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Antiochian Catholic Church in America

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The Antiochian Catholic Church in America (ACCA) is one of the Independent Catholic Churches. The ACCA is distinct from most of these churches in that it largely embraces the theology and much of the practice of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, from which the clergy of the ACCA primarily derive their claim to apostolic succession via the lineage of Joseph Rene Vilatte. The holy orders of the ACCA also come through the Old Catholic movement, in this case by way of Arnold Harris Mathew. The ACCA, however, is not in full communion with the Oriental Orthodox churches because it ordains women and because it does not require celibacy of its bishops, allowing them, like priests and deacons, to marry. [1] The ACCA states that its approach to theology and practice is a process of "critical reappropriation" which is open to influences from all sectors of trinitarian Christianity but is, at the same time, firmly grounded in the Syriac Christian tradition, particularly with regard to such basic matters as Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and ethics.

The current See city of the ACCA is Knoxville, Tennessee. It is led by a metran, or archbishop, Victor Mar Michael Herron (consecrated 1990, metran since 1996), who is the pastor of St. Demetrios Antiochian Catholic Church. While attendance at the Sunday Qurbana (Eucharist) at St. Demetrios is small, averaging around 15 people (including three clergymembers), the congregation operates a food bank and meal program which serves around 200 meals per week. Avva (Father) Zakkai Patrick Pardee assists Mar Michael at St. Demetrios. Another small congregation, St. Elias, worships in nearby Kodak, Tennessee. In October, 2008, the pastor of St. Elias, Andreas Richard Turner, was made a bishop, taking the name Mar Cassian. As a suffragan bishop, Mar Cassian assists Mar Michael in his episcopal duties. Mar Cassian is chancellor of the ACCA.

In 2007, the Cloistered Heart Franciscans, a non-residential, ecumenical sisterhood of women (who do not necessarily vow celibacy, but fidelity in marriage), headed by Mother Shirley Raper of Sparta, Tennessee, reorganized within the ACCA as the Cloistered Heart Myrrh-bearers. Mother Shirley celebrates the Qurbana weekly for about 20 people at a small facility, called Holy Adoration Chapel. Mother Jacqueline Dierring, of Black Mountain, North Carolina, serves the liturgy at Holy Trinity chapel, an oratory in her home. Both were ordained to the priesthood in May, 2009. A brotherhood, the Cloistered Heart God-bearers, is associated with the sisterhood.

Fr. Gregory Ned Blevins, the ACCA's Ecumenical and Social Concerns Representative, offers the Qurbana weekly at the Chapel of Ss Perpetua and Felicity in his home near Columbia, South Carolina. Amma Caitlin Turner is an itinerant missionary throughout the southeastern United States.


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