Soli Deo Gloria!
I am Fr. Joe. I pray that you who read this will experience God's grace and peace in your life through our Lord Yeshua (Jesus).
I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but always in public school. Although I was clueless about many things, I was protected by the Holy Spirit by the faith of my parents and my baptism.
When I was in 7th grade our family left the Roman church for the Episcopal church. In high school I was evangelized by Baptists (Until that time I had not been led to explore a personal relationship with God). The "new life club" did not mention surrender, or Christ's lordship. It would be years later when I would pray to our heavenly Father to rule me and guide me. Still, I did start reading and talking about God's word. Some people in high school called me "Father Joe," though certainly in jest.
Over the years I attended Baptist, Episcopalian, non-denominational, United Methodist, Charismatic Calvinist (Covenant Life), and Presbyterian churches. I sang in church choirs and worship teams. The teachings from Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD really had an impact. They taught me to be serious about doctrine, available to the Holy Spirit, and committed to Christian relationships. My view that church is more than Sunday morning comes from the examples of the godliest people I have ever met.
While still attending CLC, I started exploring my roots; especially sacramental theology. With CLC's commitment to putting the gospel into practice, I was surprised they were so dismissive of sacramental theology.
God then led me to move away from Gaithersburg. I decided to return to the Roman Catholic church. I felt a call on my life to be in a church where the personal piety and relationship building of CLC would meet the reverence and mystery of catholic churches. I had never seen such a church. I started to sense the call to design just such a church, though I could not see what form it would take.
If I was going to become a teacher, I needed to be careful that my own teachings would not be contrary to the scriptures. I challenged myself to read what Catholic apologists said the church teaches, rather than what anti-catholic writers said. I revised some of my personal beliefs after proving myself wrong.
About that time, my father became a priest in the Old Catholic line of succession, and then a bishop. Here was a Catholic church that dismissed as unnecessary all of the Roman innovations since the Great Schism of 1054 (while allowing them in personal worship). Here was the best kept secret in Catholicism: that you could be Catholic and not be under the Vatican's authority. Here was a church with which I could affiliate.
Now, let me be clear that the issue with Rome is not the authority of the church. I believe that too many false teachings are required by the Roman Catholic Church. In conscience I cannot agree to them, nor pretend that I do.
I became a deacon soon after that. Five years later I found myself ready to pass on what I have come to believe. I became a priest.
I continue to challenge myself on what I believe. Life is a journey.
This site was last updated 06/16/07