The Old Catholic Diocese of Napa is a Diocese of The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States (TOCCUSA). The Old Catholic Diocese of Napa was formed in January 1999.
The Most Rev. Robert T. Fuentes, our second bishop, was elected bishop of the Old Catholic Diocese of Napa in March 2004 and consecrated bishop in July 2004. Bishop Robert, along with the clergy of the Diocese of Napa, have signed the Declaration of Utrecht, a document which outlines the essential elements of Old Catholicism. Bishop Robert is presently the Moderator of The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States.
The Old Catholic Diocese of Napa is an inclusive church, believing that all Christians have been called to proclaim the Gospel. It seeks to reconcile all persons to God, and celebrates the individuality and diversity of the Body of Christ. The Old Catholic Diocese of Napa ordains women; our priests may marry. Same sex couples may have their unions blessed sacramentally. Divorced and remarried persons may also prepare for the sacrament of marriage, without a need for an annulment. Family planning is considered a matter of the family, to be decided privately. The Church also encourages all Christians to share in the Eucharistic meal.
The Old Catholic Diocese of Napa strives to proclaim the Gospel by meeting the needs of the contemporary Catholic who is searching to maintain faith, without excessive institutionalism. The Diocese of Napa welcomes those who feel impeded from full participation in the Life and Sacraments of Christ’s Church.
HISTORY OF THE FORMATION
TOCCUSA's genesis is the conclusive result of a process began at a May 2006 consultation hosted by the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Episcopal Church, which was convened at the request of the International Bishops’ Conference of the Union of Utrecht. The Episcopal Church is in full communion with the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht, a communion of European Catholic churches that left the Roman Catholic Church in 1871 after the adoption of the doctrine of papal infallibility and the universal jurisdiction of the Pope. Although there are many self-identified Old Catholic jurisdictions in the United States, not one is a member of the Union of Utrecht. Observers from the Union of Utrecht were present at the May 2006 consultation. After meeting for two days, the bishops in attendance formed the Conference of North American Old Catholic Bishops, whose primary task was to work toward national unity among American Old Catholic jurisdictions.
Central to this unity is the ecclesiology of the Old Catholic Union of Utrecht. These include the following tenets: 1) the fullness of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church resides in the local church (diocese) gathered around a bishop; 2) apostolic succession belongs to the church and is not the possession of a bishop; 3) bishops are servants of the church, and therefore must be elected by the church for ordained office in the church; 4) Old Catholic bishops are assisted in the governance of the diocese by a synodal council comprised of elected laypersons and clergy.
GOVERNANCE OF TOCCUSA
TOCCUSA is thus governed similarly. The Moderator of the Church is a bishop nominated by the House of Bishops and affirmed by the House of Delegates, which is comprised of lay and clergy representatives from all dioceses. The Moderator of TOCCUSA is the Most Rev. Robert T. Fuentes, of the Old Catholic Diocese of Napa, CA. As Moderator, Bishop Fuentes is also chairperson of the Executive Council, the synodal council of the Church, and chairperson of the National Assembly, the highest authority of the Church. The House of Delegates also elects its own chairperson, who must be a layperson. The chairperson of the House of Delegates is Ms. Janet O’Day of the Old Catholic Diocese of New England. As such, Ms. O’Day is also vice-chairperson of the Executive Council and of the National Assembly.
Although its liturgies and rituals are similar to those of the Roman Catholic Church, TOCCUSA’s interpretation of Tradition and Scripture are markedly contemporary, which is reflected in the Church’s motto:
Ancient Faith. Welcoming and Inclusive Church. Serving the Modern World.
TOCCUSA ordains women to all levels of ministry (one of TOCCUSA’s bishops is the Most Rev. Rosemary Ananis of New England). Married and gay persons may also seek ordination in the Church. Same sex couples wishing to enter covenantal marriages may request the sacrament of marriage; the bishops of The Old Catholic Church, Province of the United States have spoken in favor of legal recognition for same sex marriages.