Dear Mother Anastasia,
I can respect as somehow real anything that has a real congregation, a real ministry, and better still, generational members, even if I don't agree with the group/would never join. Few vagante churches have those, but those that do are like the Protestant church down the road. If it calls itself something it's not, like 'Western Rite Orthodox', it forfeits some of that respect.
Just to give you a little background, we were never formally excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Bishop when Father Bishop was ordained in the Utrech succession, probaby because our Bishop was in communication with Rome seeking unity and one of the last obstacles was the married priesthood. We have also attended the local Mass for funerals and weddings and were not denied communion even though everyone knows who we are.
We are not
a church or congregation. We are monastic,
and support a house of prayer and private chapel, where people come at all hours of the day and night for Adoration and prayer,as well as counsel and confession by appointment. We provide food for forty poor families, especially single mothers, every Thursday.
We are not called to be a Church, and we have absolutely no interest in becoming a Church. The name Church of the Fisherman Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, is our new Bishop's registered name in the state of California. Our first Old Roman Bishop, being elderly asked us to in-cardinate under a Bishop he co-consecrated, who was ordained as a priest under an Orthodox Bishop, but responded to an invitation to work with him when the other Bishop passed away. I'm not sure which Orthodox group he came from, but I am trying to find that out. (I seem to remember him being OCA) Not that any of that would be acceptable to you any way, I am just trying to help you understand our position.
We have remained on peaceful terms with the local parish priests as they come and go according to modern day assignment practices. While the parish priest does not agree with our decision but in all charity, does respect what we are doing in the community. He has even sent us a donation,as well as the St. Vincent de Paul Association, to help with our expenses.
We seek peace with all our non Christian and Christian Brothers and Sisters (those who are baptised, profess the creed and live a moral life), and while they are very
antagonistic over our traditional beliefs, confession, the true presence, purgatory, apostolic succession, our vow of poverty (we live solely on providence) etc.etc. We do not condemn them as heretics nor force ourselves upon them. As far as apparition sites, dreams and visions, speaking in tongues, all is approved of by our former tradition, however we ourselves are extremely cautious in all these areas.
Rather than try to prove our beliefs to them, which we have found does not produce good fruit, we try to keep our eyes on Jesus, love and serve Him, and pray that we will be a good example to them based on our fruits, without in any way compromising our orthodox beliefs.
We have been very drawn to Orthodoxy through our Celtic roots, and are interested in revitalizing early Church traditions. The Celts were independent people who fought being stripped of their cultural identities (I am not speaking here of their pagan religions, but of their sensitivity to all of creation which is very Franciscan), and forced to adapt to Roman customs in their liturgy and monastic lives. We are very similar to the Celts in some ways.
The reason we call ourselves Western Rite Orthodox, is because our Bishop came from Orthodoxy and we are embracing more and more of the customs. We use the Latin Liturgy in English for our services, which is considered the standard Western Rite Liturgy.
Also, our first Bishop (now ArchBishop, the consecrate of Bishop +Athens, has six lines of succession, 5 of them Orthodox in his lineage and was given a personal letter of full communion by the Metropolitan of Athens.
I understand that nothing I have said here is of any significance to you, but I did want to clarify a few of your assumptions.