Priest starts independent Catholic church
Published 8:48 am Friday, July 31, 2015
With the hope of serving disenfranchised people in the community, along with others who embrace the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America, Father Michael Dakotah is seeking to establish a new congregation in Elizabethton.
Dakotah, who recently moved to the Butler community from Minnesota, will celebrate mass at 1 p.m. the first and third Sundays each month at First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, 119 W. F St.
The new congregation will be known as St. Timothy.
The church, commonly referred to as CACINA, is part of the family of independent Catholic churches that worship in the Catholic tradition but are independent and not in communion with the Vatican. It was founded in Brazil in 1945 and came to the United States in 1949.
“We intend to worship and reach out to people who often feel displaced in the community, especially in the traditional Catholic church,” Dakotah said. “Divorced people will be able to receive communion at St. Timothy. Birth control is OK with us. People of different sexual orientation are welcome, and CACINA does have women priests.”
Dakotah chose the name for the new congregation.
“One of the goals of CACINA and St. Timothy is to grow and include people who wish to worship in the Catholic tradition, but not in the Roman Catholic Church,” he said.
Of special importance to the church is letting people know everyone is welcome, regardless of race, national origin, sexual orientation, political beliefs or economic status.
CACINA churches celebrate the seven sacraments: baptism, the Eucharist, reconciliation, confirmation, matrimony, holy orders and anointing the sick.
Dakotah noted that in CACINA churches, clergy may marry and are ordained without regard to gender or sexual orientation.
An ordained member of CACINA, Dakotah originally studied to be a Roman Catholic priest, but when he went to the Vatican in Rome to study, he decided to go into teaching rather than the priesthood.
“I was a little overwhelmed, and felt teaching was better suited for me,” he said. “For several years, I taught at a Roman Catholic high school in Missouri and later was a college professor in Minnesota.”
“I felt a little disenfranchised,” Dakotah said, referring to his membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. “I have been clean for 33 years, but through my association with AA, I came to learn there is a big difference between spirituality and religion. For me, being a Roman Catholic was being religious, but I desired much more. I joined CACINA, first serving as a deacon, and after six years became a priest.”
“There will always be a part of me that is Roman Catholic. I am thankful to be a CACINA priest,” he said.
Dakotah knows that building his congregation will take time, and he expects it to be small at the beginning. “I know that faith moves mountains, but I also know you must bring a shovel. Hope is my shovel,” he said.
“We are spreading the word that St. Timothy is forming and that for the time being we will be having mass at the First Presbyterian Church. So, we start with nothing but faith,” he said.
In addition to his priestly duties at St. Timothy, FDakotah will work with High Country Ministers, a group of nondenominational, interfaith, ordained ministers who perform weddings, baptisms, christenings and memorial services.