Our Origin and Identity
Welcome! We invite you to come and see the Byzantine Catholic Church!
The Byzantine Catholic Church is an Eastern branch of the Universal, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Western branch of the church of course is the Roman Catholic Church, numerically the largest in the United States. Saint John Paul the Great, in referring to the Eastern and Western branches of the Universal Church said, “The Church must breathe with her two lungs, both Eastern and Western.”
Great diversity in the church has existed from the time of the Apostles, commissioned by Jesus Christ to announce the gospel. Evangelization within the cultures, languages and traditions of diverse people, the church developed differently throughout the world. Beginning in Jerusalem, four other centers of Christianity arose: Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Rome. The eastern centers for Christianity spread to the north and into eastern Europe; to the east into the Middle East; to the south into Africa. The Roman church developed to the west and remains the center of Latin Catholicism today. Each of the eastern centers developed its own distinctive liturgical, mystical and spiritual tradition and faith experience.
The Christian identity of these eastern churches was formulated and expressed by the lives, works and teachings of the Church Fathers and Councils. The Byzantine Catholic Church is an ancient Christian Church that is part of the greater Catholic communion of more than 20 autonomous, apostolic churches. Though differing in practice they are unified as the Eastern branch of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church. Their individual stories are rich and fascinating, should you wish to pursue them further.
Saints Cyril and Methodius were Christian missionaries from Thessalonica who, in the 9th Century, brought Christianity, the Eastern Tradition and a written language to the people of Eastern Europe that included the region of the Carpathian Mountains. This was the homeland of many of the people who first established Eastern Churches in America. The first Byzantine, Ruthenian, Catholic Church was Sr. Mary, Freeland, Pennsylvania, established in 1886 and active today.
The Byzantine Catholic Church in the United States is heir to the early center of Christianity in Constantinople. We use the Greek form of worship and follow the Greek tradition. We stand united with Francis, Pope of Rome who is both Head of the Universal Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church. We are an independent, sui juris, Catholic Church carrying on the mysticism, tradition, spirituality and faith experience of our forefathers. We are one Eastern Church among many. With the Western Church, we belong to the Universal Catholic Church.