A Traditional Celebration Liberal Catholic Church in Villa Park to Hold Special Weekend of Services

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Byline: Nancy Luebke Daily Herald Correspondent

With a history dating back more than 100 years in Illinois, the Liberal Catholic Church offers the ceremony and pomp of a traditional Catholic service but not the conservative social teachings.

This weekend the Church of St. Francis, the only Liberal Catholic Church in the area, will hold services and a reception at 12 W. School St., Villa Park.

The Rt. Rev. William Downey, regionary bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church of the United States, will celebrate the Holy Eucharist, confer the Sacrament of Confirmation for those who have been baptized and perform the traditional Mass and Holy Orders for those who are becoming church deacons, nuns or priests.

The Mass for those who are being confirmed and to celebrate the birth date of Mary, Jesus' mother, Sept. 15, is at 6 p.m. today.

"Before every Eucharist, we have a special prayer for Mary, but at Saturday's service we will have extra candles and a special collection in honor of Mary's birthday," said the Rev. Terrence Metz, pastor of the Church of St. Francis.

The visiting bishop, who presides over the U.S., Philippines and Caribbean Liberal Catholic Church, will be a celebrant at services this weekend. He'll perform a traditional Mass at 10 a.m. Sunday, also a Red Mass for the Trinity season in the church calendar.

After the service, the congregation will hold a reception and visit with the bishop.

As a Liberal Catholic Church, the Church of St. Francis is not a Roman Catholic church. Ordained members of the Theosophical Society in Wheaton started the church in Chicago in the 1940s and 10 years ago the church moved to Villa Park.

"The property we relocated to was beautiful and located close to the interstate. It was important to be centrally located because we have people coming to our services from quite a distance," Metz said. …