We will be more than happy to ensure you are able to receive Communion with the community. We always have gluten free bread or wafers, so just let let us know ahead before Mass and we can make sure to have gluten-free bread available for Communion. However, if advance notice cannot be provided, please don’t let that stop you from participating. We believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine, and as a matter of practice we receive communion under both forms. Those who so wish may receive communion by receiving only one- bread or wine, and still fully participate in the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist.
I thought a “denomination” was a separate religion?
A denomination is an organization – that is, a group of fallible human beings — who gather in worship, pool funds, operate ministries, construct church buildings, file for non-profit status and do all the other things people associate with the word “Church”. Catholic denominations believe the same tenets of faith, which were laid down in complete form prior to the year 1000. However, each denomination is separately organized and managed. So there is a unity in faith, but diversity in practice and governance. It is important not to confuse matters of faith with matters of Church practice and governance.
I have always felt called to service in the church, how can I follow that calling?
We will be happy to talk to you about your vocation. Both women and men are ordained to all orders: deacon, priest, and bishop. Saint Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We welcome women, men, single, married, or in a same gender unions to explore the possibilities of ordained ministry.
Where can I go if I have more questions or want more information?
Take a look around our website. You may find answers to your questions, and probably answers to questions you didn’t know you had! If you still want more information, drop a note or call and we’ll set up a time to talk.