Many people have similar questions to ask, especially in regard to this parish’s relationship with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. To address these questions, we have prepared this FAQ page.
Is Saint Patrick Catholic Church part of the Diocese of Providence?
No, this parish is totally independent of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence and is a parish of the Diocese of Northeast, led by the Most Reverend Gregory Ortiz, our Diocesan bishop.
How can this parish call itself a “Catholic” parish, and not be part of the Diocese of Providence?
It is a mistake to believe that only Roman Catholic parishes can be called Catholic, for this is not the case at all. Both Eastern Orthodox and National Catholic parishes hold an equal footing in Catholicism with Roman Catholic parishes. Both have complete validity of orders and sacramental recognition by the Vatican. This is nothing new and has always been the case. In fact, this very question was addressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it was stated that Rome acknowledges other churches which have a legitimate claim to their Catholic roots and validity and equality of sacraments with the Roman Catholic Church.
Is this National Catholic Church in Communion with the Roman Catholic Church?
Saint Patrick Catholic Church is not in communion with its neighboring Roman Catholic parishes.
Is this true of all National Catholic parishes?
No, this is not the case. The Roman Catholic Church has recently reached an accord allowing sacramental Communion with the Polish National Catholic Church. In fact, this is noted on the back page of the parish worship books. Intercommunion between the two churches is totally accepted.
What is different about Saint Patrick Catholic Church as opposed to a Polish National Catholic Church parish? Why were they accepted and not Saint Patrick’s?
There is no fundamental difference between Saint Patrick Catholic Church and any Polish National Catholic parish. Their establishment is identically legitimate, both churches coming from Roman Catholic lineage of hierarchy. The only difference between the two is that the Polish National Catholic Church is a relatively large church, and, to be frank, the late Pope John Paul II was of polish ancestry. In short, the only difference is political.
Should I be concerned that Saint Patrick Catholic Church is not in Communion with its neighboring Roman Catholic parishes?
Yes and no. There is no easy answer to what is essentially a deeply personal question. One could legitimately claim that three quarters of Rhode Island Catholics are not in Communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This statement bears some explanation. The Roman Catholic Church sees “Communion” as the end result of being in conformity with all of its disciplines and rules. First you accomplish all things correctly, and you are then and only then, rewarded with the “Bread of Angels”.
Over half of Rhode Island’s population is divorced; by extension, this applies to its Catholic population as well. Most of these are also remarried without annulment, placing them out of Communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Couples living together without marriage, practicing birth control, who have not gone to Confession while in a state of sin and who find themselves at odds with the Roman Catholic Church’s stand on any number of issues, are all in a state of being out of Communion with Rome.
Remember, you must abide and agree with all disciplines and rules of the Roman Catholic Church before you are allowed to receive Communion. When out of Communion with the Roman Catholic Church you are entitled no spiritual benefit whatever, other than the privilege of supporting a parish you cannot receive any spiritual benefit from. This is nothing new; this is the way it has always been.
Is Saint Patrick Catholic Church different in their communion practices?
Yes it is. We realize that your life on earth is a journey with its focus upon a life in eternity with God. In order to make this long journey you will require nourishment; spiritual nourishment from God aiding in your journey. We do not ask for perfection before allowing Communion. We provide Communion as a means of strength for the journey, with the knowledge that we are all unworthy and sinners trying to come to terms with a loving God who understands us, accepts us, and loves us in spite of our many faults and failings.
Who may receive Communion in Saint Patrick Catholic Church?
All who are baptized with a knowledge and belief that Christ is actually present in the Eucharist may receive Communion. Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and also Roman Catholic Canon Law allow for Roman Catholics to receive Communion in other Catholic churches and from other Catholic ministers when there is a specific reason necessitating this action.