Federation of Jesus Abbeys  -  A Short History

The Federation of Jesus Abbeys was placed by Mar +John Dunnigan under the specific guidance of Mar David Michael, Abbot General of the Order of the Culdee upon his passing.  We are solidly connected historically with the first century Church founded in Britain, the Russian Church, the Roman Church, the Anglican Church and the  Antiochian Church now blessed with the vital keys needed in the Church to provide a home for married and celibate Roman Catholic priests. 

Origin of the Orders

The act that ties us to the Roman Catholic Church is the Order of the Gate that was founded by Mar (bishop) +John Dunnigan in 1986 while he served as a bishop under the personal Prelature of Pope John Paul II in a branch of the Syro-Chaldean Church called the Catholic Apostolic Church also serving as the International Ordinariate.for Rome.  In November 1985, +David Michael was ordained a deacon into this Papal jurisdiction and was then elected the Abbot of the Order of the Gate by Mar +John in 1986 and was given documents holding his jurisdictional seal. This Papal Prelature was headed by Syro-Chaldean  Archbishop (Patriarch) Josef de Brulle' who was given this mission in July of 1985 directly by Pope John Paul II.

Mar +John was received into the Order of the Culdee in 2002 by Abbot General +David Michael. Mar +John with Abbot +David continued with the Papal mandate under the banner of the Culdee to reconcile the estranged Roman Married Priests and other estranged Catholics and Orthodox to enable them to return to sacramental service within the Church Universal. In 2004, Mar +John Dunnigan was called to the bedside of Patriarch Josef at his passing who then laid his hands upon him to encourage and enable him to continue in this spiritual mission.   

Federation of Jesus Abbeys
In fulfilling this mandate, the Federation of Jesus Abbeys (FJA) was created in 2003 by Abbot David and Mar +John Dunnigan for married Roman Catholic priests to sacramentally function in developing FJA Abbeys around the world.  The calling and Consecration of both married and celibate abbots was common among the early Culdee in Britain and among the Syro-Chaldean churches existing in vast numbers East (outside) of the Roman Empire. +David Michael of the Culdee was then given the guiding oversight of Federation of Jesus Abbeys upon the passing of Mar +John in 2009 to carry on as the 'spiritual guide' of this mission as stated in the Preamble and body of the proposed Constitutions of the Federation of Jesus Abbeys that were sent to Pope Benedict by private courier just before his enthronement as Pope.

Roman Catholic and Culdee (Theophilos) Concordat of the 12th Century
This mandate was historically supported by the still binding Concordat between the Culdee abbot-bishops of St. Andrews, Scotland and the bishops of the Roman Church in St. Andrews, Scotland. This 12th century Concordat enabled both the Roman and Culdee clergy to serve the Eucharist in the Cathedral at St. Andrews. The St. Andrews Concordat has never been rescinded and continues to be actively in force through the time of the Reformation in Britain under Cromwell with the Culdee then being received into the newly formed Anglican Church. It was out of a conservative branch of the Anglican Church (Bp Robert Hawn and Bp Donald Davies) that the Order of the Culdee reemerged as an independent Order in 1994 known as the Order of the Culdee.  The Culdee or Celtic Church has never embraced a diocesan structure but was founded by Joseph of Aramethea as community modeled after the School of the Prophets originally established by Samuel circa 1000 BC in Israel and brought to Ireland in circa 500 BC by the prophet Jeremiah.

Blessing of the Roman Church  – Both Spiritual and Temporal
The Celtic Order of the Culdee with the Syro-Chaldean/Roman Order of the Gate has received the 'favor' of the triple coronated Empress of the Holy Roman Empire (coronation occurred in the 1960's) to serve in ministry within the temporal domain of the historic Holy Roman Empire including the former realm of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. This establishes the Culdee and Gate orders both the spiritual and temporal favor of recognized historic 'authorities' within the Roman Catholic Church and Holy Roman Empire as the 'spiritual' protectors of Jerusalem. This mandate is evident in the adopted Rule of the Order of the Gate with the seal of Mar +John Dunnigan, bishop within the Prelature of Pope John Paul II then under Patriarch Josef De Brulle.  A 'letter of favor' signed by the  Empress of the Holy Roman Empire is in the possession of Abbot +David. 

Antiochan Apostolic Lines
It should be noted that the Celtic Church (Culdee) was reaffirmed as an indigenous church founded by the Holy Apostles as an autocephelous jurisdiction by the Patriarch of Antioch in 1866.   The See of this branch is Iona, Scotland with the lines also stemming from the Culdee in St David, Wales from Archbishop St David circa the 6th century.   Abbot DavidMichael holds these lines as a bishop and abbot of the Culdee. 


"The Orthodox Church of the British Isles was affirmed in 1866 with Apostolic Succession added by the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. With the sanction of the Patriarch Ignatius Jacobus II having first been obtained, on 2 June 1866, Mar Julius, Metropolitan Bishop of Emesa consecrated Jules Ferrette as Bishop Julius and gave him the title of Bishop of Iona and its Dependencies. This consecration, in Syria, was witnessed and the instrument of consecration was verified before the British Consul at Damascus. Bishop Julius was dispatched to erect an indigenous Orthodox Church in Western Europe, one not in any way subject to Antioch. 

Abbot David holds this Apostolic line among others as a bishop. 

Patriarch of Antioch, Jerusalem and ALL THE EAST
+Moran Mar Ignatius Yacob II
, Patriarch of Antioch and ALL THE EAST.  (reestablished the See of Iona for the Celtic Church in 1866)

+Joseph Mar Dionysios V 1865 (Pulikottil),  Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
    +Paulose Mar Athanasius    
    +Paulose Mar Ivanios    
    +Geevarghese Mar Gregorios
+Mar Julius I 1889 (Alverez) 
    +Paulose Mar Athanasius
    +Geevarghese Mar Gregorios
+Mar Timotheus I  1892 (Vilatte) Archbishop-Exarch of North America for The American Catholic Church according to Bull of Moran Mor Ignatius Peter III of 1891.
+Paolo Miraglia Gulotti 1900
+Carfora 1916 Archbishop N. America, Old Catholic
+H. Rogers 1942 Archbishop N. America, Old Catholic
    +J. Rogers
    +James (Miller)
    +Francis (Forbes)
    +James (Benderson)
+Seraphim  (MacLennon) Russian, American Orthodox, Old Catholic, Syrian
    +John (Kelly) Greek-Ukrainian, American Orthodox
    +Charles (Ingram) Brazilian Roman Catholic
+David Michael (Holmes-Smith)

It was from one of these Eastern bishops, Mar +John Dunnigan, who worked under a mandate of Vatican who affirmed +David as Abbot of the Culdee with the support of conservative Anglican bishops including Bishop R.H. Hawn of the United Episcopal Church then the Anglican Episcopal Church and Archbishop Davies of the Episcopal Missionary Church and others.   Mar +John upon his death passed the title as the 'Titular Bishop of Iona' on to Abbot David in 2009 as granted to him by Archbishop John Stanley of the Aramaic Catholic Church also of this line.

Home for Married Roman Priests
As per our history, the Federation of Jesus Abbeys provides a home for the married Roman Catholic priests with the Order of the Gate being set apart as the Gaurdians of Jerusalem. Both the Order of the Culdee and the Order of the Gate trace their origins to the Church in Jerusalem to St. James, brother of Jesus, and St. John in the first century AD. The Rule of the Order of the Culdee, the Order of the Gate and of the FJA is unified, simple and Biblical yet it is the most difficult Rule to live by of all the known rules of religious orders that exist in the world today.

Common Guiding Rule of the Orders

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13


Pope Originated Study
The Order of the Gate, the Order of the Culdee and the umbrella jurisdiction of the Federation of Jesus Abbeys is the only functional outcome of a 25 year study presented by the 'Papal Task Force' created by the Vatican in 1985 in which Pope John Paul II and then Pope Benedict were personally involved.

JesusAbbeys.org Website
The website for the Federation of Jesus Abbeys is at: http://jesusabbeys.org.