Questions & Answers
with The Primate of The Church
Most Reverend Andrew Hall OSFS
The Primate and the newly ordained Fr Max.
1. Are you in Communion with the Roman Catholic Church, or the Anglican Communion?
To be in 'Communion' means to be in union, in harmony, in agreeance and in this instance, with said Churches. From a legal perspective, the answer is "No". We (The Reformed Old Catholic Church) have no agreement or 'fraternal relations' with these Churches. And that suits us fine; the so-called historical baggage or various identities i.e. what identifies the Roman Church and the Anglican Communion remain with these Institutions and not us. That is not to say we have no connection with them entirely. We do work with some of their clergy and parishioners and are involved in joint prayer services.
Our succession meets up with theirs, which is inevitable as we both claim a lineage back to the same Apostles.
2. Will I receive a stipend or wage from the Church?
If you are working in a parish in the capacity of an office administrator or sexton, then a contract will be set-up by the parish council and a wage agreed to, based on the nation's employment laws.
It is against Church policy to pay Clergy a salary for the services they render in priestly ministry. Simony which is the selling of sacred items or expectation of finances in exchange for liturgical roles, the Church deems a sin. However, it would be a breach of charity to expect a priest to fulfill some liturgical role and not contribute towards their accommodation, travel and/or food.
Established parishes are autonomous in their financial set-ups. They may have the resources to provide financially for a priest to serve their parish but may also seek other employment, particularly with a family. This is at the discretion of the parish council in conjunction with the Bishop. The Church otherwise does not provide either a stipend or a wage.
3. Will I get help with the cost of vestments?
As a member of the clergy of this Church, there may be some assistance. It is customary for the members of a priest's family to provide the sacred vestments necessary for the work, or they can be loaned from another member of clergy.
4. Will I receive startup funds to build a parish?
This is more a question of jurisdiction. When a priest is ordained, they do not automatically take possession of, or establish a parish. The bishop may assign the newly ordained to assist a Parish Priest or set-up an oratory and invite the Faithful to attend Mass and other such liturgical ceremonies. When it is deemed of such a size as to extend the oratory into a parish, then the bishop will invite the Priest to establish a parish (in consultation with the Parish Council) and be given jurisdiction to preside over it.
5. Are Priests permitted to be married?
A married person may discern a vocation to the priesthood including after ordination. However, discerning a vocation involves the significant other and they too must be included in the discussion and talks with the Bishop and Vocations Director.
6. Does the Church ordain women?
Yes; providing the Bishop has accepted their request and they have undergone the necessary requirements and prerequisites to be a candidate for Holy Orders. There is no discrimination on rank, fortune, ability or disability, position, gender or orientation.
7. How do I begin studies for the priesthood?
There are two ways to enter priestly ministry. In both circumstances, first make contact with the website. The administrator will put you in touch with the vocations director or the local bishop. They will advise the following:
(a) Make contact with a trained spiritual director and seek their advice. In most circumstances, it is a priest, but there are lay spiritual directors. The recommendation will be for you to enter seminary or undertake some formal education in philosophy and theology. The Church has a Seminary and it would be advisable to look at their website and make enquiries. If you have some studies under your belt and are transferring/cross crediting, discuss this with the vocations director or bishop.
(b) Make contact with a trained spiritual director and seek their advice. In most circumstances, it is a priest, but there are lay spiritual directors. The recommendation will be for you to not enter seminary, your practical experience in life qualifies you. However, it would be good to do some papers or attend seminars to be informed in ministry.
8. I live abroad. Can the Church help me to immigrate or claim asylum?
For legal reasons we are obliged to say, "No". Otherwise, we would be bombarded with endless applications and we're simply not in a position to cater for this. Please check the regulations of the country of choice regarding these matters and seek legal advice.
9. I have a criminal conviction; can I still be considered a candidate for Holy Orders?
Let's take a look at the people God has called over the centuries. Noah got drunk (Gen. 9:21); Abraham was old (Gen 18:11); Isaac was a daydreamer (Gen. 22:1-14); Jacob was a liar (Gen. 24:19-34; 27:1-41); Leah was ugly (Gen. 29:16-35); Joseph was abused (Gen. 39); Moses had a stutter (Ex. 4:10-13); Gideon was afraid (Judges 6:15); Samson had long hair and was a womaniser (Judges 13-16); Rahab was a prostitute (Josh. 2:1); Jeremiah and Timothy were too young (Jer. 1:6-8; I Tim. 4:12); David was an adulterer and a murderer (II Sam. 11-12); Elijah was suicidal (I Kgs. 19:4); Isaiah preached naked (Is. 20:2-4); Jonah ran from God (Jonah 1:3-17); Naomi was a widow (Ruth 1-4); Job went bankrupt (Job 1:13-22); John the Baptist ate bugs (Mt. 3:4); Peter denied Christ (Lk. 22:54-62); The disciples fell asleep while praying (Mt. 26:40); Martha worried about everything (Lk. 10:41); The Samaritan woman was divorced (Jn. 4:17-18); Zacchaeus was too small (Lk. 19:3); Paul was too religious (Acts 26:24-25); Timothy had an ulcer (I Tim. 5:23) and Lazarus was dead (Jn. 11).
Okay, the above may be a little far-fetched, but the emphasis is on God who calls people from wherever they are at. There is no hard and fast answer for this. It depends on the nature of the conviction. The important thing to keep in mind is, if a person believes they have a vocation, they should know that it demands integrity, honesty and transparency. They will need the support of their parish priest, references and ultimately the bishop's permission to proceed. Please contact us.
10. Can a member of clergy become engaged with political parties?
There are two parts to this question:
(a) If a member of clergy seeks to be elected in some political organisation, courtesy would dictate that the cleric contacts their bishop or superior and discuss with them their intentions. They must resign their position (if they are priests with jurisdiction i.e., parish priest or vicar-general etc...) and request a suspension of faculties before they make submissions to be elected for political office. If the individual chooses to be re-instated to clerical orders, this is at the discretion of the local ordinary.
(b) A member of clergy may publicise their party-political preferences. However, they are not permitted to push or impose their preferences in an arena they would not have been able to access had they not been clergy. In some circumstances the bishops may voice their concerns over certain laws that are against moral and Divine laws, such as the manner in which a country or state enforces the death penalty, or abortion laws. This is not a political agenda but rather one of morals.