Bishop: Avoid services of Matthias Heppel

Published: October 31, 2017

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor released the following statement regarding Matthias Heppel on Tuesday, Oct. 31 2017.

“Last year, it came to my attention that a man named Matthias Heppel was presenting himself as a Catholic priest and administering sacraments in the areas of Yellville and Cherokee Village. We investigated the matter and learned that he had previously been associated with a schismatic group in the Diocese of Orlando; was purportedly ordained to the priesthood in 2014; and moved to Highland, Arkansas, in December 2016. He then started what he describes as a 'traditional Catholic mission in rural Arkansas' called the 'Oratory of Saint Giles,' which is located just south of the town of Cherokee Village. To my knowledge, neither he nor his superiors have ever contacted me about his work in Arkansas.

"Although it is unclear whether he was ever validly ordained, it is very clear that he is not celebrating the sacraments licitly. He has not sought my permission to exercise any priestly faculties that he might have here in Arkansas. And, unfortunately, his continued presence in Arkansas has begun to cause confusion and scandal amongst some Catholic faithful in our diocese, including scandalizing some who prefer to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

"Accordingly, as Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, I am hereby cautioning members of the Catholic faithful that they are not to attend any purported sacraments or other liturgical services provided by 'Fr. Matthias Heppel,' whether at the Oratory of St. Giles or elsewhere. At best, the group is schismatic and not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church; and at worst, the sacraments you receive may in fact be invalid. For those who may be disappointed by this caution, I would encourage you to seek spiritual security in another nearby Catholic parish that is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.”

Anthony B. Taylor
Bishop of Little Rock