Cells: the concept

“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in an address to the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, June 1972

The Old Roman apostolate and its Operation Fidem Servare seeks to serve the current diaspora of Traditional Catholics across every nation and continent of the world who are disaffected, or who feel isolated or alienated from their local parishes due to the Modernist crisis prevalent in the Church today.

The Old Roman apostolate emphasises the importance of lay involvement in the Church and strives to empower the laity to actively participate in the faith. Operation Fidem Servare encourages lay Catholics to embrace their Christian vocation and contribute to the renewal and restoration of unity in the Church and an end to the current crisis.

Trusting in Christ’s promises

Trusting in the promises of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of the Old Roman apostolate anywhere is the Cell, a small group of at least two or three individual Catholic Christians committed to the principles of Operation Fidem Servare or “preserving the faith.”

“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

St Matthew 18:20

Each cell serves as a foundation locally for a wider apostolate, acting as an initial unit of support, teaching, and fellowship. These cells are typically formed by individuals who share a common commitment to the Catholic faith, its realisation in traditional devotion and praxis, and a desire to spread its teachings. By meeting together, they strengthen their own faith and unite in their mission to live and preserve authentic Catholicism.

The idea of the cell system is rooted in the early Christian communities, who would gather in small groups to worship learn, and support one another (see Acts 2:42-47). This model provides for a more intimate and personal form of spiritual growth, fostering a strong sense of community among its members.

And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers… Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord increased daily together such as should be saved.

Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47

Within each cell, members engage in various activities aimed at nurturing their faith and passing it on to others. These activities include regular prayer meetings, Bible studies, discussions on Catholic doctrine, and outreach programs to share the message of the faith with others through acts of corporal and spiritual mercy.

Most importantly the members will meet socially together regularly, to pray, share meals and through their conversation receive support and encouragement to develop individually and collectively their faith and its realisation; to build a family of Christians.

Rebuilding the Church: living stones

Amidst wars, moral corruption and materialistic pursuits, St. Francis received a divine message from Christ Himself. He heard the command, “Francis, go and rebuild my Church.” This call resonates with our present time, mirroring the challenges and chaos that surround us.

Yet St Francis had invaluable advice, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” These words offer a guiding light, inspiring us to make a difference and initiate change, however daunting the task may seem.

Through the establishment of cells, the Old Roman apostolate aims to create a network of interconnected communities that collectively work towards the preservation and perpetuation of the Catholic faith. By nurturing individual faith and fostering fellowship, the cells play a vital role in ensuring that the Catholic faith continues to thrive and inspire generations by relaying a firm foundation upon Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22).

“Be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:5

The term living stones in 1 Peter 2:5 is used as a metaphor to illustrate the secure and intimate relationship believers have with Christ, Who is described in the previous verse as the “living Stone” (1 Peter 2:4). Together, these two verses picture how Christ and His followers are joined by God Himself, the foundation of God’s building is His Son, Jesus Christ, the “living Stone.” The “living stones,” in turn, are believers who come to Jesus and place their lives upon this foundation.

Believers, then, are the “living stones” of the church that Jesus promised to build upon (Matthew 16:18). As living stones, we have new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As integral parts of the building of God, we have security in Christ (John 6:37). As the Master Builder, God places His living stones just where He wants us to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). As living stones, we are connected to one another in the body of Christ (Romans 12:5). Our Lord, the foundation Stone, is alive forevermore and will never crumble. He will support us eternally.

The Old Roman apostolate in its effort toward the restoration of the Church regards each “living stone” founded upon Christ by baptism as integral to its mission, and each group of “living stones” as a foundation upon which to build “a spiritual house” a worldwide oratory that will glorify God, make reparation to Jesus, and bring souls to salvation.

“Other Sheep I Have”

In addition to the cell system, the Old Roman apostolate also emphasizes the importance of evangelization and spreading the message of Catholicism beyond the confines of the cell groups. This can be achieved through various means, such as organizing retreats, hosting public talks, engaging in charitable activities, and utilizing modern communication platforms to reach a wider audience.

The Old Roman apostolate sees itself as of ancillary service to the Church, not an alternative, and to this end, any Catholic minded toward Tradition as the answer to the current crisis is welcome to join a cell and participate in the activities of the wider apostolate. Whether they belong to a conventional parish, a Traditional Catholic mission or parish or attend an Old Roman mission or oratory. All are welcome who are willing to work toward the restoration and unity of the Church.

Cells may be supported by an Old Roman priest who will visit as often as may be practicable or members may travel regularly together to an Old Roman mission to receive the sacraments. It is not required that members receive the sacraments exclusively from Old Roman priests. Ultimately cells belong to an administrative area of the apostolate, a territory or region overseen by a traditional Catholic bishop who both guarantees the provision of sacraments according to the traditional rites, and assures the orthodoxy of teaching and praxis.

The principles of Operation Fidem Servare together with the Cell system, and through evangelism, the Old Roman apostolate seeks to create a vibrant and resilient Catholic community that remains faithful to its mission and actively works towards preserving and spreading the faith. Through the dedication and efforts of individual cells, the Catholic faith can continue to flourish and inspire future generations to embrace its precepts and values.

In this way the great work envisioned by Pope Leo XIII may be realised;

This good and great work requires to be helped also by the industry of those among the laity in whom a love of religion and of country is joined to learning and goodness of life. By uniting the efforts of both clergy and laity, strive, Venerable Brethren, to make men thoroughly know and love the Church…

Pope Leo XII, encyclical “Humanum genus” April 20th,1884

Join the Old Roman Apostolate: Embrace Tradition, Grow in Holiness!

Are you a traditional Catholic seeking to deepen your faith and engage in Christian outreach? Look no further!

Join the Old Roman Apostolate and our Operation Fidem Servare, be part of a sacred mission to preserve and promote traditional Catholic doctrine and praxis. Embrace the opportunity to deepen your faith, engage in Christian outreach, and experience the richness of traditional Catholic culture.

As an apostolate, we are dedicated to upholding the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and spreading the Good News to all nations. By joining us, you will have avenues to actively participate in spreading the Gospel, showing God’s love and mercy to those in need. Together, let us revive the missionary spirit and save the Church.

The Old Roman Apostolate is inviting you to join us on a journey of personal holiness and authentic Catholic culture. At the Old Roman Apostolate, we cherish the timeless traditions of the Church and promote traditional piety. As a member, you’ll have the opportunity to experience and grow in the richness of traditional Catholic doctrine and praxis.

Our communities foster fellowship, providing a supportive environment for your spiritual growth. Through our various avenues for service, you can actively participate in Christian outreach, making a positive difference in the world. Whether it’s within your family, neighbourhood, local community, one of our Mission parishes, or territories we offer opportunities or support for you to utilize your talents and passions in service to others.

Join us in preserving and promoting the beauty of the Catholic faith. Together, we can develop our personal holiness, strengthen our understanding of Tradition, and impact the world with the love of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Contact us today to embark on this inspiring journey with the Old Roman Apostolate!

Organisation of the Old Roman apostolate

The Old Roman apostolate is organised globally into regions and territories with episcopal administrators who oversee the work and life of the clergy, missions, cells and oratories of the faithful. It is a completely voluntary endeavour, the faithful and clergy give of their time, talents, skills, abilities and monies as they feel inspired to, and as may be necessary for the fulfilment of the mission.

A Cell: two or three individuals living in close proximity to each other, who meet together on a regular basis to pray and enjoy fellowship. Cells are foundation stones of the Old Roman apostolate and the kernel of the missions.

A Mission: several Cells and individuals, motivated by prayer and fellowship, desiring to live out their Christian mission as orthodox Catholics, who form together a definite apostolate for mission and outreach in their locality. Visited regularly by, or served, and directed by a traditional Catholic priest, the Mission may be the basis for the foundation of an Oratory.

An Oratory: when a significant number of Old Roman Cells and individuals have formed together a mission, and desire a regular sacramental life sustained by the sacraments administered according to the traditional rites and liturgies of the Church, and are able to sustain sacrificially the subsistence of a priest, and provide what is necessary for the worthy and proper offering of the liturgies, and a place of regular public worship.

A Territory: a country wherein an Old Roman apostolate is present and functioning with cells, missions and oratories served by clergy, and requiring, and able to support the ministry of an episcopal administrator to oversee the apostolate.

A Region: generally the designation of a continent(/s) or significant geographical area encapsulating several territories and Old Roman apostolates, overseen by a senior episcopal administrator in collaboration with the territorial episcopal administrators.

Establishing A New Formation House

Feria Quarta Quattuor Temporum Pentecostes

Applications are invited from men keen to explore the possibility of vocation to the sacred ministry in a household-style setting in Brighton, UK where the men share daily Mass, prayer, meals, household responsibilities and volunteer activities under the direct tutelage of ✠Jerome.

Formation Houses

One of the presenting issues for Old Roman vocations has often been the lack of a stable seminary. We have been fortunate that most vocations come from men who have attended traditionalist or institutional seminaries or are graduates in theology from credible academies. But as demand for places at the few traditional seminaries continues to rise following the increased persecution of the Traditional Latin Mass by the institutional Church, a solution needs to be found for Old Roman seminarians.

Before the creation of seminaries, clergy training for the priesthood received academic formation from universities, and spiritual and formational training from religious orders or the bishop’s household. Unlike the traditional seminary training, which primarily focuses on academic education, the House of Formation combines academic formation with spiritual and formational training.

Seminaries can create a rarefied atmosphere that encourages clericalism, which can lead students to develop an exclusive and superior attitude. This can produce an attitude of ingratitude and false expectations of dependency on others materially. As a consequence, subsequent clergy may prioritize their own power and authority over the needs and concerns of the people they are supposed to serve. This can create a culture of elitism and reduce accountability, which can have negative consequences for both the seminary and the wider community.

The household-style setting for vocational discernment is a valuable and innovative approach to nurturing future pastors of the Church who are grounded in the Gospel, formed in community, and equipped for ministry. Though realized in a contemporary context, the household model was used for centuries in the Church before the more recent and conventional seminary setting that became prevalent just 500 years ago. It is a model that can inspire other forms of intentional Christian living and witness in a world that is hungry for authentic spirituality, meaningful relationships, transformative action and true religion. May God bless those who respond to this call and may they be faithful servants of Christ and His Church.

A shared house of formation for traditional Catholic ordinands can be a great way to provide a supportive environment for those preparing for the priesthood. The concept involves a community of men living together in a house, sharing meals, prayer, and study. This can create a strong sense of fraternity and accountability, as well as provide opportunities for spiritual growth and discernment.

This approach allows seminarians to develop a deeper understanding of their faith and their vocation while also gaining the necessary knowledge and skills needed for their future ministry. With the House of Formation, seminarians are equipped not only to become knowledgeable priests, but also compassionate and empathetic pastors, to serve their communities with humility and love.

In such a house, seminarians can learn from each other, share their struggles and, and each other in their journey towards the priesthood. Communal living also allows for a more holistic formation, as ordinands can develop practical skills such as cooking, cleaning, and managing household finances.

Furthermore, a shared house of formation can be a cost-effective way of providing formation for Old Roman seminarians. By sharing the financial contribution among the members of the household, the expenses of rent and utilities can be reduced. Ultimately, a shared house of formation can be a powerful tool in the formation of future priests who are well-equipped to serve the Church and its people.

There are several advantages to a house of formation over a seminary experience. One of the main benefits is the opportunity to gain valuable work experience. In a house of formation, seminarians can work and gain practical experience while also studying for the priesthood. This can be especially valuable for those who may not have a lot of work experience prior to entering the seminary. Additionally, a house of formation can provide specialized pastoral training and practical resources for seminarians, which can help them better prepare for the unique challenges and responsibilities of the priesthood.

It has long been Archbishop Lloyd’s vision to establish local oratories served by clergy living together, ideally located in a town or city, to cater to missions and cells in the area. The Formation House model of clergy houses would be perfect for replicating this setup, as it allows for a community of clergy to live and work together, fostering collaboration, support, and accountability. This model could provide a sense of stability and continuity for the community, as well as a space for spiritual guidance and growth.

As the majority of Old Roman vocations are “bivocational” i.e. clergy support themselves financially, the shared-house model would be perfect for lightening the financial burden on our clergy while providing them with the support they need. In this model, several clergy members share a residence, splitting the cost of living expenses between them. This would allow for more flexibility in their schedules, as well as provide emotional and spiritual support. Additionally, the shared-house model could help foster a sense of community among the clergy, helping to combat the loneliness and isolation that can come with the vocation. Overall, the shared-house model could be an effective solution to alleviate the financial and emotional burdens of bivocational clergy.

Brighton Formation House

The Formation House, located in Brighton & Hove in the UK is where individuals will come to share in the Archbishop’s apostolate of working with the homeless and ministering to the faithful. Life in the Formation House will be based on the four basics of all priestly common life, which are prayer, study, meals, and recreation. The house will offer a peaceful and contemplative environment where individuals can deepen their spiritual life, grow in knowledge, and build lasting relationships with others who share similar interests and goals. The Formation House will be an ideal place for any man who wants to deepen his faith and discern a call to the priesthood.

Brighton is located on England’s South Coast in the county of East Sussex. It’s only an hour away from Central London by train and 30 minutes from London Gatwick, one of the UK’s major international airports. Granted city status in 2000, today Brighton and Hove district has a resident population of about 277,103 and the wider Brighton and Hove conurbation has a population of 474,485 (2011 census). It is ranked the 57th most populous district in England. Compared to the national average, Brighton has fewer children and old residents but a large proportion of adults aged 20–44. Brighton is identified as one of the least religious places in the UK, based upon analysis of the 2011 census which revealed that 42 per cent of the population profess no religion, far higher than the national average of 25 per cent.

In the Georgian era, Brighton developed as a highly fashionable seaside resort, encouraged by the patronage of the Prince Regent, later King George IV, who spent much time in the town and constructed the Royal Pavilion in the Regency era. Brighton continued to grow as a major centre of tourism following the arrival of the railways in 1841, becoming a popular destination for day-trippers from London. Many of the major attractions were built in the Victorian era. Every May the city hosts England’s biggest arts festival. Brighton Festival features theatre, music, art and visual media by leading names from around the world. And all year round there are plays, art exhibitions, gigs and events at many of the theatres, pubs, museums and galleries in the city.

In December 2021, new data released by Shelter, revealed that “one in 78 people in Brighton and Hove are homeless”. The report also records the city as having the third highest rate of homelessness in England, with London claiming the top spot followed by Luton. In a previous charity report issued in November 2016, three areas in Brighton & Hove, East Brighton, Queen’s Park, and Moulsecoomb & Bevendean ranked in the top ten per cent nationally for deprivation. Homelessness figures released by Crisis in December 2018 reported a record high in the UK, with figures in Sussex, including Brighton and Hove, reported as being “high”. At a meeting of the full B&H Council on 25 March 2021, Brighton and Hove became the first UK City to adopt the Homeless Bill of Rights.

Brighton is a vibrant and diverse city, home to a wide range of communities and cultures. It is also a city with a high level of social need, including poverty, homelessness, and addiction. For those looking to engage in missionary and outreach work, Brighton presents both an exciting and challenging territory. The Formation House will be an ideal base for those looking to serve the local community and spread the word of God and the traditional Catholic life and faith.


Candidates seeking to enter the seminary or house of formation of the religious clergy, certain qualities are generally considered important. These include a sense of vocation, moral and theological virtues, human and psychic equilibrium, affective balance, and a positive and stable sense of one’s masculine identity. In addition, the candidate should have the freedom to be enthused by great ideals and the capacity to integrate their sexuality in accordance with Christian vision, including celibacy.

Eligible candidates

  • will be baptised and confirmed traditional Catholics;
  • will be passport holder UK citizens, or have a verifiable visa or leave to remain in the UK;
  • must agree to participate for a minimum of one year;
  • will provide character references and comply with all background checks including DBS;
  • will be in full or part time employment or education with sufficient financial support (grant/scholarship/income) to cover their share of rent and subsistence;
  • or, if not already apprenticed or studying, must be eligible and prepared to enroll in an apprenticeship, tertiary or higher education course (preferably in theology);
  • or, if already sufficiently academically qualified must be self-supporting financially to cover their share of rent and subsistence;
  • maturer candidates not in education or employment must be financially self-supporting i.e. able to cover their share of rent and subsistence;
  • if not a graduate of theology must be prepared to study theology academically at least to diploma level;
  • must agree to abide by the house rules and participate in the domestic, liturgical and devotional life of the household;
  • must be willing to participate in activities and projects as required and directed to support the pastoral, liturgical and missionary life of the Brighton Oratory.

The duration of the formation will depend on the individual candidate’s discernment and progression. Candidates will progress through the minor orders before major ordination to the subdiaconate, diaconate and priesthood. Candidates already graduates in theology should expect 3-4 years formation, others 5-6 years including minor and major ordinations.

Domestic arrangements

It is hoped candidates will have their own study-bedroom but dependent on numbers and shared finances, shared rooms may have to be considered. All members of the house will be expected to contribute equally towards maintaining the household. This will help promote a sense of community and shared responsibility among the candidates, and may be a good opportunity for them to learn important life skills.

All members of the household will share responsibility for decisions on spending and paying household bills e.g. rent, utilities, subsistence, etc. Monies sufficient to cover household expenses will be paid monthly by members into a household account.

Members will be required to provide their own black cassock, surplice and clerical clothing in approved styles and from recommended suppliers. Otherwise to limit their personal belongings to the available personal space they will occupy (determined by the available accomodation).

The horarium will be prescribed by the observance and requirements of the liturgical office and the commitments of the inhabitants to work, study or duties. Daily Mass, Lauds and Vespers will be offered communally and the evening meal whenever possible.

Exploring Vocation in a Household-Style Setting

The call to the sacred ministry is a noble and challenging vocation that requires a sacrificial and sustained commitment to God and His people. For traditional Catholic men who are keen to explore this path, a unique opportunity will now available in the form of a household-style setting that provides a supportive and immersive environment for discerning their calling.

Under the direct tutelage of ✠Jerome, a seasoned pastor and spiritual guide, these men will share daily prayer, meals, household responsibilities, and volunteer activities, to help them develop the virtues of humility, charity, obedience, and perseverance. By living in community with other like-minded men, they will learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and build lasting bonds of friendship and support.

This household-style setting offers a holistic approach to vocational discernment that integrates spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and social dimensions of the person. The men will be exposed to a wide range of pastoral experiences, including preaching, teaching, counseling, visiting the sick and the poor, and participating in parish life. They will also be given ample opportunities for personal reflection, spiritual direction, and academic formation, which will help them deepen their knowledge of Scripture, theology, pastoral ministry, and human development.

While the journey towards priesthood is not an easy one, the household-style setting offers a safe and challenging context for men to test their vocation, discern their gifts and limitations, and grow in their love for God and His people. The men are not isolated from the world but are encouraged to engage with it in a way that witnesses to the Gospel values of compassion, justice, and peace. They are also supported by a network of priests, religious, and laypeople who share their vision and mission.

Expressions of interest

To initiate the application process interested candidates should first contact Archbishop Lloyd by submitting a detailed curriculum vitae, a covering letter or email, and a brief account of their spiritual journey and vocational discernment in not more than 3000 words. The covering letter/email should clearly state the candidate’s interest and intentions with regards to their inquiry, as well as their eligibility, capability and availability to commence the potential formation program.

The size and location of the initial Formation House in Brighton will be determined by the number of successful candidates, who will be included in discussions concerning the selection of the property and level of rent. The initial set-up costs including the deposit will be covered by the Archbishop’s Discretionary Fund.

A Formation House is a unique opportunity for the Old Roman apostolate. It will be a place where individuals can come together to receive training and guidance in their spiritual journeys. The Formation House will provide a structured environment where individuals can grow in their faith and develop a deeper understanding of the teachings and traditions of the Church. It is an exciting opportunity for those who wish to deepen their relationship with God, discern their vocation and share their faith with others. The formation house can potentially serve as a hub for the Old Roman apostolate in Brighton, providing a central location for outreach and evangelization efforts.

Old Roman distinctives


Orthodox Old Romans have never claimed to be anything other than Catholics striving to maintain and perpetuate the perennial Catholic faith. The following distinctives should assist the inquirer to recognise authentic Old Roman apostolates and missions from others who call themselves “Old Roman Catholic” who are anything but!

Old Roman apostolates are few in number and their histories often overlap in terms of individuals and events. Old Roman apostolates are conservative in their governance, beliefs, and religious practices. They are identifiable by their endurance and steadfastness. Although they acknowledge their roots in the early See of Utrecht, they reject any association with “Old Catholics” and reject being labeled as “schismatic.”

Annexed by Bl. Pius IX in 1853 to avoid settling a long standing canonical dispute over rights and privileges granted by previous Popes “in perpetuity” to the See of Utrecht (Netherlands). Old Roman clergy have continued to preserve intact the doctrine and liturgy extant at the time of their disavowal by Rome; it is for this they are known as “Old” and for their fidelity to the Latin Rite tradition as, “Roman”.


Old Romans believe “… that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all” (St Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory 434AD). Central to the Old Roman apostolate is the preservation and continuance of the orthodox Catholic Faith received from the Apostles and understood through the collective experience, study and testimony of two thousand years of Catholic tradition. To this end the Old Romans have been particularly vigilant concerning the development of Modernism within the Church, noting its subtleties and insidious progression from the time of the Enlightenment to the present day.

As the Old Roman bishops stated to the papal legate in 1823, “We accept with the greatest willingness, and without any exception whatever, all the articles of the Holy Catholic Faith; we will neither hold nor teach, now or afterwards, any other opinions than those which have been decreed, determined and published by our Mother, the Holy Church, conformably to Holy Scripture, tradition, the acts of the Ecumenical Councils, and those of the Council of Trent.”

This Old Roman anti-modernist position is in stark contrast to the progressiveness of Old Catholicism with whom Old Romans are sometimes confused. The two could not be more different. Though Old Romans and Old Catholics share a common history derived from the primitive See of Utrecht, they each represent two quite distinct progressions from the same source; one orthodox, the other apostate. The difference should be obvious to even the most casual observer.

✠Arnold Harris Mathew of England was consecrated to the Episcopate in 1908 by ✠Gerard Gul of Utrecht at a time when Utrecht was still truly orthodox. At the time of ✠Mathew’s consecration at Utrecht, no serious inroads had been made upon the Catholic Faith by the Church of Utrecht, nor had she yet departed in any way from Catholic traditions and practice. By the end of 1910, however, the heterodox influence of the “Old Catholics” had proved too much for Utrecht, overwhelmed her, and so great and far-reaching were the changes which she was prevailed upon to make in her formularies and doctrinal position, that on December 29, 1910, ✠Mathew was forced to break ties with Utrecht in order to preserve the Old Roman legacy ✠Mathew adopted the name previously used by the Utrajectine Church before they deviated from orthodox beliefs, “Old Roman” Catholic. He composed the following prayer, still recited in Old Roman churches after the Leonine prayers.

Almighty and everlasting God, Whose only begotten Son, Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, has said, “Other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd”; let Thy rich and abundant blessing rest upon the Old Roman Catholic Church, to the end that it may serve Thy purpose by gathering in the lost and straying sheep. Enlighten, sanctify, and quicken it by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, that suspicions and prejudices may be disarmed, and the other sheep being brought to hear and to know the voice of their true Shepherd thereby, all may be brought into full and perfect unity in the one fold of Thy Holy Catholic Church, under the wise and loving keeping of Thy Vicar, through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.

On 12 April, 1925 the successor to ✠Mathew of the Old Romans in England, ✠Bernard M Williams repudiated again the errors of the Old Catholics and in 1939, ✠Williams would further declare “We disclaim all pretensions to being in any sense ‘a Church.’ We are simply a Rite within the Catholic Church…” In traditional papal encyclicals, a “schismatic community” is a Christian community adhering to valid sacraments but without recognizing the primacy of place of Rome or the importance of the papacy. This cannot be levelled at the Old Romans who clearly betray a recognition of the primacy of the Popes and the importance of maintaining communion with all Catholics. But after the promulgation of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae that followed, seeing the crisis in the Church increase exponentially, the Old Romans have taken a position to continue in the practice of the immemorial Catholic Faith.

“If someone, for a reasonable motive, holds the person of the Pope in suspicion and refuses his presence, even his jurisdiction, he does not commit the delict of schism nor any other whatsoever, provided that he be ready to accept the Pope were he not held in suspicion. It goes without saying that one has the right to avoid what is harmful and to ward off dangers. In fact, it may happen that the Pope could govern tyrannically and that is all the easier as he is the more powerful and does not fear any punishment from anyone on earth.”

Thomas, Cardinal Cajetan, De divina institutione Pontificatus Romani Pontificis (1521)

Apostolic Succession

Orthodox Old Roman bishops possess only one line of Apostolic succession in close lineal descent directly from Archbishop Gul of Utrecht via the consecration of ✠Arnold Harris Mathew in 1908. This succession is shared in common with 95% of Roman Catholic bishops in the world today and is generally known as the Rebiba succession. Old Roman bishops do not claim multiple lines of succession nor are their co-consecrators from non-Old Roman groups.

Authentic Old Roman bishops are consecrated exclusively employing the Pontificale Romanum according to the Tridentine Rite of episcopal consecration. To the prejudice of those ordained by any other pretended western rite who petition to join them, Old Romans will reordain sub-conditione according to the Pontificale Romanum.

All the Ultrajectine Old Roman bishops from ✠Steenoven in 1725 down to ✠Mathew in 1908 were decreed individually excommunicate by successive Popes for receiving episcopal consecration without a papal mandate. The mandatum is the papal document granting permission for the consecration of a bishop who will serve as a bishop in any capacity, including as an auxiliary or titular bishop. This despite the privilege granted the Chapter of Utrecht to elect their own bishops by Bl. Pope Eugene III in 1145 and affirmed by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 (canons 23 & 24), and the request and notification by the Ultrajectine bishops to Rome of the election and consecrations.

Even though the historical bishops in the Ultrajectine succession received declaratory sentences of excommunication, the 1917 CIC states; “It is not permitted to extend penalties from person to person or from case to case, even though the reason is the same or even stronger.” Canon 2219§3. In other words, excommunication is not contagious nor contiguous, but personal and its effects limited to the named individual. Since the consecrations of ✠Herbert Beale and ✠Arthur Howarth no Old Roman bishop has been declared excommunicate since 1911.

Rome still recognises the validity of the Ultrajectine apostolic succession as various Old Roman clergy who were previously under Roman obedience and have individually reconciled with the Holy See have been required to repent of their receiving holy Orders. Likewise, in dialogue with the Polish National Catholic Church (in America) since 1996 the Holy See has recognised the validity of the holy Orders and sacraments administered by them which derive from the same Old Roman apostolic succession. Anecdotally, individual Old Roman bishops upon enquiry with the Holy See have also had the presumed validity of this Apostolic succession confirmed.


Though different Old Roman apostolates have used distinguishing titles to differentiate between themselves, usually reflecting geographical location, they have always been titled Old Roman Catholic.

The Old Romans adhere to an ecclesiological system of episcopal governance and strive to follow the 1917 CIC as closely as possible. They do not regard their apostolates as parallel to nor opposing existing contemporary Roman Catholic jurisdictional structures. They sincerely hold themselves to be operating in unprecedented times under a state of necessity for the Church.

Before and after the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the latæ sententiæ penalty for episcopal consecration without a papal mandate was a suspension a divinis (Canon 2370) “… suspended by the Law itself, until the Apostolic See dispenses them.” In 1951 Pius XII decreed an ipso facto “automatic excommunication most especially reserved to the Apostolic See” for a man appointed to a canonical office without appointment by the Holy See, i.e. as an ordinary over an existing canonically erected jurisdiction. This was reaffirmed by the encyclical Ad Apostolorum Principis (29 June, 1958) concerning the problem of the Chinese Patriotic Association’s illicit installation of schismatic bishops to head vacant dioceses in China.

Though some might assume the automatic sentences described above apply to Old Roman bishops, under both codes of Canon Law, i.e. 1917 Canon 2205§2 and 1983 Canon 1323§4 respectively, persons acting contrary to the law believing there to be a grave necessity to do so, are dispensed from canonical penalty: “No penalty is incurred by a person forced by a necessity to act against the law.” Both the original dispute between Utrecht and Rome over the election of bishops, the usurpation of the primitive Ultrajectine See’s hierarchy, and particularly the prevailing modernist crisis in the contemporary Church are considered sufficiently grave by Old Roman bishops enough to necessitate their actions.

Following traditional custom, Old Roman bishops are consecrated to “titular titles” of vacant extinct sees – careful to check they are vacant at the time of their election and consecration. Bishops are elected and consecrated to provide episcopal oversight to specific geographical areas of the Old Roman apostolate and to guarantee the validity of sacraments. Old Roman bishops understand these titular titles will be surrendered to an orthodox Pope when reconciliation with the Holy See occurs.

Catholic faithful who attend and support Old Roman apostolates, missions and chapels, do so on a voluntary basis i.e. by implicit request for sacraments and pastoral services. They are not required to make a contrary profession of Faith to that which any Catholic rightly holds to be the Catholic Faith and only if converting from other Christian traditions is an abjuration of heresy and profession of Faith required.

Though Old Roman bishops and clergy do not consider themselves to be labouring under any sentence or censure, Canon Law provides, “If a censure prohibits the celebration of sacraments or sacramentals or the placing of an act of governance, the prohibition is suspended whenever it is necessary to care for the faithful in danger of death. If a latae sententiae censure has not been declared, the prohibition is also suspended whenever a member of the faithful requests a sacrament or sacramental or an act of governance; a person is permitted to request this for any just cause.” Canon 1335 CIC 1983


The Old Roman Ordo is based upon the Universal Kalendar as it was extant in 1910, though local variations in regions and territories are of course permitted.

Authentic chapels and missions of the Old Roman apostolate offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass exclusively according to the perennial Latin Rite, i.e. the “Tridentine Rite” as codified by the Council of Trent and promulgated by Pope St Pius V with Quo primum (14 July, 1570). Traditionally and whenever possible using earlier editions of the Missale Romanum prior to 1948.

The solemn liturgies of Holy Week and the Sacrum Triduum are offered similarly according to the rites and ceremonies as extant prior to the changes introduced by Pope Pius XII with Maxima Redemptionis (19 November, 1955). Likewise the pastoral offices e.g. Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Matrimony, Viaticum, etc, are all taken from the Rituale Romanum of the Tridentine Rite. Though predominantly in Latin, occasional parts may be said in the vernacular for pastoral and catechetical reasons.

All ordinations both to the minor and major orders respectively employ exclusively the Tridentine Rite, i.e. the Pontificale Romanum and from earlier editions dated before Sacramentum Ordinis (30 November, 1947) of Pope Pius XII and for the consecration of bishops, the editions prior to Episcopalis Consecrationis (30 November, 1944).

Old Roman clergy and religious pray from earlier editions either of the Breviarium Romanum prior to the 1910 reform, Divino Afflatu (01 November, 1911) promulgated by Pope St Pius X, or using earlier editions of the Diurnale monasticum.


It should be obvious then to any inquirer coming across a group claiming to be Old Roman, that

if the Pope is not prayed for,
if the liturgy offered is not Tridentine,
if traditional Catholic customs are not practised,
if the clergy have not received minor ordinations, and
if the teaching contains modernist errors and attitudes…

the likelihood is they are NOT Old Roman Catholics.

Modernist Attitudes in Religious Vocational Discernment

Understanding Modernism and its Impact on Religious Vocational Discernment

Modernism is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that has had an impact on many aspects of life, including religion. One of the core tenets of modernism is the importance of reason and science in understanding the world. This emphasis on rationality has led to a questioning of traditional religious beliefs and practices, and a move towards more individualistic and subjective approaches to spirituality.

In the context of religious vocational discernment, modernist attitudes have led to a greater emphasis on personal experience and individual discernment. Instead of relying solely on traditional religious authorities or institutions, modernist approaches encourage individuals to explore their own beliefs and experiences to discern their vocational calling. This has led to a more diverse and individualistic approach to vocational discernment.

This is particularly problematic for contemporary Traditional Catholic vocations, which emphasize the importance of following a specific set of rules and beliefs. In this context, modernist attitudes can lead to a tension between individual autonomy and traditional religious obligations. Ultimately, this tension can create a challenging environment for those seeking to discern their vocational path.

The Problem of Emotions in Religious Vocational Discernment

One of the key aspects of modernist attitudes towards vocational discernment is a heavy reliance on emotions. While traditional approaches to vocational discernment often emphasize objective criteria such as education, experience, and skillset, modernist approaches place great importance on emotions and personal experience.

This emphasis on emotions and personal experience can be both a strength and a challenge in religious vocational discernment. On the one hand, it allows individuals to explore their own unique experiences and perspectives, which can lead to a more authentic and fulfilling vocational path. On the other hand, it can also lead to a lack of objectivity and an overreliance on subjective feelings and experiences, which may not always be reliable indicators of vocational calling.

In Catholic Tradition, it can be challenging to differentiate between a reverence for the ascetic practices of Tradition, such as the liturgy, vestments, music, and the like, and true spirituality. To determine one’s calling in this context, it is essential to comprehend the significance of Tradition’s asceticism while also recognizing the distinction between asceticism and genuine spirituality.

More fundamentally, the contemporary obsession with self-discovery and personal experience can lead to a lack of appreciation for the importance of community and interdependence in religious vocations. In many traditional religious contexts, vocations are seen as a communal endeavour, with individuals relying on the wisdom and guidance of their community to discern their true vocation. This view is often lost in modernist approaches to vocational discernment, which emphasize individual autonomy and self-expression.

In the dispersed and often rarefied experience of traditionalists, finding a community of like-minded individuals can be difficult. It is therefore essential for young traditionalists to seek out mentors and other forms of support to gain the insight and perspective needed to discern their true vocation. Ultimately, true vocational discernment relies not only on individual insight but also on the guidance of trusted individuals.

Many young people today, although they may have an appreciation for Catholic Tradition, are imbued with modernist ideas of self-discovery and autonomy, and often a roseate perspective that is wholly subjective and not based in reality. This can lead to confusion and a lack of clarity when it comes to vocational discernment and more often than not disappointment. Few can appreciate that a vocation to religious life or sacred ministry is not solely the concern of the individual but of the community or the wider Church. Thus it is essential to seek out mentors and other forms of support from within the Church to ensure that the discernment process is undertaken properly and with a sense of realism.

The Importance of Objectivity in Religious Vocational Discernment

While modernist attitudes towards religious vocational discernment emphasize the importance of subjectivity and personal experience, it is more important to recognize the role of objectivity in this process. Objectivity can help to provide a more balanced and comprehensive understanding of one’s vocational calling, by taking into account not only personal experience but also external factors such as education, skillset, and external affirmations.

To achieve a balance between subjectivity and objectivity in religious vocational discernment, it is important to approach this process with an open mind and a willingness to consider multiple perspectives. This may involve seeking guidance from trusted religious authorities or mentors, as well as engaging in self-reflection and introspection.

Objectivity is crucial for an individual to recognise the signs of their true vocation, which may be hidden beneath layers of self-deception and ego. By considering multiple perspectives and taking into account both subjective and objective factors, an individual can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their true vocation. Ultimately, this can lead to greater clarity and direction in the pursuit of one’s calling.

The saying “Many are called but few are chosen” from Matthew 22:14 suggests that while many may feel they have been called, not everyone who feels called is. A genuine calling is recognized and confirmed by others, which can be a challenging idea for individuals who only view things relative to their perspective. Seeking out the counsel of others and using objectivity to gain a better understanding of one’s vocation can help to ensure that the calling is genuine, and not just a product of self-deception.

The Impact of Modernism on Religious Institutions and Their Approach to Vocational Discernment

Religious institutions have been adversely affected by modernism, particularly in the way they approach vocational discernment. This negative impact is evidenced by the significant decrease in vocations. The main issue with prioritizing individual perspectives over the needs and experiences of the religious community is that it leads to people prioritizing their personal goals and ideas, which undermines any collective efforts towards a shared vision.

The modernist viewpoint prioritizing individualism over collectivism can lead to a dearth of communal and spiritual aid for those seeking their calling. This can cause novices to form their idea of vocation based on their personal perception of the community’s needs. This approach can result in changes to the community’s original vision and mission, thereby hindering accurate discernment of vocation.

The advancement of modernism in religious practices has caused a decline in the number of individuals interested in joining religious communities, as well as a loss of direction and meaning for those who do. By abandoning traditional religious habits and frequently changing the fundamental aspects of these communities, there has been a rise in uncertainty, a lack of clear identity, and even a rejection of religious attitudes. As a result, numerous religious houses and orders have been forced to shut down. Additionally, in an attempt to attract new members, these communities may resort to bypassing established methods of discernment to obtain new recruits.

A lot of young people who pursue religious vocations are aware of the decline in religious communities and orders. However, they may not realize that they possess modernist attitudes, even though they perceive the impact of modernism. Some of them take advantage of older religious superiors who are desperate by demanding and expecting progressions in religious life that would have been impossible in the past. Others dream of revitalizing the orders and assume that they have the necessary charisma and character without proper discernment or training. They view themselves as founders of a continuation or reform movement.

In such a situation, the traditionalist approach of discernment must be employed to ensure that vocations are genuine and motivated by a true call from God. This approach involves the careful examination of an individual’s suitability for religious life through a process of prayer, self-reflection and consultation with spiritual directors and mentors. It also includes an assessment of the individual’s ability to embrace the charism and mission of a religious community. Furthermore, each individual must be open to being formed by the traditions and practices of the order they seek to join.

The discernment process should be approached with great humility and respect for those who are called to serve God in religious life. It should also be seen as an opportunity for personal growth, both spiritually and emotionally. Through this process, individuals will gain an understanding of their own identity within the Church, as well as gain insight into their place within a larger community of believers. Ultimately, it is only through such careful discernment that individuals can truly understand if they have been called to serve God in religious life.

The Influence of Modernism on Young Vocations

It can be argued that there are plenty of potential young vocations, just the handling of them is problematic. Brought up in a culture of instant gratification and self-serving relative moral values, young people today struggle to appreciate the importance of tradition and the need for discernment in religious life. In a world where individualism is championed, it can be difficult to recognize the need for communal living and submission to a common rule.

Indeed, ego is antithetical to religious life, which encourages surrendering oneself to the pursuit of holiness and communal consideration; the needs of “the other” and the community over oneself. The challenge is to instil in young vocations an appreciation of the importance of tradition and discernment, while also recognizing their potential to bring fresh ideas and perspectives. This requires a combination of traditional practices and modern approaches which can help young people discern their vocations in an informed and reflective manner.

Furthermore, the pervasive influence of modernity has led to a blurring of traditional boundaries between religious and secular life, making it harder for young vocations to distinguish between their spiritual calling and their worldly desires. Likewise, few appreciate the need to study and embrace the traditions of the Church that are necessary for a life of religious formation. As a result, many young people are entering religious life without properly understanding their vocation or the commitment required to serve God in this way.

To counteract these tendencies, young vocations need to be immersed in an environment where the beauty and importance of traditional Catholic values can be appreciated. Traditional religious groups should prioritize creating an environment of devotion, modesty, and compliance. This will enable individuals who are searching for their calling to comprehend the significance of recognizing God’s plan for them in their lives. By introspection and receiving spiritual advice, aspiring religious individuals can discover their role in the Church and how they can best serve God in a religious capacity.

Conclusion: A Balanced Approach to Vocational Discernment

In conclusion, modernism has had a significant impact on religious vocational discernment. While modernist attitudes towards vocation and discernment have led to a greater emphasis on individual experience and personal growth, they have also been subject to critique for their reliance on subjective feelings and experiences.

By finding a balance between modernist attitudes and traditional approaches to vocational discernment, we can create a more comprehensive and supportive environment for individuals seeking to discern their vocational calling. This ongoing conversation around modernism and vocational discernment is an important one, and it is up to each of us to engage in this dialogue with an open mind and a willingness to consider multiple perspectives.

Young people seeking an authentic realisation of their vocation need to be equipped with the tools and knowledge to discern their calling. This can be achieved through a combination of spiritual guidance, introspection, and an understanding of the importance of tradition in religious life. By doing so, individuals can have a clearer idea of how God is calling them to serve Him, allowing them to make an informed decision about their religious vocation.

In the contemporary context of Catholic Tradition, where communal experiences of religious life are rare but may not suit all vocations, this need for openness on the part of superiors is necessary in order not to stifle any inspiration of the Holy Ghost for new ways of realising religious life. At the same time, there is also a need for greater patience and a willingness to trust the traditional discernment process on the part of young vocations. With a balanced approach to vocational discernment, we can create a supportive environment for individuals seeking to discover their calling and live out God’s will for their lives.

HE ✠Jerome Seleisi OSJV

Catechism Conference: “Discerning God’s will” X; three foundational principles

A series exploring Vocational Discernment – how do we discern our vocation in life? How does God make His will known to us? These and other questions Metropolitan Jerome will explore in these live and recorded broadcasts from the Brighton Oratory every Saturday morning from 10am.

In this episode, Metropolitan Jerome continues discussing the fundamental principles necessary to discern God’s will for oneself in relation to God’s general will for all He has purposed to exist.. In this episode, His Grace discusses the three foundational principles to the formation, structure and model of a devout life; purification, illumination and mystical union.

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Catechism Conference: “Discerning God’s will” IX; a rule of life

A NEW series exploring Vocational Discernment – how do we discern our vocation in life? How does God make His will known to us? These and other questions Metropolitan Jerome will explore in these live and recorded broadcasts from the Brighton Oratory every Saturday morning from 10am.

In this episode, Metropolitan Jerome continues discussing the fundamental principles necessary to discern God’s will for oneself in relation to God’s general will for all He has purposed to exist.. In this episode, His Grace continues where he left off at the end of episode VII discussing “An Introduction to a Devout life” by St Francis de Sales and explaining the structure and principles behind the book, introduces and discusses the concept of “a rule of life” for individuals…

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Catechism Conference: “Discerning God’s will” VIII; Q&A

A NEW series exploring Vocational Discernment – how do we discern our vocation in life? How does God make His will known to us? These and other questions Metropolitan Jerome will explore in these live and recorded broadcasts from the Brighton Oratory every Saturday morning from 10am.

In this episode, Metropolitan Jerome continues discussing the fundamental principles necessary to discern God’s will for oneself in relation to God’s general will for all He has purposed to exist.. In this episode after two months of discussing discernment and the classic “Imitation of Christ” and the idea of spiritual exercises, His Grace invites Questions & Answers from participants to confirm understanding of the principles so far discussed…

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