The Order of St. Willibrord
The Order of St. Willibrord is an Old-Catholic religious order dedicated to a life of contemplation, study and teaching. Since St. Willibrord was himself a Benedictine monk, all members of the Order are committed to observing the Rule of St. Benedict.
There are four classes of membership in the Order: 1) Monks, 2) Priests, 3) Oblates and 4) Associates, which may be clergy or laity. Monks are those (clergy and lay) members who live the full religious life of the Order, making the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, residing together in a religious house under an abbot or prior. There are also non-monastic, professed priests of the Order who make simple and solemn promises of obedience to their respective superior, an abbot or prior. Oblates are those lay members of the Order who make a simple or solemn promise of obedience to their respective abbot or prior. Associate members include clergy and lay members who are associated with the Order and the local religious house. All members of the Order follow the Rule of St. Benedict, in committing their lives to contributing their time and resources to support the mission of the Order and the local religious house.
CHARISM AND MISSION
As a community of scholars, the Order of St. Willibrord is particularly devoted to an intellectual life that aspires to the contemplation of God and engagement with the modern world. As such, most of the members of the Order are scholars and professors, some of whom are also missionaries teaching in seminaries and involved with the formation of clergy and lay people.
Inspired by the life of St. Willibrord, the Order’s main mission focuses on developing the ecclesial bond between Anglicans and Old-Catholics embodied in the Bonn Agreement of 1931 between the Church of England and the Old-Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht. Since St. Willibrord is a saint of the universal Church, the Order is also committed to ecumenism, and especially with the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Church.
While the Order accepts any baptized Christian as a candidate for membership, postulants are required to become Old-Catholic. The stages of formation for candidates seeking solemn profession and ordination commences with a year of residential postulancy, followed by two years of novitiate. Novitiate begins on the Feast of St. Willibrord, November 7th, when the novice receives the habit of the Order, which consists of a black tunic, belt, hood and scapular, in the Benedictine style, for monastic novices. Non-monastic priests of the Order wear a black cassock with black fascia. Solemnly professed priests of the Order wear the shoulder cape with the cassock. All members of the Order also wear a white cuculla with the arms of the Order of St. Willibrord on the left shoulder for ceremonial choir dress.
At the completion of novitiate, the brother makes a simple promise of Obedience to the prior in his respective priory. The next stage of formation is higher studies. For those without any higher education, the brother commences his undergraduate studies. For those with a bachelor or master’s degree, the brother is encouraged to pursue further graduate studies to the doctorate. For those seeking ordination, the brother would study philosophy and theology. After six years of higher studies, brother is permitted to make the solemn promise of Obedience to the prior in his respective priory. Once a brother makes solemn profession, he becomes a fully invested member Order who is eligible to vote at Chapter. All professed members of the Order commit to contributing much of their wealth or income to support his respective abbey or priory.
Organized as a traditional monastic order, the Order of St. Willibrord is a confederation of independent and self-sufficient religious houses (abbeys and priories) under the Master General of the Order, who is an Old-Catholic prelate.
Since the Order of St. Willibrord is also recognized as a religious Order within the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Patron of the Order is an Anglican bishop.