Firstly, let me say that, although I've been aware of this group for some time, I know very little detail about them or their hierarch, compared to the multitude of other vagante about whom I've posted over the years.* Until the appearance of their website (thank you, LC, for posting the link), they've been pretty low-key.
The website itself is telling in many (virtually all) respects and is absolutely confirmatory as to the status of the ecclesia
in relation to both mainstream (canonical) Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Let's start from the homepage.
I've never, until now, encountered any single church/cathedral/mission (even among the hard-core vagante
) that styled itself as sui iuris
. They've been around for a while - since 1960, according to them. However, the photos - both those on the home page and those on the history page - are not of their temple! They are pictures of St Mary' s Romanian Orthodox Cathedral (OCA) in Cleveland - the original cathedral and the current one
. To see the real mission, look here
The hierarchy page has a nice ecumenical touch in the person of Bl Teresa of Calcutta's photo. More interesting, however, are the other photos. Archbishop Visarion, of blessed memory, was a Romanian Orthodox hierarch who fled to the West in the mid-40s, fearing Communist persecution and was later deposed by the Romanian Synod under Communist demand. He spent a decade or so in France, under ROCOR's canonical omophor, heading up the exiled Romanian Orthodox community, subsequently retiring to a monastery where he reposed a decade later (mid-1960s). There's nothing to suggest that he ever visited the US. However, I suppose that one can't rule out the possibility that some of his dispersed clergy weren't later involved with this entity - there's no real indication why he's termed their 'patron'.
Note, too, the photo of Patriarch Daniel, though they make no explicit claim of obedience to him, nor to either of the US Romanian Orthodox hierarchy - ROAAC or ROEA (OCA).
'Bishop' Markuz Muresan apparently founded the mission in 1960 - which was mid-point between Archbishop Visarion's stepping down from his post in France and his repose. So, it's possible that he traces back to the Archbishop's clergy there - but that's only supposition. I can't find anything to suggest that the Archbishop ordained anyone to the episcopate nor any record of Bishop Markuz' episcopal ordination by any of the usual suspects among the vagante episcopi
, so his episcopal genealogy remains unclear and he may be self-ordained to the title.
The history, as Mark notes, alludes to OCA connections - Bishop Nathaniel of the OCA's Romanian jurisdiction is referenced, as are parishes of the OCA's RO episcopate. It's possible that some of the mission's congregation are snowbird refugees from the Rust Belt parishes mentioned but, you'll note that nowhere is there any explicit indication as to how the history ties into the mission itself. And the mission is located in a rough section of town, where I don't see a lot of snowbirds likely to be regular attendees.
Surprise!!! It's the history of St Mary's RO (OCA) Cathedral in Cleveland
. Even the photo on the 'Worship' page is that of the current rector of St Mary's in Cleveland and taken from the latter's site
Can you say chutzpah?
The other clergy listed on the 'Hierarchy' page are all members of something called 'The Missionaries of Charity - Fathers Congregation'. (You can learn more about them at http://www.mccharity.org/
.) Please, note that these should not be confused with the Missionaries of Charity Fathers
- the priestly congregation founded by Bl Mother Teresa of Calcutta - though these folks would like you to confuse them with the latter.
In viewing that list of clergy, btw, you'll discover that several are also designated as being 'diplomats' - associated with The American Diplomatic Mission of International Relations (ADMIR)
and one lists www.vatican.va
as his website address.
As I've described in past postings on vagante
, this is a classic example of how bodies such as the mission not-always-subtly intersperse photos and text on their sites that suggest validity, canonicity, and that they are part and parcel of the mainstream.
To their credit, if it's accurate, they do supposedly operate Mother Teresa Home for Women in Distress - an emergency shelter - and a soup kitchen for homeless men, both at the same address as the mission. But, honestly, given the rest of this, I'd want to have proof before I'd hang my hat on that.
To answer the question simply, in my opinion, these folk are vagante
of the first order.
^I now know more about them that I could ever have wanted to know