Constitution of OCCA


Approved by the General Synod August 1, 2020

PREAMBLE The Founding Document of this Church is the original statement of Principles, Faith, Doctrine and Discipline issued on January 1, 1910 by Archbishop Timotheus (Rene Joseph Vilatte) with the approval of Bishops Stephen (Kaminski) and Paolo (Vescolo Miraglia-Gulotti). We are in fundamental agreement with this document. In 1915 this church jurisdiction received its first civil law incorporation, issued in the State of Illinois under the title "American Catholic Church" under the authority of its president/archbishop. In 1973 the secretary of state of the State of Illinois granted a request by the church's president/archbishop to retitle the corporation as the "Orthodox-Catholic Church of America. Incorporated in Illinois." In 1982 the president/archbishop petitioned for a charter of incorporation in the State of Indiana, which charter was granted and is still in effect as the "Orthodox-Catholic Church of America."


This church organization, government and administration is the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America, hereafter referred to as OCCA. It is a self-governing, autocephalous, Orthodox and Catholic confession of faith within the One, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as described in the Nicea-Constantinople Creed.

The purposes of OCCA are the worship of God in the Holy Trinity; the proclamation and continuing of the Orthodox faith as taught in holy scripture, the apostolic tradition and the ecumenical councils of the undivided, ancient Church of Christ; the providing for a central, national organization for the development of independent members (clergy and lay) and their associations according to applicable civil and ecclesiastical laws.

This Church is and shall remain a self-governing church jurisdiction as canonically confirmed on January 1, 1910. It is an autocephaly similar in structure to the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and all other self-governing Orthodox churches in the world. This Church has jurisdiction in its own name and right. This Church exists and functions as a non-profit organization according to its charter and that of the proper civil authority.

This Church consists of prelatures, particular parishes, missions and religious communities, all of whose members share a common belief, purpose and ecclesial unity, but not a legal relationship.

Full authority in this Church is invested in its Synod of Bishops which may elect a presiding Chair. The Chair of the Synod is elected by the Synod of Bishops or by a Church Synod consisting of clergy and laity duly chosen to act as electors if the full Synod of Bishops so decides and will serve for a one-year term with no term limits. The Chair of the Synod presides over meetings and may speak on behalf of the Church but has no authority outside the Synod. All legislative authority is vested in the Synod.

Legislative power rests with the Synod of Bishops and, if the bishops agree, with the National Synod representing the Church's clergy and/or lay members. The Synod of Bishops shall meet in session at least every two years and the National Synod at least every four years. Executive power is vested in the Synod of Bishops. Decisions are made by consensus and when consensus cannot be achieved, a 2/3 majority will suffice. The Synod of Bishops may elect such corporate officers as required by civil law.

This Church may acquire real and personal property, establish and maintain funds and trusts, accept donations, legacies, trusts and bequests. Ecclesial units within the Church may do likewise so long as the units act in accordance with the stated purposes and beliefs of this Church organization under the administrative authority already described. The Church shall maintain a fund overseen by the Treasurer and the Finance Committee. The Treasurer shall keep records according to norms established in regular accounting practices and civil laws when applicable.

The Orthodox-Catholic Church of America shall exist perpetually, as shall all units chartered by proper administrative authority.

These Articles of Constitution may be amended or changed by a consensus vote of the Synod of Bishops with confirmation by a simple majority vote of the members in attendance at a general synod meeting or by electronic ballot.

Canons of OCCA


There shall exist a listing of the fundamental canons/laws of this Church. A copy of these canons will be supplied to each canonically enrolled clergy person.

These Articles of Constitution secure its authority by its ratification by the Church's Synod of Bishops. There is no requirement for consultation, consent or approval by any other individual(s) or legal entities.

All members of this church jurisdiction will struggle to live in the Spirit and the Gospel of the Risen Lord.

Full members are baptized/chrismated/communioned persons desiring to adhere to the faith as expressed in this jurisdiction within the One, Holy, Orthodox, Catholic, Apostolic Church of the East. There is an absolute equality of all members with each member having their own distinct calling and gifts on behalf of this community and on behalf of all the members of Christ's Body.
This jurisdiction was founded in North America, the United States in particular, and extends beyond and may be subdivided as deemed necessary by the Synod of Bishops. Bishops serve the people of God and are assisted in their ministry by priests and deacons under their omophorion (stole)

The Synod of Bishops consists of all active bishops of OCCA. Those Bishops of OCCA outside the United States are invited but not required to participate in meetings of the Synod. Retired bishops are invited to have a voice with the Synod, but do not have a vote. All members of the Synod are responsible to keep in contact and in communion with the other members of the Synod and the clergy they serve.

The following are conditions that will call for censure and/or removal from the Synod of Bishops and/or the clergy roll of this jurisdiction: failure to profess by word and deed the faith as it is received in this jurisdiction; failure to communicate (a bishop with the members of the Synod of Bishops or a priest or deacon with his or her bishop); misrepresentation of any kind when admitted or ordained into the clergy; unrepented substantiated felonious behavior, including but not limited to child sexual abuse or trafficking, sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual misconduct with a parishioner or someone for whom they exercise ministerial care; elder abuse; repeated and remarkable disregard for the welfare of this jurisdiction; repeated failure to participate actively in and attend diocesan clergy synods and meetings without being excused explicitly by the bishop. Decisions on such matters by the Synod of Bishops will be final. In these or other appropriate cases, the Synod of Bishops may call upon outside consultants of their choosing for advice and recommendations upon which to make their decisions.

The Synod of Bishops may call for nominations for election of Bishops as they deem necessary and establish guidelines for the process. Presbyters and deacons of this jurisdiction may propose to the Synod of Bishops candidates from among their number at any time. Bishops, on rare occasion may be called from other valid, apostolic jurisdictions. The candidate may freely accept or decline episcopal nomination.

A Chair of the Synod may be elected from among the members of the Synod of Bishops. This election is completed according to guidelines agreed upon by a consensus of the members of the Synod of Bishops. For serious and just cause, the Synod of Bishops may call for the resignation of the Chair.

All voting called for in Canons for election or expulsion must take place within 40 days of formal notification by the secretary of the Synod of Bishops.

A candidate for presbyterial or diaconal ministry (either to be received from another jurisdiction or ordained) must be chosen by a sponsoring bishop after a suitable period taking into consideration the candidate's background, interest and ability. A candidate for presbyterial or diaconal ministry should receive appropriate training and formation. A candidate may be summarily removed from consideration by his or her sponsoring bishop. Any candidate removed can make an appeal to the Synod of Bishops which shall review the situation and make a decision. 

Presbyters or deacons may only be dismissed and/or excommunicated by the Synod of Bishops; however, faculties may be suspended by their Bishop for a variety of reasons including all those listed in Canon 5. Suspension of faculties may be appealed to the Synod of Bishops.

Bishops received from other jurisdictions who wish to serve as bishops in this jurisdiction must so apply to the Synod of Bishops, exercising a ministry in OCCA for one year prior to a consensus vote by the members of the Synod.

An active bishop wishing to retire or withdraw from the Synod of Bishops must give written or electronic notice to the Synod. The Synod will acknowledge the notice within two weeks. Other clergy wishing to retire or be removed will notify their bishop in written or electronic form. The bishop will acknowledge the notice within two weeks and will inform the Synod.

The bishops shall: ? Participate actively in the work of the Synod ? Keep proper records of clergy, copy to jurisdictional files. ? Promote communication and fellowship among regional clergy and fellow bishops. ? Preside at prayer and sacramental services regularly with regional clergy. ? Promote membership in OCCA and its clergy. ? Seek the formation and education of the clergy ? Inscribe antimensia ? Represent the jurisdiction to local media and other churches.

All clergy must live in the Tentmaker Paul tradition, drawing their living income from secular sources. Clergy are not compensated by this jurisdiction. There will be no stated fees for sacraments. Free will gifts may be accepted. The members of the Synod of Bishops may submit to the treasurer and finance committee any bills incurred in the course of episcopal ministry. Our clergy may serve as pastors and clergy within congregations not formally affiliated but not at odds with this church tradition.

Real property used for church functions can be borrowed, rented or owned by the clergy and/or members of the congregation or in a trust. There is no legal contract or covenant between OCCA and its members (clerical or lay). The relationship between any and all members of this jurisdiction is strictly ecclesial, not legal. Proper liability insurance is to be maintained according to common sense and the dictates of civil law.

The Finance Committee shall be a standing committee of OCCA with members appointed by the Synod of Bishops. There may be other committees established by the Synod in areas as needed. In general, the members of these committees serve at the will of the Synod and have no term of office. The exact duties of the members of each committee are to be defined by the committee membership in consultation with the Synod of Bishops. Each committee shall make annual reports to the Synod and to the membership of the jurisdiction about their activities.

Civil divorce and remarriage will not be a canonical barrier to full clerical membership and communion in this jurisdiction. Any other circumstances must be decided by the sponsoring bishop.

All Christians and other people of good will are welcome to participate fully in our liturgical life.

Clergy received who are not ordained in apostolic tradition, as commonly accepted and understood, are to have their previous ordination or certification affirmed and celebrated by the laying on of hands and prayer according to the apostolic tradition, theological disputations notwithstanding. 

Gender or gender identity and marital status will not be a determining consideration for ordination or reception. The wishes of the spouse/partner will weigh heavily on the candidate's acceptance.

This jurisdiction promotes and engages in the ecumenical life of the Church. We seek to form concordats and statements of agreement with other ecclesial jurisdictions.

Revisions to these canons shall be approved by a consensus vote of the Synod of Bishops and confirmed by a simple majority vote of the members in attendance at a general synod meeting or by electronic ballot.