We now return to the text taken from the 1941 articles written by the Old Catholic brother from New York State.

 The English Movement

    “In England a movement began in 1908 which resulted in the formation of the Old Catholic Church in England. In that year the distinguished English priest, Dr. Arnold Harris Mathew, de jure Earl of Llandoff, who had left the Roman Church, was consecrated by the Archbishop of Utrecht assisted by all the continental Old Catholic Bishops, at the Cathedral Church of Saint Gertrude, Utrecht, on April 28th, and placed in charge of the English mission. On Saint Paul’s Day, 1911, he was elected Archbishop and Metropolitan of Great Britain.

    “The Archbishop and his little flock in England soon found themselves in double danger. Added to the natural differences with their former brethren in the Roman Church was a campaign of persecution directed by certain elements among the Anglicans of the state Church of England, described by Dr. Willibroad Beyschleg, Professor of the University of Holland, and a noted Old Catholic historian, as ‘those who emphatically desire to be ‘catholic’ but are at the same time wholly out of sympathy with Old Catholics.’ They were a small group of ritualistic churchmen of the established English Church ‘on the way to Rome,’ while the Old Catholics were ‘on the way from Rome.’

    “Certain unprincipled elements of this ‘Anglo-Catholic’ group exerted pressure on the Dutch Church to disavow the English Old Catholics, but without result. At one time they intended to besmirch the English Archbishop’s character by elaborating on a statement made by a Roman Catholic editor that Bishop Mathew’s credentials to the Dutch Church contained false statements, but the Bishops of Holland, after a thorough investigation themselves vindicated Bishop Mathew. The Roman priest himself recalled the original statement, saying that since he made it he had satisfied himself by a personal investigation that it was groundless.

    “The clique of English churchmen continued to use this disreputable stratagem against the Old Catholics in the English speaking world even after Bishop Mathew’s death. Bishop Mathew, however, maintained a high standard of Christian tolerance and continued his work, unmoved by the persistent noisiness of his detractors who nonetheless caused him much pain.

    “As evidence of their confidence in Archbishop Mathew, the Dutch Bishops had him participate in every consecration of Utrecht establishing a new Episcopate on the Continent of Europe until his death in 1919. Bishop Mathew assisted at the Consecration of Bishop Jan Michael Kowalski and two assistant Bishops for the Old Catholic Church in Poland, which from that period on was to have close historical and ecclesiastical relations with English-speaking Old Catholics.

    “A noted author and historian, Bishop Mathew had an excellent knowledge of the Orthodox Church, and established the most cordial relations between the English Old Catholics and the Patriarchal See of Antioch through his Eminence the Most Reverend Archbishop Gearrasimos Messara of Beruit, Syria, who on August 5th, 1911, received the Old Catholics under Bishop Mathew into union and full communion with the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. Thus a genuine and practical rapprochement between the Catholics of the East and of the West was for the first time established after a breach which had lasted almost 10 centuries.

    “What distinguished the scholarly Archbishop Mathew and the Episcopate he established in Scotland and America from that of the continental Old Catholics was his insistence on the inviolable Episcopal authority of each national body of Old Catholics. This had been in the minds of the original Old Catholic congresses, but the German Episcopate, because of its preponderance of numbers and wealth, attempted to create a small hierarchical system patterned on the Roman administration with the Archbishop of Utrecht in the position of ranking prelate or ‘little pope.’ The English Old Catholics, seeing in this the possibilities of the former mistake of the Western Church with a Germanic, instead of an Italian, spiritual protectorate over the whole Christian world, restated the original Old Catholic principles of autonomy and have received the support of their Orthodox friends in this respect.

    “Bishop Mathew’s personal contribution to the Old Catholic Movement can be summed up as a broadening of the Catholic mind to an acceptance of the necessity of the unifying of Christ’s Church on the basis of the original tenets of the Christian Faith as it was once believed by all Christians everywhere, and the recognition that this can only be accomplished by complete cooperation with Christians of the Eastern Churches, whose proximity in language, in tradition, and in mind with the early Christians, makes them the ideal vehicle.

    “After Bishop Mathew’s death, the small body of Old Catholics in England remained without legitimate Episcopal supervision of their own, and until a short while ago the Church remained in the protection of the Episcopate of the Old Catholic Church in Poland. Now, cut off from their Mother-house by the European War, the English Old Catholics have placed themselves under the jurisdiction of an American Old Catholic Archbishop.

 

The Mariavite Order

“By far, one of the most important early 19th century events in the development of the Old Catholic Movement has been the Mariavite Order in Poland. The nucleus of this movement was a community of nuns, founded in 1893 and organized under the Rule of Saint Francis for the promotion of asceticism and the moral purification of the Polish Church. These nuns were teachers in the parochial schools of Poland and greatly influenced the lives of the clergy and laity in whatever part of the nation they ministered. An order of priests, observing the Franciscan rule, was added to them and in 1909 there were 68 priests and a large number of students ready for ordination.

    “These two communities were solemnly bound by an understanding that their work was to begin with a moral regeneration amongst their own kind within the Church — the clergy and religious orders. From the first, they were actively opposed by the Polish Jesuits and at last an order came from Rome that they were to be dissolved. When they refused to break up their community life, they were formally condemned in April 1906, and in December 1906, all their members and adherents cut off from the rites of the Roman Church.

    “A period of bitter persecution set in, but somehow they managed to keep together and increase their numbers. The Polish peasants were stirred up against the ‘Mariaviten’ and their woman leader, ‘The Little Mother,’ to such a degree that armed attacks were made against the followers when they gathered together in religious meetings. The Roman authorities at one time circulated a report that the Sacrament consecrated by the Mariavite priests became not the Body of Christ, but an Incarnation of the Devil, and in consequence terrible sacrileges were committed against Mariavites and several of their churches were burned to the ground.

    “With the growth of its numbers and in increasing necessity of Episcopal supervision for its parishes, the Order at last decided to ask the Old Catholics to consecrate a bishop for them. Accordingly, the bishop-elect Brother Jan Michael Kowalski and two of his brethren were sent to the international Old Catholic Congress in Vienna in 1909. Through the great Russian theologian, General Alexander Kireef, they were introduced to the delegates of the Congress. There, on the last morning of the meeting, Brother Kowalski stated the ground of his appeal and asked the prayers and sympathy of the assemblage. The Mariavite priests with their bare sandal feet and gray habits formed a striking and arresting impression in the midst of the other delegates and their genuine and simple character won them many new friends. After careful consultation, the Old Catholic Bishops accepted their application and the first bishop of the Church in Poland, Brother-Bishop Jan Michael Kowalski, was consecrated at Utrecht, Holland, early in October of that year.

    “For the next several years, the Old Catholic Church in Poland steadily increased. In February and March of 1909 the Minister of the Interior of the Polish government gave the Mariavite order official state recognition. Within the parishes, Churches, parsonages, schools, and other institutions were rapidly built. In the parish of Lodz in 1910, where there were already 40,000 Mariavites, four handsome Churches were built entirely through the efforts, personal and manual, of the clergy and laity.

    “Driven by the boycott of their Roman Catholic neighbors to depend more and more upon their own efforts, the members of the Mariavite movement soon developed a civil as well as a religious form of community amongst themselves. They worked and traded with each other, supporting one another, creating their own industries and soon, by cooperation, they rendered themselves entirely independent. Cooperation stores in villages and lodging houses in towns were organized. Hospitals staffed by their own doctors and nurses, orphanages, schools, homes for the aged, soup kitchens, milk dispensaries, fire departments, cultural activities, farms of magnificent acreage, factories — in fact all the necessary prerequisites of modern living — were developed and organized within their own groups and used to serve their neighbors.

    “Though this social and industrial reorganization greatly improved the position of the Old Catholics in Poland, it had to be accompanied by great personal sacrifices. In one town, Leszno, where cooperative factories on a large scale — for bookbinding, shoemaking, cabinet making, and similar activities — had been organized, several families handed over all their property to the community and put their own services unreservedly at its disposal.

    “Underlying the power and vitality of this movement which led to wholly new social groupings and industrial experiments was the ever present guidance of a strong and inspired leader — a woman, Mary Francis Felicia, devotedly acknowledged by all as ‘Mateszka.’ Simple and unassuming in manner, she nonetheless provoked a religio-social movement worth the consideration of the world’s serious minds. She proved to be, in the fullest sense, the ‘little mother’ of her people.

    “The Mariavite Movement was, up to that time, significantly different from any similar religious manifestation. It is in effect the working out of a practical application to life of the social significance of the Gospel. The foundress of the movement, the Little Mother, Mary Francis Felicia, believed and taught that the Kingdom of God on Earth is to be understood as a divinely human society — a society in which justice, brotherhood, equality, and the general welfare of all its members prevailed. Basically, the Little Mother established her theory on the formula that for God’s Kingdom to come on earth, His will must also be done.

    “The Mariavites believe that the curing of all social ills rests in properly relating the human element to the spiritual regeneration of family, nation, and society. But since ethical theories and social realignments in themselves are not enough, they maintain that the ‘direct action of God’ working on the human spirit is essential. ‘The direct action of God,’ they say, ‘is fulfilled in the partaking of Holy Communion, which, in the opinion of the Mariavites, must be the ‘daily bread’ of men and women.’ In this sense the entire religious and social life of the Mariavites centers upon the Holy Eucharist, at which the faithful communicate as a means of daily regenerating the human spirit and as the first step toward the regeneration of society and the realization of the Kingdom of God on earth.

    “Christianity, according to the Mariavites, is to be lived. Worship enters into every field of human activity. Its end and sole purpose cannot be found in religious gatherings held at stated periods alone. The act of worship, the liturgy, is an active and motivating experience in the lives of all who take part in it. During World War II more than 350,000 followers in Poland demonstrated the possibility of this life of faith and work even under the trying exigencies of world conflict.

    “Oddly enough, women play the important part in this religious movement. It was first founded by a woman, who also directed its social possibilities. The administration of major communities of the movement in many parts of the country was in the hands of women. The work of the sisters had been of such beneficial influence that they have been asked by the populace of many sections to administer parochial activities. Of the total number of about 1571 religious workers, including clergy, brothers of the Order and the sisterhood, more than one thousand of them are women actually engaged in the administration of the movement. The General Chapter, which meets to elect new officers and to decide the general administrative policy of the movement, has an equal representation of women with votes. The Mother General of the Sisters must take part in the election of a new Archbishop, as well as in all proceedings of the General Chapter.

    “The religious workers of the Movement were grouped into three categories. First there were the priests and members of the brotherhood who lived under the Rule of Saint Francis. The community of nuns, about 600 in number, compose another group, to which were added about 400 deaconnesses under the supervision of the Mother General. Under the third grouping, some 500 persons following a modified religious rule gave their time and energies to the movement. Of this last number, a great many consist of married couples voluntarily devoting their lives to buttress the work of the clergy and the sisterhood. Joy is a paramount requisite of a Christian life and the Mariavites everywhere radiate a warm and becoming mirth.

    “The zeal of the Movement touched the peasant populations of central Europe and awakened a living religious movement amongst them. A Pole writing of the effect this movement has on the people says, ‘From the surrounding neighborhood of their habitations there would be a flood of thirsty souls eager for God and His mercy.’ People when they met the Mariavites turned to God with such a subsequent change in their mode of life that even the Jews were wont to say, ‘What kind of new Christians are these.’

    “The Old Catholic Church under the administration of the Mariavite Order in Poland was in every way a distinct and important demonstration of the possibility of a 20th century Christian social order. From Poland their influence spread to other parts of the world, where in some places it became well established. Mariavite missions were founded in Lithuania, France, England, South America, and North America.

    “Mariavites supported themselves with the labor of their own hands and offered their ministrations freely to all without salaries. Mission funds are not a necessary consideration of the movement. The Church, they would say, is here to give every assistance to people both for their spiritual and material well-being; it does not have to take from them. Perhaps it might yet be said of the Mariavites everywhere in the world, as it was then said of them in Poland, ‘Wherever there is a Mariavite there is neither hunger nor sorrow.’

ave received the support of their Orthodox friends in this respect.

    “Bishop Mathew’s personal contribution to the Old Catholic Movement can be summed up as a broadening of the Catholic mind to an acceptance of the necessity of the unifying of Christ’s Church on the basis of the original tenets of the Christian Faith as it was once believed by all Christians everywhere, and the recognition that this can only be accomplished by complete cooperation with Christians of the Eastern Churches, whose proximity in language, in tradition, and in mind with the early Christians, makes them the ideal vehicle.

    “After Bishop Mathew’s death, the small body of Old Catholics in England remained without legitimate Episcopal supervision of their own, and until a short while ago the Church remained in the protection of the Episcopate of the Old Catholic Church in Poland. Now, cut off from their Mother-house by the European War, the English Old Catholics have placed themselves under the jurisdiction of an American Old Catholic Archbishop.

 

The Old Catholic Church In America

    “The growth of the Old Catholic Movement in America presents a pattern at once historically unique and tragic, revealing as it does the unfriendliness with which its participants were received and the unhealthy persecution which certain religionists have consistently leveled at it. Here in this land where at last a free religion was finding expression, where such an expression was constitutionally guaranteed, it was regarded with distrust and suspicion by the more Catholic-minded Protestants who felt the movement to be an ‘intrusion’ and did everything possible to confuse its people. That the Old Catholic Church has survived the heart-breaking opposition of certain denominational Christians to whom she has held out her hands for an expression of brotherliness and understanding, and that her clergy have continued in their ministrations, undaunted by the trying circumstances into which the ignorance of their detractors often placed them, is the more wonderful. The general sentiments directed against the Old Catholic Movement by those who might have been its greatest friends was aptly summed up in the words of Frederick Cook Morehouse, Editor of the Living Church, who wrote an editorial in that paper of January 26, 1907, concerning the first Old Catholic Bishop, ‘Consecrated in 1897, Bishop Kozlowski began his Episcopate against the indignant protests of American churchmen at what was deemed an act of intrusion on the part of his consecrators. No friendly hand was outstretched to meet him from the American Church (Protestant Episcopal). We had an abundance of sympathy for Old Catholics in Europe, but none for Old Catholics in America.’ Under this unhappy indictment, the Old Catholic Movement was formed under the leadership of brave men who nonetheless could never comprehend the attitude of their Christian contemporaries who refused to understand them and yet could not let them alone to worship in the way their conscience dictated.

    “Stemming out of the dissatisfaction of several foreign-born groups of Roman Catholics for the temporal administration of their ecclesiastical superiors, the Old Catholic Movement soon developed in America into three channels each dominated and limited by its own language. Belgians under the guidance of a former Roman Catholic, Pere Joseph Rene Vilatte, were centered chiefly in Wisconsin near Green Bay, where several parishes had been organized. Under Monsignor Jan Francis Tichy and several assistant clergymen, a movement of Czech people with its headquarters at Cleveland, Ohio, was in the process of formation as early as 1890. Under Father Kozlowski in Chicago, Illinois, the largest group, mostly of Polish extraction, was making rapid progress. Anton Kozlowski had accepted the Old Catholic faith, along with 15 other priests who had left the Roman Church with him to guide the movement amongst American Poles. He was elected to be their Bishop and in 1897 he was consecrated in Berne, Switzerland, by BishopHerzog, who was assisted by Archbishop Gul of Utrecht and Bishop Weber of Bonn, Germany.

    “At the Old Catholic Congress of Olten, 1904, Bishop Kozlowski was accompanied by Mgr. Tichy who had been sent to the Old Catholics by the American Czechs as their Bishop-Elect to pray for consecration at their hands. In 1905, Mgr. Tichy was appointed by Archbishop Gul of Utrecht as Episcopal administrator of non-Polish Slavs in the United States with the purpose of bringing them over to Old Catholicism. He was subsequently consecrated as Bishop by Bishop Kozlowski for this work. With the death of the Polish Bishop in November of 1907, many of the Polish members of the movement fell into the defection of one of the clergy, Francis Hodur, who organized a movement now known as the Polish National Reformed Church in America.

    “In the meantime, a group of English-speaking Old Catholics were being gathered together by the untiring efforts of a former Roman Catholic monk, the learned Dom Augustine de Angelis (William Harding), who had organized a community of men devoted to the Religious Rule of St. Benedict at Waukegan, Illinois. This community and the missions under its care were received into the jurisdiction of Bishop Tichy in 1907. On St. Patrick’s Day, 1911, William Henry Francis, who had been elected Prior of the Community, was ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Tichy and on April 20th, 1913, he was consecrated Mitred Abbot. Upon the retirement of Bishop Tichy in 1914, Mgr. Francis was appointed to take charge of the diocese.

    “In 1914, Monsignor Francis was elected to be Consecrated Bishop of the Diocese formerly held by Bishop Tichy, whose ill health forced him to give up his duties. Since by this time relations between the American movement and the Old Catholic Church in England had been closely knit, and the strengthening of the bonds existing between them was desirable, the young Bishop-elect was to have gone to Europe for his Consecration. But the world war made such an undertaking impossible at the time and it was not until two years later that the opportunity of establishing the European Episcopate in America presented itself.

    “In the meantime, a Bishop of the Old Catholic Church, consecrated by Archbishop Mathew of England, had arrived in America. He was the Right Reverencd Bishop de Landas Berghes et de Rache, a prince of the house of Larraine-Brapant who was consecrated Old Catholic Bishop in Scotland, but whose relations with the Austrian Royal house marked him in Great Britain for possible internment. At the suggestion of the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop de Landas came to America late in the year of 1914 with letters of introduction from that English prelate to several sympathetic Protestant churchmen. He was received with great cordiality by the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York and was a guest for more than a year within his diocese. On Tuesday, January 12, 1915, by invitation of Bishop Greer, then Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop de Landas took part with 13 Protestant Episcopal Bishops at the Consecration of the Reverend Dr. Huse as missionary Bishop in Cuba of the Protestant Episcopal hurch, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. The Reverend W. E. Bentley, an Episcopalian minister, wrote in a current journal that, ‘the participation of Bishop de Landas in this event was of more than usual interest and importance, for it was the first time since the Reformation that a Bishop who is in communion with the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church and whose Orders are derived directly from Rome has taken part in an Anglican Consecration.’

    “In the spring of 1916, at the request of the European Old Catholic Bishops, Bishop de Landas took up residence with the Old Catholic community at Waukegan, Illinois, and, with the direct authorization of Archbishop Mathew of England, he consecrated Monsignor William Henry Francis to the Episcopate on October 3rd, 1916, in the community Church in the presence of a large congregation (friends and relatives of the present writer were also in attendance). Although Bishop de Landas was received with the greatest cordiality and respect by his many friends within Protestant communions to whom he always showed the greatest of Christian brotherliness, he received, as did all English-speaking Old Catholic Bishops, the implacable enmity of the ‘Living Church’ group within the Protestant Episcopal Church. Hounded by their bitterly malicious attacks wherever he went, Bishop de Landas, broken spirited and confused by their constant inconsistencies, at last accepted the haven generously offered him by a community of Augustinian monks at Villanova, Pennsylvania, where he retired until his death to a life of simplicity and prayer. His passing away in November of 1920 evoked this written message from the Augustinian superior to the sorrowing Old Catholic confreres of the Bishop at Waukegan, Illinois: ‘I do not know what was published in ‘The Living Church,’ but while he was with us he edified all by his humble, retiring and sincere manner of living. He sought no exemptions but performed all his duties as simply as the youngest and humblest Novice.’

    “With the passing away of Bishop de Landas, the weight of responsibility in administering the Movement was placed entirely in the hands of the young Bishop Francis of Waukegan. This young man had already distinguished himself by the exemplary work he had conducted in his missions and had earned the good wishes and friendship of many for the Old Catholic cause. Known to the people of the vicinity in which he worked and where as a child he came to reside with his family after their arrival from Nottingham, England, he had forsaken the opportunities of the business world to minister to the uncared for, exploited immigrants working in the steel mills of the Middle-West. There in the midst of the despised ‘foreigners’ his sympathetic understanding of their problems and his practical attempts to solve them made his mission bountiful in good works. At a meeting of the Old Catholic clergy in Chicago on January 7, 1917, when the Old Catholic Constitution was formally adopted and incorporated under the name of ‘The Catholic Church of North America (The Old Catholic Church in America)’ Bishop Francis was elected Archbishop and the Metropolitan American See was established.

    “Under the guidance of Archbishop Francis the Old Catholic Movement in America was freed from the bondage of language limitations. Poles, Lithuanians, Englishmen, Italians, Frenchmen, etc., were no longer delineated in separate groups within the movement, but each in his own tongue could hereafter speak to all the brethren.

    “From a heterogeneous group of transplanted and isolated foreigners, the Old Catholic Movement became a cohesive one, thoroughly aware of its responsibility to the needs of the age. Like the history of the making of the American nation, that of the Old Catholic Movement has been made of up of many tongues and many peoples to offer a spiritual haven of freedom and a home for all who sought refuge from the oppression of tyranny–and expression of religious liberty indigenous to the land it serves.