Greetings to all the Sisters, Brothers and Friends of Saint Matthew Church!
Congregational meeting this Sunday, September 8, at 9:30 a.m. in the Parish Hall. Everyone is invited to attend! We will also be joined by Bishop Armando Leyva.
We will be discussing the relationship of Saint Matthew Church with the Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC) and the ECC Diocese of California. Your feedback and thoughts are important to us. So please come!
Every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we do so as an intentional Catholic community of faith. Whenever we do this, we recite in the Profession of Faith that we “believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” As an intentional Catholic faith community, joining the ECC Diocese is the Catholic way of maintaining our Catholic identity; it is our organic connection with our Catholic faith and identity. If Saint Matthew Church wishes to maintain our connection with the historic Catholic Faith and with our Catholic identity, then joining the ECC Diocese of California is one way of doing just that. Otherwise, we may risk losing our Catholic identity.
A diocese is a governing unit of the Catholic Church under the jurisdiction of a validly ordained Catholic bishop. The ECC Diocese of California is a valid local Catholic Church. I recommend that the members of the Saint Matthew Church vote to join the ECC Diocese of California as the easiest and most effective way we can maintain our connection with the historic Catholic Church, as well as preserving our Catholic identity. Remember, we are not a Protestant Church nor are we an Eastern Orthodox Church. We are Catholic! That means something to us of great and abiding importance. It is the reason we exist. To lose our Catholic identity would mean that we would lose our reason to exist!
My friend and collaborator, Father Jim, wrote the following narrative concerning the history of the diocese from its formation to the present time. We are now entering into the next stage of our development as an intentional Catholic community of faith.
“Dear Co-workers in the Ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
Ten years ago the Diocese of California of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion was established and Peter Elder Hickman was elected as its first bishop (its first “ordinary”). Soon Father Armando Leyva was elected as auxiliary bishop and consecrated by the bishops of the ECC. He was to serve in a special ministry to the Latino population in the diocese.
Bishop Peter continued to serve as the diocesan ordinary until 2014. Upon the resignation of the bishop ordinary, the next senior bishop becomes the ordinary, according to the constitution of our diocese. Thus, Bishop Armando became the bishop ordinary upon Bishop Peter’s resignation as diocesan bishop. Bishop Peter has had full confidence in Bishop Armando from the first day that he took over the administration of the Diocese of California. He has been measured in his decisions, keeping our Catholic faith in mind in every situation – no matter how simple or difficult.
As ordinary, Bishop Armando grants the faculties to each priest and each deacon in the diocese. He also makes the final decision about the ordination of each candidate for the priesthood and the diaconate, as well as who is the ordaining bishop, if he cannot celebrate the ordination himself, for whatever reason.
As ordinary, he accepts new communities into the diocese, and sends his representative (who serve in his name) to the new parish for the actual rites of acceptance if he cannot be there.
At this time, Bishop Peter remains the pastor of Saint Matthew, but looks forward to his own change to the position of pastor emeritus at some date in the future. That date has not yet been determined. Throughout this process he continues to fully support Bishop Armando Leyva as our diocesan bishop, and hopes the same of each priest and deacon, as well as the rest of the parish staff. Bishop Peter asks our whole parish to renew their support of Bishop Armando and the Diocese of California as we continue our ministry into another decade.”
— Fr. Jim Farris
I hope that this brief narrative will help us to better understand our relationship as a parish church to the Diocese of California and the Ecumenical Catholic Communion.
The Most Rev. Peter E. Hickman
Bishop and Pastor