The Rt. Rev Michael R. Beckett, OPI was born 10 September 1958 to Bill and Helen Beckett, the eldest of four children. Living in Hurricane, WV, he was raised American Baptist, and attended the local schools, where he graduated with honors. Since his youth, he felt he was called to ministry of some kind, and upon graduation from high school, and his entrance into Marshall University in Huntington, WV, he became active in The First Baptist Church of Hurricane, his home church, as a youth leader, Sunday School teacher, Bible School teacher, the Sanctuary Choir, and Children’s Church.
While at university, he became dissatisfied with the Baptist Church and began to explore other faith traditions. After a brief tenure as a Methodist, he discovered the Episcopal Church. After study and research, he was confirmed as an Episcopalian in May of 1981 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, WV. It was also during this time he graduated from Marshall University with a degree in Elementary Education with a Specialization in English and Early Childhood Education. While at St. John’s, he was active in the St. Cecelia Choir (the main choir of the church), taught Sunday School, was the first archivist of the Church, was on the Altar Guild and worked in the Church Crib Room. He also explored a calling to become an Anglican friar of some sort.
It was during this time in his life that he began his career as an elementary school teacher and reading specialist. He was named as Teacher of the Year several times and acted as the assistant principal of 2 of the schools in which he taught. After a successful career and upon his retirement from education after 20+ years of teaching, he had planned on enjoying his retirement, doing not a lot of anything…..
…..some unchurched friends of his wanted to get married…so he had the brilliant idea of becoming ordained online so that he could perform said wedding ceremony…. He was ordained online through The Universal Life Church…..and God said, “Fake.”
And God continued to say “Fake,” over and over and over and over again, until Michael finally got the message. He was to no longer be a “fake” just to perform the marriage of friends… He was called, in his early 50s, to some sort of official ministry.
After some research on the Internet, he was introduced to an Independent Catholic Bishop who was also the head of a Dominican “society.” After much discussion and prayer, Michael began to study the Dominican charism and found that he had a vocation. After several months of intense study, he was able to make his simple profession in 2011. He also began his studies for the Diaconate in the Reformed Catholic Church. It was shortly thereafter, due to circumstances beyond his control, that the Dominican society to which he belonged folded, and the members thereof were left without leadership or possibility of progression. Because of the definite calling of his vocation and his experience as an educator and administrator, Michael took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and with the blessings of his Presiding Bishop, founded The Order of Preachers, Reformed and The Priory of Sts Symeon and John, and was elected Father General thereof, so that the Dominican tradition and charism could be carried on in the Independent Movement.
Br. Michael, OPoc was ordained to the Diaconate in 2011 and immediately began to study for the priesthood. While he was studying for the priesthood, the Order of Preachers, Reformed grew from 3 members to 7.
On Pentecost Sunday 2012, the Rev. Deacon, Br. Michael R. Beckett, OPoc was ordained to the Holy Priesthood and immediately founded The Mission Chapel of St. Dominic in his home in Belle, WV. He was then made the Vicar General of The Diocese of St. Patrick under the direction of The Rt. Rev. William E. Quinlan.
It was during this time that he became friends with Bishop A. Edmund N. Cass, of the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of North America.
It was to Bishop Cass that Msgr. Michael, the entire Order of Preachers, Reformed, other priests and Bishop Quinlan turned when things went awry within the Reformed Old Catholic Church. These wandering souls were incardinated into the Old Catholic Church of North America, and The Order of Preachers, Old Catholic came into being. Msgr. Michael continued as Vicar General under Bishop Quinlan in NAOCC. Due to differences in theology, then, it was decided that the North American branch of the Worldwide Old Catholic Apostolic Church should become an entity unto itself and become the International Old Catholic Church.
During his time in The International Old Catholic Churches, the Order of Preachers, Old Catholic continued to grow. Msgr. Michael was appointed Dean of the Old Catholic Institute, the educational organization of the International Old Catholic Church, for which he wrote many courses for the education of the clergy and prospective clergy.
Much to his surprise, Msgr. Michael was elected to the episcopacy in 2013 and was consecrated on 7 June 2014 by The Rt. Rev. A. Edmund N. Cass at St. Miriam Parish, Blue Bell, PA. On the eve of his consecration, it was his great honor to also Solemnly Profess 5 new Dominicans into The Order of Preachers, Old Catholic.
In September of 2014 it became necessary for Bishop Michael to leave the International Old Catholic Churches. After much soul searching, Bishop Michael agreed to found The Unified Old Catholic Church in order that those clergy and people who had also left the International Old Catholic Churches would have a home. It was at that time that The Order of Preachers, Independent came into being, consisting of all the members but two of The Order of Preachers, Old Catholic.
Since that time, The Unified Old Catholic Church has flourished and grown, with members and clergy throughout North America, Africa, and Europe. She oversees Franciscan, Maronite, and Jesuit orders in addition to the Order of Preachers, Independent, and has her own clergy education program, contained in The Thomas Aquinas Institute for Clergy Education
With The Rt. Rev. A. Edmund N. Cass and The Rt. Rev. James Long, Bishop Michael, OPI is a founding member of Holy Transfiguration Sacramental Communion, a fellowship of Presiding Bishops and their jurisdictions, working together to fulfill Christ’s prayer “that we all may be one.”
He is a firm believer in community, in education, and in spreading the Love of Christ to all. He lives in Myrtle Beach, SC with his husband, Scott, and their Sheltie, Ginger, Standard Poodle, Zoey, and their cat, Mr. Binx.