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Welcome to the American Catholic Church
Diocese of California
with clergy and ministries in Oregon and Nevada

A Pastoral Letter from the Presiding Bishop
Welcome to our website!

I invite you to look over these pages in order to get to know us. My desire is that my reflections will help you to become familiar with our values and sense of our spirituality as we strive to build the Reign of God and serve the People of God.

As a diocese, we seek to be compassionate, respectful, inclusive, and progressive. We seek to maintain a strong sense of mutuality and collaboration. We do not strive for uniformity, but rather, for unity in our diversity and diversity in our unity. We seek to listen to all the voices in our diocese whether progressive, moderate, or conservative. We are a discipleship of equals with each person, whether lay or clerical, bringing their own charismas, gifts, and talents to the Table of the Lord. Our desire is to be companions as we journey to minister together.

Our diocese is self-governing. We have valid orders and the authentic lineage of apostolic succession. We are not independent from the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, or our Protestant brother and sister faith communities nor are we dependent on these ecclesial bodies. Rather, the American Catholic Church is inter-dependent with these churches. There is room and respect for both the traditions of the past and the life of today and we try to blend the two. Rather than an exclusive focus on regulations, canon laws, rules, and traditions, our diocese focuses on spirituality and pastoral service among the People of God.

Our goal is to stress that each clergy person is free to choose the ministry which best suits him or her. All persons of our diocese have the right, the support, and the encouragement to serve God in the manner they feel called to. We live in various settings, each different from the others. We have single, celibate, married and partnered clergy. Each clergy person chooses an appropriate living situation in accordance with the ministry and gifts graced to him or her by God's spirit.

Contemporary Catholic ministry is changing and many new forms are emerging from the foundation and traditions of the past. Our vision and hope for the American Catholic Church and the Diocese of California is to focus on prayer, community, spirituality, ministry and mission. We believe that the flexibility and small size of our diocese enables each clergy person to find the right mixture of supports to minister in an effective way. We strive to be a viable model for ministry. As the Christian faith tradition enters into the third millennium, we firmly believe that God has called us to be a prophetic witness for this century and beyond.

My hope is that you now have a sense of our core values, spirituality, and will consider exploring the rest of our website.

+Lou A. Bordisso,
Presiding Bishop
American Catholic Church

8328 Bennington Court PMB 263
Vallejo, California 94591


Bishop Lou Bordisso of Vallejo, who was elevated to the office of bishop Sunday, has served as the Vicar General for the Old Catholic Diocese of California, and now will be appointing his successor. Photo: Mike Jory/Times-Herald

BIO: Switch in theology works out well for bishop in American Catholic Church
By DAN JUDGE, Times-Herald staff writer

The U.S. Navy was no place for a peace-loving man to find himself in the early 1990s.
The first Persian Gulf War had just started and Lou Bordisso, a civilian psychologist for the Navy, was suffering a crisis of conscience.

"I had a real challenge there - continue on working for the Department of Defense or seek out a vocation that was more in line with my inner value system," the 52-year-old resident of Vallejo's Hiddenbrooke neighborhood said. "My integrity was being challenged."

So Bordisso quit his Navy job and soon found the vocation he was seeking - the priesthood. And on Sunday, a little over a decade since beginning his religious journey, Father Bordisso was consecrated as bishop for the Old Catholic Diocese of California. The title bestowed on him at Grace North Church in Berkeley marks Bordisso as the spiritual and administrative leader of the unique offshoot of the church known as the American Catholic Church.
Recognized as a valid but "irregular" branch of the Catholic Church, the church does not necessarily follow the edicts of Rome nor does it accept the concept that the Pope is infallible.

It also tends to be far more liberal, welcoming all people into the ranks of the clergy including women, homosexuals, bisexuals and married people.
"We don't see sexuality as a barrier to be overcome as much as a gift from God to be celebrated," Bordisso said.  A Sacramento native, the new bishop received a degree in social work from California State University, Sacramento.  He then earned a masters degree in marriage and family counseling as well as his doctorate in counseling and educational psychology from the University of San Francisco.

From there, Bordisso became a counseling psychologist for the Navy until the Gulf War shifted his focus to the spiritual.
After leaving the Navy, he studied to become a priest in the Roman Catholic Church, attending the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley.
He was due to take his final vows as a Roman Catholic priest when Bordisso's superiors told him they wanted him to move to another region.
With two ailing parents and unwilling to leave the Father Francis Homeless Project in San Francisco - a program he started to bring food and blankets to the homeless - Bordisso struggled with the decision.  In the end, he declined to take his final vows.

In the meantime, a friend sent him literature about the American Catholic Church and its spiritual leader Bishop Charles Grande.
"I said, 'My God, this is more in the line of my thinking, my theology than my former religious order,'" he said. "Plus, I would have the option of continuing my homeless ministry and continuing as a therapist at the same time. It was the best of both worlds."
He was ordained as a priest in the American Catholic Church in 2002 at age 48.

He moved to Vallejo two years ago and presides at Mass every other week at St. Victor's Old Catholic Church.
"I don't have a parish in terms of being pastor of a parish nor do I have a desire to have one," he said. "My ministry has been with homeless folks, hospice and skilled nursing facilities rather than your traditional ministries."  Most of the priests also hold down secular jobs to support themselves and many - like Bordisso - consider their ministries to be in those jobs rather than formal parishes.

Bordisso is employed as a mental health clinical case manager for a managed health care firm in San Rafael. When Bishop Grande decided to step aside for health reasons, he consulted with other clergy members and selected Bordisso as his successor. Bordisso said he believes it is because the former bishop appreciated his beliefs and approach.  "I think a lot of it has to do with my pastoral style," he said. "I tend to be very sensitive to the particular needs of people and I do a considerable amount of outreach. I am a person who is pretty dependable and tenacious."

Bordisso describes himself as a moderate who heavily leans toward the progressive end of the spectrum. Nevertheless, he believes it is important to consider the diverse opinions of all while being as fair as possible.

"My bishop knows I like to hear the voices of all folks and want to include all of them," he said. "My philosophy is that we are all companions in the journey."

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