Simply speaking, "apostolic succession" is the tracing of lineage from bishop to bishop back through time to one of the Apostles. From the earliest apostolic times, this has been a mark of continuity with and faithfulness to the apostolic teaching, and the sacramental churches regard it as a key element of their church organization. It is often used to verify that the group in question has "true" sacraments, although this notion can be wrongly turned into a kind of magical formula. None of our acts can compel the Holy Spirit's presence or absence. In this connection it is worth noting that for several centuries the Church of Alexandria, while undoubtedly apostolic and orthodox, not only elected its bishop from among the presbyters but the presbyters consecrated the new bishop, instead of calling upon another bishop to do so. This demonstrates that a purely mechanical view of apostolic succession is both historically and doctrinally inadequate and obscures the larger meaning of this valuable tradition.
The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America traces our apostolic succession back through our founding Metropolitan Archbishop Mar Timotheus, through India, to Syria, and ends in the foundation of Antioch where Saint Peter was bishop before he moved to Rome. The (Jacobite) Syrian Orthodox Church was separated from the Western and Eastern Churches when it refused to sign the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon (the so-called Fourth Ecumenical Council) in 451. (Other "non-Chalcedonian" or "miaphysite" churches that also refused are the Armenian, Coptic, and Ethiopian). Persecuted by the Byzantine Imperial authorities, these members of the ancient Church of Antioch were sustained by the bishop of Edessa James or Jacob Baradaeus, hence the term Jacobite. Bishops in the Syriac-speaking churches are traditionally referred to as Mar (Lord) and their name. More about the apostolic succession of the Jacobite Church can be found here - Apostolic Succession of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.
Most immediately, the apostolic succession of our ruling hierarchs can be traced back to H.H. Ignatius Peter III/IV, Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch
H.H. Ignatius Peter III/IV (depending on the numbering) Syrian Orthodox Patriarch
who authorized three of his bishops in South India, Mar Athanasius Paulos, Mar Ivanios Paulos, and Mar Gregorios Gewargis (Gevarghese) to consecrate:
Antonio Francisco-Xavier Alvares as Mar Julius I, Archbishop of Ceylon, Goa and India Excluding Malabar.
Saint Archbishop Antonio Francisco-Xavier Alvares (Western Rite)
He consecrated, with Mar Athanasius and Mar Gregorios,
Saint Bishop Gregorius Geevarghese
Vilatte's Ordination in Columbo
Archbishop Vilatte seated on the far left, Saint Mar Gregorius and Saint Mar Julius far right
Joseph Rene Vilatte as Mar Timotheus, Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of America (now OCCA).
Archbishop Timotheus (Joseph Rene Vilatte) First Archbishop for North America
He consecrated, with Paolo Miraglia Gulotti,
Frederick E. J. Lloyd as Bishop of Chicago.
Archbishop Frederick E. J. Lloyd
He was elected Metropolitan in 1920. He consecrated, with Mar Timotheus and Carl Nybladh,
George Alexander McGuire for the African Orthodox Church.
Bishop George Alexander McGuire
He consecrated, with William Ernest James Robertson,*
John Cyril Clement Sherwood as successor to Archbishop Lloyd, who reposed in
Archbishop Clement Sherwood at the far right with the bishops of the African Orthodox Church.
Archbishop Sherwood served with both synods for a number of years.
Sherwood consecrated, with Robertson,
George Augustine Hyde as Bishop of Washington-Atlanta.
Archbishop George Ausgustine Hyde
He was elected Metropolitan in 1970. He consecrated, with Joseph Raffaele,
Alfred Louis Lankenau as Bishop of Indianapolis-Chicago.
Archbishop Alfred Louis Lankenau
He was elected Metropolitan in 1983. He consecrated, with Perry Sills and Stephen McHugh,
E. Paul Brian Carsten, who was elected Metropolitan in 2000.
Archbishop Skip (E. Brian Carston)
After Mar Brian's sudden repose, Bishop Robert Zahrt was elected Metropolitan and consecrated as Archbishop Peter by retired Archbishop Alfred (above), assisted by Bishops Jerry Hegarty, David Kotajarvi, Edmund Kubiak, Vince Cuestas, and Elizabeth Walker (all members of the OCCA Synod of Bishops).
Archbishop Peter (Robert Zahrt)
Metropolitan Peter retires and Bishop Paul of Lexington was elected Metropolitan by the OCCA Synod in Indianapolis.
Archbishop Paul (Ken Waibel)
(with Archbishop Peter and Bishop Elizabeth)
* Metropolitan Frederick was our archpastor while simultaneously serving as a member of the Synod of the African Orthodox Church under Archbishop-Metropolitan George. In his capacity as head of that Synod, the latter consecrated Metropolitan Frederick's successor.