General History
- Established by our Precious and Life-Giving Lord Jesus Christ, and continued by the Holy Apostles and their successors, and perpetuated by the Holy Spirit through the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, a.k.a. Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, it is the second largest and oldest Christian Church in the world. It dates back to Jesus Christ. The Christian Church, as founded by Christ God originally consisted of five patriarchates  being those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople (New Rome), and Rome. Rome was a valuable part of the Holy Church from its beginning but the Roman Patriarchate broke from Orthodoxy in A.D. 1054. The Orthodox Church itself has a continuous and unbroken existence down to the present time free from any post-schism reformations as in the West. The Orthodox Church knows nothing of such tremendous upheaval as the Roman (Latin) Church experienced during and after the Reformation. Orthodox theology and canon laws are based upon those tenets and doctrines approved at the Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (A.D. 325), Constantinople (A.D. 381),  Ephesus (A.D. 431), Chalcedon (A.D. 451), Constantinople (A.D. 553), Constantinople (A.D. 680), and Nicea (A.D. 787). In all, Orthodox Christianity accepts as universally binding the First Three Ecumenical Councils of the early Church, as is the case in our jurisdiction. Thousands upon thousands of  Orthodox Christians have sealed their faith with their own blood. History reveals that no other branch of the Christian Church has given so many martyrs who have died for Christ God. Yet many know little about this ancient Christian faith dating back to our Lord. In reality, as said by Metropolitan Archbishop Joseph of Blessed Memory in 1980, "All Christians by heredity are Orthodox, however many have left and we pray for their return home."

Orthodoxy was the state religion of Russia until the Revolution in 1917 when many churches were closed and many priests and laity suffered martyrdom. Atheism was promoted by the goverment throughout the land. Today most churches have been returned to the Russian Orthodox Church and it flourishes once again throughout Russia. In addition to Russian Orthodox, there are many other  jurisdictions which belong to the Orthodox Christian (Catholic) Church. However, not all are "patriarchal" as many are autocephalous, autonomous, and there also exist the Oriental Orthodox Churches.  Among the Eastern Orthodox groups are the Greek, Serbian, Italo-Albano, Ukrainian, Polish, Finnish, Japenese, Syrian-Antiochian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Romanian, Albanian, Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic, Korean, and the Eastern Orthodox, and others who fall under the collective term "Eastern Orthodox"; and the Armenian, Ethiopian, Malankarese, Syrian, and Coptic (Copts) who are referred to as "Oriental Orthodox" i.e., those who have rejected the Council of Chalcedon, and those following, mostly over the semantics dealing with the two natures of Christ God. Although united in faith, not all jurisdictions are in communion with one another because of political or administrative differences. There are many other jurisdictions not mentioned above which also are part of the Holy Orthodox Church. One must be aware that there are also some imposters who use the words "Orthodox and Catholic" and misrepresent their particular religious bodies which are not part of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church. Such charlatans have added other words, e.g., Ecumenical, Apostolic, Old Catholic, or Reformed to "Orthodox" to name a few. They are in some cases heretics who are "Orthodox" in name only - but not in faith, and are mostly schismatic groups from the Roman Church. Many of these also claim succession from Old Catholic hierarchy which are, in many cases, not recognized by Rome, the Union of Utrecht, or the Eastern Orthodox Church. 

Eastern Orthodox Catholic Archdiocse History - The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church was always an American jurisdiction with many foreign missions. It has always allowed the use of the vernacular in all religious services. It's orders originate from the Syrian and Russian (Greek) Chuches. It's  beginning as an Orthodox jurisdiction in America began on May 29, 1892, when Father Joseph (Vilathi), a priest who served the Belgian congregations of Little Sturgeon and Green Bay Wisconsin, was summoned to Ceylon to be consecrated the first Bishop for the Church in America. The consecration took place at the Church of Our Lady of Good Death, Colombo Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and was done canonically resulting  from a Bull issued by His Holiness Ignatius Peter III, Patriarch of the Orthodox Syrian Church of Antioch. He was consecrated by Archbishop Julius Alvarez I (a Portugese convert to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism), Archbishop Paul Athanasius (Bishop of Kottayam), and Archbishop George Gregorius (Bishop of Niranam) who was later canonized a saint of the Indian (Malankara) Church. The Bull authorizing the consecration was issued on December 29, 1891 and he was given the name "Timotheos". The American Church eventually separated from the Orthodox Syrian Church over politics and a difference of opinion regarding the Council of Chalcedon, which the American Church accepted along with all seven Ecumenical Councls. So, Archbishop Timotheos was appointed Archbishop for the Americas by Patrairch Ignatius Peter III, and.he returned to the United States and continued to establish parishes in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and New York. Many of these parishes still stand today, although some have been sold or taken over by other denominations during some trying times experienced after the death of Archbishop Timotheos on July 8, 1929. The Church was originally known as the "American Orthodox Catholic Archdiocese," but because of several schisms which caused various unorthodox groups to form, the Church was later renamed and restructured. Today, the name American Orthodox Catholic Church is used by many Old Catholic groups.

Although the Apostolic Succession of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church dates back to His Eminence Archbishop Timotheos (Vilathi), Proto-Metropolitan Archbishop of the Church in the United States, who brought the Syrian Succession to the American Church, it also possesses succession from the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church from Archbishop Konstantin (Wendland). The Russian Succession comes into the Church through Archbishop John (Skureth) who was born on January 8, 1933, and after years of education and priestly formation and eventual ordination to priest in the Antiochian Orthodox Church of America under Metropolitan Archbishop Michael (Shaheen), he was later consecrated by Bishop William Henry Francis Brothers, a Bishop in the Vilathi Succession. Father Skureth immediately began establishing missions and promoting the Church throughout Northern Indiana where he established Holy Martyrs of Port Royal Cathedral. After a time of dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, it was decided that he be regularized by them and made a Bishop. On April 17, 1966, he was consecrated a Bishop by Archbishop Konstantin Nikolaevich (Wendland) of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, assisted by Archbishop Dosifej (Ivanchenko) in New York. Archbishop John served the Church for several years as pastor of Holy Martyrs of Port Royal Cathedral, Gary Indiana, which was a beautiful structure that was sold and razed in the 1970's becoming a parking lot for Mercy Hospital. Holy Martyrs Church, Hobart Indiana, later became the new parish founded by Archbishop John. He also, before this in Michigan City Indiana, served St. George Syrian Orthodox Church (Antiochian Archdiocese). It was Archbishop John who later consecrated Joseph Gabriel Sokolowski who eventually became the fifth Metropolitan Archbishop of the Church.

Archbishop Joseph was born on October 27, 1903, in Kracow Poland, and came to the United States in 1913. He first studied with the Roman Catholic Franciscans of Pulaski Wisconsin, and although he loved the old traditions of Roman Catholicism, he entered Orthodox Catholicism in the 1950's. After joining the Orthodox Catholic Church, he founded St. Paul the Apostle Monastery (Rolling Prairie Indiana) around 1955, and was ordained deacon on February 13, 1957 by Most Reverend Stephan (Siniotis), and on May 22, 1961 he was ordained priest by Most Reverend Francis Resch of the Independent Diocese of Kankakee Illinois. Father Sokolowski labored day after day for nearly thirty-five years building shrines and chapels on the over six acres of land that was owned by St. Paul's Orthodox Catholic Monastery in Rolling Prairie Indiana. He toiled effortlessly to create gardens of beauty that attracted many thousands of people annually from all faiths. The monastery was listed in the "Guide to Indiana Attractions". To support the monastery, he collected and sold antiques for many years until his death. On December 16, 1964, he was named Abbot General of the Oblates of St. Benedict and on March 16, 1970, he was consecrated Bishop by Archbishop John, who was assisted by Bishop Francis. Bishop Joseph continued to work the monastery grounds and celebrate liturgies each Sunday. Because of the various ethnic groups that visisted St Paul's he would often celebrate Liturgy in English, Polish, and even Latin. Eventually, St. Mary's Chapel was erected on the same grounds which was adorned with many antique icons and other religious artifacts, and attracted people from Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and many other states and foreign countries to see the beauty he created. Although robbed several times by those he took in and gave comfort to, he continued to keep the grounds open and available to all who wished to visit. In the early 1980's, arthritis captured the health of Archbishop Joseph, but he continued to work and celebrate the Holy Mysteries  although assisted by other clergy in the last two years of his life until his death on April 2, 1989.  Archbishop Joseph consecrated three Bishops: Stanislaus Bullock, Tage Howes, and Stephen Thomas, the latter of which was elected and enthroned as sixth Metropolitan Archbishop and Protohierarch by  Metropolitan Archbishop Joseph  in 1987, just before his death.

On October 18, 1987, Bishop-elect Stephen was consecrated by Archbishop Joseph, assisted by Archbishop George of Chicago Illinois and Bishop Norman of Indiana, at St. Mary's Chapel in Rolling Prairie Indiana. Bishop Stephen was previously ordained deacon and priest in the Greek Orthodox Church (Ecumenical Patriarchate) at Holy Cross-St. Andrew's Greek Orthodox Church, Chicago Illinois in January 1976. However, after the death of his ordaining prelate, Bishop Timotheos of Rodostolon of Blessed Memory, the jealousy of another local priest and politics and unwarranted demands of a new administration soon caused him to leave the Greek Orthodox Church and incardinate temporarily under Archbishop Pangratios who made him an Archimandrite, but a few years later he joined with Archbishop Joseph. Archbishop Stephen consecrated Bishops Douglas (O'Connor) of Blessed Memory, Anthony (DeLuca) now schismatic and deposed, George (Singleton) now schismatic and deposed, John (Sowrimuthu),  John (Utz), and Timothy (Kjera). In August of 2007 His Beatitude will consecrate Archimandrite Cyril (Cranshaw) to the Holy Episcopacy and will become the first Bishop of Central and South America. He wll serve the Metroplia as an Auxiliary Bishop. The Coadjutor of the Metropolia, Bishop Timothy, in October 2006, consecrated Bishop Simeon of Cleveland OH assisted by Romanian Bishop Stefan and Byelorussian Archbishop Jovan. There are over 25,000 faithful represented in the Church in. the Archdiocese of  the Americas & Diaspora that includes the Diocese of Cuba, Diocese of India, Diocese of Nigeria, and the Vicariates of Pakistan,  Kenya, Congo, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Spain, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Synod of Bishops oversees seminaries and schools in various countries, e.g., Holy Trinity Seminary in Pakistan, St Mark - Romano Byzantine College (USA), St Mark-Romano Byzantine College Extension of Canada (Ontario),  St. Basil Seminary (Cuba), St Vasilios Seminary and University (Greece), St Nicholas-Romano Byzantine Institute of Tanzania, and Hellenic Orthodox University and St. Dionyssios Seminary both of Greece. The Dean of Academic Affairs is Dr Basil Gikas. In addition, the Synod oversees the work of the Commission on Religious Counseling & Healing, the Metropolia Canon Law Society, and the Christ the Pantocrator Sovereign Order of Chivalry, under the current administration of Father Eric Demetrios Wruch DC.

Customs and Beliefs
- The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite jurisdiction, i.e., it uses the Eastern Orthodox rituals and the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. It does allow the Liturgy of St Peter to be used by parishes that were originally formed as Western Rite. The  Liturgy of Saint John was modified for use by the Synod. The Liturgy of Saint Basil is celebrated ten times a year as with all other Orthodox Christian Churches. The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church differs from some other Eastern Rites in liturgical dress. Priests wear a white alb, stole (epitrachelion), and chasuble (phelonion) as do all jurisdictions, and has always allowed the wearing of a zone or a cincture, and cuffs are optional but have become more endorsed by the Metropolia since January 2007. As with some other jurisdictions, and according to ancient Byzantine custom, bishops and priests wear the same liturgical vestments with the exception that bishops also wear the Pectoral Cross, Panaghia, Omophorion, Eepigonation, and Zzucchetto (Bishop's Scufa). The Mitre is worn by bishops, and the Saccos is worn by the bishops, replacing the phelon (chasuble), for ordination and certain religious events. The Church follows Byzantine tradition in the administration of the Sacraments (Holy Mysteries), and Baptism, Chrismation, and Holy Communion are given together, to both infants and adults being baptized. Married men may be ordained to the Order of Deacon and Order of Priest, but are no longer free to marry once ordained to the diaconate. Holy Unction is administered to the sick and dying by priests. Only monastic (celibate or unmarried) priests may be ordained (consecrated) bishops of the Church. Priests whose wives pass on must remain celibate and then also become eligible for the Holy Episcopacy. As with all Churches of Orthodox Faith women are not allowed to be ordained because of tradition and the decrees of the early Church Fathers.

It is a teaching of the Church (based on biblical facts) that prayer, fasting, good nutrition, and herbs are necessary for good health and wellness. The first Protohierarch of the United States, Metropolitan Archbishop Timotheos (Vilathi), was himself a skilled doctor of Chiropractic. So theocentric healing has always been part of the healing ministry of the jurisdiction. Hyperveneration is given to icons, and statues are not allowed. It is a scriptural Church which teaches that both faith and good works are necessary for salvation.  The Church believes that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Theotokos, was the birth-giver of our Lord Jesus Christ and remained ever-virgin. Although her conception was immaculate and of the Holy Spirit, Orthodox do not accept the Roman dogma of "Immaculate Conception" as only Christ was born without sin. Communion is given to the faithful under both species, Body (Bread) and Blood (Wine), and the Real Presence is believed. The Church has one "religious community" of monks and nuns, The Monastic Community of Saint Basil, which is headquartered at St John's Monastery in Nicaragua. Nuns of the Monastic Community are referred to as the Sisters of the Community of St Basil and are headquartered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Africa) at St Mary Mother of God Convent. There is a community of "lay religious" known as the Companions of St Basil open to married or single men and women. The Church follows the Julian Calendar for ecclesiastical matters and does not regard the Gregorian Calendar as sinful. The Church strongly believes in the Separation of Church and State, and owes its total existence and obedience to Almighty God.

The Metropolia is in communion with the Byelorussian Orthodox Autocephalous Church in Exile (ArchbBishop Jovan), and the Belarusan Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Archbishop Jovan), and some others. Through the Council of Canonical Autocephalous Orthodox Bishops it enjoys dialogue with the American Orthodox Catholic Church (Archbishop Samuel); Christian Orthodox Church (Bishop Ignatius); Holy Orthodox Church - Former Exarchate of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria (Archbishop Anthony); and Norhteastern Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic Church (Archbishop Paul). It is also in dialogue with several other jurisdictions. 

Apostolic Succession and Traditions - The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church first traces its Apostolic Succession back to St Peter the Apostle through the Syrian Orthodox Church and Catholicate and His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Peter III of Antioch. This was brought to America in the person of Archbishop Timotheos (Vilathi) who was our first Archbishop Metropolitan. Secondly, but equally as important, comes Apostolic Succession from the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, as it was called in the 1960's, through Archbishop Constantin and Archbishop Dosifej both of the Russian Orthodox Succession from St Andrew. This succession came into our Church through Archbishop John (Skureth) who was consecrated through Archbishops Konstantin and Dosifej in 1966.  It is because of these two historic facts that both the Syrian and Russian Successions are contained in our Church.

Although our Succession comes from the Syrian Church, and later the Russian Church, we have always been an American Orthodox Catholic Church being the first to allow the vernacular in all liturgical and paraliturgical services dating back to before 1892. The Church in America has always used English but permitted ethnic parishes to use thier native languages as well. The Church itself uses liturgical customs from the Syrian, Russian, and Greek Churches, and has also allowed some Western customs that date back to when the jurisdiction had many Western Rite parishes. The Syro-Russan Orthodox Catholic Church diffes slightly from some others in tradition, e.g., priests and bishops may wear the phelon (chasuble) when celebrating the Divne Liturgy (St John Chrysostom) as was the practice in the early Byzantine Church. Bishops do wear the "Saccos" when performing the Rite of Ordination and at certain other religious events. More recently, the Metropolia authorized the use of the zone which may be worn to replace the wearing of the cincture at Liturgy, and cuffs may also be worn breaking a long tradition of not wearing them by our clergy. However, these are traditions not to be confused with doctrines or faith, which must be the same in all Orthodox Christian Churches.

Those interested in forming a mission parish or becoming a member of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church, or subscribing to the "Orthodox Christian Herald" a publication of the Synod, may request additional information by writing to:

The Editor
Orthodox Christian Herald
456 Nimick Street
Sharon PA 16146