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 About Us

   This is an informal history of the Contemplative Community of St. Francis & St. Therese. I hope it will answer most of your questions and help you decide if joining us is something you're interested in.
 The Community was started by Timothy Connelly, less than two years after being consecrated a Bishop by Bishop Bruce Campbell of the Corpus Christi Ecumenical Fellowship.

   In order to understand why we call ourselves Catholic- let's go back to the life of Our Lord. Jesus had selected 12 Apostles, who were set apart specifically to lead the Church. In the Gospel of John, from chapter 14 through chapter 17, His teachings to the Apostles are recorded in some detail. I believe this clearly shows that the early Church was Apostolic in nature. Because the New Testament wouldn't become Scripture until the beginning of the 4th Century, it was vitally important that the truths and traditions were brought forth accurately to reflect the vision of Jesus. That was the job of the Apostles- to set forth those truths and traditions, and to replace themselves in the process.
   The replacements for the Apostles were assigned the office of Bishop. Once a person became a Bishop, their responsibility to lead according to their own vision of Christ's Will was in play. Because of this, the Church was never intended to be something that everyone followed with no possibility of disagreement or of a different vision.
   There have always been liberals and conservatives. There has always been room for different opinions and viewpoints. When the Church got away from that- it lost something of tremendous value. Diversity of perspective is critically important in helping people develop their individuality and quite simply- to help them grow as they make their own choices.
   Was Peter the first Pope? I believe he was. There is plenty of biblical evidence that the other Apostles saw him as their leader. He was set apart by Jesus in the Gospel of John in the 21st chapter. But Peter's role was so unique that I don't think he was meant to be replaced. It was he who announced that the Holy Spirit had arrived on the day of Pentecost. It was he who brought Cornelius- a Gentile- into the Church.
Peter performed his job brilliantly but not infallibly. In Galiatians, Paul corrects him on a matter involving the Gentiles. Despite his leadership, Peter was certainly not above making mistakes. But no one else had the experience of walking with Jesus that Peter had. No one else who could replace him as pope had walked on water- if only briefly- or seen the Transfiguration- or watched Jesus sink a ship with an incredible haul of fish.
   There would have to be new leaders but a pope? Peter's position was unique and even when a group of Cardinals get together to choose a replacement leader, he can never be for the Church what Peter was. That is why in 1870, when the Pope was declared infallible by the Roman Catholic Church, a group of Bishops realized that this teaching changed the basic structure of things to such an extent that leaving the group was the best solution available.
   The Old Catholic Church was borne out of this and that is the parent ministry of our group. Do we agree with all their teachings or even belong to the same organization at this time? No. In time, the Old Catholic Church broke off into many differnt factions and our group is simply one of them. Is this a problem? Well, it is in terms of having influence and affluence. But in terms of having truth, it isn't a problem at all.
   Being a Christian should never be about conformity. It should never be about following teachings you sincerely believe to be outdated or wrong. Following Christ needs to be a matter of struggling to discover your own vision of Christ's truth, of following the Holy Spirit to the deepest levels of your own understanding. It means finding a Bishop that you trust and believe in. It means having the courage to wrestle with the truth and living your life in accordance with your own best understanding.
   Because of that, we have no quarrel with the Roman Catholic Church. Their leaders are teaching to the best of their understanding (when it's working and not simply being a part of the always fallible, sin filled race for power that all groups- including ours- can fall prey to) and the people in the pews are living out their vision of what Christ wants from them according to their understanding. That is no different from our Protestant friends who look to the Scriptures to define their vision of Christ's Will for them, or from us who look to the Spirit, to Scripture and to the leadership of our Bishops. We are all fallible and capable of being wrong- no one has a monopoly on Truth.
   My own background begins as a boy born and raised Roman Catholic. I had a great love for the Church but always had problems with what I perceived as bureacracy. As I grew older and struggled with discovering my place in the world, I left the Church and sought truth from Buddhism, from Krishna Concsciousness, from Protestantism and from many blind and stupid alleys- all of which taught me something of value.
   I came into the Independent Catholic world through the late Bishop Bruce Campbell of the Corpus Christi Ecumenical Fellowship. I was consecrated as a Bishop on March 25, 2014 and started the United Fellowship of Contemplative Christians in 2015. Bishop William Conner has been an Independent Catholic Bishop for 16 years and joined me shortly after I started the group. I have had the benefit of his leadership and counseling as I've moved forward with my vision of this ministry.
   Our third leader, Monsignor Mary Janessa Howard heads up the Contemplative Community of St. Francis & St. Therese. Her background is that of someone who received her calling in her 30's and had to wait more than 25 years to fulfill it. Her great love for the Monastic life has inspired me and helped to shape my understanding of where this ministry should go.
   Our purpose is to push forward a ministry of deeper, more authentic prayers to build deeper, more authentic Christians. Our prayers hold a special focus on the Divine Office- a daily set of 8 prayers that strengthen our humility, our ability to forgive and our ability to surrender to Him who died for us. If you are happy where you are at, we ask that you change nothing but still invite you to pray with us when the occasion permits. If you find within what we teach and believe something that seems right for you, then welcome. We ask no questions to see if you qualify. Pray with us and develop a deeper, richer walk with Christ as you go along.
   For those who feel inspired to live a monastic life- either as monks or nuns, brothers or sisters- our Order might be just what you're looking for. It is Contemplative, meaning it is prayer and wisdom based- taking on all the aspects of a meditative life but lived out in the world. We gather together once a year in the first week of September to pray, praise and worship and to celebrate the Unity of our Community. We pray daily the Divine Office prayers as we commit ourselves to living for Christ.

Bishop Tim Connelly
January 6, 2017