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American Independent Catholic Church

Using the American Orthodox Catholic Church name

Western Rite


The American Orthodox Catholic Church is part of the Universal Catholic Church. Its first Bishop, Archbishop Timetheos (Joseph R. Vilatte) was consecrated for the Americas on May 29, 1892 by Archbishop Alvarez, acting under mandate of the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, assisted by two bishops of the Church of Malabar (India). Since this consecration, there has been an unbroken succession of Bishops. In addition to its Syrian Roots, the American Orthodox Catholic Church also enjoys episcopal (meaning bishop) lineage from Greco-Russian-Ukrainian legacy of Archbishop Propheta. As late as July 21, 1952, Cardinal Mercati of the Vatican Library declared that All consecrations of the Syrian Jocobite Church are valid.

The American Orthodox Catholic Church Western Rite Diocese of New York is the legal corporation title of an American Independent Catholic Church which adheres to the catholic deposit of faith as revealed by God the Father, taught by Jesus Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit through tradition and scripture down through the centuries. Rooted in history of the best of tradition, our Diocese celebrates the Mass via the Tridentine Rite in Latin, and the Tridentine Rite in the Vernacular which has always been the case since the latter half of the 19th Century when the first bishop, Archbishop Timetheos began his missionary endeavors in mid-America bringing the catholic faith, free of error and prejudice, to those who sought a closer union with Christ. As was the mind of the first bishop, so too is ours in that the needs of the people are first and foremost, therefore although the Tridentine form of liturgy and devotions may be premiere, it is by no means exclusive, if legitimate needs of the faithful require an alternate Eucharistic expression today. Catholic Dogma cannot be changed, customary or disciplinary; canons are changeable according to the time, place, and needs of the followers of Jesus Christ. We preserve the best of the past, utilize the best of the present, and look with anticipation to the needs of the future. While some diversity in practice lives, there is always unity in faith, morals, and obedience to the Church.

In 1986, as a result of spiritual renewal in the American Orthodox Catholic Church Western Rite, a new rite of Mass was installed to meet contemporary needs. The new liturgy captures salvation history through its roots in Old Testament scripture, on through New Testament Christian witness and doctrine with a prophetic look to future events as expressed in the Book of Revelation. The new rite by no means replaces the venerable older Tridentine,but exists side by side so that conservatives and contemporaries alike may remain united under one roof utilizing either liturgical expression for their sacramental needs.

We are a church whose mandate from Jesus is to make the gospel message vibrant in the lives of our people, whatever walk they come from.

We are a church charged with bringing the good news of Divine Love to the unchurched, the alienated, the neglected, the forgotten, those (be they clergy or laity) who left or were forced to leave their original church homes and yet long for active ministry and service. For example, the divorcee and the married cleric (male or female)are no less important to the Kingdom of God than those from the mainstream who foster alienation. Our church is not for the angry or bitter or those who want the good old days exclusively without a look to the future. Our faith is that delicate balance of Word and sacrament, blending the best of traditional catholic worship with evangelical concern for the Christian walk and witness (Acts 2:42).

We are a church of canons and constitutions, the Denomination being flexible in its direction and molded by the dedication of the priests working with and advising the Bishop who is the spiritual father and shepherd to all, whose apostolic role of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying is critical to the special and individual needs of both the clergy and the laity. The Bishop tends his own parish family, the larger family of the priests and people of the Diocese. While obedience to the Bishop in matters of faith, morals, and discipline is expected of his priests, the Bishop includes them in the governance of the church, seeking their opinions, feelings, and concerns in that wider relationship of the family of God.


The Most Rev. Joseph J. Raffaele Metropolitan Primate

The Most. Rev. Joseph J. Raffaele serves as the Primate of the American Orthodox Catholic Church, Western Rite.

The role of the Archbishop is to serve as the head of the AOCC, lead the other bishops of the denomination, and preside over the major functions of the church.

Another term associated with archbishop is metropolitan. Metropolitan, in ecclesiastical language, refers to whatever relates to the metropolis, the principal city, or see, of an ecclesiastical province; thus we speak of a metropolitan church, a metropolitan chapter, a metropolitan official, etc. The word metropolitan, used without any qualificative, means the bishop of the metropolitan see, now usually styled archbishop.1

In addition, the Archbishop serves as the Bishop over New York and is the Rector of the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Great, located on Long Island in the city of Medford.

Also it should be noted that none listed herein are or have been associated with the Church Abp. Ofiesh originally headed. Abp. Ofiesh did not found or establish the Church as some claim.