Saturday, January 20, 2024

The Ministry of the American National Catholic Church Continues to Expand

The American National Catholic Church (ANCC), an independent sacramental jurisdiction about which I've written before, continues on its path of growth and development with the news that two priests have been incardinated recently. Additionally, the "Mission of the Body of Christ" has been established in Florida to serve the housing insecure with sacramental and material support. 

What is "incardination"? In the Roman Catholic Church it refers to the formal acceptance of a priest from a different diocese. It's fairly routine, particularly in the United States, where foreign-born priests are attempting to pick up the slack from the shortage of priests. Within the independent sacramental movement it refers to the acceptance of a clergy person from a different jurisdiction. Sometimes this will be from the Roman Catholic Church, but often it is essentially a transfer of a priest from one jurisdiction to another. 

The priests who were incardinated recently by the ANCC are Frs. Matthew Schnabel and Alex Urena. Rev. Schnabel is a registered nurse, which is important because all priests in the ANCC are self-supporting. In his former jurisdictoin he was an associate pastor of a parish, and now in the ANCC he is the pastor for Saints Francis and Clare American National Catholic parish in Wilton Manors, Florida. As for Rev. Urena, he has joined the ANCC from the Roman Catholic Church, having most recently been the Vocation Director for the diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. For his employment, he is a counselor at a psychiatric facility. He is now the pastor for Holy Family American National Catholic Church, also in Las Cruces. The addition of these priests to the ANCC represents a strengthening of the jurisdiction's pastoral and priestly service, assuring spiritual care for communities served by the jurisdiction. In other cases of incardination, priests are joining with the intent to initiate new work, building new communities that can become parishes of the ANCC.  

As for the Mission of the Body of Christ in Florida, the intent appears to be for the Mission to join in ecumenical service with other churches, and in partnership with social services and nonprofits, in serving people facing housing insecurity. Knowing the ANCC, this will not be a case of paying for your meal by hearing a sermon. The ANCC freely offers the sacraments to all who seek them, and has a clear focus on service to our fellow human beings. 

It is interesting to watch this jurisdiction grow and develop. Often independent Catholic jurisdictions can be unstable, coming and going seemingly overnight. The ANCC has been on a path of sustained growth for over a decade, and it is hoped that it will succeed where others have failed to maintain cohesion and a firm mission focus.