The St John Henry Newman Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith received its charter on 13 October 2019, the day of the Saint’s canonization. Over the course of the previous year, groups of Catholics in the Northern and Eastern Panhandles and in North-Central West Virginia had been meeting, praying, and seeking ways to respond to the Bransfield scandal. These groups came together in July 2019, united in their conviction that the root problem in our Diocese and others was infidelity to the Church’s teachings. While institutional reforms that respect proper ecclesiology are important, sexual abuse and clericalism will not be eliminated until we “ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it” (Jer. 6: 16).
In order to give a voice to laity and clergy who share this conviction, we decided to seek affiliation with Catholics United for the Faith (CUF), an international lay apostolate founded in 1968 to support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church (for more information, see here). We learned that Catholics in our Diocese had already worked with The Saint Joseph Foundation, a non-profit affiliated with CUF and dedicated to assisting Catholic faithful in defending their rights under canon law. So we applied to form a chapter of CUF in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
- To improve communication amongst the lay faithful and between laity and clergy in our Diocese by facilitating the flow of unbiased information, for the purposes of (1) providing an avenue for those who have complaints or concerns that are not being properly addressed through official Diocesan channels, and (2) granting Diocesan leadership unmediated access to the concerns of the laity.
- To support and encourage clergy in their efforts to promote the teaching and practice of our Catholic faith according to the Magisterium of the Church, in the spirit of the Catechism’s call for the laity “to cooperate with pastors in the service of the ecclesial community, for the sake of its growth and life” (CCC, 910); and to support solid catechesis for all age groups, including adults, across our Diocese.
- To support seminarians in their vocations, through personal relationships, mentorship activities, and advocacy with Church leaders.
- To exhort and encourage Catholic schools throughout the Diocese to teach the Catholic faith with boldness and clarity.
- To help hold diocesan leadership accountable in its management of diocesan finances.
Our chapter holds monthly meetings (via Zoom for those unable to travel) on the second Tuesday evening of the month dedicated to prayer, formation, and apostolic activity. We serve as a clearing house (through this website and our Facebook page) for information about events and developments across the Diocese. We sponsor public presentations on various aspects of Church teaching. We also gather regularly for prayer and Eucharistic Adoration in parishes across the Diocese.
President – Matt Vester (St John University Parish, Morgantown)
Vice-President – Louise Deal (St John University Parish, Morgantown)
Secretary – Paul Buede (St James Parish, Charles Town)